For centuries, the Muslims had been attacking and usurping Christian lands. With no real boundaries differentiating territories, it was impossible to fathom any measure of cordiality to exist between the two
The wars that then raged, The Crusades, as the western world sought to exact revenge have altered the present and the future so much that the effects are being felt even today. According to Edward Gibbon
, a chronicler belonging to the Enlightenment era, the effort would have been better utilized to seek and forge better and peaceful relations with the Muslims. This, according to him and others of his ilk, was highly improbable, because the warmongers would have instead indulged in infighting, instead. According to the eminent historians of the Enlightenment age, the crusaders were instigated by vested interests and were a rather gullible misdirected lot that were swayed away by the rhetoric of those that sought retribution and hence gains of questionable causes.
It can be only be left to imagination the wholesale changes that two the hundred years Crusade must have wrought as a direct consequence or as fallout; in the immediate present or as a long-term effect on the times to follow long after. In its wake, the crusades had accounted for millions of Christians' lives (approximated to lie in the range of 2 million to 6 million
) as also accounting for unimaginable and irreparable losses to land and property. And the anarchy unleashed by the Crusades in the society in those barbaric times must have permeated the whole Christian and Muslim communities leaving behind deep scars that still make their marks felt.
It cannot however be said that the effects of any war of such gigantic proportions did not have any positive outcome. In fact many benefits were accrued as a result of this two-century long Crusade
. This paper discusses some of the key impact
Impact on the religious bureaucracy: The Catholic Church
The main beneficiary, as was obvious was the Catholic Church, the Pope there and all that was associated by its influence. Over and above the continuing flow of small time gifts and donations that the ordinary folk showered to the Church, the war began availing it of the more invaluable land and with it greater powers. As more and more territories began to fall under the crusading warriors, the church was gifted generously and wield and power of the church increased as a direct consequence.
The growing clout of the church had some far-reaching, detrimental impact, too. The discord between the two religions reached its nadir. All traces of cordiality that existed or could have possibly been fostered had been obliterated. The times that followed bore the ill-effects for centuries as a consequence. The structure of the society changed irreconcilably. The influence of the landlords and collective law of land diminished, giving way to a single head of state, or of Kings and monarchs. The indulgence of the Church with the feudal lords and their pre-occupation with them for the favors granted led to a widening rift between the powers that now came into being, the kings and the monarchs, and subsequently, the Church lost its place in the power structure
The ascent to the top of the power structure of the Church was, however not to last for long. The rapidly changing power equations were something that the Church was unable to comprehend and as a result, soon lost out to the kings and monarchy. In the society itself the first fissures started appearing. The sophisticated and mature Roman way of life and customs clashed with those of the more rudimentary and rather unrefined Catholic western Europeans
One of the major fallout of the long drawn crusade was that the casualties of the battles sought shelters and mental respite in the peaceful isolation of the Church and wished to distance themselves from the worldly cares and troubles. They had had enough of the physical and mental scars. Though these new entrants did not really affect the monetary health of the churches, it certainly took a toll in its' personnel resources and took some time to adjust to the overwhelming numbers that came in droves.
The fanatic fervor with which the common folk of the western Christians engaged in the duty of war in the name of religion as dictated by the Church to regain hold of the Holy land from the Muslims and the Jews left behind in its wake a very debilitating society of morally, spiritually and hurt masses of human beings belonging to the latter. The Church had unleashed a frenzied Christian people that were casting a venomous atrocity on the Jews and Muslims for generations to come
The Church as, as consequence gained importance as it provided the much sought relief and shelter to all those who had become casualties of this sacrosanct crusade. The war-ravaged masses saw in the church its only salvage and many turned to it for succor and well-being. Thus, empowered, the church in turn gained in strength once again and began making its presence felt in the day-to-day social life. The number of those dependent on church for all its basic needs, physical as well as spiritual and moral increased in intensity and quantity rapidly. The Church thus started having more control over how people thought about everything in their lives. It had thus deeply entrenched itself into the minds of the people
Impact on Business and Commerce
One of the important ways in which crusade affected the lives of men and society at large was the constant exchange of man and material between the two radically different cultures of the East and the west. The finesse and sophistication of the highly developed eastern culture came to be much sought after by those in the west. The linen, the artistry in ornaments, the precious stones, finer culinary tastes of the east, and all such standards prevalent in the east found a ready market in the east who had till then never risen to these standards of living. The goods that started flowing with the growing industry of transportation from the east won it the sobriquet of "the gates to the heaven." The east, then to the westerners was the beginning of paradise
The exchanges opened up the western world as never before. They suddenly became aware of the huge gap in the knowledge acquired by the eastern Roman, Muslim and Jewish ways of life and their far better standards. The rise of the kings that was associated with the power vacuum left behind by the warring feudal lords was also accompanied by this new-born desire to taste the finer standards that life in the east had to offer. The rise of the monarchy was no longer going to be satisfied with religious stronghold only
The first signs of modern society were sown in these times of turmoil and conflict. The times were pregnant with possibilities. The structures that were then built to ensure smooth commercial movement soon saw amongst the first forms of taxation that have shaped the trade and commerce that we see today. It is in these times that the emergence of a new "middle class" first took shape. The new commercial interactions also spawned the loaning of money activity whose many varieties we now see
Impact on Agriculture and Feudalism
The entire feudal system underwent a drastic metamorphosis. It was entirely reduced to a non-entity. The reasons were two-fold. One, the exodus of the lordships to the cause of religion left behind an open space for the monarchy to gain in power and strength. The warring, crusading lords met their ends in faraway lands, and heirless land ownership was open for grabs by the kings and the crown. Even in the local scenario, the infighting of the lords had not stopped completely, and eventual casualties resulted in the rise of a definite kingdom headed by the crown and monarchs. This phenomenon was best illustrated in the birthplace of the crusades, France
Impact on Politics and the state
The domination of the feudal lords fading saw the emergence of the first traces of people's power along with the rise of the Crown. The crown became the natural inheritor of the lands that were left without their masters who had set out on the crusade to never come back. There were also a large number of the feudal lords who had squandered away their lands to acquire the means to wage vain, relentless, crusades
The ones who provided the liquid cash for the expeditions that the war-hungry lords so direly needed became the receivers of special privileges and soon rose in prominence in the social structure of the times. Power came naturally to them in no small measure
An important observation that has been pointed out is that the crusade stopped the invading Muslim Turks troops from taking Constantinople. Eventually, about more than three centuries after that,…