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The complex relationship between Muslims and Christians during the Middle-Ages

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  1. Introduction
  2. The Christian Crusades 1095 - 1269
  3. Trade as a part of the Muslims' everyday life
  4. Ambiguous relations between Christians and Muslims
  5. Muslims: More advanced than Christians in science, mathematics and agriculture
  6. Decline of the Muslim civilization
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

Christians and Muslims have always kept ambiguous relationship going. Thanks to the Mediterranean, there have always been lots of contacts between Christians and Muslims. However, these contacts were strengthened with the Crusades during the Middle Ages. After the Crusades halted, various trade routes opened up between Eastern and Western cities. In this essay, I will show to what extent the West benefited from the contacts with the Islamic world, and how these contacts helped the Christians to outdo the Muslims economically speaking. I will first emphasize the two-fold relationship between Muslims and Christians, that is to say both fascination and rejection. Then, I will show the supremacy of the Muslims over the Christians for the most part of the Middle-Ages. Finally, I will analyse the shift in power to the West toward the end of the Middle-Ages.

[...] Christians also tried to conquer Muslims' lands, like Jerusalem during the Crusades; moreover, they needed to go through Muslim regions if they wanted to trade with other ?non-Muslim regions far to the south and east?.[7] During the early Middle-Ages, Muslims of the Middle East and North Africa and the Christian kingdoms of Europe often banned each others' merchants from entering their port: is hard to see how, except in the rare cases of active missionaries seeking to penetrate Islam, these islands were linked by bridges to the surrounding culture.?[8] So, there had always been a kind of competition between Westerners and Easterners, obviously because of religion, but also because of the desire for expansion and for supremacy in trade. [...]


[...] This explains why the Christians went to the East and not the Muslims to the West: ?Trade between Christians and Muslims, conducted by Christian visitors to Muslim lands (and not normally Muslim visitors to continental Europe) [ . Christians visitors came to Muslim lands mainly to trade, but they also learnt new technologies at the same time, as we just saw with the example of the windmill: can only guess at the extent to which Christian merchants observed and took an interest in the Muslim civilisation they came to know through trade.?[12] In agriculture, the Muslims excelled at fertilization, irrigation, and grafting of plants and trees, and the Christians learnt these methods at their contact: ?Sicily actually experienced a brief florescence of Arab learning after the Norman conquest; Valencia retained and improved its irrigation systems, still commemorated in the water courts of Valencia City.?[13] and, Turkish advances in the eastern Mediterranean were stimulating the planting of so- called Islamic crops in the west, as far west, in fact, as Madeira and the Canary Islands.?[14] So, once again, the Christians benefited from their relations with the Muslims. [...]


[...] David Abulafia , Role of Trade in Muslim-Christian Contact during the Middle- Les relations des pays d'Islam avec le monde latin. (Ed. F. Micheau. Paris: Editions Jacques Marseille, 2000). David Abulafia , Role of Trade in Muslim-Christian Contact during the Middle- Les relations des pays d'Islam avec le monde latin. (Ed. F. Micheau. Paris: Editions Jacques Marseille, 2000). David Abulafia , Role of Trade in Muslim-Christian Contact during the Middle- Les relations des pays d'Islam avec le monde latin. (Ed. [...]

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