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 (Guppies, 2009).
Renowned secondary source historian Robert Guppies, Doctor of History and Antiquities at Canterbury University, claims that any news traveled slowly and sporadically by word of mouth, especially since people lived in relative seclusion, only communing with family members, neighbors and passing travelers (Guppies, 2009). From this it can be inferred that any ideas, inventions or racial innovations that were discovered remained localized.
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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 meaner to travel, the crusades brought an influx of cultural and economic wealth into Western Europe, greatly benefiting the European Christians (Stick, 2008, 38).
This claim is corroborated by distinguished secondary source historian Richard Newell, Doctor of Medieval History at Harvard University who dates 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 (Newell, 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 revived 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’ (Seabirds, 2005, 104; Myers, 1889, 87).
Eminent secondary source historian Phillip Van News Myers, a Professor of History and Political Economy as well as Dean of the Academic Faculty at the University of Cincinnati, implies that the Holy Wars gave an impetus to the market economy of Western Europe, unseen since the Roman Empire, that linked long distance trade to expansionism.
Internationally celebrated secondary source historian Thomas Seabirds, specialist in Medieval History at Royal Holloway University of London, reiterates Myers’ claim with the statement that ‘Capitalism and colonialism have a symbiosis, although surplus trade was also symptomatic of rising population that accounted for arbitration’, implying that the crusades were a short-term catalyst to the economic and geographical expansion of Western Europe (Seabirds, 2005, 104).
These distinguished secondary source historians are corroborated by extant primary source Salad’s, reliable yet biased towards Eastern Islamic culture, who asserted that time eased… While the Franks succeeded in rooting themselves strongly here [in the East]’ implying that the Western Europeans had plenty of time to create international trade, thereby, supporting the hypothesis that the crusades were the direct trigger of Western expansionism.
The Crusades also provided further trade and commerce opportunities through the influx of new luxury items from the East such as silks, tapestries, precious stones, perfumes, spices, pearls, and ivory, that were so enchanting and new that an enthusiastic crusader called the “the vestibules of Paradise” (Seabirds, 2005, 105). Newell substantiates this with the statement that ‘pilgrims who returned from the East brought back knowledge of new products, which they had learned to enjoy during their stay on foreign parts.
In this way new demands and new markets were created in the West of which enterprising merchants sought to avail themselves’ (Newell, 1963, 101). It can be inferred from Newel’s claim that these new demands would stimulate manufacture and encourage new processes of travel and navigation, thereby, encouraging a new economic development for Western Europe, ‘a development based on commerce’ (Newell, 1963, 103).
Corroborating this claim is extant primary source Boucher of Chartres, an eyewitness to the First Crusade and widely recognized as the most reliable extant source of the Crusading period, who asserts that ‘Those who had few coins, here [in the East] possess countless absents’ implying the Western demand for the luxury goods of the East (Filcher of Chartres cited in Peters, 1998, 21).
Prominent secondary source historian Steve Dutch, Professor in Crusading History at the University of Wisconsin also confirms Newel’s assertion and states that crusader kingdoms, once set up, traded with their kin in Europe, sending finished and raw goods, thereby stimulating Mediterranean trade (Dutch, 1998). Therefore, it can be inferred from the historiography that the Holy Wars, stimulated the trading of goods, thus creating an inflow of wealth into Western Europe, instigating economic expansionism.
The inflow of new cultures and knowledge into Western European prompted by these trade and commerce ideals brought many new educational opportunities. In a letter, extant primary source Count Stephen of Chartres and Blobs wrote to his wife Adele during the first crusade stating that What some say about the impossibility of earring the heat of the sun throughout Syria is untrue, for the winter there is very similar to our winter in the west. Implicit within this is the suggestion that he had been misinformed regarding the weather in Syria, from which it also can be inferred that the crusades brought new knowledge of other countries (Stephen of Chartres and Blobs cited in Madden, 2010, 129). Count Stephen was biased towards the Christian Europeans, however, when mentioning the weather in his letter to his wife, because he had no reason to distort the truth and was accurate in claiming that the winters in Syria were similar to those in Western Europe.
Newell reiterates that educational opportunities were provided by the crusades and states that ‘Christian scholars could and did go to Muslim universities’ implying that the knowledge learned at Muslim universities was provided to Christians, allowing for the distribution of important knowledge (Newell, 1963, 100). Without the crusades, these educational opportunities would not have been available to Western Europeans for many, many years.
Another benefit of the crusades was the cultural experiences created by the introduction of new religions, ideals, nationalities and cultures. Not only did educational opportunities arise, but completely new knowledge was provided to the Western Europeans as well as creative outlets, that had not been developed since the Roman Empire (Barber, 1992, 27). Prior to the Crusades Rupee’s main sources of written geographical information were based on myths and fables, however, trade and the merging of peoples led to the development of map-making and navigation (Riley-Smith, 2005, 238).
Celebrated secondary source historian Christopher Thermal, Professor of Medieval History and Hereford University, corroborates that knowledge as circulated due the crusades with the assertion that ‘The Arabs passed on knowledge in a wide array of topics ranging from math, astronomy, and geography to such techniques as paperhanging and the refining of alcohol and sugar’ implying that Western Europeans had previously relatively little knowledge of these topics (Thermal, 2004, 69).
Another area in which knowledge was passed on from the Eastern Muslims to the European Christians was architecture, as a ‘great deal of Rupee’s knowledge of heavy stone masonry, and construction of castles and stone churches was returned from the Middle East’ (Dutch, 1998). Siege technology, tunneling and sapping techniques were also improved and during the time of the crusades romantic and imaginative literature also blossomed (Dutch, 1998). Hence, it can be surmised that the Holy Wars did benefit Western Europe through the passing of knowledge and culture.
However, eminent secondary source historian Steven Rumanian, Professor of Byzantine Art opines that the Crusades were not romantic adventures but the last of the barbarian invasions and were failures (Rumanian, 1987, 129). It can be inferred from this that Rumanian disagrees with the hypothesis that the crusades were inefficacy to Western Europe. However, his opinion was partly determined by his sympathy for the Byzantine Empire. As an Historian specializing in Byzantine Art, Rumanian has not regarded the benefits to Western Europe and has focused on the negative impacts of the crusades on the Byzantine Empire.
The crusades brought trade and commerce to Europe as well as educational benefits concerning architecture, food, astronomy, warfare, navigation and literature, all of which would be deemed beneficial to Western Europe and therefore, Rumanians opinion cannot be verified. Eminent secondary source historian Thomas Madden, Director of Medieval Antiquities at the University of SST Louis asserts that ‘The Holy Wars were productive of so much and lasting good that they form a most important factor in the history of the progress of civilization’ (Madden, 2010, 240).
Madden has been corroborated by extant primary source Filcher of Chartres who claimed the Crusades had brought wealth to the European Christians and, therefore, due to accuracy of this claim and the corroboration of both eminent primary and secondary source historians, the crusades cannot be named failures’ (Filcher of Chartres cited in Peters, 1998; Rumanian, 1987, 129). Therefore, it is reasonable to submit that the crusades were in fact beneficial to Western Europe.
Through a comprehensive analysis of the available historiography, and the corroboration between eminent secondary source historians and extant primary sources including Salad’s and Filcher of Chartres, it can be concluded that the crusades were beneficial to Western Europe and were the direct trigger of Western expansionism. The crusades brought new knowledge regarding astronomy, food, warfare, literature and architecture. The Holy Wars stimulated trade and commerce o the European Christians, unseen since the fall of Rome, bringing wealth and cultural opportunities to Western Europe.
Though Rumanian contends this hypothesis is a fallacy, it can be determined that his bias towards the Byzantine Empire distorted his view on this topic. Hence, the crusades Were productive of so much and lasting good’ that there can be little doubt that they were beneficial to Western Europe and directly triggered Western expansionism. Bibliography Armstrong, K. , 2001. Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World. 2nd deed. New York: Knops Doubleday Publishing Group. Seabirds, T. , 2005. The First Crusade: A New History. Illustrated deed.