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The Dark Ages and Some of the Challenges Paople Faced during the Period - Essay Example

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The Dark Ages and some of the challenges people faced during the period The term “Dark Ages” is used to describe the period immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire at the hands of incoming Germanic tribes in 476 AD. It refers to the sudden loss of security and order across Europe which came with the disappearance of Roman troops who built roads and aqueducts, maintained defences against invasion, and generally imposed a civilized way of life in all the lands that had become part of the huge Roman Empire…
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The Dark Ages and Some of the Challenges Paople Faced during the Period
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The Dark Ages and Some of the Challenges Paople Faced during the Period

Download file to see previous pages... Famine came about because of the breakdown of societal order which the Romans had maintained. The system of trade and tribute had been regulated by the Romans, and the network had been maintained across vast distances to ensure that the Empire could move troops around at will, and sustain mobile armies in the case of any rebellions or invasions. When these networks faltered, communities became more isolated, and the consequences of bad harvests were more severe, since no help was at hand. Plagues arrived from the East and spread through the region, but there were few people who had the knowledge and the wealth that would have enabled them to heal the sick or avoid infection. Aside from these physical threats from famine and disease, there was also an increase in violent conflict between rival tribes. In the absence of a single overlord, such as the Romans had been, the smaller tribes jostled for position, and engaged in many skirmishes and boundary disputes in an effort to gain control of wealth and resources. This made life very dangerous for ordinary people, since many were slaves, or bound by oath to the service of a chieftain, and they were obliged to take up arms if commanded to do so. The strict Roman laws gave way to the more fragmented social order of competing tribes. Many leaders were cruel, and there was considerable injustice and chaos. Another factor which presented a huge challenge in the Dark Ages was that of religion. Under Roman rule, Christians and pagans had co-existed, and as time went on, more and more of the Empire adopted Christianity. In the Dark Ages, however, Islam emerged from the East and advanced across North Africa, heading up through Spain and into Gaul, bringing bitter religious warfare to the continent. Religious persecution increased, and minorities were often robbed and killed in the name of religion. Christianity brought some advantages, in so far as the monasteries served as educational institutions and places where the poor and the sick could hope for some relief. Once again, however, this benefited the wealthy who sent their children there to be educated, but it meant servitude and exploitation for the poorest members of society, who had to labor in the fields or work as lowly tradesmen to provide the raw materials that were needed to sustain monastic communities. The lack of an effective legal system meant that disputes were solved by violence, and when coupled with the devastating effects of plagues, and poor nutrition, the consequences for population size were very serious. In this period infant mortality was very high, life expectancy was short, and huge numbers of citizens were wiped out due to infection. It would have been very hard for a poor family to bring up children to healthy adulthood. Depopulation meant that communities could no longer find enough workers to take in the harvest, and maintain basic infrastructure. Skills were lost, and architectural masterpieces just crumbled out of neglect, or were looted to enable poor people to build their own rustic dwellings. In many ways it seemed that civilization was taking a backwards step, and the former glories of Europe were ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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