AN03e_Formation of Western Europe- The Crusades
Timeline: 11th – 13th C
FQ: To what extent did the Crusades disrupt the stabile feudal order of Medieval Europe?
Main Idea: The feudal structure was being challenged and steadily replaced by a commercially-oriented world view centered around towns. If we re-visit the Middle-East, we find a new force attempting to challenge the regional powers of the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate. Calls for assistance from the Byzantine emperor lands on the Vatican’s steps. The Crusades will ensue opening a line of communication between East & West. The resulting commercial, philosophical, and scientific exchange will affect Christian Europe significantly.
I. Developments in Feudal Europe & the Middle East (High Middle Ages, 11th – 13th C.)
A. Western Europe
1. Rise of Urban Centers and Commerce: Paris, Cairo, Venice, Hanseatic League
2. Rise of Strong Monarchies: Frederick I (Barbarossa) (1), Philip II (Augustus) (2), Richard I (Lion heart) (3).
3. Building of Gothic Cathedrals: Fuels Christian expansion.
B. Byzantine Empire
1. The Great Schism- 1054 (4)
2. Borders continue to contract as Islam spreads.
3. The Seljuk Turks are at the vanguard of a new nomadic incursion towards Europe by the 11th C.
C. The Islamic Civilization
1. The Islamic civilization under the Abbasid Caliphate begins to suffer from a fracturing of its empire.
2. The move of the capital eastward from Damascus to Baghdad may have weakened control over western territories. Iberia breaks away and begins its own Islamic civilization under the Fatamid Emirate. A Golden Age of Iberian Islam follows.
3. Persia and Egypt become independent Islamic emirates.
4. A Persian leader seizes political control from the Caliph and assumes the political title of “Sultan”. The Caliph remains strictly a religious figure/ leader.
5. The Abbasid Caliphate eventually succumbs to the turkic advance by the late 12th C.
D. The Turks
1. Led by the tribe of Seljuks, Turks enter the Byzantine & Abbasid region in the 10th C.
2. Contact with the larger Muslim Abbasid society eventually leads to Turks adopting Islam.
3. Turks overrun the Abbasids and assume the title of Sultan. No Caliphs exist to continue the Caliphate tradition.
4. By the end of the 11th C., all of Asia Minor is in Turkish hands. Byzantium sends a request for assistance to Western Europe and the Catholic Church.
II. What was The Plan?
There were eight official Crusades and many unofficial efforts (the 6th Crusade wasn’t sponsored by The Church). The targets of the Crusades varied as the goals of Western Europeans changed over a two hundred year period (1096-1292). Though this is the time period often associated with The Crusades, it was not the only period that witnessed a crusading effort. What all the ‘Crusading’ periods (up to the 14th C.) had in common were that the targets (locations, people) could be other than the Holy Land and Muslims. Some targeted Muslim civilizations in North Africa as well as Byzantium (e.g. Venetian sponsored 4th Crusade). One of the few “successful” efforts against the expansion of Islam didn’t occur until 1492, Spain’s Reconquista. (5)
III. Historical Observations
1. The Crusades were a manifestation of the growing secular power of the Church. The effort was initially well received, but the fervor slackened over a two-century period.
2. The Church, if one considers the goals of the Crusades, failed.
3. If one considers the impact of European exposure to Eastern cultures and trade goods, the Crusades helped guide Europeans toward a path that would forever change humanity.
B. Goals of the Europeans
1. The Pope (Church): Pope Urban II hopes to expel the Muslims out of the Holy Land and unite Roman and Byzantine (Western and Eastern) Christians as part of that quest. The call to arms of Christians (1095, Clermont, France) is a concrete example of the secular power of the Papacy. An enticement for crusaders was a papal dispensation for sins already committed and yet to be committed by the prospective volunteer crusader.
2. The Nobility: The Nobles hoped to improve their chances of acquiring salvation (in the afterlife) by answering the Papal call to arms. While they remained in the world of the living, however, the Crusaders rarely overlooked an opportunity to accumulate wealth acquired through various means.
3. The Merchants: Re-exposure to the exotic products of the East and the needs of a Crusading army motivates some Europeans to exploit the business opportunities that developed. Venice’s role in the Fourth Crusade is an exceptional example of the power of commercial interests in Europe. In the 11th and 12th C., merchant (commercial) participation included:
– Supplying the Crusaders with food, materials, and weapons.
– Providing the armies with transport from Europe to the East.
– Any assistance that could hasten the defeat of Muslim merchants, thereby permitting rising European commercial centers (Genoa, Venice, etc…) to appropriate former Muslim trade routes and business.
C. Pivotal Historical Figures (1st and 3rd Crusade)
1. Pope Urban II (11th C., Roman Catholic Pope) [http://www.umich.edu/~eng415/timeline/Urban.html](http://www.umich.edu/~eng415/timeline/Urban.html)
2. Emperor Alexius (11th C., Byzantine ruler) [http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/middleages/topic\_3/comnena.htm](http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/middleages/topic_3/comnena.htm)
3. William of Tyre (12th C., Chronicler, Roman Catholic Bishop) [http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tyre-cde.html](http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/tyre-cde.html)
4. Saladin (12th C., 3rd Crusade. Turkic leader.) [http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/profilessaladin.html](http://www.pbs.org/empires/islam/profilessaladin.html)
5. Richard the Lion-Hearted (12th C., 3rd Crusade. England, Plantagenet monarch) [http://www.royal.gov.uk/HistoryoftheMonarchy/KingsandQueensofEngland/TheAngevins/RichardICoeurdeLion.aspx](http://www.royal.gov.uk/HistoryoftheMonarchy/KingsandQueensofEngland/TheAngevins/RichardICoeurdeLion.aspx)
IV. Consequences of the Crusades
A. Loss of Papal/ Church prestige.
B. Weakening of the Nobility.
C. Acceleration of the decline of the Byzantine Empire.
D. Religious Intolerance (Christian – Muslim, Christian – Jew, Christian – Christian).
E. The West’s “Re-introduction” to the East, culturally and economically.
F. “Christendom”, as a religious – political entity, is increasingly being replaced by the emerging “nation – states” of Europe. Loyalty to King and nation is supplanting feudal and religious bonds.
V. Summary: Why it matters now.
The Crusades left a legacy of distrust between Christians and Muslims that continues to the present.
ExT03e_1st Crusade Vocabulary Crossword
(1) Holy Roman Empire
(4) Mutual excommunication by the Western Pope and the Eastern Patriarch.
(5) Technically, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula begins centuries before it’s official end in 1492.
– Try a NYTimes Crossword on the Middle Ages (8 Feb’10) http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/xwords/java/20010401.html
– Slide Presentation
– Films: History Channel’s “Crescent and the Cross” and CNN’s “Millennium” Series.
– World History: Patterns of Interaction