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The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
of
European history The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of written records. During the Neolith ...
. The alternative term ''
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is a used by historians to describe the time of transition from to the in and adjacent areas bordering the . The popularization of this periodization in English has generally been credited to historian , after the publication o ...

Late Antiquity
'', for the early part of the period, emphasizes elements of continuity with the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, while ''Early Middle Ages'' is used to emphasize developments characteristic of the earlier
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...

medieval
period. As such the concept overlaps with Late Antiquity, following the decline of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
, and precedes the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
( 11th to 13th centuries). The period saw a continuation of trends evident since late
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ...
, including
population decline A population decline (sometimes underpopulation or depopulation or population collapse) in human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, ...
, especially in urban centres, a decline of trade, a small rise in average temperatures in the North Atlantic region and increased migration. In the 19th century the Early Middle Ages were often labelled the ''Dark Ages'', a characterization based on the relative scarcity of literary and cultural output from this time. However, the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
, or
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
, continued to survive, though in the 7th century the
Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, al-Khilāfah ar-Rāšidah) was the first of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an ...
and the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under th ...
conquered swathes of formerly Roman territory. Many of the listed trends reversed later in the period. In 800 the title of ''
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...

Emperor
'' was revived in Western Europe with
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
, whose
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
greatly affected later European social structure and history. Europe experienced a return to systematic agriculture in the form of the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disco ...
, which adopted such innovations as three-field planting and the heavy plough.
Barbarian A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either Civilization, uncivilized or primitive. The designation is usually applied as a generalization based on a popular stereotype; barbarians can be members of any nation judged by some to be less ...
migration stabilized in much of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
, although the
Viking expansion Viking expansion was the historical movement which led Norse explorers, traders and warriors, the latter known in modern scholarship as Vikings Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr were the seafaring Norse people from southern Scandin ...

Viking expansion
greatly affected
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
.


History


Collapse of Rome

Starting in the 2nd century, various indicators of Roman civilization began to decline, including
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000.">South_Karelia.html" ;"title="Lappeenranta, South Karelia">Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finla ...
, seaborne commerce, and population.
Archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
have identified only 40 percent as many
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
shipwrecks from the 3rd century as from the first. Estimates of the population of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
during the period from 150 to 400 suggest a fall from 65 million to 50 million, a decline of more than 20 percent. Some scholars have connected this de-population to the Dark Ages Cold Period (300–700), when a decrease in global temperatures impaired agricultural yields. Early in the 3rd century
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally been defined by the use of ancient and early medieval Germanic languages and are thus equated at le ...

Germanic peoples
migrated south from
Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to , , and , sometimes more narrowly to the , or more broadly to include , th ...

Scandinavia
and reached the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
, creating formidable confederations which opposed the local
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large Iranian peoples, Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the centr ...
. In
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...

Dacia
(present-day Romania) and on the steppes north of the Black Sea the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people who played a major role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the emergence of medieval Europe. In his book ''Getica'' (c. 551), ...
, a Germanic people, established at least two kingdoms: Therving and Greuthung. The arrival of the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
in 372–375 ended the history of these kingdoms. The Huns, a confederation of central Asian tribes, founded an empire. They had mastered the difficult art of shooting composite
recurve
recurve
bows from horseback. The Goths sought refuge in Roman territory (376), agreeing to enter the Empire as unarmed settlers. However many bribed the Danube border-guards into allowing them to bring their weapons. The discipline and organization of a
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the , composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 (cavalry) in the period of the (509 BC–27 BC); and was composed of 5,200 infantry and 120 in the period of the (27 BC – AD 1453) ...

Roman legion
made it a superb fighting unit. The Romans preferred infantry to cavalry because infantry could be trained to retain the formation in combat, while cavalry tended to scatter when faced with opposition. While a barbarian army could be raised and inspired by the promise of plunder, the legions required a central government and taxation to pay for salaries, constant training, equipment, and food. The decline in agricultural and economic activity reduced the empire's taxable income and thus its ability to maintain a professional army to defend itself from external threats. In the
Gothic War (376–382) Between 376 and 382 the Gothic War against the Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmān ...
, the Goths revolted and confronted the main Roman army in the
Battle of Adrianople The Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between an Eastern Roman Empire, Eastern Roman East Roman army, army led by the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens and Goths, Gothic rebels (largely T ...
(378). By this time, the distinction in the Roman army between Roman regulars and barbarian
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen by after his reorganisation of the from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions ...
ries had broken down, and the
Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the (historiographically known as the ). It i ...

Roman army
comprised mainly barbarians and soldiers recruited for a single campaign. The general decline in discipline also led to the use of smaller shields and lighter weaponry.Eisenberg, Robert,
The Battle of Adrianople: A Reappraisal
", p. 112.
Not wanting to share the glory, Eastern Emperor
Valens Flavius Valens (: Οὐάλης) (328– 9 August 378) was from 364 to 378. He was the younger brother of the emperor , who gave Valens the of the to rule. Before 364, Valens had a largely unremarkable military career. In 378, Valens was defe ...

Valens
ordered an attack on the Therving infantry under
Fritigern Fritigern (fl. 370s) was a Thervingian Gothic chieftain whose decisive victory at Adrianople Edirne (, ), historically known as Adrianople (; la, Hadrianopolis; founded by the Roman emperor Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadri ...
without waiting for Western Emperor
Gratian Gratian (; la, Flavius Gratianus; 18 April 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor, emperor of the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman Empire from 367 to 383. The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied his father on severa ...

Gratian
, who was on the way with reinforcements. While the Romans were fully engaged, the Greuthung cavalry arrived. Only one-third of the Roman army managed to escape. This represented the most shattering defeat that the Romans had suffered since the
Battle of Cannae A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force c ...
(216 BC), according to the Roman military writer
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius'' ...
. The core army of the Eastern Roman Empire was destroyed, Valens was killed, and the Goths were freed to lay waste to the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
, including the armories along the Danube. As
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Eng ...

Edward Gibbon
comments, "The Romans, who so coolly and so concisely mention the acts of ''justice'' which were exercised by the legions, reserve their compassion and their eloquence for their own sufferings, when the provinces were invaded and desolated by the arms of the successful Barbarians." The empire lacked the resources, and perhaps the will, to reconstruct the professional mobile army destroyed at Adrianople, so it had to rely on barbarian armies to fight for it. The
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
succeeded in buying off the Goths with tribute. The
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
proved less fortunate.
Stilicho Flavius Stilicho (; c. 359 – 22 August 408) was a military commander in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin language, Latin: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of Ancient Rome, from the Roman Kingdom (to c ...

Stilicho
, the western empire's half-Vandal military commander, stripped the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
frontier of troops to fend off invasions of Italy by the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
in 402–03 and by other Goths in 406–07. Fleeing before the advance of the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
, the
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They are also ...
,
Suebi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples originally from the Elbe river region in what is now Germany and Czechia, the Czech Republic. In the early Roman era they included many peoples with their ow ...
, and
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
launched an attack across the frozen Rhine near
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
; on 31 December 406, the frontier gave way and these tribes surged into
Roman Gaul Roman Gaul refers to Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (n ...

Roman Gaul
. There soon followed the
Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germani ...
and bands of the
Alamanni The Alemanni (also ''Alamanni''; ''Suebi'' "Swabians") were a confederation of Germanic peoples, Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captu ...
. In the fit of anti-barbarian hysteria which followed, the Western Roman Emperor Honorius had Stilicho summarily beheaded (408). Stilicho submitted his neck, "with a firmness not unworthy of the last of the Roman generals", wrote Gibbon. Honorius was left with only worthless courtiers to advise him. In 410, the Visigoths led by
Alaric I Alaric I (; got, 𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, , "ruler of all"; la, Alaricus; c. 370 – 410 AD) was the first Germanic Kingship, king of the Visigoths, from 395 to 410. He rose to leadership of the Goths who came to occupy Moesia – terr ...
captured the city of Rome and for three days fire and slaughter ensued as bodies filled the streets, palaces were stripped of their valuables, and the invaders interrogated and tortured those citizens thought to have hidden wealth. As newly converted Christians, the Goths respected church property, but those who found sanctuary in the
Vatican Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Ci ...

Vatican
and in other churches were the fortunate few.


Migration Period

The Goths and Vandals were only the first of many bands of peoples that flooded
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
in the absence of administrative governance. Some lived only for war and pillage and disdained Roman ways. Other peoples had been in prolonged contact with the Roman civilization, and were, to a certain degree, romanized. "A poor Roman plays the Goth, a rich Goth the Roman" said King Theoderic of the Ostrogoths. The subjects of the Roman empire were a mix of Roman Christian,
Arian Christian Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from the ...
,
Nestorian Christian Nestorianism is a polysemic Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus ...

Nestorian Christian
, and
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin, Latin language recognized as a Literary language, literary standard language, standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was used from 75 BC ...
. The Germanic peoples knew little of cities, money, or writing, and were mostly pagan, though they were becoming increasingly Arian.
Arianism Arianism is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256–336) was a Cyrenaic The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Greek ...
was a branch of Christianity that was first proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius. Arius proclaimed that Christ is not truly divine but a created being. His basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent and immutable; the Son, who as son is not self-existent, cannot be God. During the migrations, or ''
Völkerwanderung The Migration Period or better known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective) was a period in the history of Europe, during and after the decline of the Roman Empire, decline of the Western Roman Empire, during which the ...
'' (wandering of the peoples), the earlier settled populations were sometimes left intact though usually partially or entirely displaced. Roman culture north of the
Po River The Po ( , ; la, Padus or ; grc, Πάδος, Pádos, or , ; Ancient Ligurian: or ) is the longest river in Italy. It is a river that flows eastward across northern Italy starting from the Cottian Alps; it, Alpi Cozie , photo=Monviso_Cottian_ ...
was almost entirely displaced by the migrations. Whereas the peoples of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal continued to speak the dialects of Latin that today constitute the
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
, the language of the smaller Roman-era population of what is now England disappeared with barely a trace in the territories settled by the Anglo-Saxons, although the Brittanic kingdoms of the west remained Brythonic speakers. The new peoples greatly altered established society, including law, culture, religion, and patterns of property ownership. The ''
pax Romana The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
'' had provided safe conditions for trade and manufacture, and a unified cultural and educational milieu of far-ranging connections. As this was lost, it was replaced by the rule of local potentates, sometimes members of the established Romanized ruling elite, sometimes new lords of alien culture. In
Aquitania Gallia Aquitania ( , ), also known as Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France France ...

Aquitania
,
Gallia Narbonensis Gallia Narbonensis can be seen in the south of modern-day France as a Roman province. Gallia Narbonensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin wa ...
, southern Italy and Sicily,
Baetica Hispania Baetica, often abbreviated Baetica, was one of three Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Roman ...

Baetica
or southern
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
, and the Iberian Mediterranean coast, Roman culture lasted until the 6th or 7th centuries. The gradual breakdown and transformation of economic and social linkages and infrastructure resulted in increasingly localized outlooks. This breakdown was often fast and dramatic as it became unsafe to travel or carry goods over any distance; there was a consequent collapse in trade and manufacture for export. Major industries that depended on trade, such as large-scale pottery manufacture, vanished almost overnight in places like Britain.
Tintagel Tintagel () or Trevena ( kw, Tre war Venydh meaning ''village on a mountain'') is a civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest ...

Tintagel
in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, as well as several other centres, managed to obtain supplies of Mediterranean luxury goods well into the 6th century, but then lost their trading links. Administrative, educational and military infrastructure quickly vanished, and the loss of the established ''
cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; ...
'' led to the collapse of the schools and to a rise of illiteracy even among the leadership. The careers of
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
(died c. 585) at the beginning of this period and of
Alcuin of York Alcuin of York (; la, Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus; 735 – 19 May 804) – also called Ealhwine, Alhwin, or Alchoin – was an English scholar, clergyman, poet, and teacher from York York is a cathedral city and unitary authority, ...
(died 804) at its close were founded alike on their valued literacy. For the formerly Roman area, there was another 20 per cent decline in population between 400 and 600, or a one-third decline for 150–600. In the 8th century, the volume of trade reached its lowest level. The very small number of
shipwreck A shipwreck is the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental. In January 1999, Angela Croome estimated that there have ...

shipwreck
s found that dated from the 8th century supports this (which represents less than 2 per cent of the number of shipwrecks dated from the 1st century). There was also reforestation and a retreat of agriculture centred around 500. The Romans had practiced two-field agriculture, with a crop grown in one field and the other left fallow and ploughed under to eliminate weeds. Systematic agriculture largely disappeared and yields declined. It is estimated that the
Plague of Justinian The plague of Justinian or Justinianic plague (541–549 AD) was the first major outbreak In epidemiology, an outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place. It may affect a small and localized group or ...
which began in 541 and recurred periodically for 150 years thereafter killed as many as 100 million people across the world. Some historians such as Josiah C. Russell (1958) have suggested a total European population loss of 50 to 60 per cent between 541 and 700. After the year 750, major epidemic diseases did not appear again in Europe until the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. It is the List of epidemics, most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, causing th ...

Black Death
of the 14th century. The disease
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
, which was eradicated in the late 20th century, did not definitively enter
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
until about 581 when Bishop Gregory of Tours provided an eyewitness account that describes the characteristic findings of smallpox. Waves of
epidemics An epidemic (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
wiped out large rural populations. Most of the details about the epidemics are lost, probably due to the scarcity of surviving written records. For almost a thousand years,
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
was the most politically important, richest and largest city in Europe. Around 100 AD, it had a population of about 450,000, and declined to a mere 20,000 during the Early Middle Ages, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins and vegetation.


Byzantine Empire

The death of
Theodosius I Theodosius I ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος ; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor from 379 to 395. During his reign, he faced and overcame a war against the Goths and two civil wars, and ...

Theodosius I
in 395 was followed by the division of the empire between his two sons. The
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
disintegrated into a mosaic of warring Germanic kingdoms in the 5th century, effectively making the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
in Constantinople the Greek-speaking successor to the classical Roman Empire. To distinguish it from its predominantly Latin-speaking predecessor, historians began referring to the empire as "Byzantine", after the original name of Constantinople,
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
. Despite this, the inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire continued to regard themselves as Romans, or ''Romaioi'', until the
fall of Constantinople The fall of Constantinople ( grc-x-byzant, Ἅλωσις τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως , translit=Hálōsis tē̂s Kōnstantīnoupóleōs ; tr, İstanbul'un Fethi, lit=Conquest of Istanbul ) was the capture of the capital Capi ...
to the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
in 1453. The Eastern Roman or "Byzantine" Empire aimed to retain control of the trade routes between Europe and the Orient, which made the Empire the richest polity in Medieval Europe. Making use of their sophisticated warfare and superior diplomacy, the Byzantines managed to fend off assaults by the migrating barbarians. Their dreams of subduing the Western potentates briefly materialized during the reign of
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
in 527–565. Not only did Justinian restore some western territories to the Roman Empire, including Rome and the Italian peninsula itself, but he also codified
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
(with his codification remaining in force in many areas of Europe until the 19th century) and commissioned the building of the largest and most architecturally advanced edifice of the Early Middle Ages, the
Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia (; ; la, Sancta Sophia, lit=), officially known as the Holy Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ( tr, Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi, آياصوفيا  كبير جامع  شريف), and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia (; ; ) and for ...

Hagia Sophia
. However, his reign also saw the outbreak of a
bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of biological cell The cell (from Latin ''cella'', meaning "small room") is the basic ...
pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of individuals. A widespread disease with a stable number o ...

pandemic
, now known retroactively as the
Plague of Justinian The plague of Justinian or Justinianic plague (541–549 AD) was the first major outbreak In epidemiology, an outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place. It may affect a small and localized group or ...
. The Emperor himself was afflicted, and within the span of less than a year, an estimated 200,000 Constantinopolites—two out of every five city residents—had died of the disease. Justinian's successors
MauriceMaurice may refer to: People *Saint Maurice (died 287), Roman legionary and Christian martyr *Maurice (emperor) or Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus (539–602), Byzantine emperor *Maurice (bishop of London) (died 1107), Lord Chancellor and Lor ...
and
Heraclius Heraclius ( el, Ἡράκλειος, ''Hērakleios''; c. 575 – 11 February 641), sometimes called Heraclius I, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinop ...
confronted invasions by the Avar and Slavic tribes. After the devastations by the Slavs and the Avars, large areas of the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
became depopulated. In 626 Constantinople, by far the largest city of early medieval Europe, withstood a combined siege by Avars and Persians. Within several decades, Heraclius completed a holy war against the Persians, taking their capital and having a
Sassanid The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, '), and also called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last before the in the mid-7th century AD. Named after the , it endured for over four centuri ...
monarch assassinated. Yet Heraclius lived to see his spectacular success undone by the
Muslim conquests History of Islam, The history of the spread of Islam spans about 1,400 years. Muslim conquests following Muhammad's death led to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area; conversion to Islam was boosted by Islamic missio ...
of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
, three Palaestina provinces,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...
, and
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...
which was considerably facilitated by religious disunity and the proliferation of heretical movements (notably
Monophysitism Monophysitism ( or ) or monophysism () is a Christological In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, t ...
and
Nestorianism Nestorianism is a polysemic Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus ...

Nestorianism
) in the areas converted to Islam. Although Heraclius's successors managed to salvage
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
from two Arab sieges (in 674–77 and 717), the empire of the 8th and early 9th century was rocked by the great
Iconoclastic Controversy Byzantine Iconoclasm ( gr, Εἰκονομαχία, Eikonomachía, literally, "image struggle" or "war on icons") refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empir ...
, punctuated by dynastic struggles between various factions at court. The
Bulgar
Bulgar
and Slavic tribes profited from these disorders and invaded
Illyria In classical antiquity, Illyria ( grc, Ἰλλυρία, ''Illyría'' or , ''Illyrís''; la, Illyria, ''Illyricum'') was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by numerous tribes of people collectively known as the Illyria ...

Illyria
,
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
and even
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
. After the decisive victory at Ongala in 680 the armies of the Bulgars and Slavs advanced to the south of the Balkan mountains, defeating again the Byzantines who were then forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty which acknowledged the establishment of the
First Bulgarian Empire The First Bulgarian Empire ( cu, блъгарьско цѣсарьствиѥ, blagarysko tsesarystviye) was a medieval Bulgar- Slavic and later Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

First Bulgarian Empire
on the borders of the Empire. To counter these threats a new system of administration was introduced. The regional civil and military administration were combined in the hands of a general, or strategos. A
theme Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts) In contemporary literary studies, a theme is a central topic, subject, or message within a narrative. Themes can be divided into two categories: a work's ''thematic concept'' is what readers "think the ...
, which formerly denoted a subdivision of the Byzantine army, came to refer to a region governed by a strategos. The reform led to the emergence of great landed families which controlled the regional military and often pressed their claims to the throne (see Bardas Phocas and Bardas Sklerus for characteristic examples). By the early 8th century, notwithstanding the shrinking territory of the empire, Constantinople remained the largest and the wealthiest city west of Tang dynasty, China, comparable only to Sassanid Ctesiphon, and later Abassid Baghdad. The population of the imperial capital fluctuated between 300,000 and 400,000 as the emperors undertook measures to restrain its growth. The only other large Christian cities were Rome (50,000) and Salonika (30,000). Even before the 8th century was out, the Farmer's Law signalled the resurrection of agricultural technologies in the Roman Empire. As the 2006 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' noted, "the technological base of Byzantine society was more advanced than that of contemporary western Europe: iron tools could be found in the villages; water mills dotted the landscape; and field-sown beans provided a diet rich in protein". The ascension of the Macedonian dynasty in 867 marked the end of the period of political and religious turmoil and introduced a new golden age of the empire. While the talented generals such as Nikephoros Phokas the Elder, Nicephorus Phocas expanded the frontiers, the Macedonian emperors (such as Leo the Wise and Constantine VII) presided over the cultural flowering in Constantinople, known as the Macedonian Renaissance. The enlightened Macedonian rulers scorned the rulers of Western Europe as illiterate barbarians and maintained a nominal claim to rule over the West. Although this fiction had been exploded with the coronation of
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
in Rome (800), the Byzantine rulers did not treat their Western counterparts as equals. Generally, they had little interest in political and economic developments in the barbarian (from their point of view) West. Against this economic background the culture and the imperial traditions of the Eastern Roman Empire attracted its northern neighbours—Slavs, Bulgars, and Khazars—to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, in search of either pillage or enlightenment. The movement of the Germanic tribes to the south triggered the great migration of the Slavs, who occupied the vacated territories. In the 7th century, they moved westward to the Elbe, southward to the Danube and eastward to the Dnieper. By the 9th century, the Slavs had expanded into sparsely inhabited territories to the south and east from these natural frontiers, peacefully assimilating the indigenous Illyrians, Illyrian and Finnic peoples, Finnic populations.


Rise of Islam

;632–750 From the 7th century, Byzantine history was greatly affected by the rise of Islam and the Caliphates. Muslim Arabs first invaded historically Roman territory under Abū Bakr, first Caliph of the
Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, al-Khilāfah ar-Rāšidah) was the first of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an ...
, who entered Roman Syria and Roman Mesopotamia. The Byzantines and neighbouring Persian Sasanids had been severely weakened by a long succession of Byzantine–Sasanian wars, especially the climactic Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628. Under Umar, the second Caliph, the Muslims decisively conquered Syria and Mesopotamia, as well as Roman Palestine, Roman Egypt, parts of Asia Minor and Africa Province, Roman North Africa, while they entirely toppled the Sasanids. In the mid 7th century, following the Muslim conquest of Persia, Islam penetrated into the Caucasus region, of which parts Russo-Persian Wars, would later permanently become part of Russia. This expansion of Islam continued under Umar's successors and then the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under th ...
, which conquered the rest of Mediterranean North Africa and most of the Visigothic Kingdom, Iberian Peninsula. Over the next centuries Muslim forces were able to take further European territory, including Cyprus in the Middle Ages, Cyprus, Malta, Septimania, Emirate of Crete, Crete, and history of Islam in southern Italy, Sicily and parts of southern Italy. The Muslim conquest of Hispania began when the Moors (mostly Berber people, Berbers and some Arabs) invaded the Christians, Christian Visigoths, Visigothic kingdom of Iberian Peninsula#Pre-modern Iberia, Iberia in the year 711, under their Berber leader Tariq ibn Ziyad. They landed at Gibraltar on 30 April and worked their way northward. Tariq's forces were joined the next year by those of his superior, Musa ibn Nusair. During the eight-year campaign most of the Iberian Peninsula was brought under Muslim rule—except for small areas in the north-northwest (Asturias) and largely Basque people, Basque regions in the Pyrenees. This territory, under the Arab name Al-Andalus, became part of the expanding Umayyad empire. The unsuccessful Siege of Constantinople (717–718), second siege of Constantinople (717) weakened the Umayyad, Umayyad dynasty and reduced their prestige. After their success in overrunning Iberia, the conquerors moved northeast across the Pyrenees. They were defeated by the Frankish Empire, Frankish leader Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, Battle of Poitiers in 732. The Umayyads were overthrown in 750 by the Abbāsids and most of the Umayyad clan were massacred. A surviving Umayyad prince, Abd-ar-rahman I, escaped to Spain and founded a new Umayyad dynasty in the Caliph of Cordoba, Emirate of Cordoba in 756. Charles Martel's son Pippin the Short retook Narbonne, and his grandson Charlemagne established the Marca Hispanica across the Pyrenees in part of what today is Catalonia, reconquering Girona in 785 and Barcelona in 801. The Umayyads in Hispania proclaimed themselves caliphs in 929.


Birth of the Latin West


700–850

Climatic conditions in Western Europe began to improve after 700. In that year, the two major powers in western Europe were the Franks in Gaul and the Lombardy, Lombards in Italy.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 102 The Lombards had been thoroughly Romanized, and their kingdom was stable and well developed. The Franks, in contrast, were barely any different from their barbarian Germanic ancestors. Their kingdom was weak and divided. Impossible to guess at the time, but by the end of the century, the Lombardic kingdom would be extinct, while the Frankish kingdom would have nearly reassembled the Western Roman Empire. Though much of Roman civilization north of the Po (river), Po River had been wiped out in the years after the end of the Western Roman Empire, between the 5th and 8th centuries, new political and social infrastructure began to develop. Much of this was initially Germanic and pagan.
Arian Christian Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from the ...
missionaries had been spreading Arian Christianity throughout northern Europe, though by 700 the religion of northern Europeans was largely a mix of Germanic paganism, Christianized paganism, and Arian Christianity.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 147 Catholic Christianity had barely started to spread in northern Europe by this time. Through the practice of simony, local princes typically auctioned off ecclesiastical offices, causing priests and bishops to function as though they were yet another noble under the patronage of the prince. In contrast, a network of Christian monasticism, monasteries had sprung up as monks sought separation from the world. These monasteries remained independent from local princes, and as such constituted the "church" for most northern Europeans during this time. Being independent from local princes, they increasingly stood out as centres of learning, of scholarship, and as religious centres where individuals could receive spiritual or monetary assistance. The interaction between the culture of the newcomers, their warband loyalties, the remnants of classical culture, and Christian influences, produced a new model for society, based in part on feudalism, feudal obligations. The centralized administrative systems of the Romans did not withstand the changes, and the institutional support for chattel slavery largely disappeared. The Anglo-Saxons in England had also started to convert from Anglo-Saxon paganism, Anglo-Saxon polytheism after the Gregorian mission, arrival of Christian missionaries in 597.


Italy

The Lombards, who first entered Italy in 568 under Alboin, carved out a state in the north, with its capital at Pavia. At first, they were unable to conquer the Exarchate of Ravenna, the ''Lazio, Ducatus Romanus'', and Calabria and Apulia. The next two hundred years were occupied in trying to conquer these territories from the Byzantine Empire. The Lombard state was relatively Romanized, at least when compared to the Germanic kingdoms in northern Europe. It was highly decentralized at first, with the territorial dukes having practical sovereignty in their duchies, especially in the southern duchies of Duchy of Spoleto, Spoleto and Duchy of Benevento, Benevento. For a decade following the death of Cleph in 575, the Lombards did not even elect a king; this period is called the Rule of the Dukes. The first written legal code was composed in poor Latin in 643: the ''Edictum Rothari''. It was primarily the codification of the oral legal tradition of the people. The Lombard state was well-organized and stabilized by the end of the long reign of Liutprand, King of the Lombards, Liutprand (717–744), but its collapse was sudden. Unsupported by the dukes, King Desiderius was defeated and forced to surrender his kingdom to Charlemagne in 774. The Lombard kingdom ended and a period of Frankish rule was initiated. The Frankish king Pepin the Short had, by the Donation of Pepin, given the pope the "Papal States" and the territory north of that swath of papally-governed land was ruled primarily by Lombard and Frankish vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor until the rise of the city-states in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the south, a period of chaos began. The duchy of Benevento maintained its sovereignty in the face of the pretensions of both the Western and Eastern Empires. In the 9th century, the Muslims conquered Sicily. The cities on the Tyrrhenian Sea departed from Byzantine allegiance. Various states owing various nominal allegiances fought constantly over territory until events came to a head in the early 11th century with the coming of the Normans, who conquered the whole of the south by the end of the century.


Britain

Roman Britain was in a state of political and economic collapse at the time of the End of Roman rule in Britain, Roman departure c. 400. A Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, series of settlements (traditionally referred to as an invasion) by
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally been defined by the use of ancient and early medieval Germanic languages and are thus equated at le ...

Germanic peoples
began in the early fifth century, and by the sixth century the island would consist of many small kingdoms engaged in ongoing warfare with each other. The Germanic kingdoms are now collectively referred to as Anglo-Saxons. Christianity began to take hold among the Anglo-Saxons in the sixth century, with 597 given as the traditional date for its large-scale adoption. Western Britain (Wales), eastern and northern Scotland (Picts, Pictland) and the Scottish Highlands, Scottish highlands and List of islands of Scotland, isles continued their separate evolution. The Irish people, Irish descended and Irish-influenced people of western Scotland were Christian from the fifth century onward, the Picts adopted Christianity in the sixth century under the influence of Columba, and the Welsh had been Christian since the Roman era. Kingdom of Northumbria, Northumbria was the pre-eminent power c. 600–700, absorbing several weaker Anglo-Saxon and Britons (Celtic people), Brythonic kingdoms, while Mercia held a similar status c. 700–800. Wessex would absorb all of the kingdoms in the south, both Anglo-Saxon and Briton. In Wales consolidation of power would not begin until the ninth century under the descendants of Merfyn Frych of Kingdom of Gwynedd, Gwynedd, establishing a hierarchy that would last until the Norman invasion of Wales in 1081. The first Vikings, Viking raids on Britain began before 800, increasing in scope and destructiveness over time. In 865 a large, well-organized Denmark, Danish Viking army (called the Great Heathen Army) attempted a conquest, breaking or diminishing Anglo-Saxon power everywhere but in Wessex. Under the leadership of Alfred the Great and his descendants, Wessex would at first survive, then coexist with, and eventually conquer the Danes. It would then establish the Kingdom of England and rule until the establishment of an Anglo-Danish kingdom under Cnut the Great, Cnut, and then again until the Norman conquest of England, Norman Invasion of 1066. Viking raids and invasion were no less dramatic for the north. Their defeat of the Picts in 839 led to a lasting Norway, Norse heritage in northernmost Scotland, and it led to the combination of the Picts and Gaels under the House of Alpin, which became the Kingdom of Alba, the predecessor of the Kingdom of Scotland. The Vikings combined with the Gaels of the Hebrides to become the Norse–Gaels, Gall-Gaidel and establish the Kingdom of the Isles.


Frankish Empire

The Merovingian dynasty, Merovingians established themselves in the power vacuum of the former Roman provinces in Gaul, and Clovis I converted to Christianity following his victory over the Alemanni at the Battle of Tolbiac (496), laying the foundation of the Francia, Frankish Empire, the dominant state of early medieval Western Christendom. The Frankish kingdom grew through a complex development of conquest, patronage, and alliance building. Due to Salian Franks, salic custom, inheritance rights were absolute, and all land was divided equally among the sons of a dead land holder.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 165 This meant that, when the king granted a prince land in reward for service, that prince and all of his descendants had an irrevocable right to that land that no future king could undo. Likewise, those princes (and their sons) could sublet their land to their own vassals, who could in turn sublet the land to lower sub-vassals. This all had the effect of weakening the power of the king as his kingdom grew, since the result was that the land became controlled not just by more princes and vassals, but by multiple layers of vassals. This also allowed his nobles to attempt to build their own power base, though given the strict salic tradition of hereditary kingship, few would ever consider overthrowing the king. This increasingly absurd arrangement was highlighted by Charles Martel, who as Mayor of the Palace was effectively the strongest prince in the kingdom.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 189 His accomplishments were highlighted, not just by his famous defeat of invading Muslims at the Battle of Tours, which is typically considered the battle that saved Europe from Muslim conquest, but by the fact that he greatly expanded Frankish influence. It was under his patronage that Saint Boniface expanded Frankish influence into Germany by rebuilding the German church, with the result that, within a century, the German church was the strongest church in western Europe. Yet despite this, Charles Martel refused to overthrow the Frankish king. His son, Pepin the Short, inherited his power, and used it to further expand Frankish influence. Unlike his father, however, Pepin decided to seize the Frankish kingship. Given how strongly Frankish culture held to its principle of inheritance, few would support him if he attempted to overthrow the king.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 170 Instead, he sought the assistance of Pope Zachary, who was himself newly vulnerable due to fallout with the Byzantine Emperor over the
Iconoclastic Controversy Byzantine Iconoclasm ( gr, Εἰκονομαχία, Eikonomachía, literally, "image struggle" or "war on icons") refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empir ...
. Pepin agreed to support the pope and to give him land (the Donation of Pepin, which created the Papal States) in exchange for being consecrated as the new Frankish king. Given that Pepin's claim to the kingship was now based on an authority higher than Frankish custom, no resistance was offered to Pepin. With this, the Merovingian line of kings ended, and the Carolingian dynasty, Carolingian line began. Pepin's son
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
continued in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He further expanded and consolidated the Frankish kingdom (now commonly called the
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
). His reign also saw a cultural rebirth, commonly called the Carolingian Renaissance. Though the exact reasons are unclear, Charlemagne was crowned "Roman Emperor" by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day, 800. Upon Charlemagne's death, his empire had united much of modern-day France, western Germany and northern Italy. The years after his death illustrated how Germanic his empire remained. Rather than an orderly succession, his empire was divided in accordance with Frankish inheritance custom, which resulted in instability that plagued his empire until the last king of a united empire, Charles the Fat, died in 887, which resulted in a permanent split of the empire into West Francia and East Francia. West Francia would be ruled by Carolingians until 987 and East Francia until 911, after which time the partition of the empire into France and Germany was complete.


Feudalism

Around 800 there was a return to systematic agriculture in the form of the Open field system, open field, or strip, system. A Manorialism, manor would have several fields, each subdivided into strips of land. An acre measured one "furlong" of 220 yards by one "chain" of 22 yards (that is, about 200 m by 20 m). A furlong (from "furrow long") was considered to be the distance an ox could plough before taking a rest; the strip shape of the acre field also reflected the difficulty in turning early heavy ploughs. In the idealized form of the system, each family got thirty such strips of land. The three-field system of crop rotation was first developed in the 9th century: wheat or rye was planted in one field, the second field had a nitrogen-fixing crop, and the third was fallow. Compared to the earlier two-field system, a three-field system allowed for significantly more land to be put under cultivation. Even more important, the system allowed for two harvests a year, reducing the risk that a single crop failure will lead to famine. Three-field agriculture created a surplus of oats that could be used to feed horses. This surplus allowed for the replacement of the ox by the horse after the introduction of the padded horse collar in the 12th century. Because the system required a major rearrangement of real estate and of the social order, it took until the 11th century before it came into general use. The heavy wheeled plough was introduced in the late 10th century. It required greater animal power and promoted the use of teams of oxen. Illuminated manuscripts depict two-wheeled ploughs with both a mouldboard, or curved metal ploughshare, and a coulter, a vertical blade in front of the ploughshare. The Romans had used light, wheel-less ploughs with flat iron shares that often proved unequal to the heavy soils of northern Europe. The return to systemic agriculture coincided with the introduction of a new social system called feudalism. This system featured a hierarchy of reciprocal obligations. Each man was bound to serve his superior in return for the latter's protection. This made for confusion of territorial sovereignty since allegiances were subject to change over time and were sometimes mutually contradictory. Feudalism allowed the state to provide a degree of public safety despite the continued absence of bureaucracy and written records. Manors became largely self-sufficient, and the volume of trade along long-distance routes and in market towns declined during this period, though never ceased entirely. Roman roads decayed and long-distance trade depended more heavily on water transport.


Viking Age

The Viking Age spans the period roughly between the late 8th and mid-11th centuries in
Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to , , and , sometimes more narrowly to the , or more broadly to include , th ...

Scandinavia
and Great Britain, Britain, following the Germanic Iron Age (and the Vendel Age in Sweden). During this period, the Vikings, Scandinavian warriors and traders raided and explored most parts of Europe, south-western Asia, northern Africa, and L'Anse aux Meadows, north-eastern North America. With the means to travel (longships and open water), desire for goods led Scandinavian traders to explore and develop extensive trading partnerships in new territories. Some of the most important trading ports during the period include both existing and ancient cities such as Aarhus, Ribe, Hedeby, Vineta, Truso, Kaupang, Birka, Bordeaux, Jorvik, York, Dublin, and Staraya Ladoga, Aldeigjuborg. Viking raiding expeditions were separate from, though coexisted with, regular trading expeditions. Apart from exploring Europe via its oceans and rivers, with the aid of their advanced navigational skills, they extended their trading routes across vast parts of the continent. They also engaged in warfare, looting and enslaving numerous Christian communities of Medieval Europe for centuries, contributing to the development of feudal systems in Europe.


Eastern Europe

; 600–1000 The Early Middle Ages marked the beginning of the cultural distinctions between Western and Eastern Europe north of the Mediterranean. Influence from the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
impacted the Christianization and hence almost every aspect of the cultural and political development of the East from the preeminence of Caesaropapism and Eastern Christianity to the spread of the Cyrillic alphabet. The turmoil of the so-called Migration Period, Barbarian invasions in the beginning of the period gradually gave way to more stabilized societies and states as the origins of contemporary Eastern Europe began to take shape during the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
. Turkic and Iranian invaders from Central Asia pressured the agricultural populations both in the Byzantine
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
and in Central Europe creating a number of successor states in the Pontic steppes. After the dissolution of the Huns#Unified Empire under Attila, Hunnic Empire, the Western Turkic Khaganate, Western Turkic and Avar Khaganates dominated territories from Pannonian Basin, Pannonia to the Caspian Sea before replaced by the short lived Old Great Bulgaria and the more successful Khazar Khaganate north of the Black Sea and the Magyars in Central Europe. The Khazars were a nomadic Turkic people who managed to develop a multiethnic commercial state which owed its success to the control of much of the waterway trade between Europe and Central Asia. The Khazars also exacted tribute from the Alani, Magyars, various Slavs, Slavic tribes, the Crimean Goths, and the Greeks of Crimea. Through a network of Jewish itinerant merchants, or Radhanites, they were in contact with the trade emporia of India and Spain. Once they found themselves confronted by Muslim conquests, Arab expansionism, the Khazars pragmatically allied themselves with Constantinople and clashed with the Caliphate. Despite initial setbacks, they managed to recover Derbent and eventually penetrated as far south as Principality of Iberia, Caucasian Iberia, Caucasian Albania and Armenia. In doing so, they effectively blocked the northward expansion of Islam into Eastern Europe even before khan Tervel achieved the same at the Siege of Constantinople (717–18), Second Arab Siege of Constantinople and several decades before the Battle of Tours in Western Europe. Islam eventually penetrated into Eastern Europe in the 920s when Volga Bulgaria exploited the decline of Khazar power in the region to adopt Islam from the Baghdad missionaries. The state religion of Khazaria, Judaism, disappeared as a political force with the fall of Khazaria, while Islam of Volga Bulgaria has survived in the region up to the present. In the beginning of the period, the Early Slavs, Slavic tribes started to expand aggressively into Byzantine possessions on the Balkans. The first attested Slavs, Slavic polities were Principality of Serbia (early medieval), Serbia and Great Moravia, the latter of which emerged under the aegis of the Frankish Empire in the early 9th century. Great Moravia was ultimately overrun by the Magyars, who invaded the Pannonian Basin around 896. The Slavic state became a stage for confrontation between the Christian missionaries from Constantinople and Rome. Although West Slavs, Croats and Slovenes eventually acknowledged Roman ecclesiastical authority, the clergy of Constantinople succeeded in converting to Eastern Christianity two of the largest states of early medieval Europe, First Bulgarian Empire, Bulgaria around 864, and Kievan Rus' circa 990.


Bulgaria

In 632 the Bulgars established the khanate of Old Great Bulgaria under the leadership of Kubrat. The Khazars managed to oust the Bulgars from Southern Ukraine into lands along middle Volga (Volga Bulgaria) and along lower Danube (First Bulgarian Empire, Danube Bulgaria). In 681 the Bulgars founded a powerful and ethnically diverse state that played a defining role in the history of early medieval Southeastern Europe. Bulgaria withstood the pressure from Pontic steppe tribes like the Pechenegs, Khazars, and Cumans, and in 806 destroyed the Avar Khanate. The Danube Bulgars were quickly slavicized and, despite constant campaigning against Constantinople, accepted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Through the efforts of missionaries Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, mainly their disciples like Clement of Ohrid and Saint Naum, the spread, initially of the Glagolitic alphabet, Glagolitic, and later of the Cyrillic script, Cyrillic alphabet, developed in the capital Preslav. The local vernacular dialect, now known as Old Bulgarian or Old Church Slavonic, was established as the language of books and liturgy among Orthodoxy#Christianity, Orthodox Christian Slavs. After the adoption of Christianity in 864, Bulgaria became a cultural and spiritual hub of the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world. The Cyrillic script was developed around 885–886, and was afterwards also introduced with books to Principality of Serbia (early medieval), Serbia and Kievan Rus'. Literature, art, and architecture were thriving with the establishment of the Preslav Literary School, Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools along with the distinct Preslav Ceramics School. In 927 the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was the first European national Church to gain independence with its own Patriarch while conducting services in the vernacular Old Church Slavonic. Under Simeon I of Bulgaria, Simeon I (893–927), the state was the largest and one of the most powerful political entities of Europe, and it consistently threatened the existence of the Byzantine empire. From the middle of the 10th century Bulgaria was in decline as it entered a social and spiritual turmoil. It was in part due to Simeon's devastating wars, but was also exacerbated by a series of successful Byzantine military campaigns. Bulgaria was conquered after a long resistance in 1018.


Kievan Rus'

Led by a Varangian dynasty, the Kievan Rus' controlled the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, routes connecting Northern Europe to Byzantium and to the Orient (for example: the Volga trade route). The Kievan state began with the rule (882–912) of Oleg of Novgorod, Prince Oleg, who extended his control from Veliky Novgorod, Novgorod southwards along the Dnieper river valley in order to protect trade from Khazars, Khazar incursions from the east and moved his capital to the more strategic Kiev. Sviatoslav I of Kiev, Sviatoslav I (died 972) achieved the first major expansion of Kievan Rus' territorial control, fighting a war of conquest against the Khazar Empire and inflicting a serious blow on First Bulgarian Empire, Bulgaria. A Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria, Rus' attack (967 or 968), instigated by the Byzantines, led to the collapse of the Bulgarian state and the occupation of the east of the country by the Rus'. An ensuing Rus'–Byzantine War (970–971), direct military confrontation between the Rus' and Byzantium (970-971) ended with a Siege of Dorostolon, Byzantine victory (971). The Rus' withdrew and the Byzantine Empire incorporated eastern Bulgaria. Both before and after their Christianization of Kievan Rus', conversion to Christianity (conventionally dated 988 under Vladimir I of Kiev—known as Vladimir the Great), the Rus' also embarked on predatory military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire, some of which resulted in trade treaties. The importance of Russo-Byzantine relations to Constantinople was highlighted by the fact that Vladimir I of Kiev, son of Svyatoslav I, became the only foreigner to marry (989) a Anna Porphyrogenita, Byzantine princess of the Macedonian dynasty (which ruled the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
from 867 to 1056), a singular honour sought in vain by many other rulers.


Transmission of learning

With the end of the Western Roman Empire and with urban centres in decline, literacy and learning decreased in the West. This continued a pattern that had been underway since the 3rd century.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 52 Much learning under the Roman Empire was in Greek, and with the re-emergence of the wall between east and west, little eastern learning continued in the west. Much of the Greek literary corpus remained in Greek, and few in the west could speak or read Greek. Due to the demographic displacement that accompanied the end of the western Roman Empire, by this point most western Europeans were descendants of non-literate barbarians rather than literate Romans. In this sense, education was not lost so much as it had yet to be acquired. Education did ultimately continue, and was centred in the monasteries and cathedrals. A "Renaissance" of classical education would appear in Carolingian Empire in the 8th century. In the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), learning (in the sense of formal education involving literature) was maintained at a higher level than in the West. The classical education system, which would persist for hundreds of years, emphasized grammar, Latin, Greek, and rhetoric. Pupils read and reread classic works and wrote essays imitating their style. By the 4th century, this education system was Christianized. In ''De Doctrina Christiana'' (started 396, completed 426), Augustine of Hippo, Augustine explained how classical education fits into the Christian worldview: Christianity is a religion of the book, so Christians must be literate. Tertullian was more skeptical of the value of classical learning, asking "What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" De-urbanization reduced the scope of education, and by the 6th century teaching and learning moved to monastic and cathedral schools, with the study of biblical texts at the centre of education. Education of the laity continued with little interruption in Italy, Spain, and the southern part of Gaul, where Roman influences were more long-lasting. In the 7th century, however, learning expanded in Ireland and the Celtic lands, where Latin was a foreign language and Latin texts were eagerly studied and taught.


Science

In the ancient world, Greek was the primary language of science. Advanced scientific research and teaching was mainly carried on in the Hellenistic side of the Roman empire, and in Greek. Late Roman attempts to translate Greek writings into Latin had limited success. As the knowledge of Greek declined, the Latin West found itself cut off from some of its Greek philosophical and scientific roots. For a time, Latin-speakers who wanted to learn about science had access to only a couple of books by Boethius (c. 470–524) that summarized Greek handbooks by Nicomachus of Gerasa. Saint Isidore of Seville produced a Latin encyclopedia in 630. Private libraries would have existed, and monasteries would also keep various kinds of texts. The study of nature was pursued more for practical reasons than as an abstract inquiry: the need to care for the sick led to the study of medicine and of ancient texts on drugs; the need for monks to determine the proper time to pray led them to study the motion of the stars; and the need to compute the date of Easter led them to study and teach mathematics and the motions of the Sun and Moon.


Carolingian Renaissance

In the late 8th century, there was renewed interest in Classical Antiquity as part of the Carolingian Renaissance. Charlemagne carried out a reform in education. The English monk Alcuin, Alcuin of York elaborated a project of scholarly development aimed at resuscitating classical knowledge by establishing programs of study based upon the seven liberal arts: the ''trivium'', or literary education (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic), and the ''quadrivium'', or scientific education (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). From 787 on, decrees began to circulate recommending the restoration of old schools and the founding of new ones across the empire. Institutionally, these new schools were either under the responsibility of a monastery (monastic schools), a cathedral, or a noble court. The teaching of dialectic (a discipline that corresponds to today's logic) was responsible for the increase in the interest in speculative inquiry; from this interest would follow the rise of the Scholasticism, Scholastic tradition of Christian philosophy. In the 12th and 13th centuries, many of those schools founded under the auspices of Charlemagne, especially cathedral schools, would become Medieval university, universities.


Byzantium's golden age

Byzantium's great intellectual achievement was the Corpus Juris Civilis ("Body of Civil Law"), a massive compilation of
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
made under Justinian (r. 528–65). The work includes a section called the ''Pandects, Digesta'' which abstracts the principles of Roman law in such a way that they can be applied to any situation. The level of literacy was considerably higher in the Byzantine Empire than in the Latin West. Elementary education was much more widely available, sometimes even in the countryside. Secondary schools still taught the ''Iliad'' and other classics. As for higher education, the Neoplatonic Academy in Athens was closed in 526. There was also a school in Alexandria which remained open until the Arab conquest (640). The University of Constantinople, founded by Emperor Theodosius II (425), seems to have dissolved around this time. It was refounded by Emperor Michael III in 849. Higher education in this period focused on rhetoric, although Aristotle's logic was covered in simple outline. Under the Macedonian dynasty (867–1056), Byzantium enjoyed a golden age and a revival of classical learning. There was little original research, but many lexicons, anthologies, encyclopedias, and commentaries.


Islamic learning

In the course of the 11th century, Islam's scientific knowledge began to reach Western Europe, via Islamic Spain. The works of Euclid and Archimedes, lost in the West, were translated from Arabic to Latin in Spain. The modern Hindu–Arabic numeral system, including a notation for zero, were developed by Hindu mathematicians in the 5th and 6th centuries. Muslim mathematicians learned of it in the 7th century and added a notation for decimal fractions in the 9th and 10th centuries. Around 1000, Gerbert of Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) made an abacus with counters engraved with Arabic numerals. A treatise by Al-Khwārizmī on how to perform calculations with these numerals was translated into Latin in Spain in the 12th century.


Monasteries

Monasteries were targeted in the eighth and ninth centuries by Vikings who invaded the coasts of northern Europe. They were targeted not only because they stored books but also precious objects that were looted by invaders. In the earliest monasteries, there were no special rooms set aside as a library, but from the sixth century onwards libraries became an essential aspect of monastic life in Western Europe. The Benedictines placed books in the care of a librarian who supervised their use. In some monastic reading rooms, valuable books would be chained to shelves, but there were also lending sections as well. Copying was also another important aspect of monastic libraries, this was undertaken by resident or visiting monks and took place in the ''scriptorium''. In the Byzantine world, religious houses rarely maintained their own copying centres. Instead they acquired donations from wealthy donors. In the tenth century, the largest collection in the Byzantine world was found in the monasteries of Mount Athos (modern-day Greece), which accumulated over 10,000 books. Scholars travelled from one monastery to another in search of the texts they wished to study. Travelling monks were often given funds to buy books, and certain monasteries which held a reputation for intellectual activities welcomed travelling monks who came to copy manuscripts for their own libraries. One of these was the monastery of Bobbio in Italy, which was founded by the Irish abbot St. Columbanus in 614, and by the ninth century boasted a catalogue of 666 manuscripts, including religious works, classical texts, histories and mathematical treatises.


Christianity West and East

From the early Christians, early medieval Christians inherited a church united by major creeds, a stable Biblical canon, and a well-developed philosophical tradition. The history of medieval Christianity traces Christianity during the Middle Ages—the period after the fall of the Western Roman Empire until the Protestant Reformation. The institutional structure of Christianity in the west during this period is different from what it would become later in the Middle Ages. As opposed to the later church, the church of the early Middle Ages consisted primarily of the monasteries.Cantor, Norman. "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". p 153 The practice of simony has caused the ecclesiastical offices to become the property of local princes, and as such the monasteries constituted the only church institution independent of the local princes. In addition, the papacy was relatively weak, and its power was mostly confined to central Italy. Individualized religious practice was uncommon, as it typically required membership in a religious order, such as the Order of Saint Benedict. Religious orders would not proliferate until the high Middle Ages. For the typical Christian at this time, religious participation was largely confined to occasionally receiving mass from wandering monks. Few would be lucky enough to receive this as often as once a month. By the end of this period, individual practice of religion was becoming more common, as monasteries started to transform into something approximating modern churches, where some monks might even give occasional sermons. During the early Middle Ages, the divide between Eastern and Western Christianity widened, paving the way for the East-West Schism in the 11th century. In the West, the power of the Bishop of Rome expanded. In 607, Boniface III became the first Bishop of Rome to use the title Pope. Pope Gregory I used his office as a temporal power, expanded Rome's missionary efforts to the British Isles, and laid the foundations for the expansion of monastic orders. Roman church traditions and practices gradually replaced local variants, including Celtic Christianity in Great Britain and Ireland. Various barbarian tribes went from raiding and pillaging the island to invading and settling. They were entirely pagan, having never been part of the Empire, though they experienced Christian influence from the surrounding peoples, such as those who were converted by the mission of St. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory I. In the East, the conquests of Islam reduced the power of the Greek-speaking patriarchates.


Christianization of the West

The Catholic Church, the only centralized institution to survive the fall of the Western Roman Empire intact, was the sole unifying cultural influence in the West, preserving Latin learning, maintaining the art of writing, and preserving a centralized administration through its network of bishops ordained in succession. The Early Middle Ages are characterized by the urban control of bishops and the territorial control exercised by dukes and counts. The rise of medieval commune, urban communes marked the beginning of the
High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
. The Germanic Christianity, Christianization of Germanic tribes began in the 4th century with the Goths and continued throughout the Early Middle Ages, led in the 6th to 7th centuries by the Hiberno-Scottish mission and replaced in the 8th to 9th centuries by the Anglo-Saxon mission, with Anglo-Saxons like Alcuin playing an important role in the Carolingian renaissance. Saint Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans, propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He helped shape Western Christianity, and many of the dioceses he proposed remain until today. After his martyrdom, he was quickly hailed as a saint. By 1000, even Iceland had become Christian, leaving only more remote parts of Europe (
Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to , , and , sometimes more narrowly to the , or more broadly to include , th ...

Scandinavia
, the Baltic peoples, Baltic, and Finnic peoples, Finnic lands) to be Christianized during the High Middle Ages.


Holy Roman Empire


10th century

Listless and often ill, Carolingian Emperor Charles the Fat provoked an uprising, led by his nephew Arnulf of Carinthia, which resulted in the division of the empire in 887 into the kingdoms of France, Germany, and (northern) Italy. Taking advantage of the weakness of the German government, the Magyars had established themselves in the Alföld, or Hungarian grasslands, and began raiding across Germany, Italy, and even France. The German nobles elected Henry the Fowler, duke of Saxony, as their king at a Reichstag, or national assembly, in Fritzlar in 919. Henry's power was only marginally greater than that of the other leaders of the stem duchies, which were the feudal expression of the former German tribes. Henry's son King Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I (r. 936–973) was able to defeat a revolt of the dukes supported by French King Louis IV of France, Louis IV (939). In 951, Otto marched into Italy and married the widowed Queen Adelaide of Italy, Adelaide, named himself king of the Lombards, and received homage from Berengar of Ivrea, king of Italy (r. 950–52). Otto named his relatives the new leaders of the stem duchies, but this approach did not completely solve the problem of disloyalty. His son Liudolf, duke of Swabia, revolted and welcomed the Magyars into Germany (953). At Lechfeld, near Augsburg in Bavaria, Otto caught up with the Magyars while they were enjoying a razzia and achieved a signal victory in 955. The Magyars ceased living on plunder, and their leaders created a Christian kingdom called Hungary (1000).


Founding of the Holy Roman Empire

The defeat of the Magyars greatly enhanced Otto's prestige. He marched into Italy again and was crowned emperor (''imperator augustus'') by Pope John XII in Rome (962), an event that historians count as the founding of the Holy Roman Empire, although the term was not used until much later. The Ottonian state is also considered the first ''Reich,'' or German Empire. Otto used the imperial title without attaching it to any territory. He and later emperors thought of themselves as part of a continuous line of emperors that begins with Charlemagne. (Several of these "emperors" were simply local Italian magnates who bullied the pope into crowning them.) Otto deposed John XII for conspiring against him with Berengar, and he named Pope Leo VIII to replace him (963). Berengar was captured and taken to Germany. John was able to reverse the deposition after Otto left, but he died in the arms of his mistress soon afterwards. Besides founding the German Empire, Otto's achievements include the creation of the "Ottonian church system," in which the clergy (the only literate section of the population) assumed the duties of an imperial civil service. He raised the papacy out of the muck of Rome's local gangster politics, assured that the position was competently filled, and gave it a dignity that allowed it to assume leadership of an international church.


Europe in 1000

Speculation that the world would end in the year 1000 was confined to a few uneasy French monks. Ordinary clerks used regnal years, i.e. the 4th year of the reign of Robert II (the Pious) of France. The use of the modern "anno domini" system of dating was confined to the Venerable Bede and other chroniclers of universal history. Western Europe remained less developed compared to the Islamic world, with its vast network of caravan trade, or China, at this time the world's most populous empire under the Song Dynasty. Constantinople had a population of about 300,000, but Rome had a mere 35,000 and Paris 20,000. By contrast, Córdoba, Spain, Córdoba, in Islamic Spain, at this time the world's largest city contained 450,000 inhabitants. The Vikings had a trade network in northern Europe, including a Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, route connecting the Baltic to Constantinople through Russia, as did the Radhanites. With nearly the entire nation freshly ravaged by the Vikings, England was in a desperate state. The long-suffering English later responded with a massacre of Danish settlers in 1002, leading to a round of reprisals and finally to Danish rule (1013), though England regained independence shortly after. But Christianization made rapid progress and proved itself the long-term solution to the problem of barbarian raiding. The territories of Scandinavia were soon to be fully Christianized Kingdoms: Denmark in the 10th century, Norway in the 11th, and Sweden, the country with the least raiding activity, in the 12th. Kievan Rus, recently converted to Orthodox Christianity, flourished as the largest state in Europe. Iceland, Greenland, and Hungary were all declared Christian about 1000. In Europe, a formalized institution of marriage was established. The proscribed degree of consanguinity varied, but the custom made marriages annullable by application to the Pope. North of Italy, where masonry construction was never extinguished, stone construction was replacing timber in important structures. Deforestation of the densely wooded continent was under way. The 10th century marked a return of urban life, with the Italian cities doubling in population. London, abandoned for many centuries, was again England's main economic centre by 1000. By 1000, Bruges and Ghent held regular trade fairs behind castle walls, a tentative return of economic life to western Europe. In the culture of Europe, several features surfaced soon after 1000 that mark the end of the Early Middle Ages: the rise of the medieval communes, the reawakening of city life, and the appearance of the bourgeoisie, burgher class, the founding of the first Medieval university, universities, the rediscovery of
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
, and the beginnings of vernacular literature. In 1000, the papacy was firmly under the control of German Emperor Otto III, or "emperor of the world" as he styled himself. But later church reforms enhanced its independence and prestige: the Abbey of Cluny, Cluniac movement, the building of the first great Transalpine stone cathedrals and the collation of the mass of accumulated decretals into a formulated canon law.


Middle East


Rise of Islam

ImageSize = width:800 height:75 PlotArea = width:720 height:50 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:span value:rgb(0.9,0.8,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:622 till:666 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:10 start:622 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:1 start:622 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line, black) width:10 shift:(0,-3) from: 622 till: 632 color:era text:Muhammad from: 632 till: 634 color:age text:Abu Bakr from: 634 till: 644 color:era text:Umar ibn al-Khattab from: 644 till: 656 color:age text:Uthman ibn Affan from: 656 till: 661 color:era text:Ali ibn Abi Talib from: 661 till: 666 color:age text:Muawiyah I ''Consult particular article for details'' The rise of Islam begins around the time Muhammad and his followers took flight, the Hijra (Islam), Hijra, to the city of Medina. Muhammad spent his last ten years in a Military career of Muhammad, series of battles to conquer the Arabian region. From 622 to 632, Muhammad as the leader of a Muslim community in Medina was engaged in a state of war with the Meccans. In the proceeding decades, the area of Basra was conquered by the Muslims. During the reign of Umar, the Muslim army found it a suitable place to construct a base. Later the area was settled and a mosque was erected. Midian, Madyan was conquered and settled by Muslims, but the environment was considered harsh and the settlers moved to Kufa. Umar defeated the rebellion of several Arab tribes in a successful campaign, unifying the entire Arabian peninsula and giving it stability. Under Uthman's leadership, the empire, through the Muslim conquest of Persia, expanded into Fars Province, Fars in 650, some areas of Greater Khorasan, Khorasan in 651, and the conquest of Armenia was begun in the 640s. In this time, the Islamic empire extended over the whole Sassanid Persian Empire and to more than two-thirds of the Eastern Roman Empire. The First Fitna, or the First Islamic Civil War, lasted for the entirety of Ali ibn Abi Talib's reign. After the recorded peace treaty with Hassan ibn Ali and the suppression of early Kharijites' disturbances, Muawiyah I acceded to the position of Caliph.


Islamic expansion

The
Muslim conquests History of Islam, The history of the spread of Islam spans about 1,400 years. Muslim conquests following Muhammad's death led to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area; conversion to Islam was boosted by Islamic missio ...
of the Byzantine–Arab Wars, Eastern Roman Empire and Arab wars occurred between 634 and 750. Starting in 633, Muslims Islamic conquest of Iraq, conquered Iraq. The Muslim conquest of Syria would begin in 634 and would be complete by 638. The Muslim conquest of Egypt started in 639. Before the Muslim conquest of Egypt, Muslim invasion of Egypt began, the Eastern Roman Empire had already lost the Levant and its Arab ally, the Ghassanids, Ghassanid Kingdom, to the Muslims. The Muslims would bring Alexandria under control and the fall of Egypt would be complete by 642. Between 647 and 709, Umayyad conquest of North Africa, Muslims swept across North Africa and established their authority over that region. The Transoxiana region was conquered by Qutayba ibn Muslim between 706 and 715 and loosely held by the Umayyads from 715 to 738. This conquest was consolidated by Nasr ibn Sayyar between 738 and 740. It was under the Umayyads from 740 to 748 and under the Abbasids after 748. Sindh, attacked in 664, would be subjugated by 712. Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad. The Umayyad conquest of Hispania (Visigothic Spain) would begin in 711 and end by 718. The Moors, under Al-Samh ibn Malik, swept up the Iberian peninsula and by 719 overran Septimania; the area would fall under their full control in 720. With the Islamic conquest of Persia, the Muslim subjugation of the Caucasus would take place between 711 and 750. The end of the sudden Islamic Caliphate expansion ended around this time. The final Islamic dominion eroded the areas of the Iron Age Roman Empire in the Middle East and controlled strategic areas of the Mediterranean. At the end of the 8th century, the former Western Roman Empire was decentralized and overwhelmingly rural. The History of Islam in southern Italy, Islamic conquest and rule of Sicily and Malta was a process which 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. The Islamic presence on the Italian Peninsula was ephemeral and limited mostly to semi-permanent soldier camps.


Caliphs and empire

The Abbasid Caliphate, ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, was the third of the Islamic caliphates. Under the Abbasids, the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists, and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations. Scientific and intellectual achievements blossomed in the period. The Abbasids built their capital in Baghdad after replacing the Umayyad caliphs from all but the Iberian peninsula. The influence held by Muslim merchants over African-Arabian and Arabian-Asian trade routes was tremendous. As a result, Islamic civilization grew and expanded on the basis of its merchant economy, in contrast to their Christian, Indian, and Chinese peers who built societies from an agricultural landholding nobility. The Abbasids flourished for two centuries but slowly went into decline with the rise to power of the Turkish army they had created, the Mamluks. Within 150 years of gaining control of Persia, the caliphs were forced to cede power to local dynastic emirs who only nominally acknowledged their authority. After the Abbasids lost their military dominance, the Samanids (or Samanid Empire) rose up in Central Asia. The Sunni Islam empire was a Tajik state and had a Zoroastrian theocratic nobility. It was the next native Persian dynasty after the collapse of the Sassanid Persian empire, caused by the Arab conquest.


European timelines


Beginning years

ImageSize = width:800 height:65 PlotArea = width:720 height:40 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:400 till:700 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:10 start:400 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:1 start:400 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:10 shift:(0, -3) bar:People color:era from:400 till:430 text:Saint Augustine, Augustine from:466 till:511 text:Clovis I from:527 till:565 text:
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
from:570 till:632 text:Muhammad bar:  color:era from:433 till:493 text:Odoacer from:540 till:604 text:Pope Gregory I, Gregory I bar:Events color:age from:496 till:496 text:Battle of Tolbiac, Tolbiac from:602 till:629 text:Roman-Persian War from:535 till:552 text:Gothic War (535–552), Gothic War from:674 till:678 text:Siege of Constantinople (674), Constantinople Siege
;Dates * 410:
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
under
Alaric I Alaric I (; got, 𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, , "ruler of all"; la, Alaricus; c. 370 – 410 AD) was the first Germanic Kingship, king of the Visigoths, from 395 to 410. He rose to leadership of the Goths who came to occupy Moesia – terr ...
sack Rome * 430: Death of Saint Augustine * 476: Odoacer deposes Romulus Augustus * 496: Battle of Tolbiac, Clovis I converts to Catholicism * 507: Battle of Vouillé * 527–565:
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
* 535–552: Gothic War (535–552), Gothic Wars * 541–542:
Plague of Justinian The plague of Justinian or Justinianic plague (541–549 AD) was the first major outbreak In epidemiology, an outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place. It may affect a small and localized group or ...
in
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
* 547: death of Benedict of Nursia * c. 570: birth of Muhammad * 590–604 Pope Gregory I * 597: death of Columba * 602–629: Last great Roman-Persian Wars#Climax, Roman-Persian War * 615: death of Columbanus * 626: Siege of Constantinople (626), Joint Persian-Avar-Slav Siege of Constantinople * 632: death of Muhammad * 636: death of Isidore of Seville * 674–678: Siege of Constantinople (674), First Arab siege of Constantinople * 681:
First Bulgarian Empire The First Bulgarian Empire ( cu, блъгарьско цѣсарьствиѥ, blagarysko tsesarystviye) was a medieval Bulgar- Slavic and later Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

First Bulgarian Empire
established


Ending years

ImageSize = width:800 height:65 PlotArea = width:720 height:40 left:65 bottom:20 AlignBars = justify Colors = id:time value:rgb(0.7,0.7,1) # id:period value:rgb(1,0.7,0.5) # id:age value:rgb(0.95,0.85,0.5) # id:era value:rgb(1,0.85,0.5) # id:eon value:rgb(1,0.85,0.7) # id:filler value:gray(0.8) # background bar id:black value:black Period = from:700 till:1000 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:10 start:700 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:1 start:700 PlotData = align:center textcolor:black fontsize:8 mark:(line,black) width:10 shift:(0, -3) bar:People color:era from:714 till:721 text:Ardo from:768 till:814 text:
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
from:871 till:899 text:Alfred the Great from:912 till:973 text:Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I bar:Events color:age from:711 till:718 text:Al-Andalus bar:  color:age from:732 till:732 text:Battle of Tours, Poitiers
;Dates * 7th century: Khazar empire established * 711–718: Umayyad conquest of Hispania * 717: Siege of Constantinople (718), Second Arab siege of Constantinople * 721: death of Ardo, last king of the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
* 718-722: Battle of Covadonga, establishment of the Kingdom of Asturias * 730: First Iconoclastic Controversy * 732: Battle of Tours, Battle of Tours/Poitiers * 735: death of Bede, British historian * 746: Blood court at Cannstatt * 751: Pepin the Short founds the Carolingian dynasty * 754: death of Saint Boniface * 768–814:
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
* 778: Battle of Roncevaux Pass * 782: Bloody Verdict of Verden * 793: Viking raid on Lindisfarne; Viking Age begins * 796–804: Alcuin initiates the Carolingian Renaissance * 815: Iconoclasm (Byzantine), Byzantine Iconoclasm * 843: Treaty of Verdun * 862: Rurikid Dynasty established * 871–899: Alfred the Great * 872–930: Harald I of Norway * 874-930: Settlement of Iceland * 882: Kievan Rus' established * 911: Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (Normandy) * 955: Battle of Lechfeld * 962: Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I crowned Holy Roman Emperor * 969: Kievan Rus' subjugates Khazars * 987–996: Hugh Capet * 988: Christianization of Kievan Rus' * 991: Battle of Maldon


See also

* History_of_Africa#Medieval_and_Early_Modern_(6th_to_18th_centuries), Medieval History of Africa * Medieval demography * English Medieval fashion * Early Medieval literature * Early medieval European dress * Universal history * Indo-Sassanid * Turkic expansion * Early Christian Ireland * Wales in the Early Middle Ages


Notes


References

; Citations


Further reading

*''Cambridge Economic History of Europe'', vol. I 1966. Michael M. Postan, et al., editors. *Norman Cantor, Norman F. Cantor, 1963. ''The Medieval World 300 to 1300'', (New York: MacMillen Co.) *Marcia L. Colish, 1997. ''Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition: 400-1400.'' (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press) *Georges Duby, 1974. ''The Early Growth of the European Economy: Warriors and Peasants from the Seventh to the Twelfth Century'' (New York: Cornell University Press) Howard B. Clark, translator. *Georges Duby, editor, 1988. ''A History of Private Life II: Revelations of the Medieval World'' (Harvard University Press) *Heinrich Fichtenau, (1957) 1978. ''The Carolingian Empire'' (University of Toronto) Peter Munz, translator. *Charles Freeman (historian), Charles Freeman, 2003. ''The Closing of the Western Mind, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason'' (London: William Heinemann) *Richard Hodges (archaeologist), Richard Hodges, 1982. ''Dark Age Economics: The Origins of Towns and Trade AD 600-1000'' (New York: St Martin's Press) *David Knowles (scholar), David Knowles, (1962) 1988. ''The Evolution of Medieval Thought'' (Random House) *Richard Krautheimer, 1980. ''Rome: Profile of a City 312-1308'' (Princeton University Press) *Robin Lane Fox, 1986. ''Pagans and Christians'' (New York: Knopf) *David C. Lindberg, 1992. ''The Beginnings of Western Science: 600 BC-1450 AD'' (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press) *John Marenbon (1983) 1988.''Early Medieval Philosophy (480-1150): An Introduction'' (London: Routledge) *Rosamond McKittrick, 1983 ''The Frankish Church Under the Carolingians'' (London: Longmans, Green) *Karl Frederick Morrison, 1969. ''Tradition and Authority in the Western Church, 300-1140'' (Princeton University Press) *Pierre Riché, (1978) 1988. ''Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne'' (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press) * Laury Sarti, "Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul (ca. 400–700 A.D.)" (= Brill's Series on the Early Middle Ages, 22), Leiden/Boston 2013, . *Richard Southern, 1953. ''The Making of the Middle Ages'' (Yale University Press) *Chris Wickham, 2005. ''Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400-800'', Oxford University Press.
Early Medieval History
page
Clio History Journal
Dickson College, Australian Capital Territory.
Glimpses of the dark ages
Or, Sketches of the social condition of Europe, from the fifth to the twelfth century. (1846). New-York: Leavitt, Trow & company


External links

*
Age of spirituality : late antique and early Christian art, third to seventh century
' from The Metropolitan Museum of Art {{Authority control Early Middle Ages, Middle Ages, .01 6th century in Europe, . 7th century in Europe, . 8th century in Europe, . 9th century in Europe, . 10th century in Europe, . 6th-century establishments in Europe, . 10th-century disestablishments in Europe, . Articles which contain graphical timelines Historical eras Dark ages pt:Idade Média#Alta Idade Média