I note a few "there was a reason they called it the 'Dark Ages'" items going around Face Book -all accompanied by images of Inquisitors going about their very unholy business. Yes, the Church did it's part but that was a minute part -but it seems people love church-bashing and blaming it for every historical bit of badness.
There were other reasons and I've mentioned these in my books and other articles over the last 25-30 years (it may be longer but I'm not keeping count!). For instance, the Italian historian Flavius Cassiodorus wrote about conditions that he experienced during the year AD 536:
"The Sun...seems to have lost its wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of the Sun's heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany an eclipse prolonged through almost a whole year. We have had a summer without heat. The crops have been chilled by north winds, [and] the rain is denied."
And he was not alone in writing about this:
Procopius : "...during this year a most dread portent took place. For the Sun gave forth its light without brightness...and it seemed exceedingly like the Sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear."
Lydus : "The Sun became dim...for nearly the whole year...so that the fruits were killed at an unseasonable time."
Michael the Syrian : "The Sun became dark and its darkness lasted for eighteen months. Each day it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow...the fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes."
In China it was reported that "the stars were lost from view for three months"
In accounts of "ancient UFO sightings" you will find a number referring to fiery discs and that this was "at the time of the great plague". The Plague of Justinian, as it was called by scholars. The Plague got its name from the Byzantine Emperor of the time, Justinian, and it is reported to have begun somewhere in central Asia, spread across into Egypt before making its way into Europe. According to some accounts,the Plague of Justinian, was as bad as the Black Death which ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages.
No one was safe from the plague, the famine or the extreme -scientists, writers or others. It really was a "dark age" -blame the Church for a lot but not this. As we see, Flavius was writing in the 6th century. And the twelfth century BC is associated with the "Greek Dark Ages" and looking at historical records, experts have estimated that some forty (40) cities throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia were devastated and even disappeared at about the same time due to a series of catastrophes.Those are great cities we know of.
Luckily, a very interesting article by Greg Bryant* has been preserved on the internet -see, it is good for some things. In this article, Bryant deals with the subject in much more detail and I really do recommend that you read it.
People seem to be confusing historical periods because The Holy Inquisition and so on was at a much later date -starting in the 12th century A.D..
And with all the phenomena reported back in the early dark ages I totally agree with the theory that a comet and comet tail -that many believe the Earth passed through (see Professors Fred Hoyle and or asteroid breaking up was behind a great deal of those troubled times.
I have mentioned over the years that a lot of things we used to know has been lost -pre-Viking era visitors using a known and charted route to what is now the Southern United States. Roman statuette found in Arizona, Pineapple depicted on the wall of a Pompeiian home and much more. Coastal cities and island cities we may consider legends/myths -if we have even heard of them- were lost to the sea in catastrophes. The " Amazon" was once home to a huge population before Europeans arrived and spread disease.
Above all else, though, we need to get our time periods right.
* The Dark Ages: Were They Darker Than We Imagined? Bryant, Greg, Universe, September, 1999 http://gchbryant.tripod.com/Articles/darkages0999.htm