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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe

IV: Financing the Crusades,   pp. 116-149 PDF (13.4 MB)

Page 149

stimulated credit formation and the development of credit institutions and
instruments. Indeed, the money economy as a whole must have been stimulated
by these great enterprises which took so much money. The transformation of
gold and silver altar ornaments into coin for crusaders may have helped to
heighten the inflation that occurred during the crusades, especially in the
later twelfth century. The sale of land to finance crusades most assuredly
helped to make the market in real estate which was bringing about a new social
order in the age of the crusades. The principal beneficiaries of all these
financial transactions were the bourgeoisie, who loaned the money, bought
the land, sold the provisions, furnished the transportation, and generally
benefitted by the financial activity of the crusaders. The peasantry who
went on the crusades may have sacrificed everything but their souls, but
as a class they must have gained very materially through the greater demand
for their products and the greater supply of land on the market. Those members
of the lay nobility who used up their savings, or sold or pledged their lands,
may sometimes have been heavy losers because of the crusades, but as a whole
the nobility probably lost economic power only relatively to the gains of
the burghers and peasants. It was almost certainly the clergy, and especially
the monasteries, who were the chief losers, as time and again they were forced
to share their wealth with the crusaders either by loans without interest
or by direct taxes. In essence the crusades redistributed some of Europe's
wealth out of the hands of the clergy and nobles into those of the bourgeoisie
and peasantry. 

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