1. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    Was the Dark Ages Only For Europe???

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by mugen shiyo, Sep 1, 2011.

    Just wondering for anyone familiar with medieval history. After the fall of the Roman Empire till around the 15th or 16th century (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just guesstimating) is described as the Dark Ages, or the fall of enlightenment. Was this for all of the known world or just Europe? In terms of fighting and constant warfare that seemed worldwide. But it seems that the North African and Middle Eastern civilizations continued steadily- much of their sciences and advanced aspects of civilization (that was a combination of truly local advances and those of the Romans) absorbed by the Mediterranean and European Civilizations during the Crusades.
     
  2. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    I'm not 100% on this, but I'm pretty sure the Dark Ages were only in areas previously under Roman rule.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yeah, Dark Ages was almost exclusively in the (former Roman Empire) European regions. In the Middle East, and in the Far East, advancement continued onwards. See, for example, the preservation of the works of ancient Roman doctor Galen and ancient Greek philosophers Plato, etc, in the Middle East, rediscovered by Europe in the Renaissance.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Advancement also continued in Central America, with the Maya reaching their classic period during this time period, and the Aztec culminating near the end of it.
     
  5. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd also quibble with the description of 1066 onwards being the Dark Ages, given the development of records and what we know about times from then, in England at least. Obviously, each country advanced beyond the Dark Ages at their own speed.

    But it was certainly Europe-wide, following the collapse of the Roman Empire (although a vestige of the former might of Rome remained in the so-called Holy Roman Empire, which is, I believe, intrinsically linked to the Catholic church).

    Other Dark Ages which are interesting include the Greek Dark Ages - during which no records were kept because people forgot how to write. Which begs the question, how on Earth do you forget how to write?
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This is right. The only thing I would add to this is that the Islamic World preserved a lot more information than just medicine and philosophy. It also kept Astronomy, Engineering and Poetry for us too.
     
  7. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. definitely, the world didn't stop turning just because Europe did. The Inka also reached the height of their hegemony during the 15th century.
     
  8. mugen shiyo
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    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

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    Gotcha. Thanks for the replies. It's a shame they don't have many detailed accounts of the medieval times in places like the far East and the far West...or southern Africa. So much of the world left out and probably a lot of it very cool stories lost forever.
     
  9. PastPresentNFuture
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    PastPresentNFuture Senior Member

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    just find some library books, or go on wiki to research the medieval times elsewhere, asia, and north america were actually quite prosperous during that time
     
  10. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    They do. It's just Western culture stems from Europe, so therefore that's the history at the forefront of everyone's minds.
     
  11. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    haha it's funny cause at my school we just went over this. The Dark Ages happened mostly in Europe with only the German Monks and the Catholic Church had all the information.
     
  12. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I could be wrong, but I thought the european eras (post antiquity) went like this: Dark Ages (early middle ages), Middle Ages ([high & late] Medieval) and then Renaissance (14th/16th/17th c.)
     
  13. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the writing system is exclusively used for bureaucratic and administrative purposes and is known only to a handful then the losing of it - in periods of upheaval - becomes readily explicable.

    The HRE was linked to the Roman Empire in name alone. All the while, of course, the Roman Empire persisted in the form of the Byzantine Empire. (East Roman Empire).

    The term is now frowned upon in scholarly circles but, certainly, it used to be more frequently applied to the early medieval period.
     
  14. CSwolery
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    CSwolery Member

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    Bear in mind that Rome was not all that more advanced than the Dark Ages. Yes it had bigger cities and more wealth, but that more due to organization than technological achievement. The Renaissance is overstated for tech too. It's been said Italy was far more prosperous in 1200 than 200. The Romans lacked true commercial expertise, large scale banking, and lacked simple agrarian tools like water mills, iron bladed plows and even wheelbarrows. It has even been argued the dark ages did not begin in 476 (fall of Western Rome), but 640, when the Islamic hordes conquered the southern and Eastern Med, badly disrupting vital trade routes to the near and far east, trade routes not fully restored until both the Crusades and the creation of the Mongol Empire.
     
  15. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Well, the term "dark age" was invented by italian historians of the arts in the XVth century like Vasari to describe the previous millenium, and from their perspective it was true: after 476 Italy became a battlefield and a land of conquest for "barbarians" like the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Longobards, the Franks and in the end was split in mini-states (the commons) that florished in the XIIth and XIIIth century but basically they self destroyed when Ludwig the Moor "invited" the French King to fight the Venetians. Then came the Spanish and the Austrians...but that's another story.

    For Italy the darkest time were the Vth and the VIth century, the Gothic wars between the Ostrogoth italian reign and the Empire of the East costed something like 10 milions lives according the historians of the time, and the peninsula became a Mad Max wasted land, the Longobard invasion that followed was indeed nail in the coffin: the new german tribes who colonised Italy were as barbaric as the barbarians of the Hyperborean Era, the invasion of the Arabs in Sicily was an great improvement from a "civilised" point of view: they had a central government, they built great aqueducts like the Romans, were good merchants and very advanced from a scientific and philosophical point of view.

    Charlesmagne created the Holy Roman Empire in 800, but the man himself was illiterate, violent and probably more barbarian than the late Longobard Kings like Rotari and Desiderius, the HRE, destined to last until 1805, wasn't even a central State but a sort of confederation of small states, the only man who tried to transform it in a real Empire was Frederick Redbeard: to be crowned Emperor a german nobleman had to gain the silver crown of the german Reich (not easy, a lot of feudal princes like the Duke of Bayern of the King of Saxony were military speaking as strong as the German King), descend in Italy, defeat the Italian States and the temporal power of the Church, assume the Iron Crown of the Longobards and then force the Pope to declare him Holy Roman Emperor. Then theoretically he could inform the Kings of France and England that they were his vassals, Frederick was the last Emperor to try to do that but he was defeated in 1088 by the Northern League of the Italian States backed by pope Alexander the IIIrd.

    So, not exactly like a Roman Emperor, at all.

    We also have to take into account that the people of medieval times KNEW they didn't live in an advanced society like the Romans, all the german tribes like the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Burgundians, the Longobards etc...always used latin as official language, not their own, they didn't even use runes like the Scandinavians of the time, although they originally came from the North, and they tried to adopt the Roman legal system. They weren't interested in economics, they didn't trade like the Romans, built great things like them and when they tried they copied the Romans (Ars Romanica), so to a certain point of view they knew they weren't a great civilisation like those the one that existed before them.

    The Roman Empire of the East (that wasn't roman at all, Giustinianus replaced latin with greek) florished for a certain time but it was never able to retake the control of the West like Byzantium wanted, they didn't even take control of Italy even if they exterminated the Goths after Theodosius, it was basically a very corrupted government where a Emperor ascended to the throne poisoning the previous one, therefore they weren't able to stop the expansion of the Muslims.

    So in the end the Dark Ages in the West were indeed very dark, but it was at the same time the Golden Years for the Muslims and probably the Chinese and the Mongols. The japanese consider their Dark Ages the Shogunate of the XVIth, XVIIth and XVIIIth century for what I know.
     
  16. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    1)Yes because the most of the germanic tribes were illiterate and they never cared to write their own language.

    2)The Empire of the East was the Empire of the Greeks or the Empire of the Romei like they were called by the italians.-

    3)The original system was Classic Age, Middle age (high and low, divided by AD1000) and Modern Age. Of course it was developed in the XVIth century.
     
  17. CSwolery
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    CSwolery Member

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    Actually until the early 1400s, the term Greek was a disparaging term, and analogous to pagan. This was both within and without the Byzantium. The Byzantines always, ALWAYS referred to their Empire as the Roman Empire (bar none) and they were Romans. In Anatolia, this tradition continued until the population exchanges of the 1920s. Legally speaking, this is completely true, the division of the East and West was always administrative, never political. And the Roman Empire was so multicultural anyway, that most of it's citizens lived in the Eastern half from the time of Caracalla, if not before. Culturally Greco-Roman civilization had fused together by the time of Augustus and the old Romans minted coins in Greek, and even Constantine XI, the last Byzantine Emperor minted coins with inscriptions in Latin. Saying the Byzantines were not Romans because they were ethnically Greek is sorta like saying Hispanics are not really Americans because they are not of Anglo stock and/or not ruled by Anglo stock. And yes, that should jar people, it is the essence of an argument I do not support. And moreover, when the 4th Crusade came around, the Crusader Emperor was rejected, not because he was non-Greek (Constantinople, the founder of which was a proto-Slav, had seen Isurian, Greek, Armenian, and IIRC proto-Kurd and Syriac Emperors and Empresses of nearly every land known to the Byzantines), but because he was not an Orthodox Christian.
     
  18. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I'm sorry to inform you that Giustinianus' legal code was written in GREEK, not in latin, and at Byzantium after the 7th century none was able to read latin.

    You may try to find out what the REAL romans (aka the people who lived in Rome) thought about the Empire of the East in the middle age, it's intersting, as it is interesting to know that the Doge of Venice after the fourth crusade gained the title of "legal possessor of the fourth part of the RUMANIAN Empire".

    For reference, I invite you to read Umberto Eco's Baudolino, a very good movie...
     
  19. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    The Dark Ages is something referring specifically to Europe. That is, if you still wish to use that term. From what I've read, it seems that a number of historians prefer not to use the term anymore, and prefer using something like the "Early Middle Ages" which is more neutral-sounding. Personally, I like to think as Dark Age Europe as not necessarily more "primitive" than the Roman Era (though yes of course they had some serious downgrades in some aspects of society), but that it was rather a different era. Anyhow, whatever you think, realize that the term "Dark Ages" was, as someone mentioned above, something invented by people during the Renaissance to refer to the period between the Fall of Rome and their current generation; they would thus claim that in renewing the Graeco-Roman world they were "better" than their forebears. Of course, I would argue that even in Europe there were periods and regions where things weren't exactly "Dark" at all, even compared to Rome - the Byzantines, Italian city-states, and so forth, are more than enough evidence to show that at least some of Europe was still relatively prosperous and/or at least doing more or less fine.

    Anyhow, as others mentioned, other civilizations were prospering during this time. Actually, in a way, much of the other parts of the Old World, outisde of Europe, were doing well enough with or without the fall of Rome. China under the Tang dynasty reached new heights in military power, cultural development, and economic might, and during the later Song dynasty they were not as powerful per se but they had numerous technological and societal advances (having, for instance, things such as restaurants, gunpowder, banking notes) so much that apparently I've heard some history books claim the Song dynasty would have gone onto the Industrial Revolution had their societal structure been different (I find that claim slightly questionable, but still). Then there was the Islamic world, which experienced a golden age of learning in various fields such as astronomy, chemistry (or alchemy), medicine, history, geography, other social sciences, and so forth. Meanwhile, in India, there were also some advances in science, for instance, in mathematics (which went over into the Islamic world too).

    Economically, much of the Old World was interconnected in a series of trade networks. The most famous is perhaps the Silk Road, but of equal importance (and maybe even more so, according to some people I've talked to) were the Indian maritime sea routes. That's not to mention the maritime routes in the Mediterranean, the Trans-Saharan trade routes, or the trade routes in East Africa and across Southern Russia into Central Asia. There were economically strong civilizations all over the world for much of this time, and not just the big guys I mentioned above - civilizations like those in West Africa (Ghana, Mali, and Songhai stand out, but there were also many more), the Swahili city-states of East Africa, the Empires of Southern India, the maritime empires of Indonesia and the empires and kingdoms in Southeast Asia, not to mention Korea and Japan and the various kingdoms, khanates, and other political entities of Central Asia and Mongolia.

    While stereotypically the fall of Rome marked a move into darkness and nothing happening except tons of war and killing and everybody becoming primitive, that is simply not the case, and it shows, in my opinion, a somewhat outdated Eurocentric view on history. The world still moved on, even after Rome. Heck, the Byzantines (or Eastern Romans, more correctly, I guess?) weren't as effected by the "fall of Rome" as one would think - of course they were effected, particularly in terms of their geopolitical strategy, but it wasn't like they were panicking and assuming apolcaypse time was near.


    -----

    Concerning the Byzantines - yes, "Byzantine" is nowadays more or less a term academics use for convenience. The Byzantines always referred to themselves as Romans, regardless of what you think of their relationship with the actual Romans and Greeks. However, the official language of the Empire was solidified as Greek by the 600s, since by then nobody really understood Latin except for probably a handful of scholars.
     
  20. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Europe also kept developing during the middle ages, albeit slowly. For example, the architecture of medieval cathedrals is much more advanced than what the Romans could build. Ship building and navigation also became considerably more advanced than the Romans. As someone pointed out, the European banking system was also developed during the middle ages.

    Does anyone believe that - that the rest of the world stopped when the Roman empire fell?
     
  21. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    The idea is starting to get outdated and less people accept it, of course, but I still hear it come up now and again I guess in terms of pop history. And of course, like pop psychology or pop science, lots of people automatically assume whatever pop history says. It's kind of amusing, to think about it - do you really think people in China or Mexico or Zimbabwe at the time really cared that much that some crumbling empire thousands of miles away fell apart?

    I think it also indirectly pops up in conversations about who contributed to "Western" culture. Oftentimes - and not without good reason, and not that I disagree per se, of course - Rome and Greece are the big "contributors" to Western culture. Thus, if Rome falls, then that means Western culture is in decline, because nothing compares to the glory of Roman civilization! It ends up being a somewhat Western-centric world view, that Rome contributed so much to all civilizations. True, nowadays since much of the modern world is still dominated by Western states and states that have been profoundly influenced by then, the influence of Rome is quite high. However, that of course does not mean that everything stopped when Rome fell apart, since even its other half was more or less continuing.

    For me, I feel it's just lingering notions of Western-centrism from the 1800s and early 1900s.


    If... that answers your question?
     

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