Originally Posted by Literature
What a complete display of historical ignorance. The reason there was a dark ages was because of the fall of the Roman Empire. Can you guess what organization stepped in to fill those enormous shoes of providing for education and social stability? You're about 200 years behind the historical consensus on the Middle Ages. To put this into a perspective you might understand, imagine that 100 years after Copernicus and Galileo, some scientist rushes into his university and announces, "The earth is the center of the universe! I have the proof from the Book of Genesis!" They would look at him and think, "Now here's a guy who doesn't know what's going on around him."
That's you right now.
Blame the Barbarians?
"Real-life barbarians (were) eager to settle down and savor the fruits of civilization: to defeat the enemy, tax him, visit his doctors, marry his daughters."
– R. Wright (Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny)
The Christians have always lied – and one of their biggest lies remains that of "blaming the barbarians" for the destruction of ancient civilization which they themselves caused.
The melodrama is familiar enough: barbarians "pouring in" ... Rome sacked ... havoc wreaked everywhere. Words like "horde" and "onslaught" are bandied about, conjuring up images of a human flood of bloodthirsty and predatory warriors, hell-bent on rape and pillage. The only light, we are asked to believe, comes from the flickering lamps of Christian monks in remote fastnesses, keeping alive the dim flame of civilization until a bright new dawn, centuries into the future.
To put things in perspective, in 410, the Visigoths of Alaric (a Christian) pillaged Rome for precisely three days before withdrawing. A generation later, in 455, Gaiseric (a Christian) and his Vandals spent just fourteen days in the city, taking what they could.
The conventional 'wisdom' is a travesty, written by the winning side. The barbarians of the 3rd – 5th centuries AD – like the barbarians of the 1st century AD or 2nd century BC – had wanted a share of the good life, not the common ruination of everyone.
What was different in the age of Constantine and Theodosius, compared to the age of Augustus and Hadrian, was the degenerate nature of the Roman state which opposed them.
The barbarians, in the passage of centuries, had learnt from the empire: the practical skills of agriculture and horticulture; the value of armour; the exercise of power within a framework of law; even a version the new Christian religion of the Romans.
But the empire, for its part, had turned in on itself, had wasted its energies on the indulgences of a theocratic tyranny, had narrowed its vision, had ruined itself – a process that began with Constantine and his plans for a Christian dynasty. The One True Catholic and Orthodox Faith, made secure by its establishment as the state religion, expropriated for its own purposes more and more of the wealth of the empire. Yet ultimately it became indifferent to the fate of the empire; Holy Mother Church was all that mattered.