Poor health and hygiene, devastating poverty, and diminutive technology compose the desolate history of the dark Middle Ages. However, these characteristics do more than define the lifestyle of a medieval society. Neglected arts, lack of education and corrupting powers depict a civilization overthrown by an age of darkness. These dismal dark ages are engendered by rapidly spreading disease, imposing enemies, and extortionate powers. By understanding how these epidemics, invasions, and corruptions shape a dark age, the middle ages can be more clearly interpreted and analyzed.
Epidemics are a major component of a dark age that can contribute to a civilization’s decline. Many societies impacted by an outbreak of disease spend their energy on survival rather than mathematics, science, and literature. In the early 1330’s, Europe was struck with the bubonic plague, a deadly disease which killed approximately twenty-five million people. With this large decrease in population, citizens fell into poverty as unemployment rates soared and inflation grew. With the disease rapidly spreading, citizens were no longer concerned with learning, but rather their individual survival. This inefficient education not only temporarily stopped the documentation of history, but also sent Europe deeply into a dark age. With this epidemic on the rise, European militaries were severely weakened and societies were left open for attack. Likewise, civilizations suffering from a spreading epidemic may undergo a lack of education.
Invasions are another factor that can engender a dark age upon a civilization. With vulnerable nations constantly fighting, societies are less consumed with cultural architecture, artwork, and textiles. In 180 A.D., over cultivated land in the Roman Empire caused famine and disease to quickly spread across Rome. Economically weak and lacking a source of strong central power, the ancient civilization was continuously being attacked by the Huns, Vandals, and...
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