Sociology Index

MEDIEVAL PERIOD

Medieval Period is also known as the Middle Ages or the Dark Ages. The medieval period in history lasted for round about a millennium, 5th century to the beginning of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century. Medieval Period began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The term 'Medieval Period' was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries to refer to the period of European history between the decline and fall of the Roman empire and the Renaissance: approximately 500 to 1500. The Middle Ages is one of the three major periods in the most enduring scheme for analysing European history: classical civilisation or Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Modern Period.

In the 19th century, the entire Middle Ages were often referred to as the Dark Ages. A reference work published in 1883 equates the Dark Ages with the Middle Ages, but beginning with William Paton Ker in 1904, the term "Dark Ages" is generally restricted to the early part of the medieval period. With the adoption of these subdivisions, use of this term was restricted to the Early Middle Ages, at least among historians.

The Medieval Period or Middle Ages are subdivided into an early period called "Dark Ages", the High Middle Ages and a Later Middle Ages of growing royal power, the rise of commercial interests, and weakening customary ties of dependence, particularly after the 14th century plague. The Middle Ages saw a gradual convergence of philosophical and theological concerns. The great thinkers of this age were theologians first and philosophers second. Augustine (354–430) held firm to the Christian notions of the human predicament. For many medieval thinkers, Plato's thinking provided the necessary philosophical groundwork for belief in an afterlife. For the most part, the medieval theologian/philosophers welded Platonism.

Dark Ages

Modern historians no longer use the term Dark Ages because of its negative connotation. The Dark Ages referred to the period of time ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire. This took place around AD 476 when the last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by Odoacer, a barbarian. was the time of this event.

The term Dark Ages was used due to the backward ways and practices that seemed to prevail during this time. Future historians used the term Dark Ages to denote the fact that little was known about this period. While the term dark ages is no longer widely used, it may best be described as Early Middle Ages, the period following the decline of Rome in the Western World. The Middle Ages is loosely considered to extend from 400 to 1000 AD.

The Dark Ages was also a period of religious struggle. Orthodox Christians and Catholics viewed the era from opposing perspectives. Orthodox Christians regarded this time as a period of Catholic corruption. Orthodox Christians and Catholics repudiated the ways of the Catholic Church with its papal doctrines and hierarchy. The Dark Ages were also the years of vast Muslim conquests. Along with other nomads and horse and camel warriors, the Muslims rode through the fallen empire, wreaking havoc and seeding intellectual and social heresy. Muslim conquests prevailed until the time of the Crusades. This age old conflict between Christianity and Islam remains even today.

The Dark Ages And Faith vs. Enlightenment

The Dark Ages were a tumultuous time. Religious conflicts arose when Muslims conquered lands. Scarcity of sound literature and cultural achievements marked these years, and barbarous practices prevailed. Despite the religious conflicts, the period of the Dark Ages was seen as an age of faith. Men and women sought after God, rituals of the Catholic Church, and others in more Orthodox forms of worship were prevalent. Intellectuals viewed religion in any form as a type of “darkness.” These thinkers assert that those who followed religious beliefs lied to themselves, creating a false reality. They were dominated by emotions, not fact. Religion was seen as contrary to rationality and reason, thus the move towards enlightenment, which was a move away from “darkness.” Science and reason gained ascendancy, progressing steadily during and after the Reformation and Age of Enlightenment. The period of the Dark Ages remains obscure to modern onlookers. Its religious conflict and denigration, and debatable time period all work together to shroud the period in diminished light. The 21st Century world is no less than the dark ages. The darkness multiplies and grows as those who reject God walk together and dominate politics, education, and society, and our morals have turned backwards.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The Medieval Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Medieval Period. G. R. Evans. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001. This collection of twenty-two essays covering major medieval theologians, movements, and issues appropriately begins and ends with reflections on St. Augustine. For as the writers of these essays (Rist and Rorem) rightly observe, one could scarcely make sense of medieval theology apart from that fifth-century bishop of Hippo. It is fitting, therefore, that the cover of this handsome volume features Gozzoli's famous fifteenth-century fresco, "Augustine baptized by St. Ambrose." The Augustine of the Middle Ages, through whom much of the classical world was filtered to succeeding generations, was not necessarily the 11 authentic Augustine. The first section is "The End of the Ancient World," followed by "The Carolingians "A Medieval Renaissance?," "The High Medieval Debate," and "Dissent."

Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds. The International Medieval Bibliography, established in 1967, is the leading interdisciplinary bibliography of the Middle Ages. The International Medieval Bibliography is produced by an Editorial team at the University of Leeds and some 30 contributors word wide. It covers periodical literature and miscellany volumes published in Europe, North America, Australasia, Brazil, Japan and South Africa.