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And compared to the periods before or after, Dark Ages Europe was unimpressive.I’m probably an overly literal person, but whenever I think about dark ages, I think of the modern (and anachronistic for the period in question) association between light, population density, and economic activity: The Dark Ages in Europe were a time when things would have been more towards the North Korean end of that picture.This sleep of forgetfulness will not last for ever. Maybe the real Golden Age of Athens was in 40,000 BC, when Neanderthals on the rocky plain that would one day become Athens hunted mammoths in carefree abandon, loving life and being at one with nature and the changing seasons.When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance.” Petrarch can’t just be referring to an absence of good historical sources – he’s talking about his own era! Maybe the title “Alexander the Great” should really go to Alexander IV of Macedon, who was killed at age 14 and so never conquered, murdered, or oppressed anyone – truly an outstanding achievement matched by approximately zero other kings of the era.And that the people I am disagreeing with are not historians themselves, but other non-historians trying to interpret historians’ work in a popular way that I interpret as wrong.
I await people admitting that there was no Cold War, because who is George Orwell to think he can just name an era based on what he feels it was like? Historical periods get their names from random individuals reflecting on them; the names catch on if people agree that they fit. The term “Dark Ages” was originally just supposed to mean that there aren’t many sources describing it, not that the era was bad Nope, wrong.
Likewise There Were No European Dark Ages, The Myth Of The Dark Ages, The Myth Of The “Dark Ages”, Medieval Europe: The Myth Of The Dark Ages, Busting The “Dark Ages” Myth, and of course smug Tumblr posts. Many people’s idea of medieval times is exaggerated. Suppose someone tells you that the middle of America contains the Great Plains, a very flat region.
Not every scientist was burned at the stake, not everyone thought the world was flat and surrounded by space dragons, and the High Middle Ages were notable for impressive levels of material progress which in some cases outpaced the Classical World and which set the stage for the upcoming Renaissance (the continuity thesis). But I worry that as usual, this corrective to an overblown narrative of darkness has itself been overblown. But you know that actually there are lots of tall mountains, like the Rockies.
Many other areas during this period had no warring states at all! Huge swathes of the Earth’s land area remained un-Hellenized. Actually, outside of Russia there were no more troubles than usual. Maybe there were a bunch of bad feelings not in the US. The period after 1000 AD did indeed have lots of great accomplishments.
Guess you fell victim to the Myth Of The Warring States Period.” What about the Bronze Age? Every other historical age name is instantly understood by everyone to refer to both a time and a place. That’s because Europe at that time had 500 years to recover from the civilizational collapse that demolished its economic and intellectual capacity – a collapse whose immediate aftermath we call “the Dark Ages”.