Before European Hegemony
In the section “Emergence from Old Empires,” the epic “fall of Rome” was outlined and discussed. I was very intrigued with the timeline of the “fall”, and the different impact it had on northern and southern Europe. The process of the “fall of Rome” took several centuries, and is accredited to a disintegration of the economy and numerous barbaric invasions. These invasions began as early as the third century A.D., when Germanic tribes broke through Roman lines in northwestern Europe. Although this first wave of invasions was unsuccessful, successive ones were not. In the fifth century, several more invasions occurred, and by the end of the century, a unified Roman rule was beginning to demise, and the separation between northwestern Europe and the rest of the continent was becoming clearer.
The continuous invasions on Europe quickly their toll, and the empire regressed on both a political and individual; the government was decentralized and disorganized, and there was far less sophistication across people. Europe suffered gravely, but found hope when the eighth century finally rolled around, and Charlemagne took the title of Emperor of the West. In an attempt to reorganize Europe’s political system, Charlemagne took advantage of the church, which was the institution that retained any unity. It was after this that western Europe began to put back together the pieces of its fragmentation. This rise was rather slow, however. Charlemagne eventually died and the empire again fragmented and fell to attack. At the end of the ninth century, a system of protofeudalism was established, and a century later feudalism became institutionalized. This adoption of feudalism really helped Europe come back from its demise. It enabled small trading centers to operate and exchange took place with merchants who received protection from local lords in exchange for their commercial services.
At the end of the tenth century, invaders (Vikings) turned back, and by the eleventh century, northwestern Europe was becoming more integrated and producing more goods for exchange. This led towns to quickly multiple and there was an internal explosion of population and urbanization that helped doctor that damages that occurred during the “fall of Rome.”
The “fall” took a much larger toll on northwestern Europe, and it is only to this section of Europe that the “Dark Ages” refers to. The “fall” occurred due to a series of events that took place over the course of centuries, more specifically a uniformed government and continual invasions. The efforts of Charlemagne helped initiate Europe’s comeback, especially northwestern Europe’s, and the installment of feudalism was the catalyst to ending the “fall.”