Historians at Work-hero

Historians at Work-hero - Historians at Work #3 A Summary...

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Historians at Work #3 A Summary of: “New Light on the ‘Dark Ages’: How the Slave Trade Fuelled the Carolingian Economy.” With careful abruptness Professor Michael McCormick dives into laying out the background to his argument, that the Dark Ages of Europe weren’t as bad as many historians have thought. He begins by shortly outlining a 19 th century theory about the Dark Ages, created by the Belgian historian Henri Pirenne. Pirenne claimed that the disruption to the ancient sea based economic system that flourished under the Romans and their Germanic heirs was due to the rise of Islam and Arab power in the Mediterranean. This argument hinged on a number of observed changes that occurred in France during the 7 th and 8 th centuries: the shift from writing on papyrus to animal skins, the disappearance of eastern herbs and spices in cooking and medicine, the lack of silk clothing, and the use of silver coinage rather than gold. Pirenne interpreted this to be an end to long distance trade with the east and the beginning of the Dark Ages, where Western Europe turned largely to subsistence farming. Immediately Pirenne’s argument faced a problem, the presence of papyrus in Italy during this same period as well as the presence of spices and trade thought to be absent. Thus begins McCormick’s careful refutation of Pirenne’s thesis, challenging old ideas with new evidence and analysis. Professor McCormick goes so far as to insinuate in the title of his paper that the
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HIST 1010 taught by Professor Bruce,scot during the Spring '07 term at Colorado.

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Historians at Work-hero - Historians at Work #3 A Summary...

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