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-   -   Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse? (http://historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/430-why-europe-fell-into-dark-ages-after-romes-collapse.html)

tedkaw July 18th, 2006 06:12 AM

Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
I'm just curious why Europe plunged into Dark Age after roman empire collapse.

The Roman Empire, despite its collapse, should have left itself a wealth of knowledgeable people, philosophers, scientist etc. to keep western civilization on-going. I know the people who settled in Europe were barbarians Germanic people, but why didn't they pick up the Roman way of living and got influenced?

Why was there so much low productivity during this period? What are the causes of Dark age period?

Ymeto July 18th, 2006 06:45 AM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tedkaw
The Roman Empire, despite its collapse, should have left itself a wealth of knowledgeable people, philosophers, scientist etc. to keep western civilization on-going. I know the people who settled in Europe were barbarians Germanic people, but why didn't they pick up the Roman way of living and got influenced?

You’re right, there was a lot of knowledgeable people after Rome fell, but they all stayed in the close vicinity of Rome. As for all the rest of Europe I figure the problem was that all the different tribes of people were constantly at war with each other. Besides that I guess there is also the societal aspect to look at.

Roman society had everything under control. The government helped to take care of you and the army protected you. All of a sudden with Rome gone there was nothing to protect you, your family, and your possessions. All the tribes that were once united under Rome were now fighting each other and everything reverted back to the basic human instinct of survival. This is how feudalism started, someone strong managed to get a small area of land under control and if you couldn't protect yourself you did whatever they wanted to make sure he protected you.

With all of this going on there were very few people around to study and work toward making society on a whole better.

old_abe July 18th, 2006 08:55 AM

Because it takes a well organised state to support philosophers, scientists and architects. Not just any "barbarian" tribe can pick up civilization and excel at wielding it. But some Roman civilization still resided in the surrounding groups long after it died, just look at the Romantic Languages links to Latin. But these groups took a LONG time to get their s#!t together. Those on the Iberian penninsula took 800 years driving out the Muslims, and even then there wasn't a unified Spain. There were invasions of Scandinavian Vikings in Britain and all along the Northern part of Europe. "States" were smaller than they are now, and a lot of political infighting and religious politics kept them divided. The East was were the action was happening during the Western Middle Ages.

es_bih February 16th, 2007 06:43 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
Learning definitely did decline, also to noteworthy to anyone looking at the period, even from the 300s on Literature changed scopes from secular to a more spiritual orientation, so theological works were nothing new, once the "Dark Ages" came about, not to mention that many of the Kings did institute Roman-like law codes, and continue using native Roman aristocrats to run the States for them. Learning and interaction declined, Monasteries were the primary keepers of information, except in Italy where public schools remained open, and the trend of theological orientation continued. However, I believe that the term "Dark Age" isn't appropriate, since there had been various achievements nevertheless in this age.

Eyza February 16th, 2007 07:27 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
es_bih, Old Abe, and all:

I've argued elsewhere(based on what I've learned from some actual medievalists), that the "Dark Ages" weren't exactly "dark". There were some declines. Part of the problem, I think, was that, for many reasons, the government structure of the Romans collapsed, and there was little to take its place. The one institution(at least in Western Europe, which I suspect is what most of you are thinking of), that did survive was the Church, which functioned as a kind of "government" that was more stable than the warlords that "took over the joint" after Rome collapsed. Because of trade disruptions and depopulation in many places, those who survived could not afford to do much "learning"; they left this to the monks, who gradually were given the role of chroniclers and teachers. Of course, as time wore on, some secular people were educated, and some kings(e.g. Charlemagne and later King Alfred, to name two prominent examples), encouraged education. But bear in mind, this collapse did not last as long as a lot of people seem to think it did; trade gradually increased and money began to circulate, populations gradually rose, and local cities, with their own governments, began to come into existence. You might say the period immediately after the collapse of Rome was simplay a transition of sorts.
Anne G

es_bih February 16th, 2007 07:40 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
The "collapse" was more political, as more localized states emerged, trade resumed, and increased substantially after the 750s

Lucius February 16th, 2007 11:10 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
Why did Europe fall into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?

Well, if by "Europe" one means those parts of Europe that were contained within the Roman Empire in 406, the question answers itself - it was those barbarians. Their idea of sound public policy was even more, uh, confiscatory, than that of Rome.

Generally, the Middle Ages are seen to lie between the Classical world and the Renaissance. However, it is obvious that the "Dark Ages" did not last 10 centuries. It should be possible to identify a time when the second half of the Middle Ages (the "Light Ages"?) began.

Not to be pedantic about it, but rather, just for fun, I invite you to nominate a year dividing the two halves, and tell why.

Since the original problem was the invaders, I nominate 955 with the German defeat of the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld. This marked the final victory over the nomadic/piractical forces invading/raiding Europe. A relative calm came over Europe which allowed for the development of capitalism and an international system of sovereign states.

True, the Reconquista wasn't complete until 1492, but that takes us all the way up to Columbus, so that's no good. Besides, Spain is relatively remote from the center of Europe.

It's also true that Europe narrowly escaped a very nasty shock (at least) when news of Ogedei Khan's death reached Batu Khan and Subutai following the Mongol victories at Legnica and Mohi. But Ogedei did die in 1241 and the Mongols did depart. So.

By 955, the monastic system was in full flower. Many monasteries had specialized into such fields as horse-breeding or wine production. And they were lending money at interest to kings and princes.

But the engineering (not to say scientific) advances of the next 500 years in Europe represent a qualitative difference over the so-called Dark Ages.

Eyza February 17th, 2007 04:19 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
Lucius:

I would say you're mostly correct, in that there is considerable difference between, say, the first 200-400 years after Rome "collapsed", more or less. Different areas began to recover at different times. But one could argue, and I think there's good reason for doing so, that there never were any real "Dark Ages". Certain parts of Europe had to "pick up the pieces", and the Church partially filled the vacuum left by Roman administrative collapse, but things didn't exactly "stop". They just slowed down for a while.
Anne G

Lucius February 17th, 2007 06:11 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
Eyza:

I think my point might be a little different. Europe wasn't recovering from the collapse of Rome. They were recovering from Rome. Serfdom was a gigantic step forward over the slave-based economy of the empire. The Romans knew that the rotary motion of a mill could be converted to allow for not just the grinding of grain, but sawing wood and stone, draining swamps, turning lathes, grinding metal edges, fulling cloth, hammering metal and drawing wire, and making paper. But why would they? The slaves would be standing around whining about how there was nothing to do - danger! So instead, they built sports arenas and monuments to themselves.

Later, "historians" found something in the ruins that they fell in love with and named it, "The Glory of Rome". They were little better than gaping tourists. But they wrote the history books, so here we are.

Eyza February 18th, 2007 12:31 PM

Re: Why Europe fell into the Dark Ages after Rome's collapse?
 
Lucius:

These are sweeping generalizations. In the first place, a lot of what you say would only have applied to parts of Western Europe. The areas under the influence of Constantinople had an entirely different historical trajectory. For one thing, "serfdom" developed in some of those areas, but much later and for different reasons. Even in Eastern Europe, the trajectory was much different. All the areas touched by Rome were affected, but their histories developed differently. Roman administrations had a considerable effect on all of them, one way or another, but they were affected in different ways. And the collapse of this administration had reverberations. So I really don't think anybody was recovering "from" Rome, so much as they were "regrouping" in some way(or ways).
Anne G


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