what were the major intellectual and cultural trends during the 12th and 13 centuries
The first big intellectual trend was the translation of texts from other cultures, especially ancient Greek works. Latin scholars of this earlier focused almost entirely on translating and studying Greek and Arabic works of natural science,mathematics and philosophy. Having these works translated opened the doors for more people to understand and study these texts. The Hanseatic League, which was "a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe," was founded in the 12th century.
In the late 13th century an Italian named Marco Polo became one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. This opened the door for more trade to come in and out of Europe, which means more money was being made. This lead to people being able to make an income and take care of their families.
In the 12th century, translations were being made of the works of Aristotle. Medical Universities were being opened up. This was a big breakthrough for medicine. People now had the chance to get an education in medicine. Science was being studied more now, because of the translations that were now being made. Some of the first inventions of the 12th century were the 1st windmill in 1185, paper manufactured in Spain around 1100 and the magnetic compass.
Early in the 12th century saw a revival of the study of Latin classics, prose and verse. A new method of learning was now being taught. It was called Scholaticisim. It was developed from the rediscovered works of Aristotle, works of medieval Muslims and Jews. This was a new way of arguing and understanding theology. Its focused idea was that diversity of opinion is not contradiction. It was the basis for the great Aristotelian scholars of the 13th century, most notably being, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas.
The 12th and 13th century saw a revival in poetry as well. It led to the expansion of poetic form and contributed to the rise of vernacular literature, which tended to prefer the newer rhythms and structure.
As you can see the 12th and 13th century opened the doors for us today in the forms of literature, medicine and theology. It also opened the doors for the people living then. They now had the opportunity to understand and learn. Great advances were made during these eras in time.