The Dark Ages as a term has undergone many evolutions; its definition depends on who is defining it. Indeed, modern historians no longer use the term because of its negative connotation. Generally, the Dark Ages referred to the period of time ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire. This took place when the last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by Odoacer, a barbarian. AD 476 was the time of this event.
Initially, this era took on the term “dark” by later onlookers; this was due to the backward ways and practices that seemed to prevail during this time. Future historians used the term “dark” simply to denote the fact that little was known about this period; there was a paucity of written history. Recent discoveries have apparently altered this perception as many new facts about this time have been uncovered.
The Italian Scholar, Francesco Petrarca called Petrarch, was the first to coin the phrase. He used it to denounce Latin literature of that time; others expanded on this idea to express frustration with the lack of Latin literature during this time or other cultural achievements. While the term dark ages is no longer widely used, it may best be described as Early Middle Ages -- the period following the decline of Rome in the Western World. The Middle Ages is loosely considered to extend from 400 to 1000 AD.
The Dark Ages – The State of the Church
The Dark Ages was a period of religious struggle. Orthodox Christians and Catholics viewed the era from opposing perspectives. Orthodox Christians regarded this time as a period of Catholic corruption; they repudiated the ways of the Catholic Church with its papal doctrines and hierarchy. Orthodox Christians strove to recreate a pure Christianity, void of these “dark” Catholic ways. Catholics did not view this era as “dark.” Catholics viewed this period as a harmonious, productive religious era. The Dark Ages were also the years of vast Muslim