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)
Ch. IV FINANCING THE CRUSADES 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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