The Dark Ages (The History Channel)

The Dark Ages (The History Channel)

Product Description

At its height in the second century A.D., the Roman Empire was the beacon of learning, trade, power and prosperity in the western world. But the once-powerful Rome--rotten to the core by the fifth century--lay open to barbarian warriors who came in wave after wave of invasion, slaughtering, stealing, and ultimately, settling. As chaos replaced culture, Europe was beset by famine, plague, persecutions, and a state of war that was so persistent it was only rarely interrupted by peace. THE DARK AGES profiles those who battled to shape the future, from the warlords whose armies threatened to case the demise of European society, like Alaric, Charles the Hammer, and Clovis; to the men and women who valiantly tended the flames of justice, knowledge, and innovation including Charlemagne, St. Benedict, Empress Theodora, and other brave souls who fought for peace and enlightenment. It was in the shadows of this turbulent millennium that the seeds of modern civilization were sown.

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Two Stars, July 10, 2014
Text don't work in movie. I am hard to hear.:(

Educational, July 7, 2014
This was a very good addition to our homeschool study on the Dark Ages. It was concisely thorough and provided a nice overview of the era.

...surprisingly light and upbeat tone..., June 23, 2014
Although titled: "the Dark Ages", this film has a surprisingly light and upbeat tone to it. Obviously it had to deal with the tough issues like the plague that wiped out at least a third or more of mankind in Europe; but then again, it found some positives in the monasteries where education and writing were preserved and some pieces of history were also protected and maintained while the rest of the world was overwhelmed by lawlessness and disorder. Remembering that most of what we know came down from a very few writers, I feel we are lucky they even bothered to preserve what they saw on the rare tablets they came by. This is a fascinating view for those of you who haven't already seen it on the History Channel! rl

Dark Ages, April 28, 2014
History is very much of interest to me as try to become more acquainted with pieces of history that I am not familiar. It seems as time passes, what I have learned in the past has become fuzzy. I like having references that I can restore sections of history that I should have remembered from my time in school. Thanks for making this section of history available.

Students interested, teacher satisfied, April 18, 2014
A little overdramatic, but does the job. Makes my 9th graders far more interested in the European Medieval Era. Also does a fine job explaining how and why this time came to be. Could do without the cheesy overdramatic narrator. Let history speak for itself.

You would think I would get tired of it by now!, April 8, 2014
I have watched this video so many times that you would think I would get tired of it by now. It covers so much though, that each time I learn more. Without a doubt a great addition to any history collection.

The period of ca 300 BCE to ca 1300 CE, April 6, 2014
Useful for teaching! The period known as the Dark Ages (or more accurately the MIDDLE AGES) the the story of a giant step backwards in the civilization of Europe and a 1000 year struggle to regain was was lost.

History AMUST, April 1, 2014
My family is real movie buffs, when it come to history we are more engrossed than usual. The History Channel puts out some great show worth purchasing. So we did!

The Missing History that each of us needs to Know, February 26, 2014
One great History Documentary. Place the events of History taught in section all in order. It is only an overview and what an overview This is needed by the person who wants to know what happen in Europe during the Dark Ages It covers why Rome fall unlike the history books of the local government school. Recommend this DVD be bought by any person interested in History and what he has not been told in School.

Fast-moving documentary on early Middle Ages, February 15, 2014
This lushly produced 90-minute History Channel documentary does a pretty admirable job of covering some major figures and events of the Early Middle Ages or "Dark Ages," i.e. the period of European history between the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century that represented the end of classical antiquity and the First Crusade in the 11th century that heralded the start of Europe's rise to world dominance.

It finds an admirable central narrative regarding Europe's emergence from political and cultural chaos after the fall of Rome, depicting both the negative elements (continual war) and positive elements (monastic outposts of learning under men like St. Benedict and St. Bede) of that period. Much is omitted, of course, but what's included moves pretty quickly and is fairly compelling. This video is really one of the best History Channel documentaries I've seen, giving us a relatively balanced view of history (both the good and bad) while avoiding many of the staple weaknesses of that channel's productions. Unlike the 1990s documentaries, it isn't talky or biased, reveling in anti-religious intellectual hubris. Unlike the early 2000s documentaries, including the lamentable production "The Plague" that is appended to this disc as a special feature, it also doesn't revel in the grotesque elements of past events in an effort to convince us how ignorant people were in the past and how enlightened we are today by comparison. (There is one fairly gruesome and unnecessary re-creation of a Viking disembowlment torture, but that's about it.) Nor does it give us endless, repetitive, or cheesy battle re-enactments that limit our view of history to military events. Rather, we get a fast-moving overview of Europe's gradual emergence from post-Roman chaos that embraces multiple elements of medieval life, including well-chosen experts who are quoted in acceptable sound bytes to supplement a narrator who (unlike some History Channel documentaries) doesn't go to excess in over-simplifying events.

I was pleasantly surprised that the film even treated the Crusades with a reasonable amount of balance, declining to engage in the relentless criticism favored by many post-9/11 scholars, and that it is also fair to the medieval Catholic Church. Although the film admits that Christian knights wrought a great deal of destruction in the Middle East, it also notes that the Muslims had invaded Spain in the 8th century, acknowledging at least tacitly that the Crusades were in fact a much-belated counter-attack on Europe's part to check several centuries of Islamic aggression and expansion. It generally presents the Catholic Church as a humanizing rather than incendiary influence on Europe's plunder-driven knights, directing them outward in a necessary effort to unite Europe against Islamic incursion after centuries of internal warfare -- a unity that is arguably unduplicated in all of Europe's subsequent history down to the present day. It's odd that the narrator at one point calls the Crusades an act of "vengeance" despite the film showing far more nuance overall in explaining European motives. In fact, the film concludes on the surprising and rather nuanced note that Crusaders brought back knowledge and culture from the Holy Land that aided Europe's rise to global prominence. That level of nuance (i.e. that the primary benefit of the Crusades to Europe was NOT loot, plunder, or bloodlust) is something I haven't seen in any other History Channel or A&E documentary -- and is almost worth the DVD purchase in itself.

Overall, a great documentary on the Middle Ages, not boring at all. I suspect history students would particularly enjoy it.