Is the term "Dark Ages" unfair?

Nov 2008
256
California
#1
By avoiding the Dark Ages term, it seems to me some historians are over-playing the nonjudgmental ploy in order to seem more "scientific." It is as if they were trying to say that no society or stage can be "dark" just because it was necessary and that all are equal. Why carry the secular doctrine of "equality" to such ridiculous extremes?

It seems to me that the Dark Ages was a necessary and successful adaptation to the collapse of the Roman empire, but it was certainly a colorless, backward age, a "dark" one, which leaves us poorly informed about it.

In it, the people reverted to small communal agricultural communities. But the predation of gangs finally led the communes, one by one, to accept one or the other gangs and pay them for protection. Thus, the communal groups became feudal manors, an adaptive process that reached its peak after the Crusades and the gradual coalition of the communal manors into kingdoms.

The Dark Ages were a necessary adaptation to a time of extreme corruption and chaos, but it was still "dark." It could come again and perhaps has already begun in some places . . .
 
May 2010
2,964
Rhondda
#2
Almost all ages are 'dark' in the sense that we only have the version of the winners as to what happened. In the Fifth Century, apart from some dubious folksy stuff (in Britain anyway) that is removed and we can look at the reality - using archaeology, genetics and such. Better, in my view.
 
Mar 2010
512
Montréal
#3
It is as if they were trying to say that no society or stage can be "dark" just because it was necessary and that all are equal. Why carry the secular doctrine of "equality" to such ridiculous extremes?

[...]

The Dark Ages were a necessary adaptation to a time of extreme corruption and chaos, but it was still "dark." It could come again and perhaps has already begun in some places . . .
Why carry your own exagerated emotions and feelings about a time period to such ridiculous extremes?
 
Apr 2012
615
Ἀντιόχει&
#4
During the "Dark Ages" majority of population was illiterate, while in antiquity this was not the case. In antiquity there were various religions and philosophical schools that coexisted, while during the "dark ages" much more emphasis was put on religious thought and adherents of other religions were mostly persecuted. The economy was far more advanced before "dark ages". Public buildings and roads were more developed during antiquity. Therefore I personally do not think that this term is unfair, however I never use it, since I prefer the "Middle Ages" term.
 
May 2010
2,964
Rhondda
#5
During the "Dark Ages" majority of population was illiterate, while in antiquity this was not the case. In antiquity there were various religions and philosophical schools that coexisted, while during the "dark ages" much more emphasis was put on religious thought and adherents of other religions were mostly persecuted. The economy was far more advanced before "dark ages". Public buildings and roads were more developed during antiquity. Therefore I personally do not think that this term is unfair, however I never use it, since I prefer the "Middle Ages" term.
I don't think slavery is advanced. It was a huge clog on progress, since it stigmatised work.
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
#6
By avoiding the Dark Ages term, it seems to me some historians are over-playing the nonjudgmental ploy in order to seem more "scientific." It is as if they were trying to say that no society or stage can be "dark" just because it was necessary and that all are equal. Why carry the secular doctrine of "equality" to such ridiculous extremes?

It seems to me that the Dark Ages was a necessary and successful adaptation to the collapse of the Roman empire, but it was certainly a colorless, backward age, a "dark" one, which leaves us poorly informed about it.

In it, the people reverted to small communal agricultural communities. But the predation of gangs finally led the communes, one by one, to accept one or the other gangs and pay them for protection. Thus, the communal groups became feudal manors, an adaptive process that reached its peak after the Crusades and the gradual coalition of the communal manors into kingdoms.

The Dark Ages were a necessary adaptation to a time of extreme corruption and chaos, but it was still "dark." It could come again and perhaps has already begun in some places . . .
I don't think it was a dark age particuarly, a lot of interesting things happened. And I expect a lot of people were living in small agricultural communities even during the Roman Empire. Someone had to grow the food after all.

There were monasteries and churches and literature was being produced, in fact in Britain for instance there is literature from the so-called 'dark ages' but nothing at all from Roman times so I understand.

There was trade going on too, the Venerable Bede left pepper in his will when he died, and that came from the far east. English merchants probably brought it back from Italy, which was a centre of trade in this period. Many English towns were founded in this period, like Winchester, Oxford, Bristol, Exeter, Chester, Norwich, Lincoln, etc.

So no, they weren't all that dark at all really.
 
May 2010
2,964
Rhondda
#7
I don't think it was a dark age particuarly, a lot of interesting things happened. And I expect a lot of people were living in small agricultural communities even during the Roman Empire. Someone had to grow the food after all.

There were monasteries and churches and literature was being produced, in fact in Britain for instance there is literature from the so-called 'dark ages' but nothing at all from Roman times so I understand.

There was trade going on too, the Venerable Bede left pepper in his will when he died, and that came from the far east. English merchants probably brought it back from Italy, which was a centre of trade in this period. Many English towns were founded in this period, like Winchester, Oxford, Bristol, Exeter, Chester, Norwich, Lincoln, etc.

So no, they weren't all that dark at all really.
Most of the towns named already existed, surely?
 
Apr 2012
615
Ἀντιόχει&
#8
I don't think slavery is advanced. It was a huge clog on progress, since it stigmatised work.
I agree about slavery, however when I wrote that economy was advanced I did not ment that slavery was the reason for that. I meant that during the middle ages economy was more based on agricultural exchange rather than monetary. For example large agricultural estate known as latifundia. These estates were mostly specialised in one good, for example one of them could cultivate olives and then make olive oil on that same estate. That olive oil was sold for money rather than exchanged for other goods. I admit that these estates depended on slave labor.
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
#9
During the "Dark Ages" majority of population was illiterate, while in antiquity this was not the case. In antiquity there were various religions and philosophical schools that coexisted, while during the "dark ages" much more emphasis was put on religious thought and adherents of other religions were mostly persecuted. The economy was far more advanced before "dark ages". Public buildings and roads were more developed during antiquity. Therefore I personally do not think that this term is unfair, however I never use it, since I prefer the "Middle Ages" term.
There was plenty of philosophy in medieval times, in fact this was the era when universities were founded, at Bologna, Paris, Oxford, etc.

And there was some fantastic architecture, the great cathedrals and churches which are the glory of Europe still. Beautiful buildings remain from the medieval era.

'Dark ages' is a somewhat ambiguous term, since some people use it to refer just to the early middle ages, up until about the year 1000, and others use it to refer to the whole of the middle ages. in either case, it is not accurate in my view.
 

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