The Dark Ages

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The Dark Ages

Post  Gantor on Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:43 pm

A term that gets tossed about that irks me is "the dark ages". Most people seem to equate it with the middle-ages which they figure as being from the fall of rome to the renaissance which they place somewhere in the 16th century give or take a hundred years. Furthermore there is the notion that it was a time when the church suppressed science and that the witch trials and crusades fell somewhere in there.
The "dark ages" actually refers to the period from the fall of Rome to the Carolingian Renaissance (5th century to 8th century). The term was coined by Petrarch to describe the lack of art, history, and other cultural achievement of the time, not because anything bad happened. Modern historians use the term to describe any period of time with a lack of extant records. There are also the Greek dark ages, the Byzantine dark ages, the Cambodian dark ages, etc. where we have few records from these places and times.
The people of the "dark ages" Christian Europe saw generally less violence and turmoil than earlier and later ages. It was the time of the goths but that is another rant. The witch trials came a thousand years later and actually occured during the renaissance and the "age of reason" which, Voltaire and Kant wrote, had finally overcome the "age of faith".

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