2.5 The Crusades: Conclusion

There were a total of eight Crusades. After the initial success of the First Crusade, the armies of Europe enjoyed little success. Ironically, the Crusades resulted in the eventual Turkish capture of Constantinople and destruction of Byzantium. The end for the Byzantines came during the Fourth Crusade when a Christian army sacked Constantinople. The Byzantines never recovered from the blow. The decline of Byzantium gave the Turks a free hand to expand into Southern Europe (which is exactly what they did in the 16th Century).

The Crusades had several important consequences for Europe.

1). The most important of which was the decline of the feudal system. The Crusades led to the death of many, many lords. Thousands of fiefs became lordless. Also, those lords who did survive went bankrupt.

2). Feudalism was further weakened because kings quit appointing new lords to administer fiefs. Instead, the kings of France and England personally absorbed lordless fiefs. In this way, kings became absolute monarchs of their respective kingdoms.

3). Since kings no longer relief upon vassals, a new political unit called the nation state began to emerge in Europe.

4). Lastly, culturally-speaking Arabic words entered European languages, e.g. cotton, muslin, divan, and bazaar. Europeans brought back new types of foods, clothing materials and spices.

5). Increased demand in Europe for Middle Eastern products and technologies increased the amount of international trade. Increased international trade contributed to the growth of Italian trading city-states like Genoa and Venice.

6). This international trade launched the Age of Discovery in the 14th Century which eventually led to Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492.