The First Crusade
1. The crusading movement was a significant event in the history of medieval Europe. They opened an era in which Western Europe came into direct contact with the great trade routes that united the civilizations of Eurasia For the first time since the fall of the Roman empire, western Europe was not isolated, but a part of a greater world. Many things flowed along these trade routes. Some were good, such as paper, the compass, medicines and spices, new crops and advances in mathematics. Some were not so good, such as leprosy, gunpowder, and bubonic plague. Like most great events, there were many factors, some immediate and apparent, some basic and apparent, and some in between that went together to cause the people of western Europe to seek to conquest and hold the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean.
A. Basic Causes
1. European society had survived the raids of the Magyars, Vikings, and Saracens, and its economy and society were recovering quickly. There was a new spirit of adventure apparent in the art, literature, an actions of the western Europeans. This was manifested at least partly in an increased popularity of pilgrimages -- journeys to visit distant holy places to worship there and view the relics of the saints. This was a religious activity, but the many of the pilgrims clearly enjoyed themselves like tourists in any age.
2. Europe was already in a period of expansion, and its capacity for war and conquest had grown during the years of fending off raiders from all direction. Most importantly from the standpoint of the crusades, the Italian city states had developed navies of merchant/fighting vessels that had seized control of the Mediterranean. They had reconquered Sicily and southern Italy from the Muslims, and there was a general sense that, like the Vikings and Magyars, the force of the Muslims was spent and that the way eastward lay open.
3. The spirit of religious reform that had led to the...
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