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An idea that I’ve heard from a friend of mine who studied anthropology is that a reason the ‘Dark Ages’ were called ‘Dark’ was because the feudal system that was implemented at the time was so stable (not necessarily just or fair though), and so relative to other times not that much was happening. I’m not sure of the absolute validity of that idea, but it provides and interesting context for the kinds of artwork that were emerging at the time. The illuminated manuscripts for instance show and intense attention to detail and the repetition of small movements which might be thematically appropriate for a people who lived in the same fiefdom that there were born in and would die in. That being said, the Palace of Charlemagne is undeniably tremendously impressive, so any idea that the ‘Dark Ages’ lack wealth and opulence is definitely mistaken.