The Crusades and their military campaigns to the Middle East left a significant mark on all lives in Middle East. During all major seven Crusades, the target was the Holy Land, Jerusalem, which was the homeland of Jesus Christ and the origin of the Christianity. The Crusades were headed by many famous leaders such as Popes, army leaders and even a king.
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The Crusades started in 1095 and finished in 1291 resulting in absolute failure at the end of the movement. In the beginning Pope Urban II declared that the real purpose of the Crusade campaign is to retrieve the holy land and establish it as state. However, the invasion and pillage of Constantinople in the fourth Crusade disproved the Pope’s ideology and demonstrated the actual purpose to take over the treasures of the Middle East. In this essay, I am analyzing that despite the Crusades influenced the Middle East and North Africa positively, they caused a devastating impact on the Islamic states and the population of Middle East by affecting economic conditions, political discourse and social life of people.
Commerce was one of the most crucial parts of people’s lives that underwent the impact of the Crusades. When the Crusades started to attack the Middle East, the essence of the movement was to conquer. Many views of the Crusades as the accelerator of the trade between the East and West without regarding its disastrous impact on the economy of Middle East states and population of that region. When the first Crusade reached the Middle East, their troops began to ransack the homes of local people. This eventually made eastern people poor and not having money led to the increase of unpaid taxations.
The Crusades treated merchants very abusively and harmed trading by robbing goods of eastern merchants. In this way, the Crusade troops damaged the trade and economy of the Middle East region. The damage affected negatively both the Islamic states and the population in that region in terms of economic aspects. Although the economy of Middle East gradually experienced relief, the economic condition could not be revived fully. The occupation of Jerusalem (modern Palestine) created an environment that merchants did not want to come to because the area was dominated by the Crusade troops. In addition, the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was not good news for the Muslim population since the newly established state imposed several taxes on the locals. This made it difficult for Muslims to pay the taxes, because of the massive robberies that occurred from the Crusades. The Crusade campaign put a stress on the economy and crushed agricultural use by the people in the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition to the economic impacts, the Crusades influenced the political system of the Middle East in a destructive way. When the Crusades came to Jerusalem, there was no powerful state which could rule the Holy Land entirely. In the first Crusade, it was not difficult for them to occupy Jerusalem and started a new state which was called the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Third Crusade was a turning point for the Crusade troops, they encountered a great general from Egypt, named Saladin. He was a great army leader and managed to defeat the Christian army. After being beaten by Saladin, the Crusade leaders decided to concentrate more on Egypt rather than directly attacking to the Holy Land, because the Crusaders believed that they would never be comfortably ruling Jerusalem as long as Saladin lived.
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