Student-Pages-Crusades.doc - Student Background/Timeline...

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Student Background/Timeline Why did people fight in the Crusades? The Middle Ages was a time period characterized by interactions between civilizations. Throughout history, when two civilizations come into contact with each other, there are positive and negative consequences as a result. The Crusades were no different. After several hundred years of Muslim expansion throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and the simultaneous development of consolidated Christian Kingdoms in Eastern and Western Europe, tensions between the Christians and Muslims finally resulted in a period of prolonged violence, known as the Crusades. Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern European Byzantine Empire, and Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic Empire of the Seljuk Turks, had been competing for cultural and economic supremacy for years. As the Muslims continued to threaten and conquer Byzantine controlled lands in the Middle East and North Africa, the emperor appealed to the Pope in the Christian lands of Western Europe for help. Despite a disagreement between the East and the West, which had caused a split in Christianity several decades before, Pope Urban II rallied his people to fight in order to rescue Christian lands from Muslim domination. For the next 200 years a series of “holy wars” between Christian and Muslim civilizations resulted in much death and destruction that still guides tension between the two religions today. At the same time, the Crusades also encouraged global trade and the cultural revival of the historic civilizations of Greece and Rome. As you read the documents, keep in mind the question, “Why did people fight in the Crusades?”
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