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I spend a lot of time on here getting pissed off at myths about the Middle Ages, whether it's the idea that they didn't do philosophy, or that they were idiots who couldn't draw. These misconceptions are down to the myth of the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages is the way the medieval period is taught at school: you had the enlightened Roman Empire, a golden era of wisdom and liberty, then you had a millenium of pure wretchedness before the Renaissance kicked "Western civilisation" back into high gear.

I won't go into the miriad reasons why this narrative is absolutely ridiculous, I just want to focus on why it's the narrative you're taught. Why is it that we're taught to think of medieval people as stinky and disgusting, and of ancient Romans as glittering Adonises, even though soap was invented (and widely used) in the Middle Ages? The answer is very simple.

You just have to look at which periods you're told to admire: the Roman Empire, and the Renaissance. The Roman Empire is presented as a "civilising force", that brought "democracy" and "knowledge" to the uncultured lands it conquered, and established great infrastructure at the slight cost of large-scale slavery. The Renaissance, meanwhile, is often taught as beginning in 1492, the year of Columbus's encounter with the so-called New World and of the Spanish Reconquista.

These two events indicate the reason why the Renaissance is constructed as a moment of sudden renewal after a millenium of misery: you're taught to identify "progress" and "culture" with the establishment of colonialism, the reinvigoration of slavery, and the movement towards a uniformly "white" Europe.

That's the idea you're repeating when you operate blindly according to the belief that the Middle Ages were dirty, ignorant, excessively pious compared to the Roman Empire and the early modern era. You're identifying culture and freedom with the extreme subjugation and systematic violence of colonialism.

@garfiald
The Islamic Golden age produced huge leaps in mathematics, science, philosophy ect. The only reason the renaissance even happened was the preservation of Greek texts by Muslim scholars. The Eurocentric view of history deliberately is an ideological construct to discredit the progress of non whites as it conflicts with the narrative of them as barbarians who the white man must civilise

@CornishRepublicanArmy @garfiald and in the free cities of *Europe*, culture and art was also advanced! Many cathedrals and historic buildings were built, etc. Pyotr Kropotkin writes about this in Mutual Aid (in the chapter Mutual Aid in the Cities, I think)

@CornishRepublicanArmy @garfiald And they minimize the influence of Ancient Greek on Arabic Golden Age in education i get under Islamist government. I learned existence of Muslim Platonists/Aristotelians in university. But i knew west got it's influence of "scientific inquiry" from Arabic Golden age since high school, obviously to sell lrestige. It is funny really. Constant need to hide your roots to defend a perceived homogeny is a consistent leitmotif of this kind of ideology. Or of 'Ideology' if we are doing that.

@garfiald There was a lot wrong with the way I was taught history in school, but they got this one right. I remember a middle school teacher using the term "The Dark Ages" to introduce the whole notion of modern historians' subjectivity. It went something like "There was nothing dark about them at the time, but they look dark to historians today because we don't have as much information about them as about before or after".

@garfiald Although... come to think of it this may also be a national difference. I was in Britain, and there the Dark Ages are seen as ending with the Norman Conquest. There's no big change in lifestyle or beliefs then, so maybe that makes it more obvious that "dark" refers to our ability to see into them.

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