The Christian Crusades Positively Impacted the East and the West.

Even though countless numbers of people died during the Christian Crusades, there were many positive effects for both the East and the West. After the Crusades halted, various trade routes opened up between Eastern and Western cities. Also, the Muslims developed new military strategies and techniques during the fights with the Europeans, and they united themselves against one cause, producing a stronger religious nation (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993). Numerous effects of the Christian Crusades in the Middle East had a positive outcome.

In John Child’s book, The Crusades, he quotes J. Kerr as claiming that the "most obvious result of the crusades" was a growth in "trade with the east". According to a 1996 AP article printed in the Jerusalem Post, the English word "sugar" comes from the Arabic "sukkar", and "scallion" comes from "Ascalon", a Philistine city. Trade extended from England to the Black Sea, going through the ports of Beirut, Acre and Alexandria. After the loss of Acre in 1291, Cyprus, Rhodes and Crete were the three Mediterranean islands that composed some of the main crusader trading centers. From these three islands it was possible to control goods' ships traveling to and from the Middle East (Child, 1994).

These trade routes generated a beneficial contact between the cultures of East and West. Many merchants from the cities of Venice and Genoa settled in Cyprus and Crete. From the Muslims these merchants bought spices, sugar, cloth and cotton. Other merchants from Sicily and Aragorn traded for Tunisian gold, and Algerian wool and animal skins. Popular goods traded from the Middle East were sugar, melons, cotton, ultramarine dye and damask cloth. Although the Pope tried to stop merchants from trading with the Muslims, he had to repeal his embargo in 1344. Though most of the traded goods came from the Middle East, the combined efforts from both East and West brought about many inventions, such as windmills, compasses, gunpowder and clocks.

Figure 1.

This trade between East and West caused prosperity among the people. Child states in his book that the merchants made "a lot of money" out of the trade with the Muslim people. After the Crusades had terminated, these merchants were able to prosper from trade between Europe and the Middle East. Outlined in Figure 1 are some trade routes utilized after the Crusades.

During the Crusades, the Muslims used weaponry that the Franks were not familiar with. The battles during the Crusades led to the spread of siege engines, such as the mangonel, and the Franks learned how to employ fire as a "missile". The Franks also learned new methods of creating fortifications. The use of armorial bearings may have originated in the Orient, and it is hypothesized that the Europeans learned many new ideas from looking at Arab armor (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993). European soldiers learned to protect themselves from the heat by imitating Muslim soldiers. The troops covered their heads and shoulders, and they wore light, loose clothing over their armor (MacDonald, 1993). This sharing of military machinery brought about positive effects for the people involved.

In Europe and the Middle East, scholarly developments came along with the trade and military developments. After the Crusades, the use of northern European pointed arches became popular with Muslim architects (MacDonald, 1993). Muslim doctors still retained some of the Greek’s knowledge of human anatomy; much of the information had been lost to the Europeans (Child, 1994). Many twelfth century European scientists voyaged to Arabian countries to study different methods and new ideas. Leonardo Fibonnaci, the first Christian algebraist, traveled to Syria and to Egypt to study with mathematicians there. Also, studies of language were initiated by many missionaries. In 1311, Raimon Lull, a missionary in the Orient, introduced six schools in Europe designed for the specific study of Oriental languages (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993).

Literature appeared after the Crusades in great abundance. Some examples are Nathan der Weise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Carmen Ambrosii and Chanson d’Antioche (Riley-Smith, 1995). The Crusades also brought new light upon old matters. Many old tales were redone with the spirit of crusading infused in them. The contact that occurred during the Crusades had many positive effects, and the fine literature produced was just one of them (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993).

From the Arabs, the Europeans obtained many new ideas and possessions. Merchants traded food stuffs and goods like sugar, maize, lemons, melons, cotton, muslin and damask between themselves. The colors azure and gules came from the Arabian people, and the Europeans added many Arabian words to the language of English (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1993). The Europeans worked with the Arabs on many scientific accomplishments, such as the windmill, the compass, gunpowder and clocks. The East and West combined their greatest minds and worked on science and mathematics (Child, 1994). Together, the Muslims and Christians helped each other, and, together, they benefited from the contact that occurred during the Crusades.

The Silk Road, or Silk Routes, are an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe.
So-called "Silk Routes" were not only conduits for silk, but for many other products and were also very important paths for cultural and technological transmission by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years.

The routes enabled people to transport trade goods, especially luxuries such as silk, satins, musk, rubies, diamonds, pearls and rhubarb. At the same time, they were a conduit for the spread of knowledge, ideas, cultures, and diseases from different parts of the world in China, India, and Asia Minor to the Mediterranean, extending over 8,000 km (5,000 miles). Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, India, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, Rome, and Byzantium and helped to lay the foundations for the modern world in several respects. Although the term the Silk Road implies a continuous journey, very few travelers traveled the route from end to end. For the most part, goods were transported by a series of agents on varying routes and trade took place in the bustling mercantile markets of the oasis towns.

The Central Asian part of the trade route was expanded around 114 BCE by the Han Dynasty,largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian as earlier trade across the continents had already existed. In the late Middle Ages, transcontinental trade over the land routes of the Silk Road declined as sea trade increased.