The dark ages in the European history could be attributed mostly to having made no worthwhile positive contribution to the development of the continent. It was a period that was characterized by stories of stagnated growth in the educational, cultural, as well as the artistic cultures of the time. Like the era was referred later on in history, it was an era most people do not want to say was part of their history. The dark ages were a period that is accepted to have begun with the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted until the advent of the new civilization later called the renaissance. During this period, there were a lot of warfare activities (Heather, 123-125). The people of this age never imagined of moving their ideas forward that is, there were less and less developmental activities going on during this period.
The Dark Age could be attributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. That was because, when the empire existed, and it acted as a unifying force in most of the European world. During its existence, the Roman Empire had inspired a spirit of coexistence among the European countries. Several economic activities and cultural advancements were taking place back then. The fall of the Roman Empire, consequently, came with medieval events such as wars and conflicts. Barbaric acts would then follow the order of the ages that succeeded the Roman Empire. Before the fall of the empire, the modern day Italy or Rome as it was known during the dark ages was the capital center of Europe. It was seen as the center of unity and development across Europe.
Feudalism in Europe arose from the collapse of Roman institutions and the further disintegration of German inroads and settlements. In addition, the rise of feudalism in areas that were dominated by the Roman institutions led to the breakdown of the central government. In other regions that had not experienced central rule, feudalism was a step towards centralization and organization in leadership. The system used the institutions that were then in existence and altered them for their benefit. Of more consequences was the economic aspect. Land became central to any negotiations about the fiefs. The church too had a great influence in the way feudalism shaped up even though the leadership of the church was not feudal. It is believed that the church owned so much land at the time which had feudal rights, and like any land, they also went the feudal way. The church leadership thus became involved in the feudal system as well. The system would then breakdown gradually but not until the French Revolution. It persisted in other regions and it is believed that its influence shaped most of the Western European institutions.
Renaissance is a French term that could be loosely translated to English to mean the revival or rebirth. The renaissance marked the beginning of the birth of the learning ages in Europe. As compared to the barbarism that had been in existence since the downfall of the Roman Empire, new age intellectuals coined the word renaissance to differentiate it at least with the preceding age (Elliott, 88-91). This part of the paper would, therefore, try to explain why the revival began in the Italian cities before it spread to other cities across Europe.
As was the case then, the Italian cities like Genoa and Venice were regarded to have had some head start in wealth creation and order establishment from the dark ages that preceded the renaissance. Italy, in another sense, was the capital of the previous regime of the Roman Empire, which was the leadership of the previous civilization that had brought the Dark Ages culture. The Italian cities mentioned above were also considerably close to the other cities of the Byzantine Greeks, the Turks and even the Muslim Arabs from whom they borrowed considerable ideas on the new age civilization. Their mentioned neighbors had made substantial progress in the quest to establish an enlightened world (Heather, 124-127).
Italy, therefore, became a center for the establishment of cultural changes across Europe during the stated period. During the renaissance there was a strong revival of learning, encouraged on by the activities of the then new wealthy classes and their pursuit of educational developments. More precisely, the Renaissance marked a revival or rebirth of ancient Greek and Roman ideas, their artistic values, their culture as well as their philosophy. That would later on spur cultural advancement as well to the rest of Europe (Tafuri, 67-70). The birth of humanism across Europe could also be attributed to this age of the renaissance. Renaissance scholars initiated new philosophies of learning, that which they called Humanism.
Humanism emphasized in the human studies of the ancient writers who had portrayed the man as a living person interacting in a vital and dynamic world. The humanist scholars studied rhetoric or otherwise called literary prose composition and exposition in the early days. They then began to explore other areas such as philosophy history, physics, mathematics, chemistry, poetry, medicine, politics, and even fine arts. The whole focus of learning, therefore, shifted from the worldly imaginations to more sophisticated studies (Marshall, 78-82).In addition, by extension, the focus was still far from God and religion. They focused more on the man and the society. Individualism became the catch phrase of the humanists. The revival of individualism was, as a result, characterized by the search for heroes and their achievements over that period.
Elliott, Lynne. The Renaissance in Europe. New York: Crabtree Pub. Co, 2009. Print.
Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA, 2005. Internet resource.
Marshall, H E. The Story of Europe: From the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. Chapel Hill, NC: Yesterday's Classics, 2006. Print.
Mitterauer, Michael, and Gerald Chapple. Why Europe?: The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Internet resource.