Dark Ages - A term worth using?

#71
Not convinced by that BBC link. It acknowledges that there was illiteracy, though it then tries to make out that literacy is not needed. It goes on to praise the Lindisfarne gospels, which were ultimately a result of the infusion of Christianity by missionaries from Rome.
 
Dec 2011
1,744
#72
If you read back you will see I find the term inaccurate. However I don't see any point in changing it.
I think some of us are simply mentioning where scholarship seems to be headed on the use of the term "dark ages."

From my reading, it appears that the term is being jettisoned.

Medievalist, Dorsey Armstrong (Purdue) makes it very clear that this period was anything but "dark." In her Great Courses Lectures she also notes, as Daileader does below, that the population and economic decline was not strictly a middle age event.[3]

Additionally, another medievalist, Philip Daileader (College of William and Mary) does remark on the term, in regard to disease and depopulation where many of the western European geographic areas were hit hard and the Carolingian economy struggled. I think he is more in line with the view of a dark age by taking Gibbon's view of the collapse of the Eastern empire with Christianity having some measure (minor impact) of responsibility for this. The depopulation and economic decline was not particularly an early middle age event however. Which is another reason the use of "dark ages" can be a misleading connotation. IOW, the economic collapse and depopulation, as the evidence suggests, was ongoing from the "2nd to the 7th centuries and that depopulation undermined the Roman economy and the Roman military." [1] To add though, my sources with Daileader are from 2004 and there has been many developments in this period that suggest that we have underestimated how active intellectually this period of time was despite the hardships that had been going on since the 2nd Century.

However, Daileader points out, that Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) in the western scope of early middle ages as "remarkable in the early Middle Ages for its highly developed intellectual and economic life, as well as its ethnic and religious diversity." [2]



-------------------------------

[1] Daileader, Philip, The Great Courses, guidebook, lecture 21, p87
[2] ibid. p74
[3] Armstrong, Dorsey, The Great Courses, guidebook, lecture 2, p6
 
#73
If the economic collapse and population decline was ongoing for the 5 centuries from the 2nd to the 7th, that implies a very low point ending in the 7th century. Let's call that the dark age, lasting from about 400 to 650.

Islamic Spain came after that.
 
Dec 2011
1,744
#74
If the economic collapse and population decline was ongoing for the 5 centuries from the 2nd to the 7th, that implies a very low point ending in the 7th century. Let's call that the dark age, lasting from about 400 to 650.

Islamic Spain came after that.
Yep. Philip Daileader specifies the 8th to the 9th centuries as the Al-Andalus high point. ibid.p74.

To be honest, I am just trying to convey what scholarship seems to be doing. I would use the term "dark ages" if they were using it. They, as I have pointed out, seem to want to avoid the term.

From my POV, I just do not want to be using a term that is apparently "out-dated" and laden with all manner of baggage.
 
Dec 2011
1,744
#76
Not convinced by that BBC link. It acknowledges that there was illiteracy, though it then tries to make out that literacy is not needed. It goes on to praise the Lindisfarne gospels, which were ultimately a result of the infusion of Christianity by missionaries from Rome.
Right. I'm not sure I'm convinced either. But, I just wanted to convey what the academics are saying and their reasoning behind it.

Again, generally, I'm not arguing for or against the term "dark ages", but, rather, I'm just collecting info and trying to get a handle on where the current scholarship is headed. And, I hope I am accurately conveying that here.

When I hear the term "dark ages" I think early middle ages. The term does not throw me off. However, I can see how it may be confusing and not reliably efficient as a descriptive term for students who have little knowledge of the time period.
 
Dec 2011
1,744
#77
Fair enough, but I am less inclined to follow what happens to be currently in vogue and make a value-judgement based on the facts. I believe there was a dark age in Western Europe.
I think it is important to know why people call it the "dark ages" and the evidence that they have to support their position.

I also think it is important, or for me, just fun, to know what other people think who disagree with the term and what their evidence is to support their position.

And, of course, we want to know where scholarship is on the term and the evidence used forthwith.

I think the value is in knowing all of the above, whether or not we have a set position on the matter.

So, with all of that in mind, I would not say you are wrong. I would simply indicate that there are other views.

The historians I like tend to go out of their way to bring in alternative views or viewpoints that disagree with their own viewpoint. Adrian Goldsworthy is great at this. It is like historical "set" theory. Let us bring in everything we know about a subject and thrash is around.

This is how you can have your cake and eat it to in regard to History. :)
 

Similar History Discussions