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In the fifth century, the barbarians took advantage of the Roman Empire’s peak of vulnerability and weakness and plundered one region after another until they completely took over. After the fall of the Roman Empire, there was a serious decline in culture, education and in the economy, known as the Dark Ages.The American Cyclopaedia describes the dark ages as an intellectually depressed time period between 400 AD and 1400 AD after the establishment of the barbarian supremacy. While the events the American Cyclopaedia describes to have happened during the Dark ages are correct, this definition of the dark ages is inaccurate because it ignores the prosperity Europe had throughout the 11th century.
In the early Eleventh century, Europe began their climb out of the Dark ages. The cause of this progress was because of available farmland tripling. Originally, villages had to be self-sufficient, isolated from the outside world because of poor roads littered with thieves. But the Feudal system and the subsiding of invasions not only brought the growth of technology and agriculture but also allowed them to re-settle previously depopulated lands. This agricultural revolution increased the food supply notably, which in turn brought up the population.
With this increase in population and beginning of security, education also developed. While education wasn’t available for everyone during this time, education for the upper class and monks were provided at monasteries or church schools by scholars. These scholars taught many things ranging from botany to logic. Education became slightly more widespread, but still very limited with the rise of universities, which eventually replaced the monastery and church schools with a new system of education. This change in education was a staple in the return of culture (architecture, art, literature,)
With education and culture, architectural innovation also came through, often showing as large gothic style cathedrals with large columns and high ceilings with ribbed vaults.. One of the most famous is Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris or Our lady of paris Cathedral. Construction on this cathedral began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. It took such a long time to be built due to the economic issues europe was still facing as it left the dark ages. However, these cathedrals showed the power of the Roman catholic church which would be another staple in the scent out of the dark ages.
The time period in which the dark ages ran through has been greatly disputed by historians. Those that argue the American Cyclopaedia definition is correct use the argument that although colleges were built, access to education was limited. They also say the economy was still struggling and Europe was not back in complete normalcy by the early 11th century. The American Cyclopaedia definition supports this, as it states the dark ages were from 400 Ad to !400 AD.
However, even though education wasn’t available to all, a great component of the dark ages is not having access to education at all, so even minimal education is a good thing. As for the economy and the fact that europe wasn’t in complete normalcy, the cultural and technological revolution of the early 11tth century helped Europe out of the period of intellectual decline, depression and cultural warfare.
In conclusion, due to the weakening of the roman empire leading to the barbarians invasion then establishing their supremacy, Europe plunged into a time of great darkness known as the dark ages. According the to American Cyclopaedia definition, the dark ages were from 400 Ad to 1400 AD which is highly inaccurate because it disregards the agricultural, technological, educational, and architectural growth of the early 11th century.
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