Medieval Times Middle Ages 5th To 15th Centuries, Medieval times + Middle Ages + 5th to 15th centuries: The Middle Ages (adjectival form: medieval, mediaeval or mediæval) is a period of European history encompassing the 5th to the 15th centuries. It is normally marked from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, accepted as the end of Classical Antiquity, until the beginning of the Renaissance and Age of Discovery, which ushered in the Modern Era. It is thus the middle period of the traditional division of Western history into Classical, Medieval, and Modern. The Middle Ages is often split into two or three sub-divisions.
In the Early Middle Ages, depopulation, deurbanization, and barbarian invasion, all of which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued apace. The barbarian invaders formed their own new kingdoms in the remains of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century North Africa and the Middle East, once part of the eastern empire, became Islamic after conquest by Muhammad's successors.
Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break was not as extreme as once put forth by historians, with most of the new kingdoms incorporating as many of the existing Roman institutions as they could. Christianity expanded in western Europe and monasteries were founded. In the 7th and 8th centuries the Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, established an empire covering much of western Europe; it lasted until the 9th century, when it succumbed to pressure from new invaders – the Vikings, Magyars, and Saracens.
During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as new technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and crop yields to increase. Manorialism – the organization of peasants into villages that owed rents and labor service to nobles – and feudalism – a political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rents from lands and manors – were two of the ways of organizing medieval society that developed during the High Middle Ages. Kingdoms became more centralized after the decentralizing effects of the breakup of the Carolingian Empire.
The Crusades, which were first preached in 1095, were an attempt by western Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from the Muslims, and succeeded long enough to establish some Christian states in the Near East. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism and the founding of universities, while the building of Gothic cathedrals was one of the outstanding artistic achievements of the age.
The Late Middle Ages were marked by a number of difficulties and calamities. Famine, plague and war decimated the population of western Europe; the Black Death alone killed approximately a third of the population between 1347 and 1350. Controversy, heresy, and schism within the Church was echoed by warfare between states as well as civil war and peasant revolts within kingdoms. A number of cultural and technological developments began to transform European society, bringing an end to the Middle Ages and signaling the start of the Early Modern period.
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