CHW 3M: The Light of Learning

As we learned yesterday, there are numerous reasons why European history after the fall of Rome is called the Dark Ages. Still, labeling the entire  period as “Dark” is problematic:

  • this terminology is used to describe events in Europe, not in the rest of the world. Thus, this is an example of Euro centrism.
  • learning was happening in various places, even in Europe.

First, let’s consider this primary source featuring Mansa Musa, the ruler of Mali in the 14th century. What can we learn from it?


This is a translation of some of the text: “This Black lord is called Musa Mali, Lord of the Black people of Guinea. So abundant is the gold which is found in his country that he is the richest and most noble king in all the land.”

Each group will choose one of the following examples of learning during this period. You will have approximately 20 minutes to research your given topic; use the question “How did __________ contribute to learning?” to guide your work.

Next, we will share our findings with each other.

  • House of Wisdom in Baghdad (focus: algebra and geometry)
  • Library in Timbuktu
  • European monasteries  (focus: studying the classics, religious writing)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica)



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