The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three "ages": the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times. more...
The Middle Ages of Western Europe are commonly dated from the end of the Western Roman Empire (5th century) until the rise of national monarchies, the start of European overseas exploration, the humanist revival, and the Protestant Reformation starting in 1517. These various changes all mark the beginning of the Early Modern period that preceded the Industrial Revolution.
The Middle Ages are commonly referred to as the medieval period or simply medieval (sometimes spelled "mediaeval" or, historically, "mediæval").
The Early Middle Ages (from 300AD)
As the political unity of the Roman Empire dwindled in Western Europe during and after the 3rd century (ref. Civilization of the Middle Ages; Norman F. Cantor), its territories were settled by succeeding waves of "barbarian" tribal confederations, some of whom rejected the classical culture of Rome, while others, like the Goths, admired it and considered themselves the legatees and heirs of Rome. Prominent among these peoples in the movement were the Huns and Avars and Magyars with the large number of Germanic and later Slavic peoples. It must be stressed that the institution of the eastern half of the old empire still continued to function. East Romans thought of themselves as the heirs to the Roman legacy in all ways, and they also thought their version of Christianity was more legitimate than that of the Catholic west. Constantinople was one of the two capitals of the later empire, and was able to avoid capture by the barbarian tribes.
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