Were the crusades worthwhile for the people of Europe? Religious wars, known prominently by the name of the crusades, were a sequence of battles between Christian and Muslim forces for control of the Holy Lands, in particular, Jerusalem. The battles occurred between the years of 1096 and 1291. Christian forces believed it was the place where Jesus was crucified and where he ascended to heaven; alternatively, to Muslims it was the place where Muhammad ascended to heaven. Despite the hundreds of thousands of deaths that occurred on crusade, ultimately, the crusades were worthwhile for the people of Europe.
There were many social, political and economical benefits that came to Europe as a direct result of the crusades. Knowledge and new goods were introduced to the people of Europe and as a result, improved the quality of their lives. The increase of trade led to a growth of towns and the breaking down of the feudal obligations gave more individual freedom to the people of Europe. The crusades bought social benefits in the form of new goods to the people of Europe. The introduction of essential goods such as soap, poppy juice and paper had a profoundly positive impact.
Soap, for example, helped reduce the spread of major diseases in such a way that was previously impossible. It removed dirt and stains that had been around for years in a quick and relatively easy manner and was an obvious link to new knowledge of hygiene. Poppy juice and other new goods that helped the people of Europe’s health were an immense social benefit. In years prior to the crusades, the patient would have an axe hacked into them to remove a limb and would most likely fall unconscious half-way through, unable to withstand the pain.
Poppy juice aided and helped their pain; likewise, other new goods such as herbs including rose, lavender, hen-bane, hemlock, coriander, mint, balm, bay and sage were introduced and used to treat other painful ailments such as fevers and head pains, saving the people of Europe a lot of pain and suffering. Not only did these new goods help with the people of Europe’s health, the introduction of paper also had an enormous impact on the people of Europe, providing many with the opportunity to learn and read and practise more.
Before the crusades, the people of Europe used parchment which was made out of animals’ skins. This was very difficult to obtain for the majority of the population. (Which were the peasants. ) The discovery of paper was a much cheaper alternative and was much more readily available to the people. Moreover, the beginning of paper being more easily distributed also resulted in higher literacy rates among those who had learnt to read and write-this then led to a better education for those previously illiterate, affecting their future positively, which, in the long run led to better trade for the people of Europe.
Other social benefits for the people of Europe include the use of mattresses, soft couches and cushions, which were originally from the Muslims. Europeans who could afford them enthusiastically took them up, and it created much comfort for the people of Europe. Therefore, many social benefits were obtained in the form of new goods for the people of Europe. Other social benefits obtained from the crusades include the introduction of important new knowledge to the people of Europe. Innovations to knowledge such as numbers and science were a massive leap forward for the people of Europe.
For example, the system of Arabic numerals later included the concept of ‘zero’, rather than the tiresome roman numerals. This discovery had an unbelievable social benefit and it made complex mathematics, such as algebra, much more effortless. In addition, it was a great step forwards towards banking and calculating interest for the people. Subsequently, European scholars were able to access and translate previously lost ancient works that the Arabs still had access to. These works contributed to a rediscovery of science and learning in Europe.
Furthermore, other new goods were then introduced in medicine based on the information attained from the new knowledge brought back. Moreover, the breakthrough of irrigation, chemistry, water wheels and water clocks was also a major social benefit for the people of Europe. Evidently, other social benefits in the form of new knowledge was obtained from the crusades, and ultimately, improved the quality of the people of Europe’s’ lives. Not only did the crusades benefit the people of Europe socially, but the crusades also had political benefits in the form of the breaking down of the feudal system.
Many peasants who served in the crusades learned new skills and were opened up to new ideas while away. When they returned they were less likely to settle down into feudal life. They started to push for changes such as the right to marry, to be able to travel freely and the fight to be paid for work. Although at the end of the crusades there was no political gain or change at all, the lives of the actual people of Europe was improved and the breaking down of the feudal system was a result of the crusades which gave more individual freedom.
Clearly, the people of Europe benefited politically as a result of the crusades. The crusaders came back with some immense economic effects in the form of improved ideas of geography, transportation, trade and a banking system. The improved ideas of geography helped the people of Europe become wealthy because of the increase in trade. For example, Florence and Venice in Italy were enormously wealthy and powerful as a result of the fall of Constantinople. Later, nations like Portugal became powerful through exploration.
There were other economic benefits, which also include transportation. New methods of ship and road building also improved transportation of goods, which ultimately, helped the people noticeably. This also led to the introduction of trade between Europe and the Holy Lands which made individual Europeans wealthy but also provided new goods to European markets. Over time as towns developed, trade made some towns wealthy. Because of the increase in trade, and the introduction of Arabic numbers and paper, complex mathematics was made possible-including calculation of interest.
Banking became established in Europe after the crusades and towns like Florence became active in the banking trade. Banking made trade easier for nations and individuals, which was a great help for the people of Europe. Regardless of the deaths that occurred during the crusades, ultimately Europe became much more powerful and wealthy economically. Obviously, there were many economic benefits from the crusades for the people of Europe. The crusades were without a doubt worthwhile for the people of Europe. It impacted the people of Europe’s lives not only socially, but politically and economically as well.
New goods and knowledge were essential and helped the people significantly, not only making their lives healthier but more comfortable as well. The breaking down of the feudal system let every individual have more freedom and was another obvious benefit from the crusades. The increase in trade made many wealthy and changed the way the people of Europe lived. Despite the effort needed for the crusades, it impacted positively for the people of Europe. Hence, the crusades were worthwhile for the people of Europe.