Europeans who heard his stories dubbed him a liar, rejecting his incredible tales of government mail service and black stones (coal) that were burned to heat homes.

A map shows the Reconquista, from 1000 to 1492.
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The Reconquista took many years and reflected political changes in Spain. The union of Ferdinand and Isabella and their countries gave their forces the power to take back most of Spain. How did the union of the countries of Castile and Aragon help the Reconquista?

The experiences of crusaders and of travelers like Marco Polo expanded European horizons and contributed to the end of medieval Europe by bringing Europe into a wider world from which it had been cut off since the fall of Rome. By the 1400s, a desire to trade directly with India and China would lead Europeans to a new age of exploration.

Impact on the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire

The Crusades occurred during a time when Muslims in the Middle East were locked in frequent local power struggles. On occasion, rival Muslim rulers joined forces to fight the European invaders. Saladin briefly united lands from Egypt to Syria, but divisions soon reappeared.

The Fourth Crusade further weakened the Byzantine empire, which had already lost most of its lands. As the empire continued to decline, it faced a new threat, this time from the Ottoman Turks. In 1453, finally fell to the invaders led by Mehmet II.

The Reconquista

The crusading spirit continued long after the European defeat at Acre. It flourished especially in Spain, where Christian warriors had been battling Muslims since the time of Charlemagne.

Spain is part of the Iberian peninsula, which also includes present-day Portugal. During the 700s, Muslims from North Africa had conquered most of the peninsula. These Muslims, called Moors by Christian Europeans, carried Islamic civilization to Spain. In the north, several tiny Christian kingdoms survived the Muslim conquest. They slowly expanded their borders, taking over Muslim lands. Their campaign to drive Muslims from Spain became known as the Reconquista, or “reconquest.”

Christian Forces Advance

Efforts by Christian warriors to expel Muslims began in the 700s. Their first real success did not come, however, until 1085, when they captured the city of Toledo.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments