Essay On The Dark Ages

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A SPARK IN THE DARK Writing about the years following the fall of Rome, Petrarch asserted, “amidst the errors there shone forth men of genius, no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom.” Petrarch’s negative view of the Early Middle Ages from Rome’s fall in 410 to Charlemagne’s crowning in 800 reflected the opinions of many humanists and historians, and the idea that this was a time of backwardness continues to influence people today. However, Petrarch was wrong to characterize the Early Middle Ages as “dark.” While this wasn’t the most peaceful time in human history, there were plenty of aspects to justify its importance and necessity. Considering the strength of the economy and trade, new technology and codes of law, as well as a focus on education through the rise of Christianity, the Dark Ages were a benign part of human history that slowly paved the way for the future. The slow disappearance of Rome as a major power and the subsequent invasions of foreign tribes led to what is called the Dark Ages. Economic issues and high military costs as a result of war with Persia in the third century plagued Rome, leading to increased taxes and a decline in the landowning class.1 With the splitting of the Roman Empire under Diocletian in 286, the eastern and western halves slowly grew apart, failed to cooperate, and fought over resources and territory.2 The strength of the eastern empire actually encouraged barbarian tribes to invade the dwindling, unfortified cities of the western empire.3 These tribes included the Ostrogoths, the Alans, the Vandals, and the Visigoths, who viciously sacked Rome in 410.4 After Rome’s fall, the period called the Dark Ages began, a time of supposed violence, i... ... middle of paper ... ...ranean and even sometimes further to the east. The economy seemed to have been doing greatly in the Dark Ages with the discovery of huge retail stores. Under Christianity’s wing, education was also being encouraged and the pursuit of the liberal arts grew more important. People like Cassiodorus and Boethius were critical in the preservation of ancient Latin and Greek texts, and they also developed their own interesting philosophies. At this time, Christianity truly began to emerge as a strong religion, and the Dark Ages carry great significance for harboring Catholicism. With the Early Middle Ages culminating in the Carolingian Renaissance that even further encouraged the pursuit of education and the arts, it cannot be said that this time was one of darkness. For these reasons, the Dark Ages were overall a crucially important and beneficial time in human history.
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