The Irish Contribution To The Dark Ages. Knowledge Of Christianity, Literature, And Art, Proved To Be Economic Centers Of Ireland.

2342 words - 9 pages

The Influence of the Irish during the Dark AgesLittle is thought of the Irish throughout the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages, when it is largely thanks to them that Europe came there at all! For "as the Roman lands went from peace to chaos, the land of Ireland was rushing even more rapidly from chaos to peace." (pg. 124, T. Cahill) The Dark Ages are known as 'dark' for the simple reason that the learning of Classical Rome was lost. The tiny country of Ireland far to the West, and beyond the eye of the invading Barbarians, provided the only ray of light. Ireland had never received any attention from Rome, and indeed the only thing that Rome brought to it was Christianity. But with Christianity came knowledge and learning of the like never before seen in Ireland. Before the fifth century, Ireland had, at best, only a crude form of writing that resembled runes (*). With the new religion came monasteries which would prove to be the economic centres of Ireland for centuries. They would also be the basis of Irish learning, and in the centuries that followed, these spread back through all of mainland Europe and Britain. The Irish monks were both diligent and creative in their work, and had the desire to spread the word of the Gospel to everyone. As they spanned across Europe, they brought with them their knowledge of Christianity, literature, and art. This was their contribution to Medieval Europe.The Irish took, almost immediately, to Christianity, and Monasteries spread like wildfire throughout the land (Kildare, 500AD, ). But the Irish, being quite independent from Rome, put their own unique spin on the religion. They kept ties with some of the pagan Gods, and did things that would make a Roman roll in his grave; such as having Abbesses the head of a church (*). They also introduced the concept of private confession, which up until the sixth century was unheard of, as sins were made public so as to humiliate the sinner (*). While some of these changes did not affect the Roman Church, they did revolutionize confession. There were many eager monks who spread their faith not only in Ireland, but in Britain and mainland Europe also. One was Columcille, who, after he was banished over a copyright law, moved his practise to an island off Scotland, Iona in 557AD (*). From there, he and his companions founded one of the greatest monasteries of the Irish Church. They were able to convert many Britons and Picts from there, as well as start voyages to mainland Europe. Many flocked to learn from them, such as Aiden of Britain, founder of Lindisfarne, who studied at Iona, and was in fact spreading Celtic Christianity to North Western Britain (*). Another famous Irish Monk was Vigorous Columbanus, who converted the Sueves of Gaul (590AD (*)), and travelled as far as Bobbio Italy (*). Irish Monks even reached Iceland and Greenland in the late eighth century (*). The impact of these settlements on Europe was the founding of many present day cities such as...

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