The First Three Crusades Were Beneficial to Western European Countries Only

Topics: Middle Ages, Crusades, Europe Pages: 7 (2257 words) Published: September 6, 2013
The Crusades

That the crusading phenomenon, primarily the first three crusades (1096 C.E. – 1192 C.E.), was beneficial to Western Europe as it directly triggered Western expansionism.

The crusades were only three of a series of nine Holy Wars fought between the European Christians and the Middle Eastern Muslim forces for control over the universally religiously renowned Jerusalem (Tyerman, 2004, 14). The first three crusades (1096 C.E. – 1192 C.E.) brought both cultural benefits and economic expansion* to Western Europe by bringing peoples of many different nationalities together, causing an interchange of ideas, customs and resources (Munro, 1921, 225). Renowned secondary source historians Tyerman, Munro, Newhall, Myers and Dutch all agree that the intermingling of cultures instigated by the crusades brought cultural and economic benefits to Western Europe that had previously been unseen since the Roman Empire (Tyerman, 2004, 10; Munro, 1921, 109; Newhall, 1927, 45; Myers, 1889, 12; Dutch, 1998). These views are also supported by extant primary source Fulcher of Chartres, who implies that the intermixing of nations and religions, (both old and new) created a diverse range of opportunities for the European Christians. This included new methods of exploration and travel, innovative approaches to warfare, different trading partners and trading materials and an influx of demand for workers to meet the needs of the armies (Dutch, 1998; Fulcher of Chartres cited in Peters, 1998, 96). Furthermore, new educational opportunities arose, with the ancient Muslim and Byzantine empires sharing knowledge of medicine, architecture and even literature with the mostly illiterate Western Europeans (Myers, 1889, 225). As a result, the European Christians flourished due to these cultural and economic benefits initiated by the first three crusades.

Prior to the crusades, the majority of Western Europeans were illiterate, uneducated and immobile (Guisepi, 2009). Renowned secondary source historian Robert Guisepi, Doctor of History and Antiquities at Canterbury University, claims that any news travelled slowly and sporadically by word of mouth, especially since people lived in relative seclusion, only communing with family members, neighbours and passing travellers (Guisepi, 2009). From this it can be inferred that any ideas, inventions or practical innovations that were discovered remained localised. Western Europe severely lagged behind the Chinese, Indians and Arabs in almost every aspect of culture, with little resources, its Roman infrastructure in decay and its people impoverished (Duggan, 1963, 12). With the introduction of knowledge, new methods of building and means to travel, the crusades brought an influx of cultural and economic wealth into Western Europe, greatly benefiting the European Christians (Kostik, 2008, 38). This claim is corroborated by distinguished secondary source historian Richard Newhall, Doctor of Medieval History at Harvard University who states that ‘Three times during the Christian era have the peoples of Western Europe experienced a relatively rapid expansion of their knowledge of the world, which has greatly improved their manner of living and considerably changed their point of view. The first of these was during the period of the crusades’, thereby supporting the hypothesis that the crusading phenomenon was beneficial to Western Europe (Newhall, 1963, 99).

Preceding the Holy Wars there was no professional Christian merchant class that could devote itself exclusively to commerce and trade, however, ‘the crusades provided an immediate catalyst for long-distance trade that created the need for surplus production, thereby transitioning from subsistence agriculture and local trade to international trade’ (Asbridge, 2005, 104; Myers, 1889, 87). Eminent secondary source historian Phillip Van Ness Myers, a Professor of History and Political Economy as well as Dean of the Academic Faculty at the...

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