BBC History Magazine, a leading monthly periodical on all things history, features an article about the Crusades and Christian-Muslim medieval interaction. “Traders and Crusaders”, by Thomas Asbridge of Queen Mary University of London, examines how relations between Europe and the Islamic Middle East “were about more than war and hatred.”
The article focuses on the trade relationships that developed between Muslim and Christian merchants, with Italian city-states such as Genoa and Venice establishing networks to bring in goods from Middle Eastern cities like Aleppo and Damascus. Asbridge writes, “these shared interests produced interdependency and promoted carefully regulated contact, even at times of heightened political and military conflict. In the end – even in the midst of holy war – trade was too important to be disrupted.”
Asbridge also examines the writings of Usama ibn Munqidh, the 12th century Syrian noble who frequently interacted with various crusaders. The article concludes, “even shaded as they were by a religious struggle for sacred territory, the crusades were not waged as ‘total wars’ and resulted in encounters between Christian and Muslims not dissimilar to those witnessed in Sicily and Iberia.”
The BBC History magazine website also contains a podcast where they interview Professor Asbridge about the causes of the First Crusade and the achievements of the Crusades.
The magazine also contains more medieval content with Sarah Foot’s article, “If King Alfred was great, was Aethelstan even greater?”, where she compares the two Anglo-Saxon monarchs.