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Topics in History

The Crusades

Military expeditions from Europe for the purpose of recovering the Holy Land from the Mohammedans. Pope Urban II launched the crusading in his sermon at Clermont on 26 November 1095. The movement continued sporadically until 1270.

The crusading movement ceased because people of Europe had infidels to fight that were nearer home. The holy places of Europe came to be venerated as much as their originals in the Holy Land. The sale of indulgences removed the need to travel to Asia Minor to win religious peace.

The Crusades failed to accomplish what they were organised to do because the crusaders lacked good leaders. There were too many quarrels among the crusaders and with the Byzantine Emperors. It was too difficult to colonise so large a territory as Asia Minor and absorb the Mohammedan population.

The crusades led to a decline of feudalism. The barons sold their rights to raise funds to go on the crusades and neglected their fiefs by long periods of absence. On the other hand, the association of so many knights in these expeditions stimulated the social side of feudalism and developed greatly the usages of feudalism, such as tournaments, heraldic devices, and coats of arms.

Commerce was stimulated. The crusaders learned the use of many unfamiliar commodities while in Asia Minor and wished to import them into Europe. Windmills were introduced into Europe from Asia Minor by crusaders. Sugar cotton, rice, indigo, the mulberry-tree, figs, citron, watermelon, muskmelon, apricot, plum, artichoke, the mule, the donkey, and the Arabian horse were all introduced into Europe by returning crusaders. Europeans secured knowledge of medicine, chemistry, mathematics, and astronomy from the Arabs.

contributed by Gifford, Katya

26 June 2002
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