Welcome to the Dark Ages. It's called "dark" for several reasons. First, the name characterizes the cultural
and economic deterioration that occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire.
Secondly, this period is noted for the scarcity of historical records, rendering it "dark" to historians.
It's also dark because of a lack of education, lack of contemporary written history,
limited building activity, and few cultural achievements. Unless they were nobility or the clergy, most
people lived hand-to-mouth with very little hope of a better tomorrow. In this environment the Church made
a powerful influence on both King and commoner.
Heraclius changes the official language from Latin to Greek. Heraclius was the Eastern Roman Emperor who was responsible for introducing Greek as Empire's official language, at least in the East. It was just one of the changes he made while trying to streamline the government. Of course if everyone speaks the same language, missionary work becomes much easier. So this decision bode well for fledgling churches trying to increase their outreach. [Read more ...]
The Synod of Whitby specifies the date of Easter. This was one of several councils held concerning the proper calculation of Easter throughout Latin Christendom. Early Christians originally celebrated Easter concurrent with the Jewish Passover, which was held on the 14th day of the first lunar month of the Jewish year. This worked fine, except Easter could fall on any day of week. When the Roman Church decided that Easter should always be on a Sunday, a new method of calculation was used to determine Easter. This did not sit well with the Eastern Church based in Constantinople, so they kept using the old system. And to an extent it's still that way today. Most years the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church celebrate Easter on different days. [Read more ...]
Cædmon makes the first paraphrases of the Bible into ancient English. Cædmon was a simple cowherd who worked at a monastery in England. At the time, guests at parties and social gatherings would often take turns singing and entertaining each other. Because of his poor singing voice Cædmon would always leave the gatherings when his turn approached. According to tradition, in a dream he was commissioned by God to sing of the " glory of the Creator". That he did, and in doing so Cædmon made the first translations of the Latin Bible into what would eventually become the English language. [Read more ...]
English monk Venerable Bede is born. (Actually his name was just "Bede", but he became so revered that people called him "Venerable Bede".) He is regarded as one of the greatest early Anglo-Saxon scholars. He wrote some forty books on practically every area of knowledge, including translations of various portions of the Bible, but Bede's most famous work was "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People", an immense work that was so well-regarded that nearly 200 hand written copies were produced in the Middle Ages. It gained him the title of "The Father of English History". [Read more ...]
St. Boniface, the "Apostle of the Germans", is born. Boniface was an Anglo-Saxon missionary who propagated Christianity in throughout what is now Germany. Being made Archbishop of Germany by Pope Gregory, Boniface baptized thousands, and dealt with the problems of those who were Christians, but had fallen out of contact with the Roman Catholic Church. It is no surprise that St. Boniface is the patron saint of Germany. [Read more ...]
The Council of Trullo is held in Constantinople. One of the main reasons for convening this council was to deal with celebacy in the priesthood. The Western Church in Rome had a simple rule: clergy cannot be married (period). This was too stern for the Eastern Church, so they came up with their own rules: clergy married before their ordination may remain married afterwards, but following the death of his wife, a priest could not remarry. The Roman Catholic Church never accepted the council as authoritative, and even today the rules regarding celebacy are still different between Eastern and Western churches. [Read more ...]