The Dark Ages begin at the time of the fall of Rome, in 476 A.D. Rome's rule had lasted eight hundred years. In the place of Rome, barbarian kingdoms arose and ruled the West. The Dark Ages were to rule over Europe until about 1000 A.D., with the birth of the Middle Ages and a recovery from artistic darkness as the lost knowledge of the Greeks and Romans was rediscovered.
In Europe, the Germans dominated through tribes such as: Alamanni, Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Gepids, Goths, Lombards and Vandals. These peoples wandered across Europe in an incohesive manner. Our English language is derived from these peoples, including some of our words, which recall these tribes, such as "vandal" meaning a destroyer and "frank", meaning honest and forthright.
These barbarian tribes destroyed many of the buildings and works of art that survived from Roman times. Only in monasteries, cathedrals and palace schools was knowledge preserved and there were very few monasteries left. Many of the old arts and crafts of western Europe were destroyed during the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages, population decreased and economic life became more primitive.
The Eastern Holy Roman Empire of the East, based in Constantinople, continued to burn the flame of Roman rule in the East. Dominating the eastern Mediterranean, these Greek-speaking "East Romans", the Byzantines, continued to claim the right to rule the Western world, or Western Empire, as it was known. Emperors of the East attempted to reclaim the Muslim controlled areas of northern Africa, Italy and Spain but incursions of barbarians from the north (the Slavs), as well as war against the Persians of the Middle East, prevented them from reclaiming the Muslim controlled lands.
In the Eastern Roman Empire, art continued to flourish. Great civilizations grew and spread in China and India.
From the Dark Ages, we find the names of great men such as Clovis of the Franks, Gaiseric of the Vandals and Theodoric the Great of Italy. Each of these men would be the ancestors of the royal lines of Europe and through these lines, our ancestors as well.
Affecting the movements of the barbarian tribes of Western Europe, was the Cataclysm of 535, which produced dramatic climate changes, forcing these tribes to leave their homelands around the Black Sea and begin their wanderings westward. It is believed that these climate changes may have been caused by a comet or meteor but later theories include as a source of these changes, the volcanic eruption of a volcano in the east around Indonesia, such as Krakatau.
In the sixth and seventh centuries, agricultural failures and the emergence of the plague contributed to the demise of ancient cities in Persia, Indonesia, South America and Arabia. A united China was reborn and Islam originated and began to spread upon the demise of Arian Christianity. In 535 A.D., as supported by tree-ring and ice-core data, a colder and drier climate in Europe and Asia, sometimes suffering months of diminished sunlight, persistent cold and summer snow falls may have been responsible for the events which affected human culture. Sixth century accounts from China and Indonesia would suggest an atmospheric phenomena such as those caused by a volcano within the Indonesian arc. It is possible that Krakatau may have been the cause. Studies conducted in the area of Krakatau seemingly support such an eruption in the sixth century, which may have formed the Sunda Straits, which separated Java from Sumatra and is also supported by ancient Javanese historical writings. This eruption may have caused huge amounts of vaporized sea water to fill the atmosphere, sending large quantities into the stratosphere and forming ice clouds filled with very fine hydrovolcanic ash, which was spread across much of the northern and southern hemispheres, affecting epidemics, agriculture, politics, economics and religion.
In Greece, invasions from the north of Greece, ended the Greek culture that had captivated the world with its scholars, playwrights and artists. The invaders were the Dorians. The Bronze Age Greeks, the Myceneans were known by the Greeks as the Ionians. Many of the Ionians fled Greece during the time of the invasions, many relocating in Turkey, as well as the Black Sea area. It is believed by many that the Philistines of the Bible were Ionians who had relocated to Israel.
As Europe and the western world languished in the Dark Ages, the Muslims of the Middle East and Africa were studying the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans and improving upon their works. Civilization during the Dark Ages was flourishing in northern Africa, China, India and the Americas.
The Dark Ages in the West were marked by the illiteracy of the population and by the intensity of the growth in the Christian faith. This period is known as "pre-history" indicating that it is a time without written historical records. The records, which do exist from this period, are inconsistant and unclear.
In Europe, barbarian kingdoms were constantly at war and had no cohesiveness beyond the family or Clan. The overwhelming majority of the population, the peasants, were at the mercy of these barbarian tribes, which basically gave the peasants no rights at all.
Many of these barbarian leaders embraced the glory of what had been Rome and converted to the Christian faith, thus many Roman institutions survived the barbarian rule in western Europe, especially under Frankish rule. By the 600's the Franks dominated much of western Europe, reaching a zenith in the 800's under Charlemagne. However, Frankish supremacy did not last long before the Vikings ascended in Europe, leading to the Age of Feudalism, which would dominate European life for the next millenium.
Until the 900's, Europe had accepted calculus and algebra from India and the East. During the Dark Ages, the church controlled the thoughts and actions of the people. There was no research of mathematices beyond the research by Catholic abbies. Boethius, a martyred Roman citizen, along with the British ecclesiastical scholars Bede and Alcuin, as well as the French scholar and churchman Gerbert (later Pope Sylvester) all played a role in mathematics during the Dark Ages. Boethius's work in mathematics was used as a textbook for centuries. Gerbert spread the usage of the Indian arabic number and also made an abacus, a terrestrial globe and a celestial globe and founded the first school of Europe in France. Following this time, mathematics began to progress in Europe during the Middle Ages based upon Islam mathematics rather than Greek.
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