Tiberius Decimus Maximus said:
Prince de Radzivil said:
I did not mean that the Orient was undeveloped in economical or cultural sense. Still the Islamic world is hardly was "more advanced" than contemporary Christendom. Yeah, there is an old Voltairian cliché since the 18th century about the rich, prosperous, and tolerant East (well, the term East/Orient as a cultural concept is also the 18th century's innovation). It is still perfectly alive and very popular not only through the media or cinemas but even in academic thought.
Personally I cannot say that the Eastern societies were more devolved than the feudal society. There was no certain understanding what is private property in the East and many societies were still predominantly slavery based. Also you should consider the Middle East and the whole Arabian world climate and other natural conditions that were hardly suitable for a long-term prosperous economical development during medieval times at last in compare to most of Europe.
There were only several dozens centres of the high Islamic culture mostly based at the major rulers' courts with dozens of brilliant scholars and artists. Plus several major religious educational institutions. But there were nothing even close to the European network of universities, colleges, monasteries, scriptoriums or Italian-based or Byzantine art centres. Still almost in every popular image of the Crusades' epoch you see the brutal intolerant illiterate Christians terrorizing sophisticated Muslim world where almost every peasant at the remote village or a Bedouin at the centre of the desert could read Old Greek and know basics of the medicine. This is really annoying.
Oh, and there were no "nations" sui generis during the ol' good Crusades times.
I generally try to avoid defending points that I don't know all that much about, but regardless, I'll give this one a go. I doubt any of the universities, monasteries, etc. could even approach the caliber of the Muslim learning centers and institutions. In addition, to say that it was a "network" is rather too generous, in my opinion. I'm under the impression that the works of each monastery and the ilk were more self-autonomous.
And the Islamic world was undoubtedly more economically prosperous, not on the virtue of the land they occupy, but the trade the conducted. They had a vast trade network spanning the world, and their position between the East and the West was supremely advantageous. Furthermore, not all of the Muslim world was desert, obviously. They were extremely efficient at agricultural practice, and in the case of Mesopotamia and the Nile, exploiting irrigation systems that had been in place for millenia. Meanwhile, European agricultural practice was incredibly inefficient, with most cities bearing only tens of thousands, while Baghdad had a population of a million souls.
Your comment strikes me as quite European biased, I must say.
I hate to bring posts back from the dead after so long, but it's just painful to see the same fashionable anti-European myths being perpetuated.
Intellectually, culturally, technologically, there was absolutely nothing in the contemporaneous world that was the equal of Christendom from the 1100's onwards, or perhaps even from the time of Charlemagne onwards. The achievements of the Muslim world, or anywhere else for that matter, fade into insignificance when compared with the achievements of Christendom in philosophy, theology, legal science, mathematics, architecture, engineering, music, painting, sculpture, or any of the other key arts and sciences. Great Medieval minds such as Thomas Aquinas tower over their islamic counterparts . The Canon Law of the Catholic Church is a masterpiece in the realm of legal science unrivaled in the eastern world. The superiority of European engineering and architecture is attested to by the great medieval cathedrals (Cologne, Amiens, Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, Salisbury to name but a few), which have never been equaled, let alone surpassed. In the realm of music, the medieval era saw the birth of comprehensive musical notation, Gregorian chant, and complex polyphony, all of which were to have an inestimable influence upon the classical tradition, while the Islamic world has no significant musical tradition to speak of. In art, Catholic Christendom provides a striking contrast with the iconoclastic Islamic world, and the sculptures, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces, reliquaries etc have absolutely no equal in the east. I could go on, but you get the point.
The monasteries were by no means autonomous, infact they comprised a tightly-knit network through which information could spread rapidly, even across thousands of miles. They also practiced advanced agricultural techniques which spread throughout Europe. Randall Collins writes "These monasteries were the most economically effective units that had ever existed in Europe, and perhaps the world, up to that point". Further, the monasteries introduced the use of machinery to Europe on a scale unmatched in any other part of the world up to that time. The use of water-powered systems was widespread for crushing wheat, tanning leather, sieving flour, and many other purposes. That's just the tip of the iceberg, we haven't even discussed the medieval contribution to morality, producing monastic orders who lived in poverty and dedicated themselves to charitable works in a fashion completely alien to the morality of the Islamic world.