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And that as far as I know no historian believes non-historians should never be allowed to talk about history if they try to be careful and cite their sources. Read at your own risk anyway. The Dark Ages were never a thing. The entire concept is complete and utter horseshit cobbled together by a deluded writer. Petrarch used it to describe, well, every single thing that had happened since the fall of Rome.
Not every scientist was burned at the stake, not everyone thought the world was flat and surrounded by space dragons, and the High Middle Ages were notable for impressive levels of material progress which in some cases outpaced the Classical World and which set the stage for the upcoming Renaissance the continuity thesis. But I worry that as usual , this corrective to an overblown narrative of darkness has itself been overblown.
The period from about to about in Christian Western Europe was marked by profound economic and intellectual decline and stagnation relative to the periods that came before and after it. Many other areas during this period had no warring states at all! What about the Bronze Age? The Time of Troubles? Actually, outside of Russia there were no more troubles than usual.
The Era of Good Feelings? Maybe there were a bunch of bad feelings not in the US. Every other historical age name is instantly understood by everyone to refer to both a time and a place. The only time anyone ever gives anybody else grief over this is when they talk about the Dark Ages. This is an isolated demand for rigor. What about all the great stuff in the Dark Ages? The Song of Roland! Suppose someone tells you that the middle of America contains the Great Plains, a very flat region.
But you know that actually there are lots of tall mountains, like the Rockies. Have you debunked the so-called Great Plains narrative and proven that its believers are credulous morons? The period after AD did indeed have lots of great accomplishments. I await people admitting that there was no Cold War, because who is George Orwell to think he can just name an era based on what he feels it was like?
This is another isolated demand for rigor. Historical periods get their names from random individuals reflecting on them; the names catch on if people agree that they fit. The idea of a Dark Age originated with the Tuscan scholar Petrarch in the s. Writing of the past, he said: Petrarch was the first to give the metaphor secular meaning by reversing its application. Petrarch wrote that history had two periods: In around , in the conclusion of his epic Africa, he wrote: But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age.
This sleep of forgetfulness will not last for ever. When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance. The new age saeculum which was beginning, for its harshness and barrenness of good could well be called iron, for its baseness and abounding evil leaden, and moreover for its lack of writers dark.
This is not exactly a resounding victory for people claiming that the Dark Age had nothing wrong with it except slightly fewer records. The job of historians is to record, not to judge. So I assume you also raise a fuss whenever someone talks about Alexander the Great? The Golden Age of Athens?
The Five Good Emperors? There were lots of ways they might have been good. That seems pretty light-side to me! Look, a lot of history sucked, and moral judgments are hard. Jared Diamond thinks hunter-gatherers were freer and happier than anyone since. Maybe the real Golden Age of Athens was in 40, BC, when Neanderthals on the rocky plain that would one day become Athens hunted mammoths in carefree abandon, loving life and being at one with nature and the changing seasons.
In order to avoid this kind of speculation, I think of history as being along at least two axes: Alexander may or may not have been a good person, but he was certainly an impressive one. Periclean Athens might not have been the most virtuous city, but it was certainly one with lasting accomplishments. Since it is so hard to judge the goodness or badness of historical figures, most of our claims of greatness are claims about impressiveness.
And compared to the periods before or after, Dark Ages Europe was unimpressive. The Dark Ages in Europe were a time when things would have been more towards the North Korean end of that picture. From The Muslims of Andalusia:. My point is that there is some axis, not the same as morality but involving economic and intellectual activity, in which the period — AD was uniquely sucky.
Okay, forget disputes about the meanings of words or how to do history. But even these attenuated numbers tell the story of an entire millennium when human economic progress across an entire continent went backwards. Although these numbers are inherently sketchy, the few real pieces of evidence we have seem to back them up. Arctic ice cores preserve a record of how much lead pollution was in the air, probably linked to human lead-mining activities.
This allows us a pretty good look at how much lead-mining various European civilizations were doing:. And granted, the Romans were a little more obsessed with lead than could possibly have been healthy. But these data are supported by reconstructions of silver mining, copper mining, and iron mining. We see a similar decline in population. The Atlas of World Population History thinks that continental Europe had a population of 36 million people at its peak in AD, falling to 26 million at a nadir in AD, and gradually recovering back to 36 million or so around AD.
These are the sorts of numbers usually only associated with the worst plagues and genocides. Classical Rome had a population of between , and a million. Even classical Athens had a population of over , The infrastructure for maintaining large urban populations had fallen apart. And true, a lot of this is sparse and reconstructed. But aside from the economy, there was still lots of great culture and intellectual advancements.
If I ask Google for a list of the hundred greatest philosophers of all time, it brings up http: The giant pit from to where there was not a single European philosopher worthy of inclusion on the list corresponds to the traditional concept of a Dark Age without very impressive intellectual output. Once again separating them into year intervals and graphing:. Again, we see a giant pit from to AD though this time it is not completely empty — Beowulf is the sole qualifying work.
But as far as I can tell, this really was state-of-the-art. The decreased quality of intellectual output seems to have been matched by a decline in quantity. The Ulpian Library of Emperor Trajan seemed to have tens of thousands of scrolls, and it was only one of as many as 28 libraries in Rome. Estimates of the number of volumes in the Library of Alexandria range from 40, to , Archaeologists studying the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, a private residence in a medium sized town, have found a private library of almost 2, scrolls.
Medieval libraries seem to be much smaller. It follows from this that the wealth and fame of any institution that required books would inevitably affect the size of its library, and, given the fact that books were always expensive, medieval libraries were, from a modern point of view, not large. The largest Anglo-Saxon libraries may have contained about two hundred books. In the collection at Christ Church, Canterbury, numbered 1,, which may well have been the biggest collection in England and Wales.
In the library of the university of Paris contained 1, volumes which, by , had increased to 1,—an increase of about 70 percent. This might not be entirely fair — Roman scrolls were smaller than medieval books, so a work that took up one medieval book might have occupied several Roman scrolls, inflating the size of Roman libraries. But there still seems to be a pretty big gap between the tens to hundreds of thousands of volumes in classical libraries and the few hundred to few thousand in libraries all the way up until the High Middle Ages.
This might not be true — see here ]. In a lot of cases, the people of the Dark Ages and the High Middle Ages afterwards themselves acknowledged this. The Roman author Vitruvius was the gold standard for architecture up to the Renaissance, and Brunelleschi became famous for creating a dome that surpassed the Roman domes made years earlier. Roman doctors like Galen and Celsus were semi-worshipped by medieval doctors; when the 16th century!
There were still a few important accomplishments. The night includes several bright things, such as the moon, the stars, and streetlights. One of the links from the top of the post says:. A simple listing of inventions, discoveries and developments demonstrates the the Middle Ages were anything but dark. I am sure that horseshoes were a revolutionary advance in equine footwear. But the ancient Greeks gave us geometry, history, cartography, the screw, the water wheel, gears, cranes, lighthouses, and fricking analog computers.
If you want to stake your claim to be more than a miserable failure as a historical age, you are going to have to do better than horseshoes. See previous work on is Pluto a planet? There was darkness everywhere, not just in Europe 2.
Every single person in this era was an illiterate superstitious peasant covered in filth, and not one good thing ever happened 4. Greco-Roman civilization was better in every way than the period that followed it, including morally.
The romance had dried up between them at the same time and he feared that she was seeing one of the doctors. We conducted the surveillance on a friday evening but our efforts to locate the wife at the hospital were unsucessful. We then tried this on two other evenings and had the same result. We then followed the wife to the hospital where she pulled up in the rear of the hospital and a man came out, kissed her and then got in her van and drove away as she entered the hospital.
We followed the man back to a residence in Canton when he parked and went inside. He ran several errands and then before midnight drove from Canton back to the hospital and picked up the subject wife. They drove back to his house in Canton and went inside for approximately two hours before she departed alone and drove home.
One two additional instances, she followed the same pattern. Some additional investigation determined who the man was and revealed that he was a janitor at the hospital who lost his drivers license due to multiple drunk driving charges. Plymouth, Michigan Plymouth Zip Codes In this case, our Plymouth private investigator was asked to help determine if the wife of our client was hiding money.
The client had noticed that his wife seemed to have large amounts of cash with her all the time that did not come from the family bank account. He was also worried that she was not acting the same when they were together. We established surveillance of her as she ran errands in and around Plymouth and went shopping for several hours, but nothing unusual. On our second day of surveillance again she traveled around Plymouth but never visited a bank or ATM machine.
On our third day of surveillance the only thing she did was to visit her mother at a nursing home in Plymouth. We then elected to wait until our client was leaving for business out of town.
On this date we noted that after she dropped him off at the airport, she drove directly to the Greektown casino in Detroit. We located her within the casino and watched her for several hours as she played craps, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. At times she was betting over five hundred dollars at a time. After informing our client of her behavior, he had us investigate her a bit further and we learned that she had obtained a line of credit with a second bank and was using the money from that loan to gamble with.
Novi, Michigan Novi Zip Codes , , , In a case in Novi, our client was a cmoputer consultant working from his home. His wife worked outside of the house and was gone for ten or more hours each day. Although he would have appointments at client locations outside of Novi from time to time, he was believed to be in the Novi area and possibly seeing another woman. We established surveillance at his residence and within minutes of her departure for work, a woman arrived at the house on foot.
She knocked on the door and he let her in. Less than an hour later, she exited the house carrying her shoes in her left hand. We followed her from the house around the block to a neighboring residence where she went inside.
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