The Crusades saved Western Europe from conquest by Islam which would have brought Western Civilisation to an end.
Western Civilisation brought us the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Exploration. Without Western Civilisation world history would have been altered in a way that is unimaginable.
For the first 500 years after Christ, the entire Middle East was essentially Christian before the Arab Muslims swept over the region and the Christian Mediterranean, spreading Islam by conquest. Over a period of 400 years, Muslims captured two-thirds of the Christian World.
Finally, following the defeat of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) at Manzikert, the defeated Byzantine Emperor asked for help from the Pope in the West. At some point, Christianity as a faith and culture had to defend itself or go the way of Zoroastrianism. The Crusades were that defense.
The Pope encouraged armed pilgrimages to rescue the Holy Land and their Christian brothers and sisters in the East. Tens of thousands of pious, warlike people turned their military energies toward this great and worthwhile endeavor. It was terribly expensive to go on crusade, and crusaders braved incredible hardships. More than half of the soldiers died while on crusade.
Until recently, the crusaders were always admired in the West. The word “crusader” became synonymous with dedication to do good.
Since the 1960s, an anti-Western, anti-Christian bias has become popular in the popular culture and few people except historians and scholars of the Medieval period understand what really took place. [Illustration by Gustave Doré 1832-1883].