http://partners.nytimes.com/library/...armstrong.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusad...ropean_cultureThat we so readily invoke the Crusades testifies to the importance of that era in European history. With the Crusades, the West found its soul. It began cultivating its own literary, artistic and spiritual traditions. This was the age of St. Francis of Assisi, Giotto, Dante and the troubadours. Until the Crusades, Europe had been a primitive backwater, isolated from other civilizations and lost in a dark age that had descended on Western Christendom after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. By the end of the crusading venture, Europe had not only recovered but also was on a course to overtake its rivals and achieve world hegemony. This recovery was a triumph unparalleled in history, but it was also a triumph that involved great strain and whose unfortunate consequences reverberate even today.