Eras and Their Highlights

The Middle Ages

What are the Dark Ages and how did they get that name?

The Dark Ages usually refer to the historical period in Europe from about A.D. 500 to 1350, also known as the Middle Ages, or medieval period (medieval is from the Latin medium aevum, meaning “middle age”). The Middle Ages followed the collapse of the Roman Empire (in A.D. 476, which signaled the end of the classical Age) and preceded the Renaissance.

The term Dark Ages is the legacy of seventeenth-century historians who considered the period a barbaric interruption of a tradition that began in ancient Greece and continued through the European Renaissance. Modern scholars have tried to correct this view, but the popular perception of the medieval period as “dark” still remains. (The term Dark Ages is also used to refer to a Greek historical period, from about 1100 B.C. to about 700 B.C., which was considered to be a period of decline.)


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