Middle Ages

Middle Ages

Overview
The Middle Ages is a periodization
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

 in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, Medieval and Modern
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

. The term "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in the 15th century and reflects the view that this period was a deviation from the path of classical learning, a path that was later reconnected by Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 scholarship.

In the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 the trends of the Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 (depopulation, deurbanization, and increased barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 invasion) continued.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Middle Ages'
Start a new discussion about 'Middle Ages'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Middle Ages is a periodization
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

 in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, Medieval and Modern
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

. The term "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in the 15th century and reflects the view that this period was a deviation from the path of classical learning, a path that was later reconnected by Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 scholarship.

In the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 the trends of the Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 (depopulation, deurbanization, and increased barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 invasion) continued. North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and the Middle East, once part of the Eastern Roman Empire, became Islamic. Later in the period, the establishment of the feudal system allowed a move away from subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

. There was sustained urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 in Northern
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 and Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

.

During the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 (c. 1000–1300), Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

-oriented art and architecture flourished and Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 were mounted to recapture the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 from Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 control. The influence of the emerging nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

 was tempered by the ideal of an international Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

. The codes of chivalry
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

 and courtly love
Courtly love
Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife....

 set rules for proper behavior, while the Scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 philosophers attempted to reconcile faith and reason. Outstanding achievement in this period includes the Code of Justinian, the mathematics of Fibonacci
Fibonacci
Leonardo Pisano Bigollo also known as Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Pisano, Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo Fibonacci, or, most commonly, simply Fibonacci, was an Italian mathematician, considered by some "the most talented western mathematician of the Middle Ages."Fibonacci is best known to the modern...

 and Oresme, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

 and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, and the architecture of Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 cathedrals such as Chartres.

Etymology and periodization


The Middle Ages is one of the three major periods in the most enduring scheme for analyzing European history: classical civilization (or Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

), the Middle Ages, and the modern period. It is "Middle" in the sense of being between the two other periods in time, ancient times and modern times
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

. Humanist historians argued that Renaissance scholarship restored direct links to the classical period, thus bypassing the Medieval period. The term first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas (middle times). In early usage, there were many variants, including medium aevum (Middle Age), first recorded in 1604, and media scecula (Middle Ages), first recorded in 1625. English is the only major language that retains the plural form.


Development of concept


Medieval historians did not, of course, think of themselves as being in the middle of history. Instead, they wrote history from a universal and theological perspective. They divided history into periods such as the "Six Ages
Six Ages of the World
The Six Ages of the World is a Christian historical periodization first written about by Saint Augustine circa 400 AD. It is based upon Christian religious events, from the creation of Adam to the events of Revelation...

" or the "Four Empires
Four monarchies
The four kingdoms refers to four monarchies, or world empires, described in dreams and visions in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. The actual term "four kingdoms" occurs once, found in Daniel 8:22. These four kingdoms are described in different ways throughout Daniel, beginning with chapter...

", with the present period being the last before the end of the world. They considered the Roman period, especially the time of the Apostles
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

, a historical peak, followed by a long slide toward the Apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

.

In the 1330s, the humanist and poet Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 referred to pre-Christian times as antiqua (ancient) and to the Christian period as nova (new). While retaining the theme of decline from the apogee of ancient Rome, Petrarch's division was not based on theology, but on a perception of cultural and political decline, especially the idea that Medieval Latin was inferior to Classical Latin. From Petrarch's Italian perspective, this new period (which included his own time) was an age of national eclipse.

Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni
Leonardo Bruni was an Italian humanist, historian and statesman. He has been called the first modern historian.-Biography:...

 was the first historian to use tripartite periodization in his History of the Florentine People (1442). Bruni's first two periods were based on those of Petrarch, but he added a third period because he believed that Italy was no longer in a state of decline. Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo was an Italian Renaissance humanist historian. He was one of the first historians to used a three-period division of history and is known as one of the first archaeologists.Born in the capital city of Forlì, in the Romagna region, Flavio was well schooled from an early age,...

 used a similar framework in Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire (1439–1453). Tripartite periodization became standard after the German historian Christoph Cellarius
Christoph Cellarius
Christoph Cellarius was a German classical scholar from Schmalkalden who held positions in Weimar and Halle...

 published Universal History Divided into an Ancient, Medieval, and New Period (1683).

Start and end dates


The most commonly given start date for the Middle Ages is 476, a date first given by Bruni. This was when Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus
Romulus Augustus , was the last Western Roman Emperor, reigning from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476...

, the last Roman emperor in the West, abdicated. The western empire had already lost its military power by this time and Romulus Augustus was only a puppet emperor, so many historians object that this convention ascribes undue significance to an arbitrary year. In contrast, Biondo used the sack of Rome
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 in 410 by the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 as the beginning of the period. In the history of Scandinavia
History of Scandinavia
The history of Scandinavia is the history of the region of northern Europe known in English as Scandinavia, particularly in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.- Pre-historic age :...

, the Middle Ages followed prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 during the 11th century, when the rulers converted to Christianity and substantial written records began to appear. A similar shift from prehistory to the Middle Ages occurred in Estonia and Latvia during the 13th century.
For Europe as a whole, the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 is commonly used as the end date of the Middle Ages. Depending on the context, other events, such as the invention of the moveable type printing press by Johann Gutenberg c. 1455, the fall of Muslim Granada
Emirate of Granada
The Emirate of Granada , also known as the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada , was an emirate established in 1238 following the defeat of Muhammad an-Nasir of the Almohad dynasty by an alliance of Christian kingdoms at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212...

 in Spain or Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's voyage to America
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 (both 1492), can be used. For Italy, 1401, the year the contract was awarded to build the north doors of the Florence Baptistery, is often used. In contrast, English historians often use the Battle of Bosworth Field
Battle of Bosworth Field
The Battle of Bosworth Field was the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians...

 (1485) to mark the end of the period. For Spain, the death of King Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 (1516), of Queen Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 (1504) or otherwise the conquest of Granada (1492) is often used.

Subdivisions


Historians in the Romance languages tend to divide the Middle Ages into two parts: an earlier "High" and later "Low" period. English-speaking historians, following their German counterparts, generally subdivide the Middle Ages into three intervals: "Early", "High" and "Late". Belgian historian Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne was a Belgian historian. A medievalist of Walloon descent, he wrote a multivolume history of Belgium in French and became a national hero....

 and Dutch historian Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga , was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.-Life:Born in Groningen as the son of Dirk Huizinga, a professor of physiology, and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after his birth, he started out as a student of Indo-Germanic languages, earning his...

 popularized the following subdivisions in the early 20th century: the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 (476-1000), the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 (1000–1300), and the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 (1300–1453). In the 19th century, the entire Middle Ages were often referred to as the "Dark Ages". But with the creation of these subdivisions use of this term was restricted to the Early Middle Ages, at least among historians.

The later Roman Empire



The Roman empire reached its greatest territorial extent during the 2nd century. The following two centuries witnessed the slow decline of Roman control over its outlying territories. The Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 split the empire into separately administered eastern and western halves in 286 AD. The division between east and west was encouraged by Constantine, who refounded the city of Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 as the new capital, Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, in 330.

Military expenses increased steadily during the 4th century, even as Rome's neighbours became restless and increasingly powerful. Tribes who previously had contact with the Romans as trading partners, rivals, or mercenaries had sought entrance to the empire and access to its wealth throughout the 4th century.

Diocletian's reforms had created a strong governmental bureaucracy, reformed taxation, and strengthened the army. These reforms bought the Empire time, but they demanded money. Roman power had been maintained by its well-trained and equipped armies. These armies, however, were a constant drain on the Empire's finances. As warfare became more dependent on heavy cavalry
Heavy cavalry
Heavy cavalry is a class of cavalry whose primary role was to engage in direct combat with enemy forces . Although their equipment differed greatly depending on the region and historical period, they were generally mounted on large powerful horses, and were often equipped with some form of scale,...

, the infantry-based Roman military started to lose its advantage against its rivals. The defeat in 378 at the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
The Battle of Adrianople , sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels led by Fritigern...

, at the hands of mounted Gothic lancers, destroyed much of the Roman army and left the Western Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 undefended. Without a strong army, the empire was forced to accommodate the large numbers of Germanic tribes
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 who sought refuge within its frontiers.

Known in traditional historiography collectively as the "barbarian invasions", the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, or the Völkerwanderung ("wandering of the peoples"), this migration was a complicated and gradual process. Some of these "barbarian" tribes rejected the classical culture of Rome
Culture of ancient Rome
Ancient Roman culture existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome. The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which, at its peak, covered an area from Lowland Scotland and Morocco to the Euphrates.Life in ancient Rome...

, while others admired and aspired to emulate it. In return for land to farm and, in some regions, the right to collect tax revenue
Tax revenue
Tax revenue is the income that is gained by governments through taxation.Just as there are different types of tax, the form in which tax revenue is collected also differs; furthermore, the agency that collects the tax may not be part of central government, but may be an alternative third-party...

s for the state, federated tribes
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

 provided military support to the empire. Other incursions were small-scale military invasions of tribal groups assembled to gather plunder. The Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

, Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, Avars
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

, and Magyars all raided the Empire's territories and terrorised its inhabitants. Later, Slavic and Germanic peoples would settle the lands previously taken by these tribes. The most famous invasion culminated in the sack of Rome
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 by the Visigoths in 410, the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to an enemy.

By the end of the 5th century, Roman institutions were crumbling. Some early historians have given this period of societal collapse
Societal collapse
Societal collapse broadly includes both quite abrupt societal failures typified by collapses , as well as more extended gradual declines of superpowers...

 the epithet of "Dark Ages
Dark Ages
The "Dark Ages" is a historical periodization emphasizing the cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire. The label employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the "darkness" of the period with earlier and later...

" because of the contrast to earlier times, (however, the term is avoided by current historians). The last emperor of the west, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the barbarian king Odoacer
Odoacer
Flavius Odoacer , also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the first King of Italy. His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, of the...

 in 476. The Eastern Roman Empire (conventionally referred to as the "Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

" after the fall of its western counterpart) had little ability to assert control over the lost western territories. Even though Byzantine emperors maintained a claim over the territory, and no "barbarian" king dared to elevate himself to the position of Emperor of the West, Byzantine control of most of the West could not be sustained; the renovatio imperii ("imperial restoration", entailing reconquest of the Italian peninsula
Italian Peninsula
The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three large peninsulas of Southern Europe , spanning from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula's shape gives it the nickname Lo Stivale...

 and Mediterranean periphery) by Justinian
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 was the sole, and temporary, exception.

As Roman authority disappeared in the West, cities, literacy, trading networks and urban infrastructure declined. Where civic functions and infrastructure were maintained, it was mainly by the Christian Church. Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 is an example of one bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 who became a capable civic administrator.

Early Middle Ages




Breakdown of Roman society


The breakdown of Roman society was dramatic. The patchwork of petty rulers was incapable of supporting the depth of civic infrastructure required to maintain libraries, public baths, arenas, and major educational institutions. Any new building was on a far smaller scale than before. The social effects of the fracture of the Roman state were manifold. Cities and merchants lost the economic benefits of safe conditions for trade and manufacture, and intellectual development suffered from the loss of a unified cultural and educational milieu of far-ranging connections.

As it became unsafe to travel or carry goods over any distance, there was a collapse in trade and manufacture for export. The major industries that depended on long-distance trade, such as large-scale pottery manufacture, vanished almost overnight in places like Britain. Whereas sites like Tintagel
Tintagel
Tintagel is a civil parish and village situated on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom. The population of the parish is 1,820 people, and the area of the parish is ....

 in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 (the extreme southwest of modern day England) had managed to obtain supplies of Mediterranean luxury good
Luxury good
Luxury goods are products and services that are not considered essential and associated with affluence.The concept of luxury has been present in various forms since the beginning of civilization. Its role was just as important in ancient western and eastern empires as it is in modern societies...

s well into the 6th century, this connection was now lost.

Between the 5th and 8th centuries, new peoples and powerful individuals filled the political void left by Roman centralized government. Germanic tribes established regional hegemonies within the former boundaries of the Empire, creating divided, decentralized kingdoms like those of the Ostrogoths in Italy, the Suevi in Gallaecia
Gallaecia
Gallaecia or Callaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province and an early Mediaeval kingdom that comprised a territory in the north-west of Hispania...

, the Visigoths in Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

, the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and Western Germany
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, the Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 and the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 in Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

, and the Vandals in North Africa
Diocese of Africa
The Diocese of Africa was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of North Africa, except Mauretania Tingitana. Its seat was at Carthage, and it was subordinate to the Praetorian prefecture of Italy....

.

Roman landholders beyond the confines of city walls
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

 were also vulnerable to extreme changes, and they could not simply pack up their land and move elsewhere. Some were dispossessed and fled to Byzantine regions; others quickly pledged their allegiances to their new rulers. In areas like Spain and Italy, this often meant little more than acknowledging a new overlord, while Roman forms of law and religion could be maintained. In other areas, where there was a greater weight of population movement, it might be necessary to adopt new modes of dress, language, and custom.

The Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

 of the 7th and 8th centuries of the Persian Empire
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

, Roman Syria
Muslim conquest of Syria
The Muslim conquest of Syria occurred in the first half of the 7th century, and refers to the region known as the Bilad al-Sham, the Levant, or Greater Syria...

, Roman Egypt
Muslim conquest of Egypt
At the commencement of the Muslims conquest of Egypt, Egypt was part of the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople. However, it had been occupied just a decade before by the Persian Empire under Khosrau II...

, Roman North Africa
Umayyad conquest of North Africa
The Umayyad conquest of North Africa continued the century of rapid Arab Muslim expansion following the death of Muhammad in 632 CE. By 640 the Arabs controlled Mesopotamia, had invaded Armenia, and were concluding their conquest of Byzantine Syria. Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad caliphate....

, Visigothic Spain
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
The Umayyad conquest of Hispania is the initial Islamic Ummayad Caliphate's conquest, between 711 and 718, of the Christian Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, centered in the Iberian Peninsula, which was known to them under the Arabic name al-Andalus....

, Sicily and southern Italy
History of Islam in southern Italy
The history of Islam in southern Italy begins with the Islamic conquest and subsequent rule of Sicily and Malta, a process that started in the 9th century. Islamic rule over Sicily was effective from 902, and the complete rule of the island lasted from 965 until 1061...

 eroded the area of the Roman Empire and controlled strategic areas of the Mediterranean. By the end of the 8th century, the former Western Roman Empire was decentralized and overwhelmingly rural.

Church and monasticism


The Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, which means "universal church", was the major unifying cultural influence. It preserved selections from Latin learning, maintained the art of writing, and provided centralized administration through its network of bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s. Some regions that were populated by Catholics were conquered by Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 rulers, which provoked much tension between Arian kings and the Catholic hierarchy. Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 of the Franks is a well-known example of a barbarian king who chose Catholic orthodoxy over Arianism. His conversion marked a turning point for the Frankish tribes of Gaul.

Bishops were central to Middle Age society due to the literacy they possessed. As a result, they often played a significant role in governance. However, beyond the core areas of Western Europe, there remained many peoples with little or no contact with Christianity or with classical Roman culture. Martial societies such as the Avars
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

 and the Vikings were still capable of causing major disruption to the newly emerging societies of Western Europe.

The Early Middle Ages witnessed the rise of monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 within the West. Although the impulse to withdraw from society to focus upon a spiritual life is experienced by people of all cultures, the shape of European monasticism was determined by traditions and ideas that originated in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. The style of monasticism that focuses on community experience of the spiritual life, called cenobitism
Cenobitic
Cenobitic monasticism is a monastic tradition that stresses community life. Often in the West, the community belongs to a religious order and the life of the cenobitic monk is regulated by a religious rule, a collection of precepts...

, was pioneered by the saint Pachomius
Pachomius
Saint Pakhom , also known as Pachome and Pakhomius , is generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism. In the Coptic churches his feast day is celebrated on May 9...

 in the 4th century. Monastic ideals spread from Egypt to Western Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries through hagiographical literature
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 such as the Life of Saint Anthony
Anthony the Great
Anthony the Great or Antony the Great , , also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius , and Father of All Monks, was a Christian saint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers...

.

Saint Benedict
Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

 wrote the definitive Rule for Western monasticism during the 6th century, detailing the administrative and spiritual responsibilities of a community of monks led by an abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

. The style of monasticism based upon the Benedictine Rule spread widely rapidly across Europe, replacing small clusters of cenobites. Monks and monasteries had a deep effect upon the religious and political life of the Early Middle Ages, in various cases acting as land trusts for powerful families, centres of propaganda and royal support in newly conquered regions, bases for mission, and proselytization. In addition, they were the main and sometimes only outposts of education and literacy in a region.

Carolingians



A nucleus of power unfolded in a region of northern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and developed into kingdoms called Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

 and Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

. These kingdoms were ruled for three centuries by a dynasty of kings called the Merovingians, after their mythical founder Merovech
Merovech
Merovech is the semi-legendary founder of the Merovingian dynasty of the Salian Franks , which later became the dominant Frankish tribe. He allegedly lived in the first half of the fifth century. His name is a Latinization of a form close to the Old High German given name Marwig, lit. "famed...

. The history of the Merovingian kingdoms is one of family politics that frequently erupted into civil warfare between the branches of the family. The legitimacy of the Merovingian throne was granted by a reverence for the bloodline, and, even after powerful members of the Austrasian court, the mayors of the palace
Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus , used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries....

, took de facto power during the 7th century, the Merovingians were kept as ceremonial figureheads. The Merovingians engaged in trade with northern Europe through Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 trade route
Trade route
A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. Allowing goods to reach distant markets, a single trade route contains long distance arteries which may further be connected to several smaller networks of commercial...

s known to historians as the Northern Arc trade, and they are known to have minted small-denomination silver pennies called sceattae for circulation. Aspects of Merovingian culture could be described as "Romanized", such as the high value placed on Roman coinage
Roman currency
The Roman currency during most of the Roman Republic and the western half of the Roman Empire consisted of coins including the aureus , the denarius , the sestertius , the dupondius , and the as...

 as a symbol of rulership and the patronage of monasteries and bishoprics
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

. Some have hypothesized that the Merovingians were in contact with Byzantium. The Merovingians also buried the dead of their elite families in grave mounds and traced their lineage to a mythical sea beast called the Quinotaur
Quinotaur
The Quinotaur is a mythical sea creature mentioned in the 7th century Frankish Chronicle of Fredegar. Referred to as "bestea Neptuni Quinotauri similis", it was held to have fathered Meroveus by attacking the wife of the Frankish king Chlodio and thus to have sired the line of Merovingian...

.

The 7th century was a tumultuous period of civil wars between Austrasia and Neustria. Such warfare was exploited by the patriarch of a family line, Pippin of Landen, who curried favour with the Merovingians and had himself installed in the office of Mayor of the Palace at the service of the King. From this position of great influence, Pippin accrued wealth and supporters. Later members of his family line inherited the office, acting as advisors and regents. The dynasty took a new direction in 732, when Charles Martel
Charles Martel
Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

 won the Battle of Tours
Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours , also called the Battle of Poitiers and in Battle of the Court of the Martyrs, was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, located in north-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about northeast of Poitiers...

, halting the advance of Muslim armies across the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

.


The Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 dynasty, as the successors to Charles Martel are known, officially took control of the kingdoms of Austrasia and Neustria in a coup of 753 led by Pippin III. A contemporary chronicle claims that Pippin sought, and gained, authority for this coup from the Pope. Pippin's successful coup was reinforced with propaganda that portrayed the Merovingians as inept or cruel rulers and exalted the accomplishments of Charles Martel and circulated stories of the family's great piety. At the time of his death in 783, Pippin left his kingdoms in the hands of his two sons, Charles
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and Carloman
Carloman, son of Pippin III
Carloman I was the king of the Franks from 768 until his death in 771. He was the second surviving son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon...

. When Carloman died of natural causes, Charles blocked the succession of Carloman's minor son and installed himself as the king of the united Austrasia and Neustria. This Charles, known to his contemporaries as Charles the Great or Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, embarked in 774 upon a program of systematic expansion that would unify a large portion of Europe. In the wars that lasted just beyond 800, he rewarded loyal allies with war booty and command over parcels of land. Much of the nobility of the High Middle Ages was to claim its roots in the Carolingian nobility that was generated during this period of expansion.


The Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne on Christmas Day of 800 is frequently regarded as a turning-point in medieval history, because it filled a power vacancy that had existed since 476. It also marks a change in Charlemagne's leadership, which assumed a more imperial character and tackled difficult aspects of controlling an empire. He established a system of diplomats who possessed imperial authority, the missi, who in theory provided access to imperial justice in the farthest corners of the empire. He also sought to reform the Church in his domains, pushing for uniformity in liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 and material culture.

Carolingian Renaissance



Charlemagne's court in Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

 was the centre of a cultural revival that is sometimes referred to as the "Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

". This period witnessed an increase of literacy, developments in the arts, architecture, and jurisprudence, as well as liturgical and scriptural studies. The English monk Alcuin
Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

 was invited to Aachen, and brought with him the precise classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 education that was available in the monasteries of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

. The return of this Latin proficiency to the kingdom of the Franks is regarded as an important step in the development of medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

. Charlemagne's chancery
Chancery (medieval office)
Chancery is a general term for a medieval writing office, responsible for the production of official documents. The title of chancellor, for the head of the office, came to be held by important ministers in a number of states, and remains the title of the heads of government in modern Germany,...

 made use of a type of script currently known as Carolingian minuscule
Carolingian minuscule
Carolingian or Caroline minuscule is a script developed as a writing standard in Europe so that the Roman alphabet could be easily recognized by the literate class from one region to another. It was used in Charlemagne's empire between approximately 800 and 1200...

, providing a common writing style that allowed for communication across most of Europe. After the decline of the Carolingian dynasty, the rise of the Saxon Dynasty in Germany was accompanied by the Ottonian Renaissance
Ottonian Renaissance
The Ottonian Renaissance was a limited "renaissance" of economy and art in central and southern Europe that accompanied the reigns of the first three emperors of the Saxon Dynasty, all named Otto: Otto I , Otto II , and Otto III , and which in large part depended upon their patronage.One of three ...

.

See also the careers of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

, and Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

.

Breakup of the Carolingian empire



While Charlemagne continued the Frankish tradition of dividing the regnum (kingdom) between all his heirs (at least those of age), the assumption of the imperium (imperial title) supplied a unifying force not available previously. Charlemagne was succeeded by his only legitimate son of adult age at his death, Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

.

Louis's long reign of 26 years was marked by numerous divisions of the empire among his sons and, after 829, numerous civil wars between various alliances of father and sons against other sons to determine a just division by battle. The final division was made at Crémieux
Crémieux
Crémieux may refer to:* Adolphe Crémieux, French lawyer and statesman* Hector-Jonathan Crémieux, French playwright and librettist* The residents of Crémieu, a town near Lyon, France, known as Crémieux....

 in 838. The Emperor Louis recognized his eldest son Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 as emperor and confirmed him in the Regnum Italicum (Italy). He divided the rest of the empire between Lothair and Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

, his youngest son, giving Lothair the opportunity to choose his half. He chose East Francia, which comprised the empire on both banks of the Rhine and eastwards, leaving Charles West Francia, which comprised the empire to the west of the Rhineland and the Alps. Louis the German
Louis the German
Louis the German , also known as Louis II or Louis the Bavarian, was a grandson of Charlemagne and the third son of the succeeding Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye.He received the appellation 'Germanicus' shortly after his death in recognition of the fact...

, the middle child, who had been rebellious to the last, was allowed to keep his subregnum of Bavaria under the suzerainty of his elder brother. The division was not undisputed. Pepin II of Aquitaine
Pepin II of Aquitaine
Pepin II, called the Younger , was King of Aquitaine from 838 as the successor upon the death of his father, Pepin I. Pepin II was eldest son of Pepin I and Ingeltrude, daughter of Theodobert, count of Madrie...

, the emperor's grandson, rebelled in a contest for Aquitaine, while Louis the German tried to annex all of East Francia. In two final campaigns, the emperor defeated both his rebellious descendants and vindicated the division of Crémieux before dying in 840.


A three-year civil war followed his death. At the end of the conflict, Louis the German was in control of East Francia and Lothair was confined to Italy. By the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

 (843), a kingdom of Middle Francia
Middle Francia
Middle Francia was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious...

 was created for Lothair in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 and Burgundy, and his imperial title was recognized. East Francia would eventually morph into the Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany developed out of the eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire....

 and West Francia into the Kingdom of France
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

, around both of which the history of Western Europe can largely be described as a contest for control of the middle kingdom. Charlemagne's grandsons and great-grandsons divided their kingdoms between their sons until all the various regna and the imperial title fell into the hands of Charles the Fat
Charles the Fat
Charles the Fat was the King of Alemannia from 876, King of Italy from 879, western Emperor from 881, King of East Francia from 882, and King of West Francia from 884. In 887, he was deposed in East Francia, Lotharingia, and possibly Italy, where the records are not clear...

 by 884. He was deposed in 887 and died in 888, to be replaced in all his kingdoms but two (Lotharingia and East Francia) by non-Carolingian "petty kings". The Carolingian Empire was destroyed, though the imperial tradition would eventually lead to the Holy Roman Empire in 962.

The breakup of the Carolingian Empire was accompanied by the invasions, migrations, and raids of external foes as not seen since the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

. The Atlantic and northern shores were harassed by the Vikings, who forced Charles the Bald to issue the Edict of Pistres
Edict of Pistres
The Edict of Pistres or Edictum Pistense was a capitulary promulgated, as its name suggests, at Pistres on 25 July 864...

 against them and who besieged Paris in 885–886
Siege of Paris (885-886)
The Siege of Paris of 885 to 886 was a Viking siege of Paris, then capital of the kingdom of the West Franks. It was, in hindsight, the most important event of the reign of the Emperor Charles the Fat and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France.The...

. The eastern frontiers, especially Germany and Italy, were under constant Magyar assault until their great defeat at the Battle of the Lechfeld in 955. The Saracens also managed to establish bases at Garigliano and Fraxinetum, to sack Rome in 846
Sack of Rome (846)
In 846 Arab raiders plundered the environs of Rome, including the Vatican, sacking Old St. Peter's and St. Paul's-Outside-the-Walls, but were prevented from entering the city itself by the Aurelian Wall...

 and to conquer the islands of Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, and their pirates raided the Mediterranean coasts, as did the Vikings. The Christianization of the pagan Vikings provided an end to that threat.

Art and architecture



Few truly large stone buildings were attempted between the Constantinian basilicas of the 4th century and the 8th century, but many smaller stone buildings were built. At this time, the establishment of churches and monasteries, and a comparative political stability, caused the development of a form of stone architecture loosely based upon Roman forms and hence later named Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

. Where available, Roman brick and stone buildings were recycled for their materials. From the fairly tentative beginnings known as the First Romanesque
First Romanesque
First Romanesque is the name due to Josep Puig i Cadafalch to refer to the Romanesque art developed in Catalonia since the late 10th century....

, the style flourished and spread across Europe in a remarkably homogeneous form. The features are massive stone walls, openings topped by semi-circular arches, small windows, and, particularly in France, arched stone vaults and arrows.

In the decorative arts, Celtic and Germanic barbarian forms were absorbed into Christian art
Christian art
Christian art is sacred art produced in an attempt to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form the principles of Christianity, though other definitions are possible. Most Christian groups use or have used art to some extent, although some have had strong objections to some forms of...

, although the central impulse remained Roman and Byzantine. High quality jewellery and religious imagery were produced throughout Western Europe; Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and other monarchs provided patronage for religious artworks such as reliquaries and books. Some of the principal artworks of the age were the fabulous Illuminated manuscripts produced by monks on vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

, using gold, silver, and precious pigments to illustrate biblical narratives. Early examples include the Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

 and many Carolingian and Ottonian Frankish manuscripts.

High Middle Ages



The High Middle Ages were characterized by the urbanization of Europe, military expansion, and intellectual revival that historians identify between the 11th century and the end of the 13th century. This revival was aided by the conversion of the raiding Scandinavians
Scandinavians
Scandinavians are a group of Germanic peoples, inhabiting Scandinavia and to a lesser extent countries associated with Scandinavia, and speaking Scandinavian languages. The group includes Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, and additionally the descendants of Scandinavian settlers such as the Icelandic...

 and Hungarians to Christianity, by the assertion of power by Castellans
Encastellation
Encastellation is the process whereby the feudal kingdoms of Europe became dotted with castles, from which local lords could dominate the countryside of their fiefs and their neighbours', and from which kings could command even the far-off corners of their realms...

 to fill the power vacuum left by the Carolingian decline, and not least by the increased contact with Islamic civilization, which had preserved and elaborated all the classic Greek literature forgotten in Europe after the collapse of The Roman Empire. This was now retranslated into Latin, along with newer works of important advances in science and technology (see 12th-century Renaissance).

The High Middle Ages saw an explosion in population
Medieval demography
This article discusses human demography in Europe during the Middle Ages, including population trends and movements. Demographic changes helped to shape and define the Middle Ages...

. This population flowed into towns, sought conquests abroad, or cleared land for cultivation. The cities of antiquity had been clustered around the Mediterranean. By 1200, the growing urban centres were in the centre of the continent, connected by roads or rivers. By the end of this period, Paris might have had as many as 200,000 inhabitants. In central and northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

 and in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, the rise of towns that were, to some degree, self-governing, stimulated the economy and created an environment for new types of religious and trade associations. Trading cities on the shores of the Baltic entered into agreements known as the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

, and Italian city-states such as Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, and Pisa
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

 expanded their trade throughout the Mediterranean. This period marks a formative one in the history of the Western state as we know it, for kings in France, England, and Spain consolidated their power during this period, setting up lasting institutions to help them govern. Also new kingdoms like Hungary and Poland, after their sedentarization and conversion to Christianity, became Central-European powers. Hungary, especially, became the "Gate to Europe" from Asia, and bastion
Bastion
A bastion, or a bulwark, is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall , facilitating active defence against assaulting troops...

 of Christianity against the invaders from the East
East
East is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.East is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of west and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the right side of a map is east....

 until the 16th century and the onslaught by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The Papacy
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, which had long since created an ideology of independence from the secular kings, first asserted its claims to temporal authority over the entire Christian world. The entity that historians call the Papal Monarchy reached its apogee in the early 13th century under the pontificate of Innocent III. Northern Crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

 and the advance of Christian kingdoms and military orders into previously pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 regions in the Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 and Finnic
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 northeast brought the forced assimilation
Forced assimilation
Forced assimilation is a process of forced cultural assimilation of religious or ethnic minority groups, into an established and generally larger community...

 of numerous native peoples to the European identity. With the brief exception of the Kipchak and Mongol invasions
Mongol invasions
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

, major barbarian incursions ceased.

Crusades




The Crusades were holy wars or armed pilgrimages intended to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim control. Jerusalem was part of the Muslim possessions won during a rapid military expansion in the 7th century through the Near East, Northern Africa, and Anatolia (in modern Turkey). The first Crusade was preached by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont
Council of Clermont
The Council of Clermont was a mixed synod of ecclesiastics and laymen of the Catholic Church, which was held from November 18 to November 28, 1095 at Clermont, France...

 in 1095 in response to a request from the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 emperor Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus , was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. The title 'Nobilissimus' was given to senior army commanders,...

 for aid against further advancement. Urban promised indulgence
Indulgence
In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution...

 to any Christian who took the Crusader vow and set off for Jerusalem. The resulting fervour that swept through Europe mobilized tens of thousands of people from all levels of society, and resulted in the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, as well as other regions. The movement found its primary support in the Franks; it is by no coincidence that the Arabs referred to Crusaders generically as "Franj". Although they were minorities within this region, the Crusaders tried to consolidate their conquests as a number of Crusader states
Crusader states
The Crusader states were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land , and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area...

 – the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, as well as the County of Edessa
County of Edessa
The County of Edessa was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century, based around Edessa, a city with an ancient history and an early tradition of Christianity....

, the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

, and the County of Tripoli
County of Tripoli
The County of Tripoli was the last Crusader state founded in the Levant, located in what today are parts of western Syria and northern Lebanon, where exists the modern city of Tripoli. The Crusader state was captured and created by Christian forces in 1109, originally held by Bertrand of Toulouse...

 (collectively Outremer
Outremer
Outremer, French for "overseas", was a general name given to the Crusader states established after the First Crusade: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and especially the Kingdom of Jerusalem...

). During the 12th century and 13th century, there were a series of conflicts between these states and surrounding Islamic ones. Crusades were essentially resupply missions for these embattled kingdoms. Military orders such as the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 and the Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 were formed to play an integral role in this support.

By the end of the Middle Ages, the Christian Crusaders had captured all the Islamic territories in modern Spain, Portugal, and Southern Italy. Meanwhile, Islamic counter-attacks had retaken all the Crusader possessions on the Asian mainland, leaving a de facto boundary between Islam and Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 that continued until modern times.

Substantial areas of northern Europe also remained outside Christian influence until the 11th century or later; these areas also became crusading venues
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

 during the expansionist High Middle Ages. Throughout this period, the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 was in decline, having peaked in influence during the High Middle Ages. Beginning with the Battle of Manzikert
Battle of Manzikert
The Battle of Manzikert , was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq Turks led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert...

 in 1071, the empire underwent a cycle of decline and renewal, including the sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

 in 1204. After that, Andrew II of Hungary
Andrew II of Hungary
Andrew II the Jerosolimitan was King of Hungary and Croatia . He was the younger son of King Béla III of Hungary, who invested him with the government of the Principality of Halych...

 assembled the biggest army in the history of the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, and moved his troops as a leading figure in the Fifth Crusade
Fifth Crusade
The Fifth Crusade was an attempt to reacquire Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land by first conquering the powerful Ayyubid state in Egypt....

, reaching Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and later Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, coming back home in 1218.

Despite another short upswing following the recapture of Constantinople in 1261, the empire continued to deteriorate.

Science and technology


The early Middle Ages coincided with the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

. At that time, Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

, science
Islamic science
Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

, and technology were more advanced than in Western Europe. Islamic scholars both preserved and built upon earlier Ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 traditions and added their own inventions and innovations in Islamic Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 (modern Spain and Portugal). Some of this knowledge was collected after the Christian reconquest of Muslim Spain (see Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe were numerous, affecting such varied areas as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, and technology. From the 11th to 13th centuries, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilization...

), and European scholars used it to build upon their existing knowledge and to fill in the gaps. Furthermore, much classical knowledge was not actually lost in Western Europe, but was instead scattered in monasteries all over Europe, and in the high middle ages it was collected and became a base for further enlightenment.

At the same time, Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

 were invited to Italy to teach Greek, and brought with them much classical knowledge. This migration of Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 scholars and other emigrates from southern Italy and Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 during the decline of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 (1203–1453) were to make a big contribution in the High Middle Ages in Western Europe.

These emigrates were grammarians, humanists, poets, writers, printers, lecturers, musicians, astronomers, architects, academics, artists, scribes, philosophers, scientists, politicians and theologians. They brought to Western Europe the far greater preserved and accumulated knowledge of their own (Greek) civilization.

One of these Greeks was Manuel Chrysoloras
Manuel Chrysoloras
Manuel Chrysoloras was a pioneer in the introduction of Greek literature to Western Europe during the late middle ages....

 (1355–1415), a pioneer in the introduction of Greek literature to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 during the late middle ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

. In 1396, Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati was an Italian Humanist and man of letters, and one of the most important political and cultural leaders of Renaissance Florence.-Birth and Early Career:...

, the chancellor of the University of Florence, invited Chrysolora to come and teach Greek grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

 and literature. Chrysoloras also translated the works of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Republic into Latin.

Also during the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

 of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 1204–1261, classical knowledge was brought back to the West by the crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

.

In Europe, there were still places where classic knowledge was translated and studied. In Ireland the monks preserved the work of the classic world, and in England, Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 wrote scientific, historical and theological works, reflecting the range of his writings from music and metrics
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry where it means the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented...

 to exegetical Scripture commentaries. He knew patristic literature, as well as Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, Lucretius
Lucretius
Titus Lucretius Carus was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is an epic philosophical poem laying out the beliefs of Epicureanism, De rerum natura, translated into English as On the Nature of Things or "On the Nature of the Universe".Virtually no details have come down concerning...

, Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

, Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 and other classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 writers, and during the Carolingian renaissance (770-850), there was a craving for Greek and Roman knowledge.

William of Moerbeke
William of Moerbeke
Willem van Moerbeke, O.P., known in the English speaking world as William of Moerbeke was a prolific medieval translator of philosophical, medical, and scientific texts from Greek into Latin...

 (1215-1286) undertook a complete translation of the works of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 directly from the Greek. Moerbeke was the first translator of Politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

(c. 1260) into Latin, as Politics, unlike other parts of the Aristotelian corpus, had not been translated into Arabic. Moerbeke's translations were already standard classics by the 14th century, when Henricus Hervodius identified their enduring value: they were literal (de verbo in verbo), faithful to the spirit of Aristotle, and without elegance. For several of Moerbeke's translations, the Greek texts have since disappeared; without him the works would be lost.

Moerbeke also translated mathematical treatises by Hero of Alexandria
Hero of Alexandria
Hero of Alexandria was an ancient Greek mathematician and engineerEnc. Britannica 2007, "Heron of Alexandria" who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt...

 and Archimedes
Archimedes
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an...

. Especially important was his translation of Theological Elements by Proclus
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus , called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" , was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers . He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism...

 (translated in 1268), because Theological Elements was one of the fundamental sources of the revived Neo-Platonic philosophical currents of the 13th century.

Among the results of the Greek and Islamic influence on this period in European history was the replacement of Roman numerals
Roman numerals
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...

 with the decimal
Decimal
The decimal numeral system has ten as its base. It is the numerical base most widely used by modern civilizations....

 positional number system and the invention of algebra
Algebra
Algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning the study of the rules of operations and relations, and the constructions and concepts arising from them, including terms, polynomials, equations and algebraic structures...

, which allowed more advanced mathematics. Another consequence was that the Latin-speaking world regained access to lost classical literature
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. Latin translations of the 12th century fed a passion for Aristotelian
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 philosophy and Islamic science
Islamic science
Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

 that is frequently referred to as the Renaissance of the 12th century
Renaissance of the 12th century
The Renaissance of the 12th century was a period of many changes at the outset of the High Middle Ages. It included social, political and economic transformations, and an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots...

. Meanwhile, trade grew throughout Europe as the dangers of travel were reduced, and steady economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 resumed. Cathedral school
Cathedral school
Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages as centers of advanced education, some of them ultimately evolving into medieval universities. Throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, they were complemented by the monastic schools...

s and monasteries ceased to be the sole sources of education in the 11th century when universities
Medieval university
Medieval university is an institution of higher learning which was established during High Middle Ages period and is a corporation.The first institutions generally considered to be universities were established in Italy, France, and England in the late 11th and the 12th centuries for the study of...

 were established in major European cities. Literacy became available to a wider class of people, and there were major advances in art, sculpture, music, and architecture. Large cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

s were built across Europe, first in the Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style of architecture, and later in the more decorative Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 style.
During the 12th and 13th century in Europe, there were radical changes in the rates of new inventions, innovations in the ways of managing traditional means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

, and economic growth. The period saw major technological
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 advances, including the invention of the cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, spectacles
Glasses
Glasses, also known as eyeglasses , spectacles or simply specs , are frames bearing lenses worn in front of the eyes. They are normally used for vision correction or eye protection. Safety glasses are a kind of eye protection against flying debris or against visible and near visible light or...

, and artesian wells
Artesian aquifer
An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached. This type of well is called an artesian well...

, and the cross-cultural introduction of gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, the compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

, and the astrolabe
Astrolabe
An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers. Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and longitude, surveying, triangulation, and to...

 from the east. One major agricultural innovation during this period was the development of a 3-field rotation system for planting crops (as opposed the 2-field system that had been used). Further, the development of the heavy plow
Plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

 allowed for a rise in communal agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 as most individuals could not afford to do it by themselves. As a result, medieval villages had formed a type of collective ownership and communal agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 where the use of horses allowed villages to grow.

There were also great improvements to ships and the clock. The latter advances made possible the dawn of the Age of Exploration
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

. At the same time, huge numbers of Greek and Arabic works on medicine and the sciences were translated and distributed throughout Europe. Aristotle especially became very important, his rational and logical approach to knowledge influencing the scholars at the newly forming universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 which were absorbing and disseminating the new knowledge during the 12th century Renaissance.

Changes


Monastic reform became an important issue during the 11th century, when elites began to worry that monks were not adhering to their Rules with the discipline that was required for a good religious life. During this time, it was believed that monks were performing a very practical task by sending their prayers to God and inducing Him to make the world a better place for the virtuous. The time invested in this activity would be wasted, however, if the monks were not virtuous. The monastery of Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

, founded in the Mâcon
Mâcon
Mâcon is a small city in central France. It is prefecture of the Saône-et-Loire department, in the region of Bourgogne, and the capital of the Mâconnais district. Mâcon is home to over 35,000 residents, called Mâconnais.-Geography:...

 in 909, was founded as part of a larger movement of monastic reform in response to this fear. It was a reformed monastery that quickly established a reputation for austerity and rigour. Cluny sought to maintain the high quality of spiritual life by electing its own abbot from within the cloister, and maintained an economic and political independence from local lords by placing itself under the protection of the Pope. Cluny provided a popular solution to the problem of bad monastic codes, and in the 11th century its abbots were frequently called to participate in imperial politics as well as reform monasteries in France and Italy.
The monastic reform inspired change in the secular church, as well. The ideals that it was based upon were brought to the papacy by Pope Leo IX
Pope Leo IX
Pope Saint Leo IX , born Bruno of Eguisheim-Dagsburg, was Pope from February 12, 1049 to his death. He was a German aristocrat and as well as being Pope was a powerful secular ruler of central Italy. He is regarded as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, with the feast day of April 19...

 on his election in 1049, providing the ideology of clerical independence that fuelled the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

 in the late 11th century. The Investiture Controversy involved Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
Pope St. Gregory VII , born Hildebrand of Sovana , was Pope from April 22, 1073, until his death. One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor affirming the primacy of the papal...

 and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV was King of the Romans from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century...

, who initially clashed over a specific bishop's appointment and turned into a battle over the ideas of investiture
Investiture
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...

, clerical marriage
Clerical marriage
Clerical marriage is the practice of allowing clergy to marry. Churches such as the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox exclude this practice for their priests, while accepting already married men for ordination to priesthood...

, and simony
Simony
Simony is the act of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus , who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24...

. The Emperor, as a Christian ruler, saw the protection of the Church as one of his great rights and responsibilities. The Papacy, however, had begun insisting on its independence from secular lords. The open warfare ended with Henry IV's occupation of Rome in 1085 and the death of the Pope several months later, but the issues themselves remained unresolved even after the compromise of 1122 known as the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

. The conflict represents a significant stage in the creation of a papal monarchy separate from and equal to lay authorities. It also had the permanent consequence of empowering German princes at the expense of the German emperors.

The High Middle Ages was a period of great religious movements. The Crusades, which have already been mentioned, have an undeniable religious aspect. Monastic reform was similarly a religious movement effected by monks and elites. Other groups sought to participate in new forms of religious life. Landed elites financed the construction of new parish churches in the European countryside, which increased the Church's impact upon the daily lives of peasants. Cathedral canons
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 adopted monastic rules, groups of peasants and laypeople abandoned their possessions to live like the Apostles, and people formulated ideas about their religion that were deemed heretical. Although the success of the 12th century papacy in fashioning a Church that progressively affected the daily lives of everyday people cannot be denied, there are still indicators that the tail could wag the dog. The new religious groups called the Waldensians
Waldensians
Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are names for a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions, primarily in North-Western Italy. There is considerable uncertainty about the earlier history of the Waldenses because of a lack of extant source...

 and the Humiliati
Humiliati
The Humiliati were an Italian religious order of men formed probably in the 12th century. It was suppressed by a Papal bull in 1571 though an associated order of women continued into the 20th century.-Origin:Its origin is obscure...

 were condemned for their refusal to accept a life of cloistered monasticism. In many aspects, however, they were not very different from the Franciscans and the Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, who were approved by the papacy in the early 13th century (the Franciscan and the Dominican friars developed the popular sermon
Popular Sermon of the Medieval Friar
The popular sermon was a type of sermon in vernacular, the language of common people, that was commonly delivered by Catholic friars of the Franciscan and Dominican orders in the Middle Ages, on Sundays, Feast Days, and other special dates.-History:In the Middle Ages, the Catholic mass ritual...

). The picture that modern historians of the religious life present is one of great religious zeal welling up from the peasantry during the High Middle Ages, with clerical elites striving, only sometimes successfully, to understand and channel this power into familiar paths.

Late Middle Ages


The Late Middle Ages were a period initiated by calamities and upheavals. During this time, agriculture was affected by a climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 that has been documented by climate historians, and was felt by contemporaries in the form of periodic famines, including the Great Famine of 1315-1317. Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines, and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

, a disease that spread among the populace like wildfire, killed as much as a third of the population in the mid-14th century. In some regions, the toll was higher than one half of the population. Towns were especially hard-hit because of the crowded conditions. Large areas of land were left sparsely inhabited, and in some places fields were left unworked. Because of the sudden decline in available labourers, the price of wages rose as landlords sought to entice workers to their fields. Workers also felt that they had a right to greater earnings, and popular uprisings
Popular revolt in late medieval Europe
Popular revolts in late medieval Europe were uprisings and rebellions by peasants in the countryside, or the bourgeois in towns, against nobles, abbots and kings during the upheavals of the 14th through early 16th centuries, part of a larger "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages"...

 broke out across Europe. Even the king Louis I of Hungary was forced to stop his long war against the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

 in 1347, because of the deaths in the Italian region. The Black Death soon took the life of Louis I's wife, Margaret, daughter of the German emperor Charles IV
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles IV , born Wenceslaus , was the second king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and the first king of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor....

, and as well few Hungarians, although the negative consequences of this disease in the Kingdom of Hungary were relatively mild.

Paradoxically, creative social, economic and technological responses emerged from this period of stress; these developments laid the groundwork for further significant change during the Early Modern Period. It was also a period when the Catholic Church was increasingly divided against itself. During the time of the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

, the Church was led by as many as three popes at one time. The divisiveness of the Church undermined papal authority, and allowed the formation of national churches.

State resurgence


The Late Middle Ages also witnessed the rise of strong, royalty-based nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

s, particularly the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, the Kingdom of France
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

, and the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 (Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

, Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

, Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

, and Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

).

The long conflicts of this time, such as the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 fought between England and France, strengthened royal control over the kingdoms, even though they were extremely hard on the peasantry. Kings profited from warfare by gaining land.
France shows clear signs of a growth in royal power during the 14th century, from the active persecution of heretics and lepers, expulsion of the Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, and the dissolution of the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

. In all of these cases, undertaken by Philip IV
Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

, the king confiscated land and wealth from these minority groups. The conflict between Philip and Pope Boniface VIII
Pope Boniface VIII
Pope Boniface VIII , born Benedetto Gaetani, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1294 to 1303. Today, Boniface VIII is probably best remembered for his feuds with Dante, who placed him in the Eighth circle of Hell in his Divina Commedia, among the Simonists.- Biography :Gaetani was born in 1235 in...

, a conflict which began over Philip's unauthorized taxation of clergy, ended with the violent death of Boniface and the installation of Pope Clement V
Pope Clement V
Pope Clement V, born Raymond Bertrand de Got was Pope from 1305 to his death...

, a weak, French-controlled pope, in Avignon
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

. This action enhanced French prestige, at the expense of the papacy.

England, too, began the 14th century with warfare and expansion. Edward I
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 waged war against the Principality of Wales
Principality of Wales
The Principality of Wales existed between 1216 and 1542, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales.It was formally founded in 1216 at the Council of Aberdyfi, and later recognised by the 1218 Treaty of Worcester between Llywelyn the Great of Wales and Henry III of England...

 and the Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

, with mixed success, to assert what he considered his right to the entire island of Great Britain.

Both the Kings of France and the Kings of England of this period presided over effective states administered by literate bureaucrats, and sought baronial consent for their decisions through early versions of parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

s, called the Estates General
French States-General
In France under the Old Regime, the States-General or Estates-General , was a legislative assembly of the different classes of French subjects. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates, which were called and dismissed by the king...

 in France and the Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 in England. Towns and merchants allied with kings during the 15th century, allowing the kings to distance themselves further from the territorial lords. As a result of the power gained during the 14th and 15th centuries, late medieval kings built truly sovereign states, which were able to impose taxes, declare war, and create and enforce laws, all by the will of the king. Kings encouraged cohesion in their administration by appointing ministers with broad ambitions and a loyalty to the state. By the last half of the 15th century, kings like Henry VII of England
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 and Louis XI of France
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 were able to rule without much baronial interference.

Hundred Years' War



The Hundred Years' War was a conflict between France and England lasting 116 years, from 1337 to 1453. It was fought primarily over claims by the English kings to the French throne and was punctuated by several brief and two extended periods of peace before it finally ended in the expulsion of the English from France, except for the Calais Pale. This series of conflicts is commonly divided into three or four phases: the Edwardian War (1337–1360), the Caroline War (1369–1389), the Lancastrian War (1415–1429), and the slow decline of English fortunes (1429–1453) after the appearance of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

. Though primarily a dynastic conflict, the war gave impetus to ideas of both French and English nationality. Militarily, it saw the introduction of new weapons and tactics, which eroded the older system of feudal armies dominated by heavy cavalry. The first standing armies
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 in Western Europe since the time of the Western Roman Empire were introduced for the war, thus changing the role of the peasantry. For all this, as well as for its long duration, it is often viewed as one of the most significant conflicts in the history of medieval warfare.

Controversy within the Church


The troubled 14th century saw both the Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

 of 1305–1378, also called the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (a reference to the Babylonian Captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 of the Jews), and the so-called Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 that lasted from 1378 to 1418. The practice of granting papal indulgence
Indulgence
In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution...

s, fairly commonplace since the 11th century, was reformulated and explicitly monetized in the 14th century. Indulgences became an important source of revenue for the Church, revenue that filtered through parish churches to bishops and then to the pope himself. This was viewed by many as a corruption of the Church. In the early years of the 15th century, after a century of turmoil, ecclesiastical officials convened in Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

 in 1417 to discuss a resolution to the Schism. Traditionally, councils needed to be called by the Pope, and none of the contenders were willing to call a council and risk being unseated. The act of convening a council without papal approval was justified by the argument that the Church was represented by the whole population of the faithful. The council deposed the warring popes and elected Martin V. The turmoil of the Church, and the perception that it was a corrupted institution, sapped the legitimacy of the papacy within Europe and fostered greater loyalty to regional or national churches. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 published objections to the Church. Although his disenchantment had long been forming, the denunciation of the Church was precipitated by the arrival of preachers raising money to rebuild the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Luther might have been silenced by the Church, but the death of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

 brought the imperial succession to the forefront of concern. Lutherans' split with the Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in 1517, and the subsequent division of Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 into Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

, and Anabaptism, put a definitive end to the unified Church built during the Middle Ages.


European development

The fall of East and central Europe


In the end of the 15th century the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 advanced all over East Europe conquering eventually the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and extending their control on the Slavic states of the Balkans. Hungary became eventually the last bastion of the Latin Christian world, and fought for the keeping its rule on his territories during two centuries. After the tragic death of the young King Vladislaus I of Hungary during the Battle of Varna
Battle of Varna
The Battle of Varna took place on November 10, 1444 near Varna in eastern Bulgaria. In this battle the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad II defeated the Polish and Hungarian armies under Władysław III of Poland and János Hunyadi...

 in 1444 against the Ottomans, the Kingdom without monarch was placed in the hands of the count John Hunyadi
John Hunyadi
John Hunyadi John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János , Medieval Latin: Ioannes Corvinus or Ioannes de Hunyad, Romanian: Iancu (Ioan) de Hunedoara, Croatian: Janko Hunjadi, Serbian: Сибињанин Јанко / Sibinjanin Janko, Slovak: Ján Huňady) John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János , Medieval Latin: ...

, who became Hungary's regent-governor (1446–1453). Hunyadi was considered by the pope as one of the most relevant military figures of the 15th century (Pope Pius II awarded him with the title of Athleta Christi or Champion of Christ), because he was the only hope of keeping a resistance against the Ottomans in Central and West Europe. Hunyadi succeeded during the Siege of Belgrade in 1456 against the Ottomans, which meant the biggest victory against that empire in decades. This battle became a real Crusade against the Muslims, as the Hungarian, Bohemian and Slavic peasants were motivated by the Franciscan monk Saint John of Capistrano, which came from Italy predicating the Holy War. The effect that it created in that time was one of the few main factors that helped achieving the victory. However the premature death of the Hungarian Lord left defenseless and in chaos that area of Europe.

As an absolutely unusual event for the Middle Ages, Hunyadi's son, Matthias, was elected as King for Hungary by the nobility. For the first time, a member of an aristocratic family (and not from a royal family) was crowned. The King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1458–1490) was one of the most prominent figures of this Age, as he directed campaigns to the west conquering Bohemia answering to the Pope's claim for help against the Hussite Protestants, and also for solving the political hostilities with the German emperor Frederick III of Habsburg
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick the Peaceful KG was Duke of Austria as Frederick V from 1424, the successor of Albert II as German King as Frederick IV from 1440, and Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick III from 1452...

 he invaded his west domains (for the end of his life Matthew of Hungary also held the title of Duke of Austria). Matthew organized the Black Army of Hungary
Black Army of Hungary
The Black Army , "Black Legion" or "Regiment"—possibly named after their black armor panoply, see below) is, in historiography, the common name given to the military forces serving under the reign of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary...

, composed of mercenary soldiers that is considered until the date as the biggest army of its time. Using this powerful tool, the Hungarian king led wars against the Turkish armies and stopped them during his reign. However, the Ottoman Empire grew in strength, and the Black Army of Hungary disappeared, leaving the Kingdom defenseless after the death of Matthew. At the same time, Hungary became under his reign the most important country where the Renaissance developed after the Italian states. Many sculptors, poets, musicians, painters, scientists moved to Hungary from all corners of Europe, gathering all in the court of the King. He established what was at the time of Europe's largest libraries, the Bibliotheca Corviniana
Bibliotheca Corviniana
Bibliotheca Corviniana was one of the most renowned libraries of the Renaissance world, established by Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary and Croatia between 1458 and 1490.-History:...

, with over 3000 codices.

Hungary resisted until 1526 when the Ottoman armies won the Battle of Mohács
Battle of Mohács
The Battle of Mohács was fought on August 29, 1526 near Mohács, Hungary. In the battle, forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent....

, and the Christian Kingdom lost his King Louis II of Hungary, falling in a serious crisis. The Protestant reform, and The American Continent's discovery left behind the matter of the Ottoman wars, and mutilated the medieval Europe leaving it without one of its most important Kingdoms. This episode is considered to be one of the final ones of the Medieval Times.

Religion



  • Christian heresy
    Christian heresy
    Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

     (for example, Arian
    Arianism
    Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

    ; Cathar
    Cathar
    Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries...

    ; John Wyclif; Hussites)
  • Christian monasticism
    Christian monasticism
    Christian monasticism is a practice which began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules Christian...

    • Benedictine
      Benedictine
      Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

      s
    • Carthusian
      Carthusian
      The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

      s
    • Cistercians
  • Church and state in medieval Europe
  • The Crusades
  • Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

     (Eastern Europe): Golden Horde
    Golden Horde
    The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

    ; Crimean Khanate
    Crimean Khanate
    Crimean Khanate, or Khanate of Crimea , was a state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783. Its native name was . Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür, the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan...

    ; Sultanate of Rûm
    Sultanate of Rûm
    The Sultanate of Rum , also known as the Anatolian Seljuk State , was a Turkic state centered in in Anatolia, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya. Since the court of the sultanate was highly mobile, cities like Kayseri and Sivas also functioned at times as capitals...

     & Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

  • Islam
    Islam in Europe
    This article deals with the history and evolution of the presence of Islam in Europe. According to the German , the total number of Muslims in Europe in 2007 was about 53 million , excluding Turkey. The total number of Muslims in the European Union in 2007 was about 16 million .-Early history:Islam...

     (Western Europe): Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

    ; Emirate of Sicily
    History of Islam in southern Italy
    The history of Islam in southern Italy begins with the Islamic conquest and subsequent rule of Sicily and Malta, a process that started in the 9th century. Islamic rule over Sicily was effective from 902, and the complete rule of the island lasted from 965 until 1061...

  • Judaism
    Jews in the Middle Ages
    The history of Jews in the Middle Ages spans the timeframe of approximately 500 CE to 1750 CE. This article covers the medieval history of Jews in the Christian-dominated European region...


  • Medieval Inquisition
    Medieval Inquisition
    The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition and later the Papal Inquisition...

  • Mendicant friars
    • Augustinians
      Order of Saint Augustine
      The Order of St. Augustine —historically Ordo Eremitarum Sancti Augustini", O.E.S.A.), generally called Augustinians is a Catholic Religious Order, which, although more ancient, was formally created in the thirteenth century and combined of several previous Augustinian eremetical Orders into one...

    • Carmelites
    • Dominicans
      Dominican Order
      The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

    • Franciscan
      Franciscan
      Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

      s
  • Ottoman wars in Europe
    Ottoman wars in Europe
    The wars of the Ottoman Empire in Europe are also sometimes referred to as the Ottoman Wars or as Turkish Wars, particularly in older, European texts.- Rise :...

  • Pilgrimage
    Pilgrimage
    A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

  • Papacy
    Pope
    The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

  • Reconquista
    Reconquista
    The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...



Science and rationality



The medieval period is frequently caricatured as supposedly a "time of ignorance and superstition" which placed "the word of religious authorities over personal experience and rational activity."

Others argue that reason was generally held in high regard during the Middle Ages. The historian of science Edward Grant
Edward Grant
Edward Grant is an American historian. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1983. Other honors include the 1992 George Sarton Medal, for "a lifetime scholarly achievement" as an historian of science.-Biography:...

, writes that "If revolutionary rational thoughts were expressed [in the 18th century], they were only made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities". Also, contrary to common belief, David Lindberg
David C. Lindberg
David C. Lindberg is an American historian of science. His main focus is in the history of medieval and early modern science, especially physical science and the relationship between religion and science. Lindberg is the author or editor of many books and received numerous grants and awards...

 says "the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led".

The caricature of the period is also reflected in a number of more specific notions. For instance, a claim that was first propagated in the 19th century and is still very common in popular culture is the supposition that all people in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat
Myth of the Flat Earth
The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical....

. This claim is mistaken. In fact, lecturers in the medieval universities commonly advanced evidence in favor of the idea that the Earth was a sphere. Lindberg and Numbers write: "There was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference".

Other misconceptions such as: "the Church prohibited autopsies and dissections during the Middle Ages", "the rise of Christianity killed off ancient science", and "the medieval Christian church suppressed the growth of natural philosophy", are all cited by Ronald Numbers
Ronald Numbers
Ronald L. Numbers is an American historian of science. He was awarded the 2008 George Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society for "a lifetime of exceptional scholarly achievement by a distinguished scholar".- Biography :...

 as examples of widely popular myths that still pass as historical truth, although they are not supported by current historical research. They help maintain the idea of a "Dark Age" spanning through the medieval period.

The Middle Ages outside Europe



The period of the Middle Ages in the territories that were part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (viz. Europe and the Mediterranean) corresponds to the following historical periods in parts of Africa and Asia that were beyond Roman or Hellenistic influence:
  • The Golden Age of Islam
    • Umayyad Caliphate
    • Abbasid Caliphate
  • Turco-Mongols
    • Mongol invasions
      Mongol invasions
      Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

    • Ilkhanate
      Ilkhanate
      The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

    • Timurid dynasty
      Timurid Dynasty
      The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

    • Mamluks
      Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
      The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

    • Seljuks
    • Rise of the Ottoman Empire
      Rise of the Ottoman Empire
      The Foundation and Rise of the Ottoman Empire refers to the period which started with the weakening of the Seljuq Sultanate of Rûm in the very early 14th century and ended with the Byzantine Empire decline and the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453.The rise of the Ottomans correlates with the...

  • Middle kingdoms of India
    Middle kingdoms of India
    Middle kingdoms of India refers to the political entities in India from the 3rd century BC after the decline of the Maurya Empire, and the corresponding rise of the Satavahana dynasty, beginning with Simuka, from 230 BC...

    • Bahmani Sultanate
      Bahmani Sultanate
      The Bahmani Sultanate was a Muslim state of the Deccan in southern India and one of the great medieval Indian kingdoms...

    • Pala Empire
      Pala Empire
      The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

    • Delhi Sultanate
      Delhi Sultanate
      The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

  • "Medieval China
    Europeans in Medieval China
    The term ‘Medieval China’ is quite a misnomer as there was no clear ‘medieval’ period in Chinese history. While the medieval period in Europe spanned over one thousand years, between the fifth and fifteenth centuries, the Chinese Imperial period spans a much greater period of time...

    ":
    • Tang Dynasty
      Tang Dynasty
      The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

    • Song Dynasty
      Song Dynasty
      The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

    • Yuan Dynasty
      Yuan Dynasty
      The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

    • Ming Dynasty
      Ming Dynasty
      The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

  • Feudal Japan:
    • Nara period
      Nara period
      The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

    • Heian period
      Heian period
      The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...

    • Kamakura period
      Kamakura period
      The is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo....

    • Muromachi period
      Muromachi period
      The is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate, which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shogun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration of imperial...

  • Korea: Goryeo
    Goryeo
    The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

  • Khmer Empire
    Khmer Empire
    The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

  • The Sahelian kingdoms in Africa

Historians


  • Marc Bloch
    Marc Bloch
    Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch was a French historian who cofounded the highly influential Annales School of French social history. Bloch was a quintessential modernist. An assimilated Alsatian Jew from an academic family in Paris, he was deeply affected in his youth by the Dreyfus Affair...

     (1886–1944, French) —France, methodology; Annales School
    Annales School
    The Annales School is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and...

  • John Boswell (1947–1994)—Homosexuality
  • Norman Cantor
    Norman Cantor
    Norman Frank Cantor was a historian who specialized in the medieval period. Known for his accessible writing and engaging narrative style, Cantor's books were among the most widely-read treatments of medieval history in English...

     (1930–2004)—historiography
  • Georges Duby
    Georges Duby
    Georges Duby was a French historian specializing in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages...

     (1924–1996)—France; Annales School
    Annales School
    The Annales School is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and...

  • François-Louis Ganshof
    François-Louis Ganshof
    François-Louis Ganshof was a Belgian medievalist. After studies at the Athénée Royal, he came to the University of Ghent, where he came under the influence of Henri Pirenne. After studies with Ferdinand Lot, he practiced law for a period, before returning to the University of Ghent...

     (1895–1980)—Dutch
  • Johan Huizinga
    Johan Huizinga
    Johan Huizinga , was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.-Life:Born in Groningen as the son of Dirk Huizinga, a professor of physiology, and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after his birth, he started out as a student of Indo-Germanic languages, earning his...

  • Jacques Le Goff
    Jacques Le Goff
    Jacques Le Goff is a prolific French historian specializing in the Middle Ages, particularly the 12th and 13th centuries....

    —French, Annales School
    Annales School
    The Annales School is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and...

  • Charles Homer Haskins  (1870–1937), Normans
  • Rev. F. X. Martin
    F. X. Martin
    F.X. Martin O.S.A. , was an Irish cleric, historian and activist.Born in County Kerry , Martin was raised in Dublin and later joined the Augustinian Order...

     -Ireland
  • Rosamond McKitterick
    Rosamond McKitterick
    Rosamond Deborah McKitterick is one of Britain's foremost medieval historians, since 1999 Professor of Medieval History in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society...

    —Frankish and Carolingian history

  • Henri Pirenne
    Henri Pirenne
    Henri Pirenne was a Belgian historian. A medievalist of Walloon descent, he wrote a multivolume history of Belgium in French and became a national hero....

     (1862–1935)—the "Pirenne Thesis" downplays barbarian invasions and emphasizes role of Islam
  • Eileen Power
    Eileen Power
    Eileen Edna LePoer Power was an important British economic historian and medievalist. Eileen Power was the eldest daughter of a stockbroker and was born at Altrincham in 1889. She was a sister of Rhoda Power, the children's writer and broadcaster...

  • Sidney Painter
    Sidney Painter
    Sidney Painter was a twentieth-century American medievalist at Johns Hopkins University.Painter was born in New York City; after the Taft School he attended Yale University . He wrote many influential books...

  • Régine Pernoud
    Régine Pernoud
    Régine Pernoud was a historian and medievalist. She received an award from the Académie française. She is known for writing extensively about Joan of Arc.- Career :...

     (1909–1998)
  • Placido Puccinelli
    Placido Puccinelli
    Padre Placido Puccinelli was a Cassinese monk, a historian and scholar.Educated at the abbey of S. Maria in Florence, he began his monastic career on 15 January 1626. He was interested in historical studies, but above all genealogy and prosopography, in which the abbey had a great tradition...

     (1609–1685)—Italy
  • Miri Rubin
    Miri Rubin
    Miri Rubin is a medieval historian who is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. She was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge, where she gained her doctorate....

    —religion
  • Stephen Runciman (1903–2000)—the Crusades
  • Richard Southern
    Richard Southern
    Sir Richard William Southern , who published under the name R. W. Southern, was a noted English medieval historian, based at the University of Oxford.-Biography:...

     (1912–2001)—religion
  • John Tolan
    John Tolan
    John V. Tolan is a historian of religious and cultural relations between the Arab and Latin worlds in the Middle Ages.He was born in Milwaukee and received a BA in Classics from Yale , an MA and a PhD in History from the University of Chicago, and an Habilitation à diriger des recherches from the...

    --Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations
  • James Westfall Thompson
    James Westfall Thompson
    James Westfall Thompson was an American historian specializing in the history of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly of the Holy Roman Empire and France...

     (1869–1941)

Chroniclers

  • Nestor the Chronicler
    Nestor the Chronicler
    Saint Nestor the Chronicler was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle, , Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, Life of the Holy Passion Bearers, Boris and Gleb, and of the so-called Reading.Nestor was a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev from 1073...

  • Geoffrey of Monmouth
    Geoffrey of Monmouth
    Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

  • Geraldis Cambrensis

See also


  • Barbarian invasions
  • Champagne fairs
    Champagne fairs
    The Champagne fairs were an annual cycle of trading fairs held in towns in the Champagne and Brie regions of France in the Middle Ages. From their origins in local agricultural and stock fairs, the Champagne fairs became an important engine in the reviving economic history of medieval Europe,...

  • Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
    Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
    The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages refers to a series of events in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that brought centuries of European prosperity and growth to a halt...

  • History of the Jews in the Middle Ages
    Jews in the Middle Ages
    The history of Jews in the Middle Ages spans the timeframe of approximately 500 CE to 1750 CE. This article covers the medieval history of Jews in the Christian-dominated European region...

  • Horses in the Middle Ages
    Horses in the Middle Ages
    Horses in the Middle Ages differed in size, build and breed from the modern horse, and were, on average, smaller. They were also more central to society than their modern counterparts, being essential for war, agriculture, and transport....

  • Islamic Golden Age
    Islamic Golden Age
    During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

  • List of basic medieval history topics
  • List of famines
  • Medieval art
    Medieval art
    The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa...

  • Medieval architecture
    Medieval architecture
    Medieval architecture is a term used to represent various forms of architecture common in Medieval Europe.-Characteristics:-Religious architecture:...

  • Medieval communes
  • Medieval cuisine
    Medieval cuisine
    Medieval cuisine includes the foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of various European cultures during the Middle Ages, a period roughly dating from the 5th to the 16th century...

  • Medieval demography
    Medieval demography
    This article discusses human demography in Europe during the Middle Ages, including population trends and movements. Demographic changes helped to shape and define the Middle Ages...

  • Medieval gardening
    Medieval gardening
    Medieval gardening, or gardening during the medieval period, had a primary purpose of providing food for households. For the purposes of this article, the European medieval era will be considered to span from 400 to 1400 CE, though appropriate references may be made to earlier and later times. ...

  • Medieval guilds
    Guild
    A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

  • Medieval household
    Medieval household
    The medieval household was, like modern households, the centre of family life for all classes of European society. Yet in contrast to the household of today, it consisted of many more individuals than the nuclear family...

  • Medieval hunting
    Medieval hunting
    Throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages, men hunted wild animals. While game was at times an important source of food, it was rarely the principal source of nutrition. Hunting was engaged by all classes, but by the High Middle Ages, the necessity of hunting was transformed into a stylized...

  • Medieval literature
    Medieval literature
    Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages . The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as secular works...

  • Medieval medicine
    Medieval medicine
    Medieval medicine in Western Europe was composed of a mixture of existing ideas from antiquity, spiritual influences and what Claude Lévi-Strauss identifies as the "shamanistic complex" and "social consensus." In this era, there was no tradition of scientific medicine, and observations went...

    • Black Death
      Black Death
      The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

    • Plague of Justinian
      Plague of Justinian
      The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman Empire , including its capital Constantinople, in 541–542 AD. It was one of the greatest plagues in history. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is bubonic plague, which later became infamous for either causing or...


  • Medieval music
    Medieval music
    Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

  • Medieval philosophy
    Medieval philosophy
    Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

  • Medieval poetry
    Medieval poetry
    Because most of what we have was written down by clerics, much of extant medieval poetry is religious. The chief exception is the work of the troubadours and the minnesänger, whose primary innovation was the ideal of courtly love. Among the most famous of secular poetry is Carmina Burana, a...

  • Medieval reenactment
    Medieval reenactment
    Medieval reenactment is a form of historical reenactment that focuses on re-enacting European history in the period from the fall of Rome to about the end of the 15th century. The second half of this period is often called the Middle Ages...

  • Medieval science
    • Alchemy
      Alchemy
      Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

  • Medieval ships
    Medieval ships
    The ships of Medieval Europe were powered by sail or oar, or both. There were a large variety, mostly based in much older conservative design. Although wider and more frequent communications within Europe meant exposure to a variety of improvements, experimental failures were costly and rarely...

  • Medieval theatre
    Medieval theatre
    Medieval theatre refers to the theatre of Europe between the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in approximately the 15th century A.D...

  • Medieval tournament
    Tournament (medieval)
    A tournament, or tourney is the name popularly given to chivalrous competitions or mock fights of the Middle Ages and Renaissance . It is one of various types of hastiludes....

  • Medieval warm period
    Medieval Warm Period
    The Medieval Warm Period , Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China, New Zealand, and other countries lasting from...

  • Medieval warfare
    Medieval warfare
    Medieval warfare is the warfare of the Middle Ages. In Europe, technological, cultural, and social developments had forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing military tactics and the role of cavalry and artillery...

  • Middle Ages in film
    Middle Ages in film
    Medieval films imagine and portray the Middle Ages through the visual, audio and thematic forms of cinema.-Background:The 20th century is not the first to create images of life during medieval times. The Middle Ages ended over five centuries ago and each century has imagined, portrayed and depicted...

  • Mining and metallurgy in medieval Europe
    Mining and metallurgy in medieval Europe
    The Middle Ages in Europe cover the time span from the 5th c. AD, marked by the decay of the Roman Empire, to the 16th c. AD, when social and economic factors shifted Europe towards the Modern Era. During the millennium between classical antiquity and the modern period, a series of technological...

  • Neo-medievalism
    Neo-medievalism
    Neo-medievalism is a neologism that was first popularized by Italian medievalist Umberto Eco in his 1973 essay "Dreaming in the Middle Ages"...

  • Popular revolt in late medieval Europe
    Popular revolt in late medieval Europe
    Popular revolts in late medieval Europe were uprisings and rebellions by peasants in the countryside, or the bourgeois in towns, against nobles, abbots and kings during the upheavals of the 14th through early 16th centuries, part of a larger "Crisis of the Late Middle Ages"...

  • Serfdom
    Serfdom
    Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

  • Slave trade in the Middle Ages
  • Tatar invasions
    Tatar invasions
    The Mongol invasion of Europe from the east took place over the course of three centuries, from the Middle Ages to the early modern period.The terms Tatars or Tartars are applied to nomadic Turkic peoples who, themselves, were conquered by Mongols and incorporated into their horde...

  • Women in the Middle Ages
    Women in the Middle Ages
    Women in the Middle Ages occupied a number of different social roles. Women in the Middle Ages, a period of European history from around the 5th century to the 15th century, held the position of wife, mother, peasant, artisan, and nun, as well as some important leadership roles, such as abbess or...



Further reading

  • Bishop, Morris. The Middle Ages (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Cahill, Thomas How the Irish Saved Civilization (1995)
  • Cantor, Norman. The Civilization of the Middle Ages (1994) excerpt and text search
  • Contamine, Philippe. War in the Middle Ages (1991) excerpt and text search
  • Fossier, Robert. The Axe and the Oath: Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press; 2010) 400 pages; the everyday experience and material culture of ordinary men and women
  • Hanawalt, Barbara. The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History (1999) excerpt and text search, for middle schools
  • Holmes, George, ed. The Oxford History of Medieval Europe (1992) online edition
  • Jordan, William Chester, ed. The Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia for Students (4 vol 1996)
  • Keen, Maurice. The History of Medieval Europe (Penguin History) (1991)
  • Southern, Richard W. The Making of the Middle Ages (1961) excerpt and text search
  • Jordan, William Chester. Europe in the High Middle Ages (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Strayer, Joseph R. Western Europe in the Middle Ages: A Short History (1955) online edition
  • Thompson, James Westfall. Economic and social history of the Middle Ages: 300-1300 (2 vol 1966)

External links