Monday, April 26, 2010

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Slandering Christian Europe: 'The Dark Ages'

Depreciating one of the most successful eras in history.

by Ferdinand III

Recent archeological, archival, and historical inquiry, reveals that the Dark Ages were largely a myth. The supposed 'collapse of Rome' was more a necessary fall of a despotism and its chief city. It was not the destruction of European power or culture. Rome long outlived its usefulness and its replacement by more vigorous Germanic empires who built on the legacy of Rome, was a logical and moral outcome of an empire which had long outlived its productive lifespan.

There were economic and cultural contractions and problems of course post-Rome. But these were from the true barbarian invasions – that of Islam. As written previously Islam waged an unrelenting and quite vicious war on Christianity, first in the Levant and in North Africa; and then in Spain, southern France and Italy. Trade and economic vibrancy was certainly affected. The Muslim assault denuded entire regions of people, production, money and culture. It was a jihad. What we also know is that when the Muslims invaded Europe they found not a backwater but a civilization far surpassing that of their own. This is obvious if one looks at the antecedents and basis for the ridiculously named 'Islamic Golden Age' in Spain, [built entirely on existing Visigothic and Christian wealth, learning, ideas, buildings, structures and technology].

What is also true about the badly named 'Dark Ages', is what Rodney Stark wrote in 'The Victory of Reason'; “Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Dark Ages was the creation of the first economies that depended primarily on nonhuman power.” [p. 38] Only in Christian Europe did this occur. Reason redounding out of true faith, inspired in part by the legacies of Rome which turned man from a labourer into a productive producer.

Rome was a slave society and there were no shortage of slaves to exploit. It was also a profitable trading business. Thus, we have Roman engineers who were quite capable of exploiting water, wind and steam power, never doing so. Why bother with innovation when slaves can grind corn and wheat; feed logs into the fires beneath the shimmering baths frequented by the public; or cut rocks and stone with primitive iron implements for grandiose building projects ?

When Rome fell there was not one single water mill in England. By 1086 there were 5.600 such mills as reported in William the Conqueror's Domesday book which was a compilation of taxable assets in his new realm. This rate of mill development works out to 8 per year after the 'fall' of Rome. Clearly some energy was released when the English were relieved of the hugely oppressive Roman taxation, corruption and centralized bureaucracy. Once free of Rome, England developed.

Water mills automate the production of grain and corn stuffs. It frees up men to do something else – blacksmith, farm, invent a new plough, build cathedrals, start universities, repel Arabs and Muslim invaders. But the mill like all important innovations, is composed of many sub-inventions and spin-offs. Cranks, levers, gear assemblies were created to generate more power from the movement of the water. As the mills got bigger and stronger, it was found that they could be used to saw and cut wood, stones, pound cloth, hammer metals, and make paper. Only in Christian Europe did these interlocking inventions occur to automate – at a great rate – key areas of production.

Jean Gimpel noted in his study of French mill technology and paper production that, “which was manufactured by hand and foot for a thousand years or so following its invention by the Chinese and adoption by the Arabs, was manufactured mechanically as soon as it reached medieval Europe in the thirteenth century...” The Chinese invented the modern conception of paper production – albeit using slave labor. It was only the Europeans which mechanized the production process, replacing expensive animal hides or parchment with mass produced sheets of what resembled Egyptian papyrus. It was the Arab invasions which cut off the source of Egyptian papyrus and give needed impetus to the adoption by Europe of a new technology to mass produce a high demand item. The European cultural openness and receptivity to new ideas was strongly in evidenced throughout the width and breadth of the middle ages.

Watermill technology was matched by that of windmills which grew in size and numbers post-Rome to such a degree that entire areas once covered by water such as West Holland, were reclaimed as valuable agricultural land. The windmills pumped out the water using new sails and mountings which greatly added to the ability and flexibility of capturing and harnessing the wind. The use of this new land was abetted by more inventions including; the horse-shoe [stops the horse from going lame]; the horse and ox collar [can pull heavier ploughs]; new ploughs [to dig up heavy soil]; field rotations [3 field system, never used elsewhere in the world]; new genetically created crops and hybrids; fish-farms [first in the world]; mechanical clocks [13th century, leading to a better use of time]; and sheep and wool production and automation [only in Europe was wool manufacture automated].

The medieval European was better fed, with a better diet, and larger in frame than any other group on the planet. This must have had enormous benefits in war [bigger men, bigger horses as well]; innovation [more energy, more time]; and intelligence [better functioning and more alert minds]. It is obvious that the Enlightenment was but a continuation and in some ways a disruption of medieval progress.

The historical record is pretty clear that the Dark Ages never did exist. Islam created a climate of barbarism, war and dislocation along the littoral of Europe – but that is to be expected. Islam has never delivered anything else other than violence and death. Islam disrupted, but could not permanently deflect, the creation of the antecedents of the modern world. It is pretty obvious that:

“...the Dark Ages did not follow the collapse of Rome – a blessing for the population of the Mediterranean which saw the old Western empire coalesce into 3 Germanic kingdoms centred in Spain, Italy and Gaul. Taxes were lowered, trade increased, roads were repaired, cities expanded and the Roman infrastructure of water, sewage and public baths maintained and even in some locations, improved. Libraries full of the corpus of Western legal, philosophical, medicinal, agricultural, and military documents abounded. By 800 AD even a provincial hinterland city like York could produce the famous Alcuin – the greatest mind in Europe elected as the court scribe and teacher for Charlemagne. Between 500 AD and 800 AD the list of innovations, technologies and improvements in all matters of life are vast. There never was a Dark Age. Only an age of transition.”

An age of transition into the modern world. The Dark Age myth is another calumny and degradation of the Western civilized tradition. It allows cultural Marxists to elevate Islam; denigrate the Christian church and 'prove' that Europeans were little more than half naked religious savages – no better than other races or societies. This sentiment is however, like so many cherished 'facts', the exact opposite of reality. The Dark Ages were one of the most fertile, interesting – and important – epochs in human history.