The destinies of the Middle East and the Western world have been interwoven throughout modern history. Relations among the Western powers were often reflected in, or conditioned by, events in the Middle East, and the region has been vital to European imperial expansion. Contact with Europe has thoroughly transformed both East and West.
The Arabs wove a broad strand in the pattern of East-West relationships by their far-reaching conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries. In so doing they brought to Europe its first sense of Oriental civilization and ended the ancient Mediterranean cultural pattern that for centuries had been primarily Greco-Roman.
European desires for the material wealth, resources, and culture of the East were reawakened during the two-century endeavor of the Crusaders to replant the cross in the Levant. Although various attempts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to establish permanent Christian kingdoms in the Middle East failed, contact between the Christian West and Muslim East created significant changes in the life of medieval Europe.
From the Baltic to the Mediterranean, Christendom became aware of the rich complexity of Muslim culture. The Crusaders brought back an awareness of new horizons to their homelands, and eventually many Eastern luxuries became necessities in European life. Following the failure of their military exploits against the Muslims, the Christian nations embarked on an era of commercial relations with their former foes. From the ports of Europe merchant ships set out to fetch Eastern spices to facilitate food preservation, Eastern citrus fruit to vary monotonous diets, and Eastern fabrics to enrich the splendor of European courts and cathedrals. Silks from Damascus were introduced to the West, and from Mosul in Iraq the Christians first learned of muslin cotton goods.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Middle East Today. Edition: 6th. Contributors: Don Peretz - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 77.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.