The Middle Ages were one of the darkest periods in world history – rife with disease, poverty and human cruelty. The previously enlightened civilizations of Rome and Constantinople – and their legendary armies of soldiers in Roman armor – had fallen victim to the bubonic plague, rampaging barbarian hordes and dangerous superstition.
Few people could be said to enjoy life during this era: kings and land barons had it pretty good, but what about all the illiterate peasants forced to grind out a subsistence lifestyle?
Monks and other members of the clergy were often the only ones afforded a chance to learn. Of all the people alive in Europe between 700 and 1100 AD, most were unable to read and write. Monks and some enlightened kings were the rare exception, and they kept the light of logic and reason burning for future generations.