Dark Ages (historiography)
The "Dark Ages" is a historical periodization traditionally referring to the Middle Ages (c. 5th–15th century) that asserts that a demographic, cultural, and economic deterioration occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire.The term employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the era's "darkness" (lack of records) with earlier and later periods of "light" (abundance of records). The concept of a "Dark Age" originated in the 1330s with the Italian scholar Petrarch, who regarded the post-Roman centuries as "dark" compared to the "light" of classical antiquity. The phrase "Dark Age" itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, originally applied by Caesar Baronius in 1602 to a tumultuous period in the 10th and 11th centuries. The concept thus came to characterize the entire Middle Ages as a time of intellectual darkness in Europe between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance; this became especially popular during the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment.As the accomplishments of the era came to be better understood in the 19th and 20th centuries, scholars began restricting the "Dark Ages" appellation to the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century), and now scholars also reject its usage in this period. The majority of modern scholars avoid the term altogether due to its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate. Petrarch's pejorative meaning remains in use, typically in popular culture which often mischaracterises the Middle Ages as a time of violence and backwardness.