At its height in the second century A.D., the Roman Empire was the beacon of learning, power, and prosperity in the western world. But the once-powerful Rome - rotten to the core by the fifth century - lay open to barbarian warriors who came in wave after wave of invasion, slaughtering, stealing, and ultimately, settling. As chaos replaced culture, Europe was beset by famine, plague, persecutions, and a state of war that was so persistent it was only rarely interrupted by peace. THE DARK AGES profiles those who battled to shape the future, from the warlords whose armies threatened to cause the demise of European society, such as Alaric, Charles the Hammer, and Clovis; to the men and women who valiantly tended the flames of justice, knowledge, and innovation including Charlemagne, St. Benedict, Empress Theodora, and other brave souls who fought for peace and enlightenment. It was in the shadows of this turbulent millennium that the seeds of modern civilization were sown.