The Dark Ages are usually considered a transition period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of new kingdoms in Western Europe. Most often, it is referred to as the period between 500 and 1000 A.D. during which Western Europe underwent rapid changes and Germanic tribes came to be a dominant power. It was during this period that many decisive battles were fought which determined the future of Europe through the medieval ages.
Battle of Vouille
The battle of Vouille was fought near Poitiers in 507 between Franks and Visigoths. The battle was a decisive moment in that the victor of the battle would be the decisive Germanic tribe to control the fortunes and influence the future of Western Europe. The Franks were led by Clovis and were able to engage the Visigoths in a fierce battle.
In the close hand-to-hand fighting, Clovis was able to slay the Visigothic commander Alaric II upon which his army fled. The victory sealed the fate of the Visigoths in Western Europe and ensured that Franks were to be the key influence in the region over subsequent centuries.
The Byzantine-Sassanian War took place between the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire of Persia from 572 to 591. The region afflicted by this large-scale and prolonged war included modern-day areas of Syria, Iran, Anatolia and the Mesopotamia at large. The long war was fought over territorial hegemony in these regions, claimed by both empires.
By 591, Byzantines had the upper hand and helped restore the Persian emperor Khosrau II to his throne amid civil disorder in Persia. The Persian emperor then relinquished many key cities to the Byzantines and this helped the Byzantine Empire establish a firm and wide-reaching hegemony in the Caucasus region.
Battle of Guadalete
The Battle of Guadalete was fought between an Omayyad Muslim army and the Christian Visigothic army of Hispania. It took place near the coast in southern Iberia sometime around 711. The Muslim forces were led by Tariq ibn Ziyad and the battle was a decisive victory for his army.
The battle was the beginning of a series of many which formed the Omayyad Caliphate’s war in the Hispanic region. This initial defeat decisively routed the Visigoth forces in the southern Iberian region and opened the way for the Muslim forces to continue northwards.
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours was one of the many battles that took place between the forces of the Omayyad Caliphate and the Christian kingdoms in the modern-day region of Spain. The Omayyad had launched the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and had steadily inched from the south to the north of the region. They were able to defeat the Christian kingdoms in the region in many notable battles and the Muslim forces continued their invasion.
It was at the Battle of Tours that Franks under the leadership of Charles Martel took a decisive stand and were able to conclusively defeat the Muslim forces. The battle decisively halted the advance of Islam into Western Europe, ensured that Christianity was to be the dominant religion of the region and laid the basis for the future Carolingian Empire under the Franks.