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The 'Dark' Ages have often been crudely depicted as an era of mass illiteracy and ignorance, and of terrifying heathen hordes swarming across the European continent, leaving devastation in their wake. Yes, this was the time of the so-called Barbarian invasions, of the Vikings, of the break-up of some urban life and population decline in Western Europe. But this was also the time of Pope Gregory the Great, of Charlemagne and Alfred the Great; of feudalism, the development of monastic life and the nurturing of Christianity across Western Europe. In the East, the Roman Empire continued to thrive in Byzantium, while from the 7th century the Muslim Arab conquest of North Africa and Iberia proved to be a stimulating challenge to the Christian West. From the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the 11th century, The 'Dark' Ages tells the story of this fascinating but much misunderstood period in medieval history. Featuring the fragmentation of the Western Roman Empire and re-emergence of unity under Charlemagne; the emergence of the Catholic Church as a dominant political force; the raids, trading life and settlements of the Vikings, the book expertly reappraises the early Middle Ages. Illustrated with 180 colour and black-&-white photographs, artworks and maps, The 'Dark' Ages is an exciting, engaging and highly informative exploration of this often overlooked period in early medieval history.