Dark Ages (historiography)
The Dark Ages is a historical periodization used originally for the Middle Ages, which emphasizes the cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire. The label employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the ""darkness"" of the period with earlier and later periods of ""light"". The period is characterized by a relative scarcity of historical and other written records at least for some areas of Europe, rendering it obscure to historians. The term ""Dark Age"" derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, originally applied by Caesar Baronius in 1602 to a tumultuous period in the 10th and 11th centuries.The term once characterized the bulk of the Middle Ages, or roughly the 6th to 13th centuries, as a period of intellectual darkness between extinguishing the ""light of Rome"" after the end of Late Antiquity, and the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. This definition is still found in popular use, but increased recognition of the accomplishments of the Middle Ages has led to the label being restricted in application. Since the 20th century, it is frequently applied to the earlier part of the era, the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century). However, many modern scholars who study the era tend to avoid the term altogether for its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate for any part of the Middle Ages.The concept of a Dark Age originated with the Italian scholar Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) in the 1330s, and was originally intended as a sweeping criticism of the character of Late Latin literature. Petrarch regarded the post-Roman centuries as ""dark"" compared to the light of classical antiquity.Later historians expanded the term to refer to the transitional period between Roman times and the High Middle Ages (c. 11th–13th century), including the lack of Latin literature, and a lack of contemporary written history, general demographic decline, limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general.Popular culture has further expanded on it as a vehicle to depict the early Middle Ages as a time of backwardness, extending its pejorative use and expanding its scope.