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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries

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Old July 9th, 2011, 04:12 AM   #1

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Why is it called the "Dark Ages" ?

The period, generally after the fall of the Western Roman Empire until, the 1000s I should say, has often been described as a Dark Age for Europe (It was golden age to us ).

What is (are) the reason(s) behind this term?
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Old July 9th, 2011, 04:29 AM   #2

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It's an outdated misnomer, originally associated with the belief that this was a period of scientific and technological stagnation. Today it is recognised that the "Dark Ages" were not so backward after all.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 06:15 AM   #3

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Well it was a dark age because of the end of the political unity that was the Roman empire. Otherwise, things are not that clear : the economy of the empire was already weakened long before its end. And actually, for many countries, the dark ages were much better than the ancient period. For example, Germany in 1000 was already much more developped than in, say, 200 AD.

The other trend associated with the darks ages was desurbanization. However, it ought not to be exagerrated. Overall, the Roman empire was highly urbanized, but it was not uniform. Italy indeed became much less urbanized during the dark ages, but for most of Gaul (except the southeast) or Britain, it was not that clear.

For the orient too, it wasn't dark at all. The Byzantine empire had its ups and downs but it was always impressive, rich and magnificent. And more oriental regions became involved in the islamic golden age.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 07:10 AM   #4

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As above, the term is hardly accurate and a misnomer. It is no longer used seriously by historians. But it does till survive in popular culture and peception. Such things take time to change, ideas and notions have to filter down from academics to the masses. So the term will probably be used for quite a while in general.

It wasnt a dark age, but it was perhap a bit darker than before and after it. But as pointed out above such terminology is never that simple.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 07:11 AM   #5

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its a term that was coined during the early modern era, 17th or 18th century, to describes the years between them and the roman empire which at the time was looked back with great admiration. they saw the years after it as a fall from grace as the world fell apart only for them to them bring things back as modern nation states began to rise. its not a term that describes the era well and we know now that it wasn't as 'dark' as it was made out to be.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 09:41 AM   #6

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It is an exaggeration. The times were not so dark. See 'In Search of the Dark Ages' by Michael Wood.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 10:36 AM   #7
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The era was called the "Dark Ages" also because we don't have a lot of written sources from that time period, especially from the early part of the dark ages (500 to 800 CE). Since until recently, most historians only had written sources to rely on, those ages were considered "Dark". In a similar way, Africa was called the "Dark Continent". There was not a lot of knowledge available to Europeans about Africa south of the Sahara, hence the use of the term "Dark Continent".
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Old July 9th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #8
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This is an enormous period in History, about which nothing is known.
5-6 centuries! Compare 2011 and 1511 years.
No nation in the world has such a History as Europe.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 11:12 AM   #9

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The term is also massively Euro centric, western European in particular
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Old July 9th, 2011, 11:28 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by DreamWeaver View Post
The term is also massively Euro centric, western European in particular
I was never under the impression that it was supposed to refer to anything other than Europe?
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