The Early Middle Ages refer to the European history dated from the time of fall of the Roman Empire to the dawn of Renaissance. This was approximately between the years 475 and 1000 CE. It was during this time when there was the fall of Roman Empire. The Eastern Emperor Leo I appointed the last Roman Emperor Julius Nepos. Later Julius Nepos declared his own son Romulus Augustus as new Emperor of the Roman Empire (Jones 1-6). This paper analyses that period and makes the argument as to why historians and writers refer or fail to refer to it as “Dark Ages”. Even though some writers refer to the period as Middle Ages and others as Dark Ages, in some textbooks writers avoid the use any of the two terms.
One of the reasons why many writers and historians refer to that period as a period of Dark Ages is because of many negative events. In this period of the Early Middle Age, there were so many bad or ‘dark’ events, such as the falling of the Western Roman Empire, death of the Roman Emperor known as Julius Nepos. His own soldiers killed him in the year 480. It was also in this year when there was the invasion of Italy and defeat of Roman soldiers (Jones 5-6). All these events link with darkness and sadness earned this period the name “Dark Ages”. Many negative events, such as death of Nepos, fall of Western Roman Empire, and killing of soldiers is a reason why the Early Middle Ages should be termed as the Dark Ages.
During the Middle Ages there arose a dictatorial method of leadership, when Odoacer, the barbarian king and German warrior who defeated Romulus Augustus in September 4, the year 476, invaded Italy. This led to a coup in the year 480, and people started fearing the leadership. This is because there was brutal dictatorship. Dictatorship is a form of evil in the society. This is because of the ruthless acts that many dictators perform (Jones 5-6). The fact that in this period there was a good number of dictatorship authorities gives a reason why Early Middle Ages should be termed as the Dark Ages.
In the Early Middle Ages, there was also the Black Death, a plague, which exterminated so many people during that period. Almost half of European population lost their lives because of that plague. There was also a civil war between three sons of Lois the Pious, who struggled for leadership after the death of Emperor Charlemagne (Voger 66). It left the wave of sorrow and mental torture, when close friends and relatives of the deceased were in the power of darkness. Writers have used the term “Dark” to help people understand the situation with plagues. The fact that this period was full of death and plagues give a reason why Early Middle Ages should be termed as the Dark Ages.
The Early Middle Ages was the period in the European history that oversaw changes in the political, social, religious practices, and in the society, such as founding of Roman Catholic Church, which led to the rise of Holy Roman Empire. In the year 732 CE, Charles Martel was able to defeat Moorish Invaders in the Battle of Tours that permanently ended Islamic invasion and their expansion of territory. The fact that in the Early Middle Ages there was the rise of Holy Roman Empire makes the name Dark Age unsuitable for the period. This is because Catholic Empire does not reflect darkness in any way (Benjamin 55). The fact that there were many positive changes in the social, political, and religious aspects is a convincing reason why the Early Middle Ages should not be termed as Dark Ages.
When Moorish invaders lost in the war, and Roman Empire took over, education came up and hence development of knowledge. According to Jones (2010), the church stepped up a notch and started establishing universities to foster preservation of knowledge (p. 11). People were able to view perspectives of various things in life differently compared to the period before the ending of Islamic invasion, when people had scientific perspectives. Education is a positive development in human life and does not reflect Dark Age in any way. If anything, it shows light and as such, it is not to referring to the period as the Dark Age (Benjamin, 2008, p. 62). The fact that there was an enormous development in the education sector, which is a positive aspect of life, is a reason why the Early Middle Ages should not be termed as Dark Ages.
In the Early Middle Ages, there was Agricultural Revolution, where people could start practicing agriculture, and hence it was a newer source of income compared to before the rule. The revolution led to significant development in the way people practiced farming. This was a development in human life. New techniques of doing agriculture opened up more opportunities of further development in the field. This created a source of living for many people, which gave them a hope of good future. This is another reason why it is inaccurate to refer to such an age of prosperity as the age of darkness (Voger, 2006, p. 50-60). Many developments in agriculture and opportunities give a reason why the Early Middle Ages should not be termed as Dark Ages.
In conclusion, it is clear from the arguments above that there are reasons why some writers and historians refer to the Middle Age period as the Dark Ages. There are also reasons why others dispute this term. This period, just like any other period in history, had its difficulties, on which concentrated those who refer to it as Dark Age when describing the period. There were also many developments, such as agricultural, religion, and education. The dispute in terms given to the Early Middle Ages is a reason why some avoid the use of any of the two terms when referring to the period.
Jones, Benjamin F. Age and great invention. The Review of Economics and Statistics 92.1 (2010): 1-14. Print.
Voger, Mark. The DarkAge. Tomorrow Publishing, 2006. Print.
Walter, Benjamin. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Penguin, 2008. Print.