What Caused Europe to Plunge Into the Dark Ages?

According to History News Network, the accepted date for the start of the Dark Ages is approximately 476 A.D., and the date is chosen for its connection to the death of the Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus. The term "Dark Ages" comes from a belief that the following time period lacked intellectual and societal progress.

History News Network also mentions that research is placing the Renaissance farther back in the timeline. Effectively, the Dark Ages may not have lacked the intellectual insight that was originally believed. Most of the darkness that occurred in that period happened around the falling Roman empire, as they degraded into feudalism and bloodshed. Some scholars believe the Renaissance can be dated back as far as the reign of the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, dated around the ninth century A.D. The term "Dark Ages" is now believed by some to cover a much smaller span of time and geography, with intellectual influence remaining intact in Europe's monasteries well before earlier accepted dates. While the Roman empire's descent was very impacting in that area, its fall did not cause nearly the destruction, ignorance or despair that was once commonly accepted in scholarly circles. It may have only lasted as little as 400 years.