Dark Ages

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Liam 4 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #15565

    jalpert911
    Participant

    How long will it take to complete the Dark Ages? Will it be as long as the Roman Occupation? When is the dark ages considered over?

  • #18077

    Chris
    Participant

    I, too, would like to know when people consider the Dark Ages to be officially over as you can't really answer the first question until you have a rough idea of this. Jamie, or anyone, please correct me if I am wrong (because I probably am wrong)  ???This is a difficult question to answer because I don't have the facts to hand but the Dark Ages, if memory serves, was considered to cover a substantial amount of the Middle Ages (I don't know how much but let's say probably well into the 12th or 13th century - to the end of the High Middle Ages) however, after a great of deal academic arguing over the years this school of thought has changed. Now, the Dark Ages is most likely considered to cover a period up to the end of the migration/invasion period of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (6th or 7th century - about three quarters of the Early Middle Ages) or even earlier. With the lack of primary sources and conflicting secondary sources I don't know how long it will take to effectively cover this period but we should have a few episodes yet. It certainly won't take as long as the Roman Occupation unless Jamie, and his untiring research can eke it out that long but I doubt it. This is mostly off the top of my head so it is probably best if someone else can clarify in more detail the answer to your questions.

  • #18078

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    Yeah, this is one of those things that depends on who you are talking to or reading.  Some people only count the period of migration as the Dark Ages, there are others that go as far as the 14th century.  I have to be honest, I haven't given the labeling a lot of thought.  As for myself, I tend to think that Alfred did quite a lot to pull England out of the Dark Ages.  But the issue of labeling of individual time frames is one of those things that seems like it's a matter of personal perspective.Unfortunately, we don't have the sudden appearance of Bronze or Iron which would allow us to say "Bronze age!" and just be done with it.  Instead, the Dark Ages are more of a cultural and intellectual thing.  And so it's a lot more wishy washy.  At what point do we have enough information and do we have enough free thought to be considered out of that period?  I don't know if I can give you an authoritative answer on that.  :/As for your other question, I suspect that it will take us 3-6 months for us to get to Alfred.  But mapping out the podcast isn't as easy as you'd think so those dates aren't as firm as I would like them to be.  It might go faster, or I might end up chasing down some tangents that stretch the period out quite a bit farther.

  • #18079

    jalpert911
    Participant

    wonderful :) thank you!!

  • #18080

    anonymous
    Participant

    I vote that anything before Darwin is the Dark Ages!

  • #18081

    Chris
    Participant

    I had a marathon history discussion in the pub with a friend last Saturday night……4 and half hours……and we covered many topics, one of which was the Dark Ages. Ok, to be honest I don't remember some of that conversation (and I am sure you can guess why) but I tried to explain that in my view the Dark Ages was part of the Middle Ages; that initial comment sparking a look of uncertainty in my statement.In my general understanding, the Middle Ages lasted approximately 1000 years from shortly after the Roman abandonment of Britain to roughly the end of the War of the Roses and the start of early modern Britain with the House of Tudor in 1485. I know this is a substantial chunk of British history neatly bundled together in one era but it's usually never that simple when it comes to history. A podcast I have been listening to about the Crusades mentioned the Middle Ages lasted for approx. 1000 years. The Middle Ages as a division of British history has sub-divisions such as the Dark Ages or migratory/invasion periods of Angles, Saxons and later the Vikings, the Normans and then the Plantagenets.I would like to know why historians dislike the term Dark Ages so much when it is indicative of so much more than the negative connotations it nowadays holds. It might have been a period where there was a lack of progression in general but it is a defining piece of British history, integral to the overall and slow natural progression of this land during this particular time. The term "dark" as I see it was used simply to define the period as knowing very little about it rather than a time where absolutely nothing of interest happened for hundreds of years. Even without a plethora of first hand accounts, something we would like to say with more certainty what happened and when, the discoveries to date suggest that the Dark Ages is an incredibly important, brutal and fascinating period but, I believe, firmly within the Early Middle Ages period. Is it simply because we generally know more about this period now than we did before that we feel it is unjust to label this time "dark"? It is a term I like to use and will continue to use even if historians disagree.

  • #18082

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    My understanding is that Dark Ages is something of a perjorative term.  It implies backwardness, lack of culture, brutality, etc.  Which of course then assumes that Rome was wonderful and civilized.  So there are just a lot of biases mixed in with the term. But everyone uses it, so it's in my podcast for sake of ease.  ;)

  • #18083

    anonymous
    Participant

    I suppose, if we define the period in question as a European Dark Age we can then reference the age that came before it as one of a multi-regional Roman state that allowed a sophisticated, literate trading empire to develop. It created an effective rule of law (at least for the time) and provide access to literacy for a large portion of its citizens and meant that for the majority of its existence its cities could exist without walls. That indicates a high degree of internal cohesiveness and stability (and the periods of chaos were remarkable for their scarcity until the crisis of the 3rd century). By contrast, the dark ages was a time of feudalism, agricultural and intellectual decline. It was a period where the great strides of literacy collapsed. It was in thrall to a stone age monotheistic cult (Christianity) and indeed one of the causes of the fall of the Western Empire was clearly the baleful influence of Christianity on the previously educated, rational, religiously tolerant Romans. An educated Greco-Roman of the 1st Century AD would probably have laughed at some of the things the Dark Age church claimed as "knowledge." He would probably ask what happened to the baths, the money, the pottery, the tools etc.I'm not saying that Rome was perfect; it could clearly be brutal, cruel, militaristic and utterly ruthless but it was a lot better than what came after, even if for some individuals there was greater freedom after it collapsed. I think if you asked a Romano-Britain whether they preferred the rule of a good Augustus to scratching together a village militia to try to stop yet group of raiders burning the village and raping the womenfolk they would certainly have cried out for the empire. I think maybe the reason we sometimes try to revise the Dark Ages into something better is because of a modern reaction to the British/American Modern Roman Empires of the 19th, 20th and 21st Century. The British Empire was a conscious attempt to recreate a form of Rome, and I believe a lot of our attempts to polish the Dark Ages are an attempt to get away from post Imperial guilt, and also to create an alternative origins myth.Of course, I do love the Dark Ages. They are a fascinating period of study; to me they are the age of the Huscarls, the Shieldwalls, the Thanes and last stands, of the Dragon Boats and the basis for Tolkien. They also gave us the Northmen, the discovery of America, and the epic Battle of Maldon.

  • #18084

    Liam
    Participant

    Surely as time goes on and more things are dug up the dark ages will shrink until the label isnt used at all

  • #18085

    TimHodkinson
    Participant

    Of course, I do love the Dark Ages. They are a fascinating period of study; to me they are the age of the Huscarls, the Shieldwalls, the Thanes and last stands, of the Dragon Boats and the basis for Tolkien. They also gave us the Northmen, the discovery of America, and the epic Battle of Maldon.

    ...and the English language. The Staffordshire horde is making those "dark ages" look pretty shiny.

  • #18086

    anonymous
    Participant

    Of course, I do love the Dark Ages. They are a fascinating period of study; to me they are the age of the Huscarls, the Shieldwalls, the Thanes and last stands, of the Dragon Boats and the basis for Tolkien. They also gave us the Northmen, the discovery of America, and the epic Battle of Maldon.

    ...and the English language. The Staffordshire horde is making those "dark ages" look pretty shiny.

    I agree that Dark Age as a age that is shrouded in mystery because of a lack of evidence will be come an increasing misnomer, but I still think that as a description of life at the time, Dark Age is fairly apt....

  • #18087

    Chris
    Participant

    Surely as time goes on and more things are dug up the dark ages will shrink until the label isnt used at all

    I hope this never happens. The whole implication of brutality, lack of culture, agricultural and intellectual decline is a unique expression for the term 'Dark Ages' . It perfectly describes this period and Jamie's and Inquisitor's definition backs this up, and at the very least it is an apt description for the first half of the Early Middle Ages anyway.Looking at it this way, metaphorically speaking, the light of the Roman Empire was bright but it wasn't that bright so when the Romans said 'sod this I'm outta here', yes, things got a little darker, well quite a lot darker but not so much we couldn't see our own hands in front of our faces. The light was dim and this meant it could only get brighter, it's just that it took quite a long time to do so. But then picking yourself up after a heavy fall after having the wind knocked out you takes a little bit time. The Dark Ages is like getting back on your feet again.

  • #18088

    Liam
    Participant

    Looking back from 1500 years in the future that description makes a lot of sense but each individual community was probably so far off our own that the term dark ages doesnt fit. I mean that we call it that because of a lack of primary sources and the way that life became simpler again but people of the time might not have seen it like that. If losing nearly all the advancemants the romans made mattered to them surely there would have been a bigger effort to keep those ways of life intact. So maybe it wasnt seen as a dark age at the time  but instead as an age of enlightenment as people rediscovered their old ways. Im thinking that its kinda like the thing about lions speaking english- it doesnt make sense to us but it did to them 

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