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歷史學 – 開欄文
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亓官先生
嵩麟淵明
胡卜凱

我在《 政治學開欄文》一文中提到:年輕時我因為「急功近利;對政治學的興趣不大。由於同樣的原因,雖然初、高中時讀過幾篇《史記》的選錄歷史學也一直興趣缺缺。


家父2004年過世後,他的藏書幾乎都捐給了武漢大學圖書館。保留了20本左右;陳序經教授的中國文化的出路,大概有10本以「歷史哲學」為主題的著作我保留和閱讀它們的原因在於:家父雖然以政論家」聞名但他把自己定位在歷史學家和歷史哲學家在他老人家逝世10周年的紀念演討會上,發表過一篇《胡秋原史學方法論》;可惜文檔不慎遺失。


所以,我在60歲以後才開始重視歷史學20年來我發表過關於歷史」的看法以及轉載過一些史學論文;相形之下,寥寥無幾



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拆穿巴勒斯坦當代史神話 ---- Robert Cherry
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Nakba:巴勒斯坦人的浩劫浩劫日 (文中兩義皆有依脈絡定之)

Countering Historical Myths of the Palestinian Experience

Robert Cherry, 01/06/24

Much of the left’s animus towards Israel is based on a false history of the 1948 War: the uprooting of a longstanding Arab population, quelching their aspirations for an independent Palestinian state. Instead, there were longstanding Jewish communities in Palestine; a significant share of Arab refugees were recent migrants to Jewish areas; there was little Palestinian nationalist sentiment; and the Nakba had nothing to do with the refugee problem.

There were longstanding Jewish populations in a number of Palestinian cities. Since at least the nineteenth century, the majority of Jerusalem residents were Jewish despite its home to the third most holy site in Islam.  The reason was that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was never a pilgrimage site and during the Ottoman era was never maintained so by the 1920s had severely deteriorated. Besides organizing pogroms against Jewish communities in 1921 and 1929, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, made a concerted effort to transform the mosque by sending emissaries throughout the Muslim world to obtain funds for renovations.  These successful efforts led him to be revered in the Muslim world. 

The Mufti’s leadership of the 1936-39 Arab Revolt led to his exile in Iraq. In 1941, he fled to Germany where he was an important propagandist for the Nazis, helping to organize a Bosnian contingent in the Nazi Army. After the war, he “escaped” from house arrest in France, and was given a hero’s welcome when arriving in Cairo. The newly formed Arab League made him the head of the Arab Higher Committee, the representative of Palestinian interests.

A significant share of Arabs living in Jewish areas were recent migrants. Throughout the prewar years, Jewish successes drew Arab migrants from other parts of Palestine. The historian Fred Gottheil estimated that between 1922 and 1931 migrants comprised one-quarter of the Arab population growth in areas that would become the state of Israel.

Arab migration to Jewish areas continued during the next decade, fueled by the worsening situations in rural areas. The sociologist Christopher Anderson estimated that as many as half of the Arab peasantry were either agricultural laborers or tenant farmers, with a large share of the remainder having landholdings that were too small to survive long term. Jewish land acquisitions exacerbated the situation. As a result, many Arab workers moved to the dismal slums that had begun to proliferate around coastal cities, especially Haifa and Jaffa.

Poor Muslims who had streamed there regularly returned to their villages for seasonal work and married spouses from their birthplaces. When the 1948 War broke out, they returned to their villages to avoid the military conflict. This was especially the case after news of the Deir Yasim massacre was broadcast throughout Arab communities. At this village, just outside Jerusalem, Jewish forces were indiscriminate in their response to the unexpected resistance they encountered, bombing structures without concern for civilian casualties. As a result, an estimated 110 Arabs were killed, half noncombatants.

The Palestinian leadership more than doubled the numbers, claiming inaccurately that many were killed after the combat had ended.  Their goal was to counter the reluctance of Arab countries to send troops after British rule ended.  The immediate effect, however, was to instill fear of what would happen if Zionist forces attacked Arab villages.  As a result, many Arabs fled even before their villages were attacked. For these reasons, some important historians, including Benny Morris and Meron Benvenisti, distinguish between the 350,000 refugees by the end of May 1948 and the similar numbers afterward.  They argue that military efforts and considerations are responsible for the earlier group while ethnic cleansing objectives dominated the latter group.

During the first phase of the war before foreign armies entered, the Jewish forces were opposed by the Arab Liberation Army (ALA); the hoped-for indigenous army organized by the Arab League, supplemented by foreign volunteers.  However, it was unable to enlist many Palestinians so that as much as 90% was comprised of foreign volunteers.  Indeed, it was led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji, a Lebanese Arab nationalist, rather than a Palestinian.

 He had led the foreign volunteers who had fought during the 1936-39 Arab revolt. Qawugji escaped British capture, going to Syria where he was active in the 1941 Jewish pogroms and helped install a pro-Nazi regime. When the British overthrew this new regime, Qawuqji escaped to Germany where he fought for the Nazis. Released from a Soviet prison camp in 1947, he came to Cairo and was chosen to lead the “indigenous” rebellion.

Gaining meager aid from Arab villagers, the ALA had few victories and many defeats. And a belated attempt by the Arab League to form a provisional Palestinian government failed. Most Palestinian leaders opposed him, particularly for his dictatorial policies during the Arab Revolt ten years earlier. Then he harshly responded to those who questioned any of his decisions, even assassinating some. This opposition not only rejected his provisional government but his efforts to have a say in postwar affairs in the West Bank or Gaza.

That the war was solely against the Jews is clear when the concept of the Nakba was developed. Pan-Arabism was the overriding meaning of the Nakba when first enunciated in 1948 with the publication, The Meaning of the Nakba by Constantin Zureiq, the most important Arab nationalist intellectual at the time. He saw the defeat of the Arab armies as a catastrophe for allowing an alien Jewish state within Arab lands. 

In 1958, the Nakba was commemorated by radio stations of the United Arab Republic calling on the world’s Arab and Muslim states to hold a symbolic five minutes to mourn the establishment of Israel.  The historian Hillel Cohen noted that there was no mention of the Palestinian displacementNegation of Israel became the ideological foundation for Hamas and other fundamentalist Islamic organizations.

Only in the 1990s did the Nakba evolve into a focus on the refugees. At the time, Yasar Arafat was pressed to follow through on the Oslo Accords. In his negotiations, Arafat never offered an alternative map to the ones proposed by the Israeli government. Instead, he demanded an uncapped right-of-return of refugees, strengthening his case by referring to their plight as the Nakba. And for the last twenty-five years, the right-of-return has been the major stumbling block to a two-state solution, not Jewish settlements. Indeed, over this time period, there have only been three small West Bank settlements approved with virtually the entire population growth in long-time settlements around Jerusalem.

None of this denies the harshness of Zionist policies during and after the war: The ethnic clearing that dominated the second half of the war and an unwillingness to allow more than a small share of refugees to return to their villages. However, given the Nazi leadership of the Palestinian struggle, and the universal Arab unwillingness to accept any Jewish state in its midst, Zionist policies towards Arab villagers are understandable.

Finally, without a Jewish state, there would have been nowhere to go for Holocaust survivors stuck in displaced persons camps, the Mizrachi Jews when the Arab countries engaged in ethnic cleansing in the early 1950s, or Russian Jews when Soviet policies turned antisemitic. And the tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews would have remained oppressed. Are these the images of colonial settlers that Palestinian supporters project?

Robert Cherry is an American Enterprise Institute affiliate and author of "The State of the Black Family: Sixty Years of Tragedies and Failures – and New Initiatives Offering Hope."

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奧特曼帝國入侵歐洲與埃及簡史 -- Connor Brighton
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Anatolia
安納托利亞亞洲西南部的半島,位於黑海地中海之間。
Battle of Kosovo
科索沃戰役(1389)
Battle of Nicopolis
尼科波利斯戰役(1396)
Battle of Varna
瓦爾納戰役(1444)
Janissary system
耶尼切里軍團,也譯為加尼沙里軍團、新軍、禁衛軍或蘇丹親兵,是奧特曼帝國的常備軍隊與蘇丹侍衛的統稱。
levy
徵兵(此處用法);徵稅,課稅;徵收額;稅款;徵兵額
Mamluks
布爾吉王朝(此處用法)奴隸
Ottoman Interregnum (1402-1413)
奧特曼帝國大空位期
Thrace色雷斯 (極具歷史和地緣政治價值的地區,位於歐洲東南部)
Turkik tribes
突厥族


The Ottoman Empire: Early Expansion Into Europe And Egypt

Connor Brighton
, 01/02/24 

Starting from humble beginnings, the Ottoman Empire would grow to become one of the largest and most powerful empires the world has ever known. Spanning across three continents, at the height of its power in the 16th century, tens of millions of people lived under its rule. The standard of living, prosperity, and wealth that the Ottomans ushered into their lands had not been seen since the time of the Romans

While the influence and prestige of the empire slowly faded after the failed Siege of Vienna in 1683, the Ottoman's quick and sudden rise to power was nothing short of extraordinary. Beginning as an insignificant nomadic tribe from Central Asia, the Ottomans grew into a mighty empire in only a few short centuries and would last until the end of the First World War.

The story of the Ottoman Empire begins with Osman I. In 1299 AD, in the wake of the Mongol invasion of the Middle East, dozens of Turkik tribes had flooded into Anatolia. One of these tribes was under the rule of Osman I. Osman was a cunning and capable leader who was incredibly perceptive of the weaknesses of his neighbors. Both the other Turkic tribes and the ever-weakening Byzantine Empire were ripe for the taking. Osman conquered the Byzantine province of Bithynia and then moved to eliminate his fellow Turkic chiefs who threatened his rule. 

By 1345, Osman was dead, but his forebearers continued to conquer in his name. The Ottomans controlled a sizeable plot of land in Anatolia and were now in the position to make the daring cross into Europe. The Byzantines, who controlled much of Thrace, were weak and preoccupied with petty internal squabbles. Now was the perfect time to strike. 

Into The Balkans

The Ottoman and Byzantine clashed in many wars in the middle of the 14th century. With each conflict, the Ottomans slowly chipped away at what remained of a once great empire. Soon, the Ottomans controlled both Thrace and Macedonia, and it was not long before the Byzantines were left stranded within the walls of their capital city, Constantinople

Not only did the Byzantines suffer at the hands of the newly arrived Ottomans, but so did the rest of the nations within the Balkans. In 1389, the Ottomans managed to conquer Serbia at the Battle of Kosovo and then destroyed a Crusader force at the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, bringing Bulgaria into the fold as well.

In 1402, the Ottomans would enter into a chaotic and bloody civil war known as the Ottoman Interregnum but emerged from it in 1413 as strong as ever. For the next 30 years, Ottoman sultans made concerted efforts to hold and consolidate their power. In 1444, the Ottomans defeated yet another Crusading army at the Battle of Varna. With no more external threats on the horizon, the Ottomans were finally free to snuff out their stubborn Byzantine rivals once

The Fall Of Rome In The East

Under the command of Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottoman army laid siege to Constantinople in 1453. This was not the first time the city had been under siege by the Ottomans. In previous decades, Ottoman armies had attacked the city but were unsuccessful, thanks to the near impenetrable walls of Constantinople. Constructed in the times of the Roman Empire, the Theodocian Walls that protected the city had remained its strongest deterrent since the city was first founded more than 1000 years ago. However, this time was different. 

Mehmed had come well prepared. Unlike the previous failed attempts to take the city, Mehmed introduced a new and devastating weapon into the equation. In preparation for the monumental task of taking Constantinople, Mehmed commissioned the construction of enormous siege cannons known as bombards to take down the formidable walls of the city. 

The Byzantines put up stiff resistance against the Ottomans, but their defenses could not withstand the power of the Ottoman cannons. The city was finally conquered, and with it, the last vestige of the Roman Empire was gone. Mehmed the Conqueror named Constantinople the new capital of his empire and spent the rest of his time as sultan consolidating his power.

The Mamluks

Since the capture of Constantinople, the relationship between the two Muslim powers, the Ottomans and the Mamluks, became tense at best. Both empires now controlled lands that relied heavily on the lucrative spice trade in Asia and wanted to eliminate the competition whenever possible. The Ottomans were also interested in controlling the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, both of which were protected by the Mamluks. After defeating a Persian army in Iraq in 1514, the Ottomans turned their entire attention to destroying this newfound rival in Egypt at the soonest possible moment. In 1516, the Ottomans pounced when the Mamluks were vulnerable, declaring they were the oppressors of Muslims and had no right to govern over the holy cities. 

Both sides could muster armies numbering nearly 60,000 men each, but this was far from a fair fight. The Ottoman army consisted of professional soldiers who had just seen combat only two years before in Iraq, while the bulk of the Mamluk force consisted of poorly trained and equipped conscripts. The battles that took place all resulted in decisive Ottoman victories, and within only two years of the outbreak of the war, the Ottomans controlled all of Syria, PalestineEgypt, and the holy cities within Arabia. 

Professional Armies And Slave Soldiers

The key to Ottoman military success in the early years of the empire can be directly attributed to their professional army. One of the first of its kind, as early as the middle of the 14th century, the Ottomans maintained an army that was made up of professional full-time soldiers, a far cry from the peasant levies that still formed large segments of rival militaries. In the late 14th century, the Janissary system was introduced, only bolstering the Ottoman army even further. As they conquered Christian lands in the Balkans, the Ottomans would take the young boys of Christian families and train them from a young age to become soldiers. 

Converting them to Islam as boys and having them swear loyalty to the sultan, the Janissaries were some of the most effective and loyal soldiers of their day. Sworn to not take wives they instead dedicated their lives to the sultan. Numerous times throughout the Ottoman Empire's history, it was these slave soldiers who turned the tide in battles time and time again. The Janissaries would eventually turn into an incredibly powerful and influential faction within Ottoman politics, often to the detriment of the empire, but that was centuries after the fact.   

The Ottoman rise to power is perhaps one of the most remarkable and sudden success stories for any empire in history. Not only was it able to gain power, but it was also able to maintain it well into the 20th century, something that many other upstart conquerors failed to accomplish. Lasting more than 600 years, it is nothing short of extraordinary that the Ottomans were able to conquer so successfully and hold on to the areas they annexed so stubbornly despite the best efforts of their rivals. Today, the modern nation of Turkey inherits its legacy, albeit with much less of an emphasis on invading neighboring countries.  

相關閱讀:

WHY DID THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE FALL?
Ottoman Empire officially ended in 1922, and the Republic of Turkey was established shortly after.


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何以「歐洲黑暗時代」其實並非那樣不堪 – Robbie Mitchell
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這篇文章用淺顯的文字指出「歐洲黑暗時代」這個觀念的錯誤以及它後面的偏見。對此議題有興趣的朋友,可以參考以下兩文

Scholars Cringe at the Term ‘Dark Ages.’ Dan Jones Explains Why.
Slaughtering conventional history’s sacred cows


Why the Dark Ages Weren't Really All That Dark

 
ROBBIE MITCHELL, UPDATED 12/26/23

For hundreds of years, a period often referred to as ‘the Dark Ages’, covering the 5th to the 10th centuries, was looked down upon by historians, especially during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras. It was seen as a dormant period during which art and intellectualism languished. Thankfully more modern historians have taken a more balanced view. Far from a dormant period, it stands as a dynamic era defined by human resilience and innovation. From the meticulous manuscripts in monasteries to the towering cathedrals, the Dark Ages unveiled a nuanced chapter in history. In many ways, the Dark Ages weren’t so dark, and common people lived better lives than their counterparts would have during the so-revered classical period

Redefining the Dark Ages: The Good Old Days

Ever had an elderly relative complain that things aren’t as good today as they were in the “good old days”? Well, that’s pretty much where the whole myth surrounding the 
Dark Ages began. People complaining.

In 476 AD the Western Roman Empire officially ended when the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. From this point onwards what had once been the glorious 
Roman Empire was divided up by numerous Germanic peoples who, understandably, ignored old Roman traditions and brought in their own. 

Those educated enough to be writing at the time, men like St. Jerome and St. Patrick in the fifth century, Gregory of Tours in the sixth, and Bede in the eighth tended to have a strong Roman bias and began writing how things under the Germanic tribes weren’t as good as under the Romans. To an extent, they had a point.

In some ways, these Germanic tribes simply weren’t as advanced. For example, innovations like Roman concrete and many other engineering marvels were lost and the literacy rate plummeted. However, these drawbacks were heavily exaggerated by later scholars.

The actual idea of the “Dark Ages” comes from a mid-14th century Italian scholar, Petrarch, who divided all of history into two periods- the Classical and the Dark Ages (which he believed he lived in). To Petrarch, the Classical period was a time when the Greeks and Romans had showered the world with intellectual and philosophical achievements. The Dark Ages on the other hand were a period of stagnation where nothing could live up to the ‘Good Old Days.” It was a case of rose-tinted glasses.

Petrarch wasn’t alone either. The 9th-century Carolingian writer Walahfrid Strabo had made similar comments centuries earlier, bemoaning he hadn’t gotten to live in the more enlightened times of the Carolingian Renaissance (which we’ll come to later) under Charlemagne.

Petrarch’s idea of a Dark Age took root and inspired later historians and writers. When the Renaissance came along between the 15th and 17th centuries the humanists lapped up Petrarch’s idea of a barbaric medieval past. It played right into their belief that they were reviving long-lost classical culture. 

The Enlightenment Plays Along

The reputation of the Dark Ages only got worse during the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries
Humanists had a problem with the Dark Ages because they saw it as a time when Latin language, literature, and culture had languished. The Protestants on the other hand saw it as a time during which the Catholic Church had grown fat and corrupt. It’s these criticisms that led the scholars of the Enlightenment to declare war on the Dark Ages.

The 
Enlightenment was all about the pursuit of knowledge and happiness and placed great emphasis on qualities such as reason, progress, light, and freedom. Its scholars believed the Dark Ages epitomized the exact opposite. While the Dark Ages had largely been ruled over by Papal corruption, the Ancient Greeks had given the world its first true democracy.

This caused scholars like the German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann to argue Greek classical art was superior because it hadn’t been created under tyrannical rule. This led to the creation of a new art form, neoclassicism, designed to emphasize the superiority of everything classical over Medieval

The only problem with this train of thought is it was wrong. The Dark Ages were arguably simply different, not worse than the classical period. By listening to medieval scholars bemoaning the loss of the “good old days” Renaissance and Enlightenment historians overlooked the many bright spots of the Dark Ages.

The Carolingian Renaissance Would Like a Word

For a start, this way of thinking completely ignores the Carolingian Renaissance. In 768 AD Pepin the Short, a Frankish king, died and his two sons inherited his entire kingdom. One of them, Carloman, died a few years after his father while the other survived.

The survivor’s name was Karl but after taking complete control he became known as the legendary King Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great. Through at least 50 massive military campaigns he took anyone who stood in his way- the Muslim rulers of Spain, the Bavarians, the Saxons in Germany, and Italy’s Lombards. As he did so the Frankish Empire grew into a medieval powerhouse. Where Charlemagne went, he spread his Catholic faith with him and in 800 AD Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne “emperor of the Romans.” 

Charlemagne became known as the “Holy Roman Emperor,” a nod to how many believed his rule would take Europe back to the glory days of the Roman Empire. The king lived up to his new title, creating a centralized state whose buildings were inspired by Roman architecture

Charlemagne also pushed educational reform and worked hard to ensure the preservation of ancient Latin texts. It was also during this time that a standard handwriting script, Carolingian minuscule, was invented. 

Going beyond nice penmanship, it standardized things like punctuation, spacing, and the use of upper and lower cases. This in turn revolutionized literacy and reading and made it that much easier to produce books and other texts.

Unfortunately, the 
Carolingian Renaissance was a bit of a flash in the pan. Charlemagne died in 814 AD and his dynasty didn’t survive much longer after him. Still, its contributions to literature, art, and education provided the foundations for techniques used during the Renaissance and Enlightenment centuries later. 

The Rise of the Catholic Church

During the Enlightenment much was made of the corrupting power of the Catholic Church during the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were both a barbaric time and a time when the Catholic Church ruled with an iron fist. But the truth is a little more nuanced.

Ignoring Charlemagne’s little renaissance in the early years of the Dark Ages it is somewhat true that Europe lacked a unifying power like the Roman Empire to keep everything in check. But that was quickly fixed by the rise of the Catholic Church.

The spread of Catholicism meant many of medieval Europe’s kings and queens derived most of their power from their relationship with the church. As the papacy grew in strength, beginning with Gregory the Great (590-604) monarchs couldn’t monopolize power like they had during the Roman Empire. No man was bigger than God (or the Pope). While it’s true that the rot eventually set in and the Popes became mind-bogglingly corrupt, it wasn’t all bad.

Religion and Education

The power the Catholic Church wielded during this period led Protestant Reformers and Enlightenment thinkers to call it dark. In particular, they wrote that during the Dark Ages, the popes and their clergy had done their best to repress intellectual thinking and scientific advancement

However, this way of thinking ignores the rise of monasticism and how the early Christian monasteries actively encouraged both literacy and learning. Many medieval monks adored the arts and were artists themselves, they didn’t just sit around praying all day.

Take for example Benedict of Nursia (480-543), founder of the great monastery of Montecassin. His Benedictine Rule, as it came to be known, provided a comprehensive guide for communal life in a monastery, emphasizing prayer, work, and study. It quickly spread across Europe and inspired many Western monasteries. 

Benedict believed that “Idleness is the enemy of the soul” and the monks who followed his rule often became great scholars. They believed that monks should do manual as well as intellectual and spiritual labor. Which sounds pretty enlightened for the Dark Ages.

Advances in Science and Mathematics

There’s long been the idea that the Catholic Church suppressed the sciences during the Dark Ages, especially when it came to medical science and the study of things like dissections and autopsies. This is true to an extent- scientists certainly had to be careful to make sure anything they discovered didn’t contradict Catholic teachings or threaten the church’s rule. 

However, the idea that there was basically no scientific advancement during the period is a gross exaggeration. There were scientific advancements, they just came a little slower than during the classical period.

This way of thinking also completely ignores the Islamic World, which was most definitely not suffering a dark period. During the Dark Ages, the Islamic world made leaps and bounds in the realms of both math and sciences, building on the work of ancient Greek texts that had been translated into Arabic

The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, written by al-Khwarizmi (a Persian), might be a bit of a mouthful but it revolutionized mathematics and gave Europe algebra. Not only did it introduce the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations, but it also gave us the decimal points that we still use today. The word algorithm even comes from the Latinized version of the author’s name.

Basically, when Renaissance and Enlightenment writers bemoaned the Dark Ages, they were completely ignoring many of the advancements made by Islamic thinkers during the period. White Europeans marginalizing the achievements of another ethnic group? It certainly wasn’t the first, or last time. 

The Rule of Law

The romanticization of Greek and Roman civilization also tended to ignore the many, many downsides of being alive during that time. Like the fact that for most people (like slaves) it was really, really unpleasant.

The early Middle Ages was a period during which fairer systems of law began to prevail. These law systems were far from perfect for sure, but they tended to do a better job at protecting “normal” people. Traveling merchants were protected by Lex Mercatoria (Law Merchant) which featured the idea of arbitration and was designed to protect merchants and encourage good practices between traders.

Anglo-Saxon Law during the early Middle Ages focused on keeping the peace and protecting people. While it eventually became harsher and more draconian, for a long time it was relatively flexible and fair

While later scholars looked down on the many changes made by the Germanic peoples they brought in Early Germanic Law. These laws ensured everyone the right to be tried by their own people and were designed to protect people from the dangers of ignorance and cultural prejudice. Many of the laws founded during the Dark Ages form the basis for laws still in action in much of Europe today.

Weather and Agriculture- It Literally Wasn’t Very Dark

It’s not just the new laws that made the Dark Ages a “not so bad” time to be alive. The weather was also surprisingly good. The period’s name tends to conjure up images of dark skies, rain, and snow but in reality, the Dark Ages was a period of warming for the north Atlantic region. 

By the High Middle Ages (around 1100 AD) Europe was well into a period now called the Medieval Warm Period. It was particularly beneficial for the Vikings who, thanks to melting ice, could finally colonize Greenland and its neighbors.

For the rest of Europe, it meant an agricultural boom. The improved weather, alongside improved agricultural knowledge, meant there was plenty of food. In fact, there was such a surplus of food that livestock could be fed on grains, not grass which upped production

At the same time feudalism (despite its many downsides) encouraged efficient land management and in many areas introduced the idea of crop rotation. It was also built on reciprocal relationships of obligation. Lords were expected to protect their vassals, and in return, vassals provided military service. 

This interdependence could foster a sense of security within the feudal structure. Meaning contrary to popular belief the Dark Ages weren’t such a bad time to be a peasant and were much better than during the Roman Empire.

Conclusion

In revisiting the often-misunderstood epoch labeled the Dark Ages, it becomes evident that beneath the conventional narrative of stagnation lay a tapestry of vibrant achievements. Sure, most people were certainly worse off than today but, in many ways, they didn’t have things so bad.

Art and literature still thrived, science wasn’t as stagnant as once believed, and the lower classes in particular were much better off than they had been during the classical period. There is an important lesson to be learned when examining the Dark Ages, be wary of rose-tinted glasses and the allure of the good old days. It’s easy to look around at the state of the world compared to the past and point out all the things that are wrong with it. Someone should have told Petrarch that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.



‘Just’ War and Martialism in Dark Age Britain
Were the Dark Ages Really Dark?
Forged Medieval Charters: How To Rewrite History In The Middle Ages
Caught Red-Handed! Law and Order in Medieval England


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