Medieval_Times

Summary of Medieval Times

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages (or Medieval Times) lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase. Manorialism, the organization of peasants into villages that owed rent and labor services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organized in the High Middle Ages. The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralized nation-states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasized joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities. The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period and into the Late Middle Ages.

The Dark Ages

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The Dark Ages is a term for the Early Middle Ages or occasionally the entire Middle Ages, in Western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire that characterises it as marked by economic, intellectual and cultural decline.

The concept of a “Dark Age” as a historiographical periodization originated in the 1330s with the Italian scholar Petrarch, who regarded the post-Roman centuries as “dark” compared to the “light” of classical antiquity. The term employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the era’s “darkness” (ignorance and error) with earlier and later periods of ‘light’ (knowledge and understanding). The phrase Dark Age(s) itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, originally applied by Caesar Baronius in 1602 when he referred to a tumultuous period in the 10th and 11th centuries. The concept thus came to characterize the entire Middle Ages as a time of intellectual darkness in Europe between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance that became especially popular during the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment. Others, however, have used the term to denote the relative ignorance of historians regarding at least the early part of the Middle Ages, from a scarcity of records.

As the accomplishments of the era came to be better understood in the 19th and the 20th centuries, scholars began restricting the Dark Ages appellation to the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century), and today’s scholars also reject its usage for the period. The majority of modern scholars avoid the term altogether due to its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate. Despite this, Petrarch’s pejorative meaning remains in use, particularly in popular culture, which often simplistically views the Middle Ages as a time of violence and backwardness.

Dark to Middle Ages

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In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period (also spelled mediæval or mediaeval) lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, aligning with[citation needed] the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD and ended with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD before transitioning into the Renaissance and then the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: antiquity, medieval, and modern. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Population decline, counterurbanisation, the collapse of centralized authority, invasions, and mass migrations of tribes, which had begun in late antiquity, continued into the Early Middle Ages. The large-scale movements of the Migration Period, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East—most recently part of the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire—came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad’s successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with classical antiquity was not complete. The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power. Secular law was advanced greatly by the Code of Justinian. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated extant Roman institutions, while new bishoprics and monasteries were founded as Christianity expanded in Europe. The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire during the later 8th and early 9th centuries. It covered much of Western Europe but later succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions: Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens from the south.

During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase. Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages. This period also saw the formal division of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, with the East–West Schism of 1054. The Crusades, which began in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims and also contributed to the expansion of Latin Christendom in the Baltic region and the Iberian Peninsula. Kings became the heads of centralised nation states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. In the West, intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities. The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as Chartres mark the end of this period.

The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 1347 and 1350, the Black Death killed about a third of Europeans. Controversy, heresy, and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period.

The Late Middle Ages

The Late Middle Ages, late medieval period, or Lower Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from AD 1350 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period (and in much of Europe, the Renaissance).

Around 1350, centuries of prosperity and growth in Europe came to a halt. A series of famines and plagues, including the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the Black Death, reduced the population to around half of what it had been before the calamities. Along with depopulation came social unrest and endemic warfare. France and England experienced serious peasant uprisings, such as the Jacquerie and the Peasants’ Revolt, as well as over a century of intermittent conflict, the Hundred Years’ War. To add to the many problems of the period, the unity of the Catholic Church was temporarily shattered by the Western Schism. Collectively, those events are sometimes called the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages.

Despite the crises, the 14th century was also a time of great progress in the arts and sciences. Following a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman texts that took root in the High Middle Ages, the Italian Renaissance began. The absorption of Latin texts had started before the Renaissance of the 12th century through contact with Arabs during the Crusades, but the availability of important Greek texts accelerated with the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, when many Byzantine scholars had to seek refuge in the West, particularly Italy.

Combined with this influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing, which facilitated the dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning. Those two things would later lead to the Reformation. Toward the end of the period, the Age of Discovery began. The expansion of the Ottoman Empire cut off trading possibilities with the East. Europeans were forced to seek new trading routes, leading to the Spanish expedition under Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492 and Vasco da Gama’s voyage to Africa and India in 1498. Their discoveries strengthened the economy and power of European nations.

The changes brought about by these developments have led many scholars to view this period as the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern history and of early modern Europe. However, the division is somewhat artificial, since ancient learning was never entirely absent from European society. As a result, there was developmental continuity between the ancient age (via classical antiquity) and the modern age. Some historians, particularly in Italy, prefer not to speak of the Late Middle Ages at all but rather see the high period of the Middle Ages transitioning to the Renaissance and the modern era.

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