The invaders of the Roman Empire were called "barbarians" by the Romans; the invaders called the Romans barbarians. The invasions resulted in the territory which became Europe being carved into a series of kingdoms:
- Frankish kingdom
- Ostrogothic kingdom
- Visigothic kingdom
- Vandal kingdom
Surrounding these primitive clan-kingdoms were other clan groups:
These kingdoms and clans were ruled by a single overlord or a group of militants. The common people lived at the mercy of the whims of these tribes.
During this "Dark Age," the Christian church went into retreat, establishing monastery estates. The Papacy extended its power by forming alliances with Frankish rulers as circumstances allowed.
The Arabs, people of the desert, were a race of thinkers and fighters whose nomadic life of ongoing warfare had forged in them a spirit of fierce independence and fanatical obedience to their clan leaders. The Christian evangelists and the Persian Manicheans did not appeal to them and they remained with the idols, the spirits of the desert, and the Black Stone of Mecca.
A member of the Khuraishites, the settled merchant families of Mecca, claimed that the archangel Gabriel had appeared to him during a retreat in the desert and had revealed to him a new religion - Islam. This man, named Mohammed, began to preach this new religion of surrender to a single God, Allah. He gained adherents and began to write a new scripture, the Koran. In 625 A.D. Mohammed began a series of military campaigns against Jews, Christians and idolatrous Khuraishites. Five years later Mohammed and his followers had won victory and they returned to Mecca. The empire of Islam began to expand with the overthrow of surrounding areas. Mohammed's successors expanded the Islamic Empire into the Frankish Kingdom where they were finally defeated at Poitiers.
Collections of Greek literature had been captured by Moslem leaders as they conquered the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. Later Moslem leaders built extensive libraries and scholars studied Greek ideas. It was through these Moslem scholars that ancient Greek learning was introduced into Europe, beginning about 1,000 A.D.
The Frankish clan leader, Charles Martel, was the victor at Poitiers. He showed favor to the Christian Church but also seized huge monastic estates at will. His successors allied with the Papacy. The Roman Catholic church had enough converts in its service that it could exert extensive pressure on the political rulers.
The church established the dogma that the Papacy had to sanction a king's assumption of political power. The Papacy combined religious indoctrination over its subjects and political control over kings and nobles. In 800 A.D., Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope as the emperor of what was called the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was a militant Christian believer and a barbarian chief combined. He had eight wives and fourteen children. He could read - including Latin - but could not write. The Frankish Kingdom became a continuing battleground between competing warlords, the Church, and invaders from the north. The Frankish Kingdom was partitioned by warring factions.
It was during this time that the Mayan empire arose in Central America. By the seventh century, the Mayan leaders had acquired an extensive knowledge of arithmetic. Individuals or families owned land and the culture in general appears to have been a peaceful one.