The Middle Ages, as the name suggests, represent a long period of transition—the nine centuries between the fall of Rome and the start of the Renaissance. The medieval period is often depicted as backwards, an era marred by holy war, plague, and ignorance—the Dark Ages, when barbarians pillaged cities, destroyed ancient art, burned libraries, and set human progress back a thousand years. But the Middle Ages were anything but dark. --There were many accomplishments in the medieval period, especially in the fields of architecture, poetry, agriculture, and economics. One of these was the re-emergence of silver coins as money—a near-universal currency that was recognized across Europe, from London to Constantinople. As trade exploded in the 11th century, emerging states stepped up their production of silver coins. It might be said that the road to our modern global economy was paved with silver.