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Richard Holloway. John Henry Newman. Father Capuchin Zeno. Spirit of the Norwich Cathedral. Daniel Tink. Called to His Supper. Jeannine Timko Leichner. The Weight of Glory. The Christians and the Fall of Rome. Edward Gibbon. Your review has been submitted successfully. Not registered? Forgotten password Please enter your email address below and we'll send you a link to reset your password.

Not you? Forgotten password? Forgotten password Use the form below to recover your username and password. New details will be emailed to you. Simply reserve online and pay at the counter when you collect. Available in shop from just two hours, subject to availability. Your order is now being processed and we have sent a confirmation email to you at. This item can be requested from the shops shown below.

If this item isn't available to be reserved nearby, add the item to your basket instead and select 'Deliver to my local shop' at the checkout, to be able to collect it from there at a later date. Preferred contact method Email Text message. Compared to the eras before and since, sports and games during the Dark Ages were decidedly less combative.

A lot of the stuff people of the Dark Ages did for fun is very similar to what we still do today when we're not wasting the day away on the Internet. In fact, archery competitions, boxing, and rugby were all either invented or refined during the Dark Ages. Oh, and get this: Norse sagas from the ninth century describe fearsome Vikings merrily frolicking on ice skating rinks and in skiing competitions.

And let's not forget the really popular pastimes such as bowling, dancing, tag, and horseshoe throwing. Yes, goddamn horseshoe throwing was all the rage during the Dark Ages. Compare that to the full-on gladiatorial carnage that went down during Roman times, or the tournaments that came during the later Middle Ages.

So which age deserves the "dark" moniker? The reason the Dark Ages got their name was because they were supposedly the sad, shitty years after the fall of the glorious Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire was taken out of the picture by barbarian hordes in A.


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Upon noticing the sudden absence of a Big Brother, various chieftains all over Europe immediately went "Fuck yeah! Everyone said so. Soon, the whole continent descended into a never-ending state of total war, princes and warlords fighting for control of each other's dirt farms. Sure, there was fighting.

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That much is true. What people tend to forget is the scale of the fighting. Comparing Dark Ages battles with, say, Roman warfare is like comparing a slap fight between two toddlers with the Rumble in the Jungle: They both technically qualify as fights, but one of them is a lot less likely to get millions of people excited. Let's be clear: Rome was the tits when it came to large-scale warrin'.

During their first war with Carthage, a Roman fleet with , men was lost in a single day. Rome responded to this catastrophic loss by calmly sending in more troops and continuing the war for another decade and a half. Over the course of the second Carthaginian War, Rome suffered nearly , casualties without batting an eye. The Roman Empire wasn't really interested in outwitting its opponents -- it just outlasted them. If Rome had a problem, it kept throwing troops at it until it stopped causing trouble.

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When the Roman Empire fractured, Europe's economy became increasingly localized. Without an intercontinental tax base and a healthy division of labor, giant standing armies became artifacts of a bygone era. This sudden lack of fiscal infrastructure also left the scores of kings and princes who filled the Roman power vacuum strapped for cash.


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  • Sure, they probably would have wanted to roar through the continent with a million men, legion style; they just didn't have the money to pay such huge armies. Most leaders responded to this problem by introducing a feudal system; they divided and distributed their land holdings, dealing out plots for military service. Since very few of them had all that much land to begin with, this kept the armies relatively tiny -- even the most massive military forces of the latter stages of the era had well under 20, soldiers.

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    Most armies were basically just large mobs. As such, warfare in the Dark Ages was defined by quick skirmishes fought between tiny forces. There were no campaigns, no decade-long struggles, no hellish living in a war-torn land; just two gangs of dudes clashing for a while, then wandering away to tend their fields. Ultimately, the Dark Ages weren't called that just because a few barbarians marauded their way across Europe.

    The real reason the era was so devoid of all light is because people were, for the most part, dim as hell. Superstition and illiteracy ruled. Scholars -- let alone people who could read -- were few and far between, and literary ambitions were actively discouraged because that shit ain't helping us with farm work, son.

    Actually writing things down probably got you burned as a witch. I swear, I was just drawing dicks! Uncircumcised, Christian dicks! The problem with writing off centuries of human history as a giant brain fart is that it overlooks literally everything that happened during said period. The image of the Dark Ages as an intellectual Twilight Zone is no different. Sure, the general public was largely unable to read or write, but that has been the case with every single era until recent history.

    Scholars, on the other hand, were actually having a ball during the Dark Ages. Thanks to a combination of diligent scholarship and mescaline. Carolingian minuscule , the standard handwriting script introduced by Emperor Charlemagne in the eighth century, revolutionized the whole concept of reading and writing. Prior to Carolingian minuscule, handwriting was a wild, lawless, anything-goes field. Uppercase, lowercase, and random spacing ran rampant, and individual scholars treated the rules of spelling and alphabet mostly as polite suggestions.

    The standardized, fast, effective Carolingian minuscule introduced revolutionary concepts such as cases, punctuation, and spaces between words. This dramatically sped up both writing and reading, because it turns out reading sucks a lot less when you don't have to stare at each absurd squiggle for hours.

    The introduction of Carolingian minuscule enabled quick production of documents and books, and is also possibly the biggest reason why so many ancient texts have survived: Carolingian scholars and translators tracked down all of those errant books, plays, and documents, painstakingly cleaning, copying, and reproducing them with their new super handwriting.

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    As far as major innovations in the history of communication go, making documents legible and relatively fast to produce should probably be regarded on par with Gutenberg's printing press and the Internet -- yet no one ever remembers Carolingian minuscule because, hell, it was the Dark Ages.

    Wasn't nobody inventing jack shit back then. Big whoop, Middle Ages. Call us when you invent Comic Sans. Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria. OK, so maybe there were some bright spots during the Dark Ages, but even the most horrible eras are bound to have a few. On the whole, there must be a pretty good reason for throwing a name like that on an entire era. So the historians originally coined the term "Dark Ages" for a reason, right?

    Above: Europe, for 1, straight years. Ha, of course not! In a shocking twist, historians never had anything to do with "the Dark Ages," although some were fooled into adopting the term. As we mentioned earlier, these days, medieval historians tend to avoid it, preferring more neutral terms such as "Migration Period," "Early Middle Ages," or just "Middle Ages," depending on which of the hundred different meanings of the "Dark Ages" they're referring to. This is because the Dark Ages were never a thing.

    Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

    The entire concept is complete and utter horseshit cobbled together by a deluded writer. The term "Dark Ages" was first used in the 14th century by Petrarch, an Italian poet with a penchant for Roman nostalgia. Petrarch used it to describe, well, every single thing that had happened since the fall of Rome. He didn't rain dark judgment over hundreds of years of human achievement because of historical evidence of any kind, by the way; his entire argument was based on the general feeling that life sucked absolute weasel scrotum ever since Rome went belly-up.

    Petrarch took the view that the only way to improve the world was to imitate the ancient Romans and forget the barbaric years that separated his contemporaries from the Rome of the past. Sure, he conveniently forgot a couple of things. Namely, the widespread slavery, slaughter, and oppressive taxation of the ancient Romans, which were nowhere to be found in his visions, as were the countless achievements of the "age of darkness" he was so gleefully vilifying. More like Petr arsehole , right, British guys?

    And that's the funny thing about history, really.