The Enlightenment that Was the "Dark Ages"
- The transition from Rome to the Early Middle Ages was not a sudden change, but occurred over time. It was not due solely or even primarily to attacking, warring hordes of barbarians, but driven by the decay of an extended empire, with citizens accustomed to living from the sweat of conquered slaves. The Romans attempted to prolong the Empire via inflation, price controls, work rules, and taxation. As the citizens could – and in order to survive – they left, withdrawing their consent. They found better prospects outside of the protection of the centralized state.
At the same time, individuals from the Germanic tribes were migrating closer to Roman territory, and even within it. Rome negotiated treaties with these tribes in an effort to maintain some control over the territory. Eventually, the decay of Rome overcame the value of the treaties.
Via a firm belief in private property and the role of the Church in a more voluntary form of organization, the roots of the Middle Ages were formed. The so-called apathy of the Merovingians was, in fact, the victory of a decentralized, voluntary society.