A thousand years ago the “dark ages” were dark, but maybe not as dark as we imagine today. Certainly, our forebears themselves did not think so, and they were only half wrong…
…In Latin, only a few love songs and some chronicles and pious exercises remain from our period. But one remarkable achievement demands attention. Hatto I, Archbishop of Mainz, was noteworthily bald. The monk Hucbald of St.-Amand addressed to him a poem of 146 Latin hexameters in praise of baldness. Every word begins with c for calvus, bald:
Bighearted baldheads, blasted by backbiting balladeers,
Be briefly besought by bumptious but bantering bard.
Blow, bugles, blow! Be bare-brained baldpates belauded!
A culture that could produce such scholarly whimsey is surely not to be scorned.
At the same time the drama was coming to a fumbling self-consciousness. The Easter liturgy was commonly acted out, with monks and responsive choirs taking the roles of angels and holy women at the Resurrection. And there was the surprising case of Hrotswitha, a nun of Gandersheim, who wrote six Latin comedies in the style of Terence, with saints and miracles for the subject. But Hrotswitha was unique; she had apparently no influence outside her convent.
As for the art of music, medieval men and women were irrepressible singers, for the group song is a form of communion. At the feasts of the early Anglo-Saxons the harp passed from hand to hand, and every man sang and played in his turn. King Alfred, in the ninth century, was admitted in the disguise of a minstrel to the Danish camp. In our tenth century Saint Dinstan, at Glastonbury, built a famous organ, keeping jealous Satan at bay with a pair of red-hot pincers. For the first time the bowed fiddle appears. Musical notation was invented, to indicate pitch and duration. The addition of a second voice to unison singing inspired the later development of polyphony. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…This is a sticky topic, but the fact is, during the Early Middle Ages, Europe had a united Church, an agreed upon canon of the Bible, and a well developed philosophical tradition. This led (as one would expect) to a great period of peace within the Western nations. While Islam was not in agreement with the doctrines of the West, much mutual sharing of information happened and the Islamic contribution to the West is still felt today. This union of beliefs allowed for intellectual progress unseen since the Roman Empire at its heyday. In a sense you might consider this period as the calm before the storm, as it was merely a hundred years later that the first Crusade would be called to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims – an event which ended the flow of knowledge between groups. Read More:http://listverse.com/2008/06/09/top-10-reasons-the-dark-ages-were-not-dark/