Thisis a reflection of a totally a historical but popular idea thatEuropean Christians during the Crusades were less advanced in theirculture civilization hygiene and technological achievements than theMuslims. Thetruth is that during this period the European Christian world and theIslamic world existed at an essentially equal level of civilizationdevelopment. Infact during the Crusades both sides learned from one another becausethe Muslims had the edge in some areas while European Christians havethe edge in others one area. Inwhich the Christian West was much more advanced was in nauticalengineering and shipbuilding.
TheWest at this time had shipped capable of crossing the North Atlanticand traveling from Europe to the Levant. NoArab ships had this range and versatility. Norselong ships were brilliantly engineered vessels that actually rode onthe wave. HistorianMalcolm barber notedthat by the 12th century Western Europe had undergone an agriculturalrevolution, so that Western farming techniques were more advancedthan the farming still practiced in the Middle East. TheWest employed the three field system of cultivation that allowed fortwo crops to be grown on the field each year. Europe also developsthe plow harness for horses that enabled the use of draft horses forplowing; significant improvement over the human oxen power still usedin a Muslim East. Inaddition Western Europeans developed the horseshoe, which greatlyimproved equine traction, making horses into more effective draftanimals and mounts for Knights. Inhis book gods battalion, Rodney startstodescribe how the medieval Christian West also produced a swivel axleand brakes for wheels which when combined, enabled Europeans of the12th century use wagons for transport while the Arabs.
WhileTurks were still dependent on pack animals. TheCrusaders brought these innovations with them to the lands theyconquered in Syria and Palestine where agriculture was greatlyimproved because of them. IbnLubary,aMuslim chronicler who traveled to the Crusader Kingdom in 1183 wrotethat the Muslim farmers living under crusader rule appeared to bemore prosperous and content than the Muslims living under Turkish orArabic governments.
Contactwith Western military tactics and equipment and influence on theMohammedan and warriors of Syria and Palestine. HARgive points out that various features of Western Armour such asvisors and bomb braces were adopted by the Muslims. Thelight short Lance’s of the muhammadans at first put them at adisadvantage in combat with the Crusaders. Toovercome this the Muslims began binding to Lance shafts together buteventually they simply adopted the heavy Frankish Lance. Ibnalso points out that prior to the arrival of the Crusadersfortifications and siege operations were fairly simple in Syria. TheCrusaders introduced more elaborate Castle building technology whichallowed them to hold territory effectively despite their numericaldisadvantage to the muhammadans. Thenotion to that hygiene was poor in the West is also inaccurate.
Indeedbathing and personal hygiene were just as important to WesternChristian as they were for the Muslims and the Byzantines. Forexample there were at least 32 bath houses in Paris. The12th century author Alexander nickim says “that while living inParis he would be awakened in the morning by people in the streetsshouting the ‘baths are hot'”.
InSouth work the town on the opposite side of the Thames River fromLondon there were at least 18 hot tub like baths. Smallertowns also had bath houses andwas usuallyassociated with the local bakery as the heat from the ovens wasredirected to heat the baths. Thehigh middle ages was a period of rapid development and achievementfor the Latin European West. Theidea that the Latin West was somehow more backward and barbaric thanthe Byzantine and Islamic East during this era is simply unfounded.Fromthe Magnificent architecture of the Gothic cathedral to theinnovations of Western shipbuilding and navigation to the impressivestrides made in Latin military technology, it’s clear that theEuropean Christian West was a civilization in a cent.