SOURCE: Muslims conquered the Eastern Roman Empire, Syria, Palestine, Eastern Anatolia, Armenia, Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt and North Africa between 634-644 A.D. Muslim pirates blockaded trade across the Mediterranean. This caused a catastrophic drop in products shipped from the East to the West, including papyrus reeds from the Nile delta which were used for paper in Europe. The paper shortage resulted in literacy declining and fewer books being written which, together with other factors, led to the Dark Ages.
A story passed down by Abd-Al-Latif of Baghdad (1162-1231), Jamal Ad-din Al-Kufti (1169-1248), and Bar Hebraeus (1226-1286) was that when Caliph Omar was asked in 642 A.D. what to do with the world famous Library at Alexandria, he replied: “If those books are in agreement with the Qur’an, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Qur’an, destroy them.”
When the Ottoman Muslims sacked Constantinople in 1453, it ended the land trade routes from Europe to India and China which led Columbus to look for a sea route, beginning the Age of Discovery. When Ottoman Muslims invaded Greece, there was a flood of Greek treasures, art and literature hurriedly carried to Florence, Italy. This led Europe to a re-interest in Greek culture called the Renaissance.
As the wealth of Greek Byzantine Empire flowed to Florence, Italy, many were made rich, most notably the families of Medici and Borgia, who financed artists Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci.
Condemning rising sensualism, the preacher Savonarola brought a notable Christian revival till he was excommunicated, tortured and executed. Fleeing Greek scholars also brought to Europe the Greek Bible, which was translated by Erasmus. This led to the Reformation, begun by Martin Luther in 1517.
The King of France, Francis I, caused a scandal in Europe by making an alliance with Muslim Ottomans against Italy, Spain and England. Francis I ordered the punishment of religious dissidents known as Waldensians. Over the next century, the Religious Wars resulted in atrocities committed by both Protestant and Catholic armies against each other.
Lorenzo de’ Medici, to whom Niccolò Machiavelli dedicated his notorious book, “The Prince,” 1515, had his daughter, Catherine de’ Medici, marry the next King of France, Henry II. Henry II suppressed Protestant Huguenots, and after his death Catherine de’ Medici was credited with the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, after which Protestants fled France.