Many students learn about the period where Rome declined as “The Dark Ages”. However, this term is misleading and inaccurate. First of all, the term only refers to Europe, where at the same time The Middle East and The East were thriving and busy exploring, creating and making new discoveries. Secondly, it discounts the progress and events that did happen during the time between the decline of Rome and the Renaissance. Simply because the progress and events were not enormous and full of grandeur does not mean that the entire culture was “in the dark”. Modern educators have now started to use the terms “Early Middle Ages”, “Middle Ages” and “Late Middle Ages”. It is important to note that during the Early Middle Ages the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman Empire and Islamic Caliphates continued to thrive and bring new culture, literature and science into the world. This is also the time that Jesus came into history and brought with him the rise of the Christian church. During the Middle Ages the likes of King Arthur re-awakened the noble traits of chivalry, heroism, honor and grace in an entire culture. During the late Middle Ages the Crusades forced the three major religions of Europe to come face to face with their differences and decide how they wanted to live together in the long-term.
We start the Early Middle Ages with the slow collapse of the Roman Empire and a story of Titus, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. Rudlof Steiner suggested that one very effective way of teaching history was to teach it through the biographies of famous people in history. Chapter Six of the Roman History Block relies heavily on biographies to teach the students about the Early Middle Ages.