by Jack Le Moine
Ah, yes! Knights, castles, monasteries and crusades. And that’s just in Europe!
This age saw the Mongols conquer much of the Middle East and all of China. The Turks destroyed the Byzantine Empire, forcing Gibbon to end his long book “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”.
Marco Polo made his epoch journey across from Italy across the Mediterranean to the Levant and then across Asia to China. He met Kublai Khan and governed a province. But even more significantly, he made it back to Italy and wrote a book of his experiences.
Will Durant calls this period “The Age of Faith” but I think that this term is a stretch. This period saw the Cluny Reforms but also the Great Schism in the Catholic Church. The rest of the world seemed to be just as faithful and unfaithful as they were before and since.
This period did differ significantly from the prior 500 years in one major respect: the general decline in learning, culture, and commerce was arrested in this period. While civilization did not advance as much in this age as it did in the Classical and Roman Ages, certainly not as much as in the Renaissance (The European Age), it did stop declining. All in all, a good middle period, a Medieval Age.
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