After reading this excellent article the other day over at Men Of The West I came, by way of the comments there, to read about a book about a theory, one which I had accepted blue-pill through my own reading. The book Mohammad & Charlemagne Revisted by Emmet Scott evaluates Henri Pirenne’s theory regarding the fall of the classical age and the rise of the dark age and medievalism. Ironically, as I will explain further on, I had been reading Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy which I promptly abandoned and took up Scott’s Book.
The Blue-Pill explanation
Popular academia even back to the Enlightenment trace the fall of the classical age to 476 when Romulus Augustus resigns the crown at the fall of Rome. From here the general consensus states that decay, decline, and decadence would drain on for the next two centuries until Europe enters into the medieval period after the last of the Merovingian Kings. The classical age clings with boney fingers to the final vestiges of the West but the decline is inevitable. We all turn into backwater illiterate farmers and the Church systematically destroys what is left of Greek and Roman literature and accepts in its place superstition and ignorant faith. After the 10th and 11th centuries Scholastics manage to recover some of the lost knowledge from Muslims who are the true and great preservers of Western Society. The good and tolerant Muslims basically save the entire world and become the catalyst to the Renaissance, Enlightenment and eventually the modern world. Allahu Akbar; amiright?
It would be a great story if it weren’t completely and demonstrably false.
Pirenne and the Red-Pill of Truth
Pirenne’s theory more or less is that, though the classical world experienced decline beginning in the second and third which reached its nadir in 476, the decline of classic society reversed and that by the end of the fifth and on through till the 7th century the classical civilizations experienced a new golden age. At this time Islam rose and allies with Persia to attack Byzantium and takes control of the most civilized remains of the old empire in the middle east and Spain. Taken with the constant piracy and jihad etc. that is part and parcel for Islam trade in the Mediterranean stops, the sale of papyrus from Egypt is disrupted causing much of literature to be lost and literacy rates to plummet.
In addition the many sciences and discoveries often attributed to Islam, coming not from Islam but as a periphery, turn out to be largely Persian, Chinese, or Indian: Algebra, Gunpowder, Distillation of Alcohol, the Zero. These come to the West with Arabic names but even their “own” scholars turn out at closer review to be Persian (Averroes, Avicenna), Christians, and Jews under Muslim rule.
Additionally the idea that Arabs saved western literature and jump started the Renaissance is further debunked as Scott demonstrates the extensive knowledge of Western scholars in the 7th century and clearly shows the destruction of the papyrus trade and in turn the book trade by Muslim piracy. The famed library at Alexandria, likely destroyed by fire, had by the 7th century been restored to at least its former glory if not beyond its previous capacity under the Ptolemys. Destroyed by Muslims. What they did save were the practical sciences. Granted it could have taken longer to get an iPhone without Islam I would trade them all for the other 95% of Western writing that is lost.
What we do have was in large part saved my monastics. Who studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew as early as the 7th century and again in the 9th, 10th etc. Without Islam. The prohibitive cost of parchment over papyrus, and the high rate at which papyrus deteriorates and needs reproduction ensured that the Church could only save so much. Some 80% of what is known of ancient writing.
I cannot in so short a span do justice to Scott excellent work. It is a scholarly history, yet it lacks the sort of scholarly jargon many come to expect from our university journals that convolute meaning by a need to signal superiority through extensive and useless vocabulary and technical terms. In Scott there is an ease of language, a clarity of thought, and concision of writing that leaves the reader able to follow his trail and research to the intended conclusion. From the start Mohammed And Charlemange Revisited was a pleasure to read.
One passage sticks out more than any other in its importance to our time. In considering what portions of the empire fell and the evident ease at which they fell, Scott finds that it was those parts of the ancient empire which were most civilized that succumbed most easily to Islam. He believes that leaders of Babylon allowed Arabian collusion and eventually war from within from old Persia’s own cucks. In Spain only in the North where the empire had held least sway and the men were most savage could conquest be staved. In Gaul those furthest from the old decadence and new rise of civility pushed back, while Syria and Egypt where luxuries where common Mohammedans scourged the land and salted the earth.
Could our age be more similar. If we are not vigilant and push back against the current invaders the West today could fall as easily as it did in part in the 7th century. In America, at least, there are portions of rural areas that are rougher and more barbarous; there is hope there. I would not give them an inch.
Build the wall, send them home. Hail Emperor Trump.
Veritas Numquam Perit,