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7th Grade Social Studies / Lesson 10 - European look outward

 What will we be learning in this unit?
  • What advanced civilizations flourished around the world in 1050?
  • What were the causes and effects of the Crusades?
  • How did Christians in Spain carry out the Reconquista?


The World in 1050
  • In 1050, as Western Europe was just emerging from a period of isolation, civilizations were thriving elsewhere. These civilizations are described in detail in other chapters. What follows here is an overview of the world at the time that medieval Europe was first beginning to test its strength. 
  • During Europe's Middle Ages, Islam had given rise to a brilliant new civilization that stretched from Spain to India. Muslim traders and scholars spread goods and ideas even further. Trading caravans regularly crossed the Sahara to West Africa. Arab ships visited East African ports and sailed to India and East Asia.


  The World in 1050
  • Although India was politically divided, it was a land of thriving cities. Hindu and Buddhist traditions flourished, and wealthy princes built stunning temples and palaces. Indian mathematicians invented a number system, which Arabs adapted and eventually passed to Europeans. 
  • China had a strong central government. Under the Tang and Song dynasties, China's culture flourished and influenced neighboring peoples. The Chinese made amazing advances in technology, inventing paper, printing, and gunpowder. In dozens of cities, traders used coins and paper money, unknown to medieval Europeans.


  The World in 1050
  • In West Africa, the Soninke people were building the great trading empire of Ghana. Its merchants traded goods, especially gold, across the Sahara to North Africa, the Middle East, and even Europe.
  • Across the Atlantic, in the Americas, the Mayas had cleared rain forests and built cities dominated by towering temples. In Peru, Native Americans were building empires and creating great works of art, including elegant pottery, textiles, and jewelry. The civilizations of the Americas, however, remained outside the contacts that were taking place among Africans, Europeans, and Asians.


The World in 1050
  • Closer to Western Europe, the Byzantine empire was generally prosperous and united. Byzantine scholars still studied ancient Greek and Roman writings. In Constantinople, Byzantine and Muslim merchants mingled with traders from Venice and other Italian cities.
  • In the 1050s, the Seljuk Turks invaded the Byzantine empire. The Turks had migrated from Central Asia into the Middle East, where they converted to Islam. By 1071, the Seljuks had overrun most Byzantine lands in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). The Seljuks also extended their power over Palestine to the Holy Land and attacked Christian pilgrims.


The Crusades

  • The Byzantine emperor Alexius I urgently asked Pope Urban II for Christian knights to help him fight the Turks. Although Roman popes and Byzantine emperors were longtime rivals, Urban agreed. 
  • At the Council of Clermont in 1095, Urban incited bishops and nobles to action. "From Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople comes a grievous report," he began. "An accursed race ".. has violently invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire."

 


The Crusades
  • "God wills it!" roared the assembly. By 1096, thousands of knights were on their way to the Holy Land. As the crusading spirit swept through Western Europe, armies of ordinary men and women inspired by fiery preachers left for the Holy Land, too. Few returned. 
  • Religious zeal and other factors motivated the crusaders. Many knights hoped to win wealth and land. Some crusaders sought to escape troubles at home. Others yearned for adventure. 
  • The pope, too, had mixed motives. Urban hoped to increase his power in Europe and perhaps heal the schism, or split, between the Roman and Byzantine churches. He also hoped that the Crusades would set Christian knights to fighting Muslims instead of one another.


The Crusades
  • Only the First Crusade came close to achieving its goals. After a long, bloody campaign, Christian knights captured Jerusalem in 1099. They capped their victory with a massacre of Muslim and Jewish residents of the city. 
  • The Crusades continued, off and on, for over 200 years. The crusaders divided their captured lands into four small states. The Muslims repeatedly sought to destroy these Christian kingdoms, prompting Europeans to launch new crusades. By 1187, Jerusalem had fallen to the able Muslim leader Salah al-Din, known to Europeans as Saladin. On the Third Crusade, Europeans tried but failed to retake Jerusalem. After negotiations, though, Saladin did reopen the holy city to Christian pilgrims.


The Crusades
  • Europeans also mounted crusades against other Muslim lands, especially in North Africa. All ended in defeat. During the Fourth Crusade, the crusaders were diverted from fighting Muslims to fighting Christians. After helping Venetian merchants defeat their Byzantine trade rivals in 1204, crusaders captured and looted Constantinople, the Byzantine capital. 
  • Muslim armies, meanwhile, overran the crusader states. By 1291, they captured the last Christian outpost, the port city of Acre. As in Jerusalem 200 years earlier, the victors massacred their defeated enemies. This time, the victims were Christians.


Effects of the Crusades in Europe
  • Even before the Crusades, Europeans had a taste for luxuries from the Byzantine empire. The Crusades increased trade. Crusaders introduced fabrics, spices, and perfumes from the Middle East to Europe. 
  • Merchants in Venice and other northern Italian cities built large fleets to carry crusaders to the Holy Land. They later used those fleets to carry on trade with the Middle East. Our words sugar, cotton, and rice, borrowed from Arabic, show the range of trade goods involved. 
  • The Crusades further encouraged the growth of a money economy. To finance a journey to the Holy Land, nobles needed money. They allowed peasants to pay rents in money rather than in grain or labor, which helped undermine serfdom.


Effects of the Crusades in Europe
  • The Crusades helped to increase the power of feudal monarchs. Rulers won new rights to levy, or collect, taxes in order to support the Crusades. Some rulers, including the French king Louis IX, led crusades, which added greatly to their prestige.
  • Enthusiasm for the Crusades brought papal power to its greatest height. This period of enhanced prestige was short-lived, however. As we have seen, popes were soon involved in bitter clashes with feudal monarchs. Also, the Crusades did not end the split between the Roman and Byzantine churches. In fact, Byzantine resentment against the West hardened as a result of the Fourth Crusade.


Effects of the Crusades in Europe
  • Contacts with the Muslim world led Christians to realize that millions of people lived in regions they had never known existed. Soon, a few curious Europeans visited far-off places like India and China.
  • In 1271, a young Venetian, Marco Polo, set out for China with his merchant father and uncle. After many years in China, he returned to Venice full of stories about the wonders of Chinese civilization. Doubting Europeans called Marco Polo the "prince of liars." To them, his tales of a government-run mail service and black stones (coal) that were burned to heat homes were totally untrue.
  • The experiences of crusaders and of travelers like Marco Polo expanded European horizons. They brought Europe into a wider world from which it had been cut off since the fall of Rome. By the 1400s, a desire to trade directly with India and China led Europeans to a new age of exploration.


Effects of the Crusades in Europe


The Reconquista in Spain
  • The crusading spirit continued long after the European defeat at Acre. It flourished especially in Spain, where Christian warriors had been battling Muslims for centuries. Muslims had conquered most of Spain in the 700s. Several tiny Christian kingdoms survived in the north, however. As they slowly expanded their borders, they sought to take over Muslim lands. Their campaign to drive the Muslims from Spain became known as the Reconquista, or "reconquest."


The Reconquista in Spain
  • Efforts by Christian warriors to expel the Muslims began in the 700s. Their first real success did not come, however, until 1085, when they recaptured the city of Toledo. During the next 200 years, Christian forces pushed slowly and steadily southward. By 1300, Christians controlled the entire Iberian Peninsula except for Granada. Muslim influences remained strong, though, and helped shape the arts and literature of Christian Spain.


The Reconquista in Spain
  • In 1469, Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand of Aragon. This marriage between the rulers of two powerful kingdoms opened the way for a unified state. Using their combined forces, the two monarchs made a final push against the Muslim stronghold of Granada. In 1492, Granada fell. The Reconquista was complete. 
  • Isabella and Ferdinand tried to impose unity on their diverse peoples. They joined forces with townspeople against powerful nobles. Isabella was determined to bring religious as well as political unity to Spain.


The Reconquista in Spain
  • Under Muslim rule, Spain had enjoyed a tradition of religious toleration, that is, a policy of allowing people to worship as they choose. Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived there in relative peace. Isabella ended that policy of toleration. With the support of the Inquisition, a Church court set up to try people accused of heresy, Isabella launched a brutal crusade against Jews and Muslims. Often, those who refused to convert to Christianity were burned at the stake. 
  • The queen achieved religious unity but at a high price. More than 150,000 people fled Spain. Many of these exiles were skilled, educated people who had contributed much to Spain's economy and culture.