Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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Henri Pirenne and why the 'Dark Ages' occurred.

The Arab irruption caused mankind to enter a dark age [akin to what the Nazis had planned].

by Ferdinand III

Henri Pirenne was an early to mid 20th century historian who specialized in the 'middle period' between the 'fall' of Rome [itself a myth]; and the creation of the Christian theocratic state circa 12th century. Pirenne was an uncommon genius who basic thesis was and is correct; the so-called 'Dark Ages' of Europe lasted from the mid 7th century to the mid 10th, and were initiated not by the demerits and intolerance of a Christian church, but by the stark reality of Arab attacks, conquests and the sealing off of the Mediterranean sea – the most vital link in intra- and extra- European trade, cultural exchange and development. He was right. We know this because he is denounced so viciously by academics.

Pirenne's master piece was his 1937 publication in French of 'Mohammed et Charlemagne'. In over 150 well sourced and detailed pages he elucidates his case that the Arab attacks on Europe including their takeover of Sicily, Spain by 650 AD, and the relentless piracy and littoral invasions which lasted from 650 to about 950 AD [when the Spanish Reconquista really got underway though the Spanish Christians did stop the complete takeover of Spain with their victory at Covadonga in 720 AD], was responsible for the demise of what was then a vibrant set of civilizations.

Pirenne's theory is not met with much favor by current academia – besotted and in love as they are with all things Islamic. According to the 'orthodox' theory of historical development parlayed by the great minds at Western universities and research centers the Muslims were far more advanced than the cowering, dirty midgets of Europe circa 640 AD. Only Muslim enlightenment saved Europe from a permanent Dark Age. The Muslims were not only responsible with saving Greek and Roman literature, culture and societal innovations, but imparted these onto the backward Europeans through such venues as the Muslim city of Cordoba in Spain, or the interaction of Muslims in Baghdad with the theocratic and darkly superstitious Christian fanatics in Constantinople. According to this 'accepted' view Islam was a force for good, transferring the ideas of civilization from the East to the backwards West and ensuring that Europeans did not revert back to Cro-Magnon times. We should all be thankful then for the advance of Islam.

To say that the above is patently stupid is to make an understatement. Even Bernard Lewis the so-named 'Sage of the West' in his latest book in 2008 on the West and Islam, forwards the illusion that the Muslims were advanced and the Christians in Europe and North Africa backwards. Reality and archeological evidence, as forwarded by Pirenne make this theory a laughingstock. The Fall of Rome as most serious students of the subject will know, was actually a benefit for much of Europe. Long before 476 AD Rome had ceased to be of much use. It had become just another oriental despotism, with high taxes, a far ranging and corrupt bureaucracy and endless civil and internecine warfare which destroyed wealth and the lives of generations. By 476 AD Rome was already managed by Germanic chieftains and the ending of the reign of the last Emperor Romulus, by the Teutonic Chief of Staff Odoacer – done at the behest of the Eastern Empire – was not a crash heard round the world, but a mere formality in which the Germans formally took over the empire they had so long dominated.

Pirenne's archeological proof makes another key point. Post 476 AD the former Roman state in Gaul, Spain, Italy and North Africa flourished. The Gallo-Roman elite essentially carried on the Roman empire's institutions, trade, road building, colossi construction, and culture. Nothing changed. In fact, as Pirenne proves, the new states became wealthier. Without the dead hand of the Roman-Oriental state, the new powers were able to increase trade, reduce taxes and improve productivity. Archeological evidence makes it clear that from 500-650 AD the former Western empire was far wealthier, more integrated and more cultured than at any time in its history. The Gallic dynasty of the Merovingians for example, were literally covering their public buildings in part with silver, gold and gaudy emblems of wealth. Western Europe was no poor backwater when the Arabs invaded the European-Gallo Vandal empire of western North Africa in 635 AD. It was rich, sophisticated and elaborate.

Real world facts make this obvious.

Why then did Europe decline from 650 to about 950 AD? The main reason is the most obvious. The Arab conquests sealed off the Mediterranean sea and cut North Africa off from Europe. Eastern trade so vital to the wealth of Europe and so necessary for its intellectual, material and even cultural development was severed. So too was papyrus. For 1000 years the Egyptian supply of paper was an extraordinarily key aspect of Euro-Romano development. When this supply was ended circa 640 AD, the Europeans had to turn to the inferior use of cowhides or parchment. This made writing, record keeping and literacy far more difficult to sustain.

The Arabs and Muslims far from being peaceful, civilized and nuanced progressives – as forwarded by Lewis and the orthodox academic community – engaged in a 400 year concerted attack upon the European coastal areas. After conquering Spain and Sicily the Arabs tried to conquer France [failing in 732 AD at the Battle of Tours], and engaged in endless littoral piracy, literally annihilating Christian shipping and port activity. Many European ports became emptied first of ships, than of goods and people. As trade declined the entire economy suffered. Even the coinage of money became difficult and gold and silver coins were replaced by cheaper bronze units.

The 3 'lost centuries' were basically a dark age caused by the siege of Europe initiated by the Muslims. We know this to be true because the Eastern Roman empire of Byzantium suffered a similar fate. The Byzantine empire became a lot poorer, less educated and suffered economic and population contraction during the exact same period as the 'Dark Ages' took hold in the West.

When the Christians ended the Muslim siege starting in about the mid 10th century their economy, wealth and spirits recovered. It led directly to the aid of the Eastern Empire and the creation of the Crusades. After 400 years of Arab aggression the Christians had recovered enough strength to counter-attack and end Islamic hegemony of the crucial Mediterranean sea.

These are common sensical, black and white facts, supported by archaeology, contemporary accounts, and comprehensive research. Pirenne is entirely right. The 'Fall of Rome' was not a catastrophe but in many ways a positive development. Europe went into a 3 century decline thanks to the Arabs. This however, offends the current zeitgeist that the Arabs and Muslims created the modern world. This fallacy is deep rooted in Western culture and academia. The reality is that the Arabs and Muslims created and still create destruction, death and anti-civilizational practices and attitudes. 

This is why Pirenne is condemned by the modern historian-community. He was right. They are wrong. And the little academic minds will unite to crucify those who dare to speak the truth.