When you hear about the Dark Ages, one vision may include lawlessness and ruthless criminals, but this was far from the truth. You may imagine masses of starving men, women and children trying to survive by any means necessary. However, this article will show that some of the worst pictures of the early Middle Ages are a misconception.
Influence of the Byzantine Empire
If you are a reading enthusiast, then you would have enjoyed the contributions of the Byzantine Empire, which saw a great deal of books being produced ”“ from encyclopedias to anthologies. The period is characterized by the rule of Emperor Justinian, who greatly contributed to Roman law. An increase in literacy was seen, and the basics of education spread across Europe ”“ even touching the outskirts of the country folk. More people received an education with higher learning becoming increasingly accessible. The Dark Ages may not have produced a wealth of new thinking, but the people of this time period made sure that what they did have stayed protected until it was time for more advancement.
A Fairer Judicial System
During the Middle Ages, a complex system of laws provided effective and fair judgment with different conditions depending on your station in life. The Lex Mercatoria (known as Law Merchant) was set aside for merchants that traveled around the world. This law involved arbitration and encouraged traders to follow good practices amongst themselves. The Anglo-Saxon law was a competing factor in the judicial system of the early Middle Ages, which strived to keep the peace throughout the land. Laws became a bit tougher, but the legal system for this time was fair for the majority of the population (for the most part). Under Early Germanic law, everyone was entitled to be tried by their own peers, which helped end the disadvantages that came with major differences in culture or inexperience.
Plenty to Eat
The number of people starving was at an all-time low during the early Middle Ages because the weather conditions were quite beneficial for providing communities with enough to eat. The knowledge in the West on how to make things grow also increased. The Byzantine Empire saw a many iron tools making life easier for farmers. The land was effectively managed under a system called feudalism. Grassy land did not perish to animals, as people now creative a surplus of grain to feed their livestock. The feudal system also meant that the public was safer, and people could enjoy a more peaceful existence.
To get a better understanding of the Dark Ages and the perception of the time period, consider the following quotes by Morris Bishop, who states: “The Middle Ages is an unfortunate term. It was not invented until the age was long past. The dwellers in the Middle Ages would not have recognized it. They did not know that they were living in the middle; they thought, quite rightly, that they were time’s latest achievement.”