Going Back in Time
The Middle Ages, also called the medieval period, refers to Europe in an approximately 1000-year time between Rome’s collapse during the 476 A.D. It was also the beginning of the Renaissance period in the fourteenth century. Renaissance marked the rebirth of culture and arts, a celebration of the Greek and Roman classics.
Was it Really a Dark Period?
Historians of the Renaissance era tended to disregard the century as a dark age with no significant science or arts achievements. This mass opinion formed after the fall of Rome. Calling it the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages overlooks the numerous advances in those years. Many modern historians and scholars use the term ‘medieval period’ and not ‘Dark Ages’ or ‘Middle Ages’ to refer to that period.
The Rise of Islam
After the fall of Rome, there was not any single government to keep the Europeans united. Instead, the medieval period saw the Roman Catholic Church becoming the most powerful and influential institution. The leaders and kings who rose in that period gained power by protecting and creating alliances with the church. When the Roman Catholic Church acquired wealth and power all across Europe, Islam started to rise in influence and power across the Middle East post the death of Prophet Mohammad during 632 A.D.
Vast portions of the Middle East were conquered and united by the Muslim armies. Big cities, such as Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo, became cultural hotspots filled with philosophers, writers, scientists, and artists. Many modern technologies, such as flying machines, wind energy, soap, cameras, and even our numeral system, started as basic inventions in that period.
The Response of the Church
As Islam gained power, numerous military expeditions came up as the response of the Roman Catholic Church. These expeditions were called Crusades are were made for expelling the Muslims out of the Holy Lands of the Middle East. The Crusades, which took the lives of thousands of people on both sides, went on for hundreds of years. Even though neither side was “victorious”, the Crusades successfully united the Europeans for the Roman Catholic Church. These also brought in a plethora of Islamic societal advances to the European continent, which helped set the stage for the upcoming Renaissance.
The Contribution of the Medieval Times
Even though the Renaissance era thinkers often discredit the medieval times as devoid of any artistic value. This period has contributed immensely to both architecture and art and is still exhibited in churches, monasteries, and cathedrals. You can see them on the structures and stained glasses of these gigantic establishments. Many of the most popular religious art and Gothic-style architecture still love today are from the medieval ages.
These include paintings, mosaics, and frescoes. Not only the cathedral but even grand castles were also constructed during the medieval era. These grand houses were a product of the feudal system that was a part of rural Europe. Bishops and noblemen granted land areas by the kings gave the peasants the right to work on those pieces of land. (See Why Doesn’t Arizona Observe Daylight Savings Time?)
A Rising Time for Legends
Thanks to the feudal system, there was a rise of various legends that are pretty famous today. These are centric on the ideas of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour. It is, however, challenging to say if these legends are mere fantasies or have absolute truth. If they were based on any facts, those have, most probably, faded away in history centuries ago. You will be surprised to know that there is a massive debate regarding the existence of King Arthur. If somebody really existed of that name is still uncertain.