The 'Dark' Ages

The 'Dark' Ages : From the Sack of Rome to Hastings

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The 'Dark' Ages have often been crudely depicted as an era of mass illiteracy and ignorance, and of terrifying heathen hordes swarming across the European continent, leaving devastation in their wake. Yes, this was the time of the so-called Barbarian invasions, of the Vikings, of the break-up of some urban life and population decline in Western Europe. But this was also the time of Pope Gregory the Great, of Charlemagne and Alfred the Great; of feudalism, the development of monastic life and the nurturing of Christianity across Western Europe. In the East, the Roman Empire continued to thrive in Byzantium, while from the 7th century the Muslim Arab conquest of North Africa and Iberia proved to be a stimulating challenge to the Christian West.
From the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the 11th century, The 'Dark' Ages tells the story of this fascinating but much misunderstood period in medieval history. Featuring the fragmentation of the Western Roman Empire and re-emergence of unity under Charlemagne; the emergence of the Catholic Church as a dominant political force; the raids, trading life and settlements of the Vikings, the book expertly reappraises the early Middle Ages.
Illustrated with 180 colour and black-&-white photographs, artworks and maps, The 'Dark' Ages is an exciting, engaging and highly informative exploration of this often overlooked period in early medieval history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 186 x 244 x 17mm | 600g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 180 photos, artworks and maps; 180 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1838861246
  • 9781838861247

Table of contents


Chapter One. The Roman Era
Decline in trade and population within the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. Weakening within Rome. The Hun Empire pushing the Germanic peoples westwards and south into the Roman Empire. In the Gothic War (376-382), the Goths revolted and confronted the main Roman army in the Battle of Adrianople (378). The Barbarian invasions.

Chapter Two. The Barbarian Kingdoms
The Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Lombards, Avars, Bulgars. Increasingly localized societies. Collapse in long distance trade and manufacturing. Decline in education, organizations and administrations. A retreat in agriculture and reclaiming by forest of some land.

Chapter Three. Britain
A series of settlements by Germanic peoples (the Anglo-Saxons) began in the early fifth century, and by the sixth century the island would consist of many small kingdoms engaged in ongoing warfare with each other.

Chapter Four. The Church
Rome became the centre of the Catholic Church. The spread of Christianity across northern Europe. Arianism. Monasteries became the centres of learning. Monks christianised the British Isles. The Byzantine Church and continuity of the Roman Empire in the East. The Challenge of Islam. The sophistication of Islamic Spain, where 9th century Cordoda was one of the world's largest and most developed cities.

Chapter Five. The Norsemen
Beginning in 789AD, the Vikings raided monasteries, sacked cities and invaded western Europe. They looted and enslaved their enemies. But that is only part of their story. In long boats they discovered Iceland and America (both by accident) and also sailed up the Seine to Paris (which they sacked). They settled from Newfoundland to Russia, founded Dublin and fought battles as far afield as the Caspian Sea.

Chapter Six. Kingdoms of Europe
The last 200 years of the 'Dark Ages' saw the emergence of powerful feudal kingdoms that would shape the fate of Europe for the next centuries. Frankish Empire, Norse raids in Europe, Scandinavian Kingdoms, Feudalism, The Normans, The legacy.


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About Martin J Dougherty

Martin J. Dougherty is a freelance writer specializing in military and defence topics. He is the author of Medieval Warrior, SAS and Elite Forces Guide Extreme Unarmed Combat, and SAS and Elite Forces Guide Sniper, Small Arms: From the Civil War to the Present Day, and books on personal self-defence. He lives in northern England.
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