How did the Crusades help to affect change in Western Europe?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Crusades had a dramatic impact on the economic and political landscape of Western Europe. The greatest impact was to foster the end of the system of feudalism that had strangled Europe for centuries. As feudal lords went off to fight the crusades, they would sell or donate their estates to raise money for expeditions. Many of the lords went off to war and died on the battlefield. The end result was the freedom of the serfs to explore other opportunities. Consequently, the Crusades strengthened the positions of the monarchs and the people.
The Crusades also afforded the opportunity for westerners to visit places in the East. The regions to the east were much more sophisticated and cultured than the feudal west. Many works of classical Greece and Rome were returned with the Crusaders. This reinvigorated an interest in art and science that had been absent in the West. This renewed interest resulted in the Renaissance, which had its roots in Italy--an area that benefited fiscally from the Crusades.