Why Was the Middle Ages Also Called the Dark Ages?

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The term known as the Middle Ages is synonymous with the Dark Ages for several reasons as the period between 500-1500 A.D. included political turmoil, social unrest and the spread of disease. The Middle Ages brought great change to Europe in many respects, including social mobility, politics and the way of life. Some changes proved beneficial, but the time period experienced negative effects from the change too.

The arrival of the Dark Ages in Europe followed the fall of the Greek and Roman empires in approximately 500 A.D. Several theorists propose that the term “Dark Ages” described the difference in intellect and cultural advancement between European citizens and people living in ancient Greece and Rome. In contrast to Greece and Rome, European populations lacked advancement in several key academic disciplines, including science and mathematics.

Other popular theories, however, suggest that the name Dark Ages derived from the arrival of destructive maladies in Europe in the form of famine and disease. Of the illnesses that struck Europe, the bubonic plague was most destructive. The plague sickened and killed millions of Europeans. Those not killed by disease constantly faced the threat of death from battles and warfare, which covered the continent. The Dark Ages concluded around 1500 A.D., marking the end of a backwards time in human history.