In the history of Western civilization, the period known as the Dark Ages,
after the fall of the Roman Empire, was a period when Western Europe existed
without any social organization beyond chance local groupings clustered around
small villages, large castles, and remnants of various traditions—swept
periodically by massive barbarian invasions, warring robber bands, and sundry
local looters. It was as close to a state of pure anarchy as men could come.