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Smith goes on to claim that on in Italy is there any "indisputable influence" (471) of the Crusades. Trade increased dramatically. Charanis agrees with the notion that the Crusades left behind more damage than they did anything good. He does admit the "crusading, as a historical phenomenon, was a significant movement" (Charanis 1952, 131). Along with these critics, John Mansbridge concurs that the Crusades did not end positively. While the goal was to save Christianity from Muslim influence, after the Crusades ended this was not the case.
In addition, the Crusades did not establish a way of life in Europe "that had not already begun or that would not have been brought about without these protracted and wasteful wars' (Mansbridge 1973, 109). Mansbridge adds that one social change was probably "hastened" (110) by the Crusades and this was the weakening feudal power of kings. What many come to realize by examining the crusades is that the initial attempt to protect Christianity failed miserably and did so at the cost of many. Noble maintains that the "Christian ideals of poverty, charity, and service... were incompatible with war" (Noble 1994, 417). In Noble's estimation, when looking at the movement as a whole, we see more "losses than gains" (417) and, as a result of the Crusades, relations between Christian Europe and the Muslim world were "embittered' (417). Noble contends that while the Crusades did not create anti-Semitism, they "worsened it" (Noble 418). Interestingly, Craig points out that the "long-term achievement" (Craig 2000, 344) of the first three Crusades had "little to do with their purpose" (344). He contends that religiously and politically, the Crusades were a "failure" (344) and the Holy Land remained as "firmly Muslim as ever" (344). In short, politically and militarily, the Crusades were a failure in the east. The fall of Constantinople is undoubtedly the largest failure associated with the Crusades.
In the west, however, things were different.
It is true that the Crusades did more damage than good. While attempting to salvage and protect Christianity, the Crusades seemed to be like the overbearing parent and push it farther away until it became totally out of reach. Having recognized this, we can look at the circumstances and see that some positive things did emerge from the mess the Crusades made. Almost all critics agree that one of the most positive results of the Crusades is the broadening of knowledge. East meets West and, as a result, all men's minds were broadened. In addition to this, the Crusades did stimulate western trade and "cultural interaction" (344) with the east with merchants in Venice, Pisa, and Genoa becoming lucrative markets. In addition, the need to resupply Christian settlements in the east reopened old trade routes that had been closed by Arab domination and opened new trades routes. It is safe to say that the most significant positive result of the Crusades was economic. What the Crusades did in the name of trade is significant and could have never been predicted. It is the law of unintended consequences in the positive as the affects were felt across the Atlantic as Spain sought out trade route to India and beyond. Other positive outcomes from the Crusades include the institution of free cities. Of course, this was not an intended outcome; it was an incidental resulting from so many towns disengaging from lords. The ability to own and dispose of property also resulted from the Crusades as well as freedom from arbitrary taxation. By the end of the Crusades, the people were being recognized and politically acknowledged. Another incidental that emerged from the Crusades is sugar cane.
The Crusades demonstrate that with a little bit of effort and inspiration, much can be attempted but this does not mean that much will be accomplished. With mild success in the First Crusade, popes and kings alike felt the need to control the spread of Christianity and stop the spread of eastern religions. As with most individuals, they become consumed with power and lose sight of what actually matters in battle. Popes and kings want to win, they become easily embarrassed, they fail, but they want desperately to succeed. The Crusades are always associated with the name of God and rightly so but we should never look at the Crusades as God's war. Instead, we should look at them as man's war fought in the name of God. Reasons why the wars failed can be traced back to the complicated nature of man's peculiar characteristics. The reason for the wars was a good idea but that reason was lost early in the battles when the spirit of man decided to take over. The Crusades teach us about many things even today.
When we look at the reasons why anyone would want to start a holy war, we do not have to look far back into history. Reasons why seem to become secondary as the fighting wages on.
Charanis, Peter. "Aims of the Medieval Crusades and How They Were Viewed by Byzantium."
Church History. 21. 2. (1952) JSTOR Resource Database. Information Retrieved March 5, 2009.
Craig, Albert, et al. The Heritage of the World. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. (2000)
Mansbridge, John Marjorie Rowling, Life in Medieval Times. New York: Perigree. (1973)
Maurios, Andre. The Miracle of England. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers. (1937) 95
Noble, Thomas, et al. Western Civilization: The Continuing Experience. Vol. II. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. (1994)
Palmer, Alan. The Kings and Queens of England. London: Octopus Books Limited. (1976) 9
Smith, Henry. The Historians' History of the World. New York: Hooper and Jackson, Ltd. (1909)
Charanis, Peter. "Aims of the Medieval Crusades and How They Were Viewed by Byzantium."
Church History. 21. 2. (1952) 123
Noble, Thomas, et al. Western Civilization: The Continuing Experience. Vol. II. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. (1994) 384
Urban qtd. In Craig, Albert, et…[continue]
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