Factors That Led to Medieval Universities

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Many reasons have been given to explain the rise of universities in Europe during the high middle ages. A few of these reasons will be dealt with here.

i. The crusades

It is important to point out at this stage that the crusades in question had nothing to do with the preaching of the gospel. These were wars waged by Christian, Western Europe against Muslims. Starting in the Arabian Desert in the seventh century Islam spread rapidly after the death of the Holy Prophet Mohamed. In fact only two centuries after his death Islam had spread from Arabia to northern India, modern Afghanistan, north Africa, southern Italy and France and the central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Europe saw Islam as a most dangerous threat to the very existence of Christianity. This feeling was reinforced by the myths about the Prophet and distortions of Islamic practices. The commonly held view in medieval Europe was that Islam was spread by the sword; either conversion or death. Added to all these, was the systematic distortion of the life of the prophet and blasphemy against his own person.

For a long time Europe, convulsed by internecine warfare, unruly nobles contesting for supremacy with the kings, princes or emperors, was too weak to fight back. When peace and stability and the spirit of nationalism started returning from the tenth century, Europe was ready to take on Islam. On its part the Muslim empire was no longer one solid unit. It had disintegrated into many sultanates, several of them at each others' throats. Christian Europe could use rival sultanates to achieve its own end. Christian nobles to volunteer to fight the enemy of God, the Anti-Christ as the Holy Prophet were referred to.

There were several crusades, about thirteen of them from the eleventh century to the fifteenth century when Muslim Spain was conquered by the Christians.

The first crusade was proclaimed by Pope Urban II who in 1095 called upon Christians to fight to liberate the...
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