The Middle Ages: Positive Aspects of the Dark Ages

The Middle Ages, especially the early years, are generally considered to be dark and harsh. Only about a few hundred million people inhabited the world, and for the vast majority, life was short, complicated, and often prematurely interrupted by violent death or infectious diseases. However, this time, despite the difficulties, was not so terrible. On closer examination, we can identify several positive things that could make a person want to live in this particular period of history.

First, despite the contagious diseases and the insufficiently developed medical care, the Middle Ages people led to a healthier and simpler lifestyle. So, a class of people like the aristocracy did not have to work every day of their lives and was close to the king (Bagge 187). Instead, they ate deliciously and participated in recreational activities such as hunting, feasting, or social gatherings. On the other hand, the serfs, like the majority of the population in those days, worked well in the summer months, so that they could then rest in the winter when the harvest was collected and the tax paid to the landowner, while in the Roman period everything was built on the exhausting constant labor of slaves. At the same time, the master had to guarantee his subordinates protection from criminals and provide food during droughts and famines. In addition, the simplicity of the life of the people of the Middle Ages was added by the fact that peasants were not forbidden to use the land for their purposes. Thus, some people became incredibly rich through the intelligent use of land.

The second aspect that should not be overlooked was that it is generally believed that the art of the Middle Ages flourished and was no worse than in other eras. In the Middle Ages, almost the entire population of Europe had access to art objects like statues, tapestries, mosaics, or decorated temple walls. As written in Romanescu’s (2019) work, “people were illustrating their manuscripts with lively, very beautiful pictures”. The art combined the spiritual quest of the masters who lived at that time. The church determined the main themes of their creations, and it acted as the main customer for the artistic works. Therefore, it can be said that life in those days was not at all gray and dull; it had a place for the beautiful and sublime.

The third positive aspect of medieval life that can make a person want to live in those times was its economics. Tax rates in the Middle Ages varied depending on the time, the reigning monarch, and social tensions in the kingdom but never exceeded ten percent. Besides, most of the taxes went to the maintenance of the king and the army. Furthermore, people paid them in order to maintain law and order in the city (Rosenwein 53). Thus, the more land the feudal lords owned, the more taxes they paid. Moreover, they did not significantly rise even during the wars.

During the Middle Ages, European civilization was born, and its transition to the new time was carried out. Despite the historical evidence that considers the horrors and difficulties of that life and the regarding this time as a dark period of cruelty and centuries of decline, several positive aspects can be isolated from them. So, the advantages of living in the Middle Ages are a simple and relatively healthy lifestyle, great art, and a tax system.

References

Bagge, Sverre. “The Decline of Regicide and the Rise of European Monarchy from the Carolingians to the Early Modern Period.” Frühmittelalterliche Studien, vol. 53, no. 1, 2019, pp. 151-189.

Romanescu, Laura Sinziana Cuciuc. “Shape and Colour in Middle Ages Paintings. Particularities in Eastern and Western Europe.” 6th SWS International Scientific Conference on Arts and Humanities 2019. 2019, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 195-202.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. A short history of the Middle Ages. University of Toronto Press, 2018.

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