Ch 14: Introduction to the Dark Ages

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons on the Dark Ages and learn about the fundamental tenets of Islam, invasions that affected the Roman Empire, Muslim scholars' educational contributions, and more. These video lessons are short and engaging and make learning easy!

Introduction to the Dark Ages - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

The lessons in this chapter take you from the erosion of cultural factors that led to the inception of the Dark Ages to the Latin Crusades and the Islamic world's response to them. You will be introduced to the fundamentals of Islam, the similarities among the world's three major religious branches, and the impact of the invasions of different tribes on the fall of the Roman Empire. When you've finished this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Understand how the elimination of classical culture served as the impetus for the commencement of the Dark Ages
  • Recognize the significance of the invasion of Germanic tribes on the Roman Empire
  • Know the five pillars of Islam
  • Compare the essential messages and teachings of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
  • Articulate some of the literary and academic contributions of Muslim scholars
  • Establish familiarity with the traits and history of Byzantine art and architecture

Video Objective
The Dark Ages: Loss of Classical Culture Understand the reasons for and implications of the decrease of literacy, artistic vibrancy, and technological development during the Dark Ages.
Germanic Tribes: Invasion in Rome Be familiar with the different peoples who invaded and contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire.
Insular Art: Ireland's Golden Age Learn about the art of Ireland and Britain during the Dark Ages.
Heirs of Rome: The Church and the Byzantines Recognize ways in which the Christian church and Byzantine rulers retained some elements of the Roman Empire's culture.
Early Church Conflicts: Arianism and Iconoclasm Understand the impacts of Arianism and iconoclasm on early Christianity.
Roman Economy in the Dark Ages Articulate how the dissolution of trade preempted the fall of the Roman economy.
Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith: Overview, the Qur'an, and Sharia Law Learn about the five fundamental tenets and practices of Islam.
People of the Book: Comparing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Understand the commonalities among the teachings and perspectives of these three religions.
The Spread of Islam and the Progress of the Caliphates Explore the history of the expansion of Islam from Mecca to other parts of the world.
Muslim Learning: Scientific, Artistic, Medical, and Literary Accomplishments Become familiar with contributions from the Golden Age of Islam, including the development of algebra and the refinement of the Arabic numbering system.
Byzantine Art: Mosaics, History, and Characteristics Learn about the context and characteristics of Byzantine art.
Byzantine Architecture: History, Characteristics, and Examples Recognize both the influences and the distinguishing characteristics of Byzantine architecture.
The Fatimid Empire Understand the influence of Shi'ism on the Fatimid state.
Turkic Peoples Dominate the Near East Articulate the process of central Asian Turkic peoples' domination of the Near East.
The Decline of Islamic Spain Understand the circumstances that engendered Islamic Spain's decline.
The Islamic World Resists the Latin Crusades Explain Islamic cultures' responses to the Latin Crusades.
Unifying the Islamic World Understand the cultural and contextual influences that helped integrate divergent Islamic perspectives from 1100-1300.
Frankish History: Clovis and the Merovingians Learn about Frankish history from Clovis through Charlemagne.

18 Lessons in Chapter 14: Introduction to the Dark Ages
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Dark Ages: Loss of Classical Culture

1. The Dark Ages: Loss of Classical Culture

This lesson explores the loss of classical culture during the Dark Ages. We compare the life of a medieval peasant to that of a Roman pleb. We then examine the causes of this decline, as well as its repercussions.

Germanic Tribes: Invasion in Rome

2. Germanic Tribes: Invasion in Rome

As the Roman Empire became bigger and bigger, tribes from Germany began to invade various areas. Eventually the continuous attacks led to the break-up of the Empire. This lesson explores a few of the more dominant tribes.

Insular Art: Ireland's Golden Age

3. Insular Art: Ireland's Golden Age

This lesson covers the Insular Art of Ireland's Golden Age. It examines the unique cultural and religious factors that made Ireland the religious and cultural leader of Northern Europe. It then examines the roots of Insular art in the interlacing bands of Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Finally, we explore how those bands found their way onto stone crosses and manuscript illuminations.

Heirs of Rome: The Church and the Byzantines

4. Heirs of Rome: The Church and the Byzantines

The Roman Empire covered a vast area, and when it fell, its people were in danger of losing their civilization. This lesson explores some of the things that remained as the Empire fell, as well as how they affected Roman citizens.

Early Church Conflicts: Arianism and Iconoclasm

5. Early Church Conflicts: Arianism and Iconoclasm

This lesson explores two conflicts that occurred in the early church: Arian Christianity, which taught a taboo belief regarding the Holy Trinity, and iconoclasm, which was the destruction of religious images.

Roman Economy in the Dark Ages

6. Roman Economy in the Dark Ages

This lesson explores the Roman Empire's economy from its beginnings as a farming culture to its expansion into trade and finally its deterioration after invasion from surrounding tribes.

Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith: Overview, the Quran & Sharia Law

7. Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith: Overview, the Quran & Sharia Law

The Five Pillars of Islam are the foundation of the world's second largest faith. They are characterized by a simplicity that encourages peaceful cooperation between people, which is one reason for the religion's widespread devotion. This lesson will detail each of the five and show how they relate to the daily lives of practicing Muslims.

People of the Book: Comparing Judaism, Christianity and Islam

8. People of the Book: Comparing Judaism, Christianity and Islam

The religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are often seen as competing doctrines and faiths by observers and adherents. Yet, a summary investigation of their doctrines illustrates they have much in common. This lesson will examine these similarities in greater detail.

The Spread of Islam and the Progress of the Caliphates

9. The Spread of Islam and the Progress of the Caliphates

After the death of Mohammed, Islam continued to spread through Arabia, the Middle East and Africa. This lesson is an overview of Islam's progress from the faith of Mecca to a faith for all the world.

Muslim Learning: Scientific, Artistic, Medical & Literary Accomplishments

10. Muslim Learning: Scientific, Artistic, Medical & Literary Accomplishments

The Abbasid caliphate (750-1258 CE) oversaw the Golden Age of Islam. Learn about the accomplishments of Muslim scholars in art, literature, science, medicine and mathematics during this time.

Byzantine Art: Mosaics, History & Characteristics

11. Byzantine Art: Mosaics, History & Characteristics

This lesson covers Byzantine art and explains the difficulties of imposing artistic periods. Justinian is introduced as the man behind the Byzantine Golden Age. We explore the interesting dynamic between Byzantine imperialism and Christian religion. Finally, we take a brief look at eastern religious icons.

Byzantine Architecture: History, Characteristics & Examples

12. Byzantine Architecture: History, Characteristics & Examples

In this lesson, we look at the development of Byzantine architecture. We examine its relationship to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. We then compare Byzantine architecture to early Christian architecture and enumerate the distinctly Byzantine elements of their art and architecture: central-plan, domes and pendentives. Finally, we touch briefly on how these architectural masterpieces were decorated.

The Fatimid Empire & the Role of Shi'ism

13. The Fatimid Empire & the Role of Shi'ism

With a lineage reaching back to the Prophet Muhammad himself, the Fatimids were heavily influenced by their Shi'a beliefs, yet open enough to create a society that saw the role of Jews, Christians, and Sunnis increase.

Turkic Peoples' Domination of the Near East

14. Turkic Peoples' Domination of the Near East

Pushed by the same Great Migration that led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Turkic people rose to dominate much of the Middle East by 1100, despite originally arriving in the region as slaves.

Factors that Led to the Decline of Islamic Spain

15. Factors that Led to the Decline of Islamic Spain

Islamic Spain was once the most advanced and open civilization in Europe or the Middle East. This lesson explains how the societies there eventually succumbed to a variety of internal and external pressures.

The Islamic World's Response to the Latin Crusades

16. The Islamic World's Response to the Latin Crusades

Few in the Muslim world could have imagined that in 1095, a series of wars would start that would not only change their world, but continue to impact foreign relations almost a thousand years later.

Cultural Elements that Unified the Islamic World

17. Cultural Elements that Unified the Islamic World

Despite stretching from Morocco to the Philippines, the Islamic world managed to maintain a surprising amount of cultural coherence during the Middle Ages.

Frankish History: Clovis and the Merovingians

18. Frankish History: Clovis and the Merovingians

This lesson will focus on Clovis and the rise and fall of the Merovingian Dynasty. It will highlight his unification of the Franks, his conversion to Catholicism, and the cultural advancements of the dynasty's rule.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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