This course will survey the "Dark Ages" from the end of the Roman Empire to the end of the first millennium (ca. 400-1000 AD), often seen as a time of cultural and political decline, recently even labelled as the "end of civilization". The complex political and social landscape of the Roman Empire, however, had more to offer than just to end. This course will outline how early medieval people(s) in the successor states of the Roman Empire used its resources to form new communities and will suggest to understand the "Dark Ages" as a time of lively social and cultural experimentation, that created the social and political frameworks of Europe.