Europe in Turmoil: Foreign Influences on Tenth Century Europe

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Europe in Turmoil: Foreign Influences on Tenth Century Europe

The aptly named “Dark Ages” of European History is now reflected upon as being a pivotal moment in Western Civilization. The dark ages are defined as a moment when the great Roman civilization had fallen, and Europe slipped into a period of retrograde. Complex societies collapsed and all the achievements of the Greek and Roman periods were forgotten. Europe declined intellectually, artistically, philosophically as well as politically. This societal collapse led to inevitable invasions by stronger cultures who existed along the periphery of Europe; primarily the great Islamic empires of Africa and the Near East, as well as the Vikings to the north. These invasions however would also turn out to yield some positive repercussions for the European continent, helping in some instances to actually facilitate the end of the Dark Ages. This paper will examine the invasions of various Islamic forces across southern and eastern Europe as well as the Viking invasions of the north to demonstrate both the positive and negative repercussions of foreign influences on Europe during the Dark Ages.

The spread of Islam across southern and eastern Europe has played an integral part in shaping the current cultural climate of Europe. Islamic forces led offensives into two major areas of Europe during the ninth and tenth centuries; modern day Spain and Italy.[1] Because of the chaos Europe was in after the power vacuum created in the wake of the fall of the Roman Empire, Islamic princes started to encroach upon European territory, looking to expand their borders. No “Christian” fleet existed at this time, and the weakening Byzantine Empire was subdued to the point that in 827, Islamic forces took control of Sicily. One immediate effect of this event was that maritime trade was reduced radically. Dr. Knox, professor of History at Boise State University, describes the situation quite poignantly: “with...
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