The period of the early Middle Ages - from the fourth to the eleventh centuries - used to be commonly called “the dark ages.” Now that term has been discarded by scholars, who reject its implications as they recognize increasingly, the historical importance of the period. In this volume eight historians, in as many essays, discuss various aspects of the life and thought which prevailed during the centuries which extended from the time of the establishment of Germanic “successor states” in the western provinces of the Roman Empire to the appearnce of some of the economic and feudal institutions which provided a basis for the civilization of the high Middle Ages. The essay, by showing that a process of assimilation and synthesis of the Roman, Christian, and barbarian elements characterized life in the early Middle Ages, demonstrate that the significance of the period is far better indicated by words like “transition” or “transformation” than by the term “dark ages.” An essay by the late Professor Adolf Katzenellenbogen of Johns Hopkins University, “The Image of Christ in the Early Middle Ages,” is illustrated with eighteen halftones showing examples of art of the period. The other essays are “The Barbarian Kings of Lawgivers and Judges” by Katherine Fischer Drew, Rice University; “Of Towns and Trade” by Robert S. Lopez, Yale University; “The Two Levels of Feudalism” by Joseph R. Strayer, Princeton University; “The Life of the Silent Majority” by Lynn White, Jr, University of California at Los Angeles; “Beowulf and Bede” by John C. McGalliard, University of Iowa; “Viking - Tunnit - Eskimo” by the late T. J. Oleson, University of Manitoba; “The Church, Reform, and Renaissance in the Early Middle Ages” by Karl F. Morrison, University of Chicago.
Life and Thought in the Middle Ages