Part 1 Middle Ages

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Romanticized vision of chivalry in the Middle Ages (God Speed by Edmund Leighton, 1900)

The Middle Ages (or medieval period) lasted roughly from the 5th to the 15th century AD. It can be considered to start from the fall of Rome in 476 AD, or from the 500 AD. Its beginning overlaps with late antiquity (roughly 3rd to 7th centuries AD), the last period of classical antiquity. It ended with the modern period of history, which began in 1500, or with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Medium aevum (Latin for middle age) gave rise to the term "medieval".

It can be divided into:

  • Early Middle Ages, which was circa AD 500–1000, and sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, although this is controversial. It was a time of new empire building, most importantly Francia (the Frankish empire). The rise of Islam created a rivalry with the Byzantine Empire, and Iberia would soon be conquered by them.
  • High Middle Ages, which was circa AD 1000–1300, or 1000–1250. After the Norman conquest of England, the English Plantagenet dynasty would rival the French kings for France. The Holy Roman Empire would get established as a powerful Germanic empire. There was religious turmoil with the crusades, and with the Great Schism the Catholic and Orthodox churches would separate.
  • Late Middle Ages was circa AD 1300–1500 or 1250–1500. The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages was a series of famines, plagues, peasant revolts, and wars, that devastated European populations. It was also the period of the rise of the Ottoman Empire, who would overthrow the Byzantine Empire and come to dominate the Balkans.

← Classical antiquity and the rise of Islam · Brief History of Europe · Early Middle Ages →