Were the Dark Ages really dark?

I was in a discussion on another forum and I was explaining how the Dark Ages were comparable to the Stone Age, where Europe lost all knowledge from Classical Civilization. I was explaining how all the great ancient libraries were ransacked, and the books stolen, and how people went from great stone cathedrals, and plumbing and running water, to mud and grass huts and clay pottery making, and instead of trials and judges, they would employ “trial by ordeal” where they were actually dumb enough to throw an accused person into say a pit of hot coals to determine if he was guilty… If one was able to escape, then that meant the accused person was innocent, and if he died, that meant he was guilty…

…But there were a few people, who I might consider historical revisionists, claiming that the Dark Ages actually weren’t “so dark”.

What do you think? Were they dark? Or not so dark?

Most people in the cities of Ancient Rome lived in apartments called insulae .

Ancient Roman insulae:

The wealthy lived in single family homes called domus of various sizes depending on how rich they were.

Ancient Roman domus:

…This is much different than the reduced living status of the Dark Ages, where smurf-like homes had straw roofs.


Dark Ages actual were very ‘Light Ages’ but French Revolutionists, atheists and liberals think that faith is nonsense and dangerous for modern man. French Revolution is meant to be ‘illumination of man’ because he is modern and uses science. As if religion and science are not compatible… But Christianity brought us science!

Middle Ages started with fall of Western Roman Empire. In that time barbarians and pagans ravaged and threatened that culture and Christianity would be destroyed. Chaos reigned in Europe and Christianity is what brought the light.
Benedictine monasteries were the main point of faith, spirituality and culture.
In 10th and 11th centuries, Christians began to discover and explore ancient heritage, churches and cathedrals were built up on its foundations, often inspired by ancient heritage, architecture and aesthetics. Also in that period Christian missionaries baptized pagan nations and brought their culture; Christianisation.

Middle Ages (“Dark Ages”) brought us universities, schools and hospitals - science!
Numerous activities have developed: agriculture, crafts, arts. By founding monasteries, St. Benedict actually founded places of culture, only monks were literate. They copied and wrote books and everyone who wanted to get education had to be taught by them.

Term “Dark Ages” is used to denigrate Christianity.


From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages_(historiography)):

As the accomplishments of the era came to be better understood in the 19th and 20th centuries, scholars began restricting the “Dark Ages” appellation to the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century),[6][7][8] and now scholars also reject its usage in this period.[9] The majority of modern scholars avoid the term altogether due to its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate.[10][11][12] Petrarch’s pejorative meaning remains in use,[1][2][13] typically in popular culture which often mischaracterises the Middle Ages as a time of violence and backwardness.

The term was actually used in various ways by various people, painting all middle ages as “dark” is usually anti-christian agenda. I guess it can be validly used for the time just after fall of Rome when remnants of empire were really in a bad shape, but the fact is that Church was not a cause of the ruin but rather helped Europe to rise from the ashes…


I don’t understand how using the term “Dark Ages” could be used to denigrate Christianity, when the Roman Empire itself was Christian, and the Barbarians were mostly pagans.

Instead, I would argue that there’s a degree of racism against Italians and Greeks, and a rejection of the sophistication of classical antiquity.

Yet, to revise history all of a sudden, a thousand years later, seems suspicious. My guess is that it’s done by anti-Catholics who see Rome as the “whore of babylon” or by racists, who cannot grant Europeans from the Mediterranean region the respect of being a civilized culture before the Germanic tribes people in time. I think it’s a combination of these two kinds of stubbornness that cause people to revise history.

…Am I wrong to think this?

I mentioned Enlightenment movement/French Revolution (also age when Freemasonry was founded, which is opposed to Christianity and persecute(d) Christians) as one of main streams which atributed that term because of significant influence of Christianity in MA… Which was perceived negatively later, in The Ages of Enlightenment. Ironically, Church brought us science and education.

The term “dark age” is traditionally attributed to the Italian medieval poet Francesco Petrarca, who spent much of his life traveling around Europe and translating classical Greek and Latin texts. Comparing the achievements of the former Roman Empire with the everyday life of the then Europe, he began to describe his own time as an age of “darkness” and ancient civilization as an age of “light”. He was most explicit in this in the discussion of his own epic Africa from 1343, in which he expressed the hope that his readers would live in a better and “brighter” time. Such a view began to be propagated by humanists, especially Leonardo Bruni and Flavio Biondo, who in their historical texts began to divide the whole history into the “light” of antiquity, the “turbulent” or “dark” medieval, to which they added “new”, ie their own time. the ancient “light” began to return. On the basis of this division, today’s traditional division into the Old, Middle and New Ages was created.

The spread of the humanist view of the" dark "Middle Ages in the 16th and 17th centuries was significantly contributed by the Reformation and related divisions in Europe. A negative attitude towards the Middle Ages crystallized among Protestants based on the fact that the then Christian world dominated papacy, often associated with the Antichrist;…

The view of the" dark "Middle Ages gained it’s greatest popularity in the 18th century, at a time when the Enlightenment movement began to view organized religion, i.e. Christianity and it’s dominance over the entire cultural life of Europe as a source of obstinacy, violence, primitivism. The Age of Enlightenment developed the view that the Church’s dominance as a substitute for secular Roman rule, or its hostility to “pagan” science and culture, was the reason for Europe’s decline in the Middle Ages.

I am not sure what is your point exactly…
Can you elaborate?

Well, clearly the Dark Ages began with the end of Classical civilization, and the sacking of Rome around the year 470. At that time, the great libraries were ransacked and destroyed, people stopped learning and going to school… Tribes began migrating and fighting with one another, and people began to regress socially, with people usually not traveling more than 15 miles from the place they were born for their entire lives, unless they were warriors.

Regardless of anyone’s biases, it’s really quite obvious that those times were pretty rotten, regardless of Christianity… Christianity existed before and after the fall of Rome, so Christianity isn’t a factor. The factor is lack of education… Education is important today, especially in the high standards of Catholic education. Education was also important in ancient Rome. But education was not very important in the Dark Ages, which explains why people were acting the way they were.

It is my understand it was very dark, no sun for years, that is why it is called the “Dark” ages.

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That’s true too. I believe a massive volcano erupted somewhere, but I’m mostly referring to the lack of intelligence and anti-social behaviors that existed between the years 500 to 1000… the lack of education and lost knowledge from the previous generations, that weren’t recovered for many generations, and was eventually found and taken back from Moors in Spain, which in part, lead to the rekindling of deeper thought in Europe once again.

To me, Thomas Aquinas represents the rekindling of deeper thought and contemplation, that brought Europe back out of barbaric thinking.

…He represents the greatness of education, philosophy and contemplation… Intelligence.

You’re correct. I remember the sun being blotted out and 75% of life being extinguished.

Or am I confusing the Dark Ages with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event? :thinking:


My understanding is the Dark Ages were mostly the collapse of imperial authority in the West, a period of Barbarian invasions and rampant disease, probably the bubonic plague. But in the midst of all this, the Church was a light in the darkness.


It was the year 536. The “worst year to be alive”… In human history.

Well, until this year…

The Church is always a light in the darkness… But the Dark Ages shouldn’t be erased from history, IMO. The story needs to be told that a severe lack of education and learning bring about chaos. It’s why our clergy is educated, and the doctors of the Church were all educated.

Christianity existed but spread alot more in Middle Ages, not before.

Are you really sure? Did you know that first universities were founded in Middle Ages?

Christianity brought light in those times.

I don’t think that Middle Ages were Dark Ages.
Term is used by biased authors nowadays, in very misleading way.

What are your sources? Books?

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My source is professor, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, at Stanford University, who I was originally following for scientific purposes, but stumbled across something else in the introduction… Watching this video, that most people would have to pay 10’s of thousands of dollars for, is a real gem from youtube.

(Lecture starts at 2:20)

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Agreed. Most reputable scholars shy away from using the term because of its biased inaccuracy and bad connotations.

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