What were the consequences, both good and bad, of the crusades?  My text for this is Traditions & Encounters, by Bentley and Ziegler.

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In their subsection entitled “Consequences of the Crusades,” the authors of your text focus mainly on the good consequences of the Crusades.  However, the Crusades had more negative consequences as well, particularly in the long term.  Let us look first at the positive consequences that are mentioned in your text.

Bentley and Ziegler argue that one positive consequence of the Crusades was the creation of a trading network in the Mediterranean.  They say that Europeans were exposed to new products during the Crusades.  They came to want these products and, therefore, set up trading networks to obtain them.  The authors also say that this caused the creation of new products in Europe.  They say that Europeans originally had very little of value to trade for the silks, spices, and other goods that the Muslims had.  In response, the Europeans developed new goods that the Muslims would want.

Bentley and Ziegler also argue that the Crusades brought about cultural interactions that enriched Europe.  It was through the Crusades that Europeans rediscovered the works of Aristotle which had been preserved by the Muslims.  The cultural contacts brought about by the Crusades exposed Europeans to Arabic numerals, to Muslim science, and to things like the production of paper.  Because the Muslims had been so far ahead of the Europeans, contact with them benefitted the Europeans.

However, we must acknowledge that the Crusades had negative consequences, even if these are not emphasized in your text.  Of course, the Crusades caused immediate human suffering, both among the Crusaders and among those they fought.  In the long term, the Crusades had negative consequences as well.  The first widespread attacks on European Jews came about because of the Crusades and massacres of Jews became a fairly common occurrence afterwards.  In addition, the Crusades help to poison the relationships between the West and Muslims to this day.  We can see this in the fact that Islamists use the term “crusaders” to refer to Western soldiers in Muslim lands today.

Thus, the Crusades did have positive consequences for the economy and society of Europe.  However, they did have very negative impacts as well, particularly in the long term.

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