Medieval Europe

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What are the characteristics of the Dark Ages?

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First, one could say that the term "Dark Ages" is one applied to the time period from the Renaissance to the medieval period. Most contemporary scholars see the term as misleading at best. Instead, most scholars prefer a value neutral term, such as "Middle Ages" or "medieval period." 

The period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance was highly transformative: it involved a significant redistribution of power. Although the western, Latin-speaking Roman empire fell, the Greek-speaking east, otherwise known as the Byzantine Empire, flourished, creating great works of art, literature, architecture, philosophy, and theology. As a result of the "Great Schism" and the increasing lack of communication between the two regions, there was increased separation between western Europe and eastern Europe.

Next, the Middle Ages were the period which saw the rise of Islam and the broad spread of Islamic civilization across the southern Mediterranean into Spain. It was also a great period of flourishing of Islamic science, medicine, and mathematics. In Spain and the eastern Mediterranean, Islamic rulers came into contact and fought with Christians, having fruitful cultural exchanges as well as less productive violent interactions. 

In western Europe, one can see the development of major new centers of power in the north. There is also a language shift; Latin evolves into the Romance languages. Feudalism also became a major economic system. 

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The Dark Ages describe a period of time after the fall of Rome in 476.  There is some debate as to how long the period lasted, but many agree it was until 900 or 1000. There are several characteristics of the Dark Ages.  One characteristic was the lack of forward thinking ideas and practices that existed during this time. There was a lack of Latin literature and other cultural developments during the Dark Ages. Another characteristic of this time was religious struggle.  Orthodox Christians and Catholics looked at this time period very differently. Orthodox Christians felt it was a corrupt period, and they rejected many ways of the Catholic Church. Catholics, however, did not see things the same way.  They felt it was a productive era.  This era was also known for Muslim conquests.  Some of the issues between Catholics and Muslims can be traced back to this time period. While there was religious conflict, the Dark Ages are viewed as an era of faith.  People, in some way, sought out a divine power. Finally, the feudal system developed during this time. This developed mainly because there was no strong central power during this time period.  The feudal system, with its castles and walled towns, provided protection from invasion by the barbarians.

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What are ten features of the Dark Ages?  

The Dark Ages are also known as the Middle Ages; the term "Dark Ages" is seen as somewhat pejorative in that it implies a time of barbarity and intellectual darkness. The period extends from roughly the 5th century (the Fall of Rome) through the 14th century (the birth of the Renaissance) and usually refers to life in Europe and Asia during that time. It is also known...

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by historians and scholars as the "medieval period" because the term "middle" implies a somewhat short period of time, or one that is somehow less significant than the two periods surrounding it. 

The Middle Ages saw a number of social movements, some positive and some negative. The Age of Chivalry occurred during this time, and was associated with a code of integrity and ethical behavior followed by knights. Knights were warriors who fought in the Crusades (holy expeditions ordered by the Catholic Church that were designed to preserve Christian dominance). They also helped protect various dynasties and communities from harm, often under the orders of a monarch or military leader. Many invasions and battles also took place during this time, including the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The latter part of the Middle Ages (middle of the 14th century) saw a horrific disease known as "The Black Death" (the bubonic plague) spread far and wide through Europe and kill over 20 million people due to its high rate of contagion and high instance of mortality. Because of a general lack of medical knowledge or hygiene, the disease was believed by some to be linked to superstitious religious beliefs in the devil and witchcraft. These beliefs persisted well into the 18th century in Europe and the Americas. The Catholic Church became very powerful and influential during this period, partly as a result of the Crusades (begun in the 11th century) and the charges of heresy (which meant rejecting the teachings of the Church) the Church made, which were also associated with witchcraft and the occult.

It sounds as though your question is pertaining to a specific list of features you were asked to memorize. There are many different features particular to this time period, so I hope I have illuminated some of them for you.

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