The History and Impact of the Crusades

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Latin Christians had been among the first theologians, philosophers, and apologists for the Christian faith. They produced volumes of works on the then-budding faith long before it grew to be the world’s most popular religion. Muslims practice Islam religion and, during the time of the crusades, had been referred to as Moors. Muslims refer to the Qur’an as their religious book from God as revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and followed teachings of Muhammad as recorded in the hadiths. The Crusades started by the Latin Church occurred during the medieval time as a series of religious wars and had been more rampant in the Eastern Mediterranean. These wars focused on recovering sacred land acquired during Muslim rule. Muslim communities ultimately fought back. During the Crusades, relations between Christians and Muslims were mixed. While Christians and Muslims fought each other, they were willing to try cooperation and collaboration on certain occasions. While Christian-Muslim relations and interactions were overall more undesirable than constructive, they were not completely clear-cut. There had been instances of partial peace, coexistence, political compromise, mixed marriages, trade, and scientific exchange . On many occasions, the Muslims and Christians worked together toward a common goal.

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When the Crusades began, distinct geographical boundaries in the Islamic societies had been marked. Territories under the Islamic authority and Law and subject to the Muslim leaders occupied much land as compared to the land ruled by the Latin Christians in the West. Some Christians involved in the Crusade had been prepared to work with Muslims in order to attempt to attain their goals. An instance of attempted Christian-Muslim collaboration in 1139 in Damascus can be viewed. In this challenge, the Zengi, Imad al-Din Atabeg, sent messages to the prince in order to secure the surrender of the city. His goal had been to conquer without bloodshed, however, this was avoidable. The Muslim rulers of Damascus collaborated with the Franks, or Christians, to drive off the Zengi and prevent him from securing Damascus for himself, but to no avail. Damascus fell into the hands of the son of Imad al-Din in June of 1139.

The main accomplishment during and after the crusades was that Muslims actively engaged in science and philosophy creatively and began to rethink existing ideas. Muslim scholars borrowed a lot from Latin Christians. This based the inter-cultural exchange between the two religious worlds and provided a rich urbanization tradition. As a result, the Islamic world became more urbanized and grew to be much bigger. On the other hand, through trade the west created wealth, leading ethnic and linguistic diversity. In addition, cities in the west and the east had significant population increase. In both the Middle East and in Spain, Christians and Crusaders were often willing to unite with Muslims in order to help in the development of various comforts of their own. During and after the First Crusade, some Seljuq Turkish Muslim rulers in the Middle East decided to become patrons of the Crusaders in exchange for things such as safety and the improvement of their own political careers. In fact, the Christians of northern Spain had grown so rich on the offering they extracted from their Muslim neighbors, Christian sovereigns of Leon-Castile had been disinclined to overtake their weakening Islamic opponents for fear of losing treasured profits. Renaissance at the end suggested that Theology could not discard the Renaissance as an empty vessel. 

There is a strong resemblance between Crusades and Jihad. Both religions are a monotheist, in that there is only one God. They offered martyrdom and promised a better after-life to those who died. However, while Jihad focused on the rescuing of souls, the Crusades were aimed at the liberating what they term to be sacred land. The Crusaders did not always require the Muslims to convert to Christianity once they claimed a territory. While the Crusaders did not always insist Muslims convert to Christianity in order to form agreements with them, Muslim rulers did offer to convert to Christianity in order to help advance their own ambitions. Many times, a Muslim ruler would offer their conversion if the Crusaders would help them defeat an enemy. King Richard, the Lionheart, succeeded in negotiating a truce between the Christians and Saffadin, brother of Saladin, in regard to the ownership of Ascalon. Neither would inhabit the land, however, the Christians would maintain their fields that pertained to the land. As a result, the Bishop of Salisbury and a group of men were granted access to the Holy Land of Jerusalem to worship in the place where Christ stood.

In addition to Christian and Muslim respect and collaboration, there were also abundant cases of Christian-Muslim aggression, conflict, and cruelty. Not only had there been massacres at Antioch and Jerusalem during the First Crusade, King Richard massacred roughly 2,700 Muslim prisoners at Acre during the Third Crusade. The ultimate fall of Acre to the Muslim Egyptian Mamluks in 1291 was trailed by Muslim violence against Acre’s inhabitants.4 Countless soldiers and civilians had been sold into slavery or slaughtered. After the fall of Arce, a renewed vigor in the fight against Islam prevailed. Christians had now become determined and believed it was their responsibility to crush the Muslims so Christianity could thrive. In fact, once Spain had been reconquered in 1492, Christian rulers of Spain ejected the Muslim populaces of Spain who declined to adopt Christianity. The Crusades still lead to massive harm to Muslim-Christian interreligious relations due to two centuries of on-and-off struggle between Muslims and Christians over holy locations in the Middle East.

The history and impact of the Crusades in the Muslim and Christian world had been quite significant. Christian-Muslim interactions during the Crusades had been positive and negative. The Crusaders were pragmatic and tried to pursue treaties with various Middle Eastern Muslims in order to help reach their own goals. Crusaders also pursued ruthless policies which ended up hurting them. A threat could be viewed on cultural undermine or physiological colonialism. The Crusades are still relevant because in order to search for neutral ground where one can advocate for inter-religion unity there has to be a reference of the differences that divided the two sides and also borrow on ideas that united the two especially on science, trade, and urbanization.

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The History and Impact of the Crusades. (2020, Feb 26). Retrieved January 28, 2023 , from
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