Difference Between Middle Ages and Dark Ages (With Table)

The human culture of the modern world, as we know it, has been shaped and brought to the current state after many years of development. Development is one side of the coin. The other side is characterized by a stagnant period, where prosperity apparently seems to be absent.

 Middle Ages vs Dark Ages

The main difference between the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages is that the dark ages were a part of the middle ages, where the contribution to the arts and sciences was apparently not very significant.

The Middle Ages were a period that began from the 5th century and lasted till the 15th century. During this period the world went through many cultural and scientific changes. There were many general developments in science, and the arts also observed a shift from traditional forms. This period observed vivid changes in culture.

The Dark ages are a period or a part of the Middle ages. This particular period was very significant as there were no particular developments in the culture of the European societies and hence this period is also known as “a period of supposed unenlightenment.” This period lasted from 400 to 1000AD.

Comparison Table Between Middle ages and Dark ages

ParameterMiddle AgesDark Ages
Time period  The Middle ages is a period of history that began in the 5th century and lasted till the 15th centuryDark ages is a part of the Middle Ages, roughly from 400AD to 1000AD
Cultural DevelopmentsThere were many scientific and artistic developments during the Middle agesThe Dark ages are characterized as having no significant developments
StagesMiddle ages are divided into three stages, Early, High, and Late middle agesThe dark ages refer to the early part of the middle ages.
Religious significanceThere were many conflicts among the Protestants and CatholicsThere were many Muslim conquests in this period
Cultural growthThe power of the church grew significantlyThe period is known as the “period of supposed unenlightenment”

What is Middle ages?

The middle ages refer to a period in European history, which began in the 5th century and lasted till the 15th century. This period is characterized by a great development in science and art and changes in people’s perspectives in general.

 The Middle ages are also known as the Medieval ages. This period of history observed a complete fall of the Roman Empire and thusly, owing to the many conflicts among the Catholics and the Protestants, there was a collapse of the centralized authority.

This resulted in many religious conquests and conflicts, resulting in a decline in the population of Europe. There was an overall counterbalance in power and this led to a great disturbance of peace and order.

The Middle ages are divided into three periods, Early middle ages, High middle ages, and Late middle ages. The political structure of Western Europe underwent a gradual shift with the collapse of the Roman Empire. There were mass migrations, military expeditions, and an overall influx of people from different parts of the world.

 This led to a cultural mix, as people from different parts of Eastern and Central Europe brought in their traditions and customs, which greatly influenced the perspectives and ideologies of the people of Western Europe.

What is Dark ages?

The Dark ages were a part of the Middle ages, specifically the Early middle ages. This period of history is characterized by a great downgrade in the culture, as the contribution to science and arts during this time was significantly less.

 This period began in about 400AD. During this time the Roman Empire began losing power and eventually, the empire completely collapsed. This created a counterbalance in power.

This absence of centralized governing authority led to a series of conflicts and conquests in the entire of Europe. The major conflicts were between the Catholics and the Protestants.

There were many conquests by the Muslims of Eastern Europe and Asia, and owing to these events, there was an economic decline.

The term was first coined by Italian scholar Petrarch, who regarded this period as “Dark” or “unenlightened age”, as opposed to the “Light” or “enlightenment period” of classical antiquity.

 The constant squabble for political structure led to a decline in culture as there were no developments in sciences, nor any progress in the arts, which could also be explained by the overall economic decline.

Cultural and intellectual reforms were brought later, in the periods of the High and Late Middle ages, but the Early Middle ages were impacted heavily by the downgrade of the Dark Ages.

Main Differences Between Middle Ages and Dark Ages

  1. The Middle ages were a period of great cultural economic and intellectual shift, which lasted from the 5th century to the 15th century. The dark ages are a part of the Middle ages, that began in the Early middle ages, from about 400AD and went on till 1000AD
  2. The Middle ages are characterized by the cultural and scientific developments, as different cultures brought different traditions and thus the entirety of Europe observed a complete shift. The Dark ages are characterized by a cultural and economic decline.
  3. During the Middle age, there were many religious conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants after the fall of the Roman Empire. Muslim conquest of Europe was observed during the Dark ages.
  4. Owing to the conflicts during the Middle age, the power of the church grew significantly. Due to the constant conflicts during the Dark ages, there was an overall decline in economy.
  5. The Dark ages are also known as the age of supposed unenlightenment. The crisis of the Late Middle ages led to the Renaissance period of great enlightenment.


Societal cultures in the past have greatly influenced the current culture of the world over. Different parts of the world observe different traditions and when these cultures and traditions mixed, it gave rise to a rich and artistically vivid culture.

 The fall of the Roman Empire during the early Middle ages led to an influx of people into Western Europe, in the form of conflicts, military expansion, and migration in general.

This led to cultural expansion, in the form of art as well as intellectual development, which later gave rise to the enlightenment age of the Renaissance period.

 The enlightenment age was a direct consequence of the dark and conflict-infested time period of the Middle and Dark ages, which later gave rise to the culture we observe today.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pRquTvwtGIgC&oi=fnd&pg=PA4&dq=middle+ages&ots=UCvHaYxy-i&sig=Npk8cbzhfd9L4GZK-hEDOkrWHtY
  2. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.2307/2856364
2D vs 3D