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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 written records. During the Neolithi ...
, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical period of
global history World history or global history as a field of historical study examines history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is ...
. It began with the
fall of the Western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome) was the loss of central political control in the Western Roman Empire, a process in which the Empire failed to enforce its rule, and its vast ...
and transitioned into the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a 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 m ...

Renaissance
and the
Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period approximately from the 15th century to the 18th century ...
. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history:
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, , ...
, the medieval period, and the
modern period Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, advent of writing, from primary source, primary and ...
. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early,
High High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname) Science, technology and economics * Height * High (atmospheric), a high-pressure area * High (computability), a quality of a Turing degree, in computability theory * High (technical analy ...
, and
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late 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 comp ...
.
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, ...
,
counterurbanisation Counterurbanization, or deurbanization, is a demographic Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world fr ...
, the collapse of centralized authority, invasions, and mass migrations of
tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribe
s, which had begun in
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 ...
, continued into the Early Middle Ages. The large-scale movements of the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
, including various
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
, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century,
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 ...

North Africa
and the Middle East—most recently part of the
Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire
Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire
—came under the rule of 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 ...
, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with
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, , ...
was not complete. The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire, Rome's direct continuation, survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power. Secular law was advanced greatly by the ''
Code of Justinian The Code of Justinian ( la, Codex Justinianus, or ) is one part of the ''Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, i ...
''. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated extant Roman institutions, while new bishoprics and monasteries were founded as Christianity expanded in Europe. The
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
, under the
Carolingian dynasty The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historic ...
, briefly established 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 ...
during the later 8th and early 9th centuries. It covered much of Western Europe but later succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions:
Vikings Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Vikings
from the north,
Magyars Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország) and Kingdom of Hungary, historical Hungarian lands who share a common Hungarian culture, culture, Hungarian histor ...
from the east, and
Saracen Saracens () were primarily , but also , or other Muslims as referred to by Christian writers in Europe during the . The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the , Greek and Latin writings used the term to refer to ...
s from the south. During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the
Medieval Warm Period The Medieval Warm Period (MWP), also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum or the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region that lasted from to . It was likely related to temperature increases elsewhere, b ...
climate change allowed crop yields to increase.
Manorialism Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership (or "Land tenure, tenure") in parts of Europe, notably England, during the Middle Ages. Its defining features included a large, sometimes fortif ...
, the organisation of
peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the tra ...
s into villages that owed rent and labour services to the
nobles Nobility is a normally ranked immediately below and found in some societies that have a formal . Nobility has often been an that possessed more acknowledged and higher than most other classes in society. The privileges associated wi ...
, and
feudalism 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 disc ...
, the political structure whereby
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthoo ...

knight
s and lower-status nobles owed military service to their
overlord {{Feudal status An overlord in the English feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centurie ...

overlord
s in return for the right to rent from lands and
manor Manor may refer to: Land tenure *Manor, the land belonging to the Lord of the manor under manorialism in parts of medieval Europe, notably England *Manor house, the main residence of the lord of the manor *Lord of the manor, the landholder of a ma ...
s, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages. This period also saw the formal division of the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Catholic
and
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
churches, with the East-West Schism of 1054. The
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusades
, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the
Holy Land The Holy Land (: , la, Terra Sancta; : or ) is an area roughly located between the and the Eastern Bank of the . Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical and with the . The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory ro ...

Holy Land
from
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Muslim
s, and also contributed to the expansion of Latin Christendom in the
Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countries/states refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the ...
and the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
. Kings became the heads of centralised
nation-states A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
more distant. In the West, intellectual life was marked by
scholasticism Scholasticism was a 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 ...
, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of
universities A university () is an of (or ) and which awards s in several . Universities typically offer both and programs in different schools or faculties of learning. The word ''university'' is derived from the ''universitas magistrorum et scholari ...

universities
. The theology of
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Dominican may refer to: * Someone or something from or related to the Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic ( ; es, ...

Thomas Aquinas
, the paintings of
Giotto Giotto di Bondone (; – January 8, 1337), known mononymously as Giotto (, ) and latinisation of names, Latinised as Giottus, was an List of Italian painters, Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages. He worked du ...

Giotto
, the poetry of
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 1321), was an Italian poetry, Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origina ...

Dante
and
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

Chaucer
, the travels of
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...

Marco Polo
, and the
Gothic architecture Gothic architecture (or pointed architecture) is an architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-class of sty ...
of cathedrals such as
Chartres Chartres () is a Communes of France, commune and capital of the Eure-et-Loir Departments of France, department in France. It is located about southwest of Paris. Chartres is famous worldwide for its Chartres Cathedral, cathedral. Mostly cons ...

Chartres
are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period and into the Late Middle Ages. The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 1347 and 1350, the
Black Death 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
killed about a third of Europeans. Controversy,
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
, and the
Western Schism The Western Schism, also known as the Papal Schism, the Vatican Standoff, the Great Occidental Schism, or the Schism of 1378 (), was a split within the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is ...
within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and
peasant revolts This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasants played a significant role. Background History of peasant wars spans over a period of over two thousand years. A variety of reasons fueled the emergence of the peasant revolt phenomenon, ...
that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the
early modern period The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, adve ...
.


Terminology and periodisation

The Middle Ages is one of the three major periods in the most enduring scheme for analysing
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 ...
: classical civilisation or
Antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

Antiquity
, the Middle Ages and the
Modern Period Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, advent of writing, from primary source, primary and ...
.Power ''Central Middle Ages'' p. 3 The "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in 1469 as ''media tempestas'' or "middle season".Miglio "Curial Humanism" ''Interpretations of Renaissance Humanism'' p. 112 In early usage, there were many variants, including ''medium aevum'', or "middle age", first recorded in 1604,Albrow ''Global Age'' p. 205 and ''media saecula'', or "middle centuries", first recorded in 1625. The adjective "medieval" (or sometimes "mediaeval" or "mediæval"),"Mediaeval" ''Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary'' meaning pertaining to the Middle Ages, derives from ''medium aevum''.Flexner (ed.) ''Random House Dictionary'' p. 1194 Medieval writers divided history into periods such as the " Six Ages" or the " Four Empires", and considered their time to be the last before the end of the world.Mommsen "Petrarch's Conception of the 'Dark Ages'" ''Speculum'' pp. 236–237 When referring to their own times, they spoke of them as being "modern".Singman ''Daily Life'' p. x In the 1330s, the Italian humanist and poet
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet of early , and one of the earliest . Petrarch's rediscovery of 's letters is often credited with initiating the 14th-century Italian a ...

Petrarch
referred to pre-Christian times as ''antiqua'' (or "ancient") and to the Christian period as ''nova'' (or "new").Knox
History of the Idea of the Renaissance
Petrarch regarded the post-Roman centuries as "
dark Darkness, the polar opposite of brightness Brightness is an attribute of visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment using light in the visible spectrum reflected by the objects in the envi ...
" compared to the "light" of
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, , ...
.Mommsen "Petrarch's Conception of the 'Dark Ages'" ''Speculum'' pp. 227-228
Leonardo Bruni 250px, Leonardo Bruni, engraving by Theodor de Bry Leonardo Bruni (or Leonardo Aretino; c. 1370 – March 9, 1444) was an Italians, Italian humanism, humanist, historian and statesman, often recognized as the most important humanist historian of ...

Leonardo Bruni
was the first historian to use tripartite periodisation in his ''History of the Florentine People'' (1442), with a middle period "between the fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of city life sometime in late eleventh and twelfth centuries".Bruni ''History of the Florentine people'' pp. xvii–xviii Tripartite
periodisation Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Institute for the Study of the Ancient Wo ...
became standard after the 17th-century German historian
Christoph Cellarius Christoph (Keller) Cellarius (22 November 1638 – 4 June 1707) was a German classical scholar from Schmalkalden who held positions in Weimar Weimar (; la, Vimaria or Vinaria) is a city in the federal state of Thuringia, Germany. It is ...

Christoph Cellarius
divided history into three periods: ancient, medieval, and modern.Murray "Should the Middle Ages Be Abolished?" ''Essays in Medieval Studies'' p. 4 The most commonly given starting point for the Middle Ages is around 500, with the date of 476 first used by Bruni. Later starting dates are sometimes used in the outer parts of Europe. For Europe as a whole, 1500 is often considered to be the end of the Middle Ages, but there is no universally agreed upon end date. Depending on the context, events such as the
conquest of Constantinople Conquest is the act of military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, wi ...
by the Turks in 1453,
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian ...

Christopher Columbus
's first voyage to the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
in 1492, or the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...

Protestant Reformation
in 1517 are sometimes used. English historians often use the
Battle of Bosworth Field The Battle of Bosworth or Bosworth Field was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses The Wars of the Roses were a series of fifteenth-century English civil wars for control of the throne of England, fought between supporter ...

Battle of Bosworth Field
in 1485 to mark the end of the period. For Spain, dates commonly used are the death of King Ferdinand II in 1516, the death of Queen
Isabella I of Castile Isabella I ( es, Isabel I, 22 April 1451 – 26 November 1504) was Queen of Castile This is a list of kings and queens of the Kingdom and Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that fo ...
in 1504, or the
conquest of Granada The Granada War ( es, Guerra de Granada) was a series of military campaigns between 1482 and 1491, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs The term Catholic Monarchs refers to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, ...
in 1492. Historians from
Romance-speaking The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European langua ...

Romance-speaking
countries tend to divide the Middle Ages into two parts: an earlier "High" and later "Low" period. English-speaking historians, following their German counterparts, generally subdivide the Middle Ages into three intervals: "Early", "High", and "Late". In the 19th century, the entire Middle Ages were often referred to as the "
Dark Ages Dark Ages or Dark Age may refer to: History and sociology *Dark Ages (historiography), the use of the term ''Dark Ages'' by historians and lay people **Byzantine Dark Ages (7th–8th centuries), period of large-scale transformation but obscure du ...
",Mommsen "Petrarch's Conception of the 'Dark Ages'" ''Speculum'' p. 226 but with the adoption of these subdivisions, use of this term was restricted to the Early Middle Ages, at least among historians.


Later Roman Empire

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
reached its greatest territorial extent during the 2nd century AD; the following two centuries witnessed the slow decline of Roman control over its outlying territories.Cunliffe ''Europe Between the Oceans'' pp. 391–393 Economic issues, including inflation, and external pressure on the frontiers combined to create the
Crisis of the Third Century The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis (235–284 AD), was a period in which the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, ...
, with emperors coming to the throne only to be rapidly replaced by new usurpers.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 3–5 Military expenses increased steadily during the 3rd century, mainly in response to the
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
with the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Iran (word), Ērānshahr''), and also called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian Empire, Persian imperial dynasty before the spread of I ...

Sasanian Empire
, which revived in the middle of the 3rd century. The army doubled in size, and cavalry and smaller units replaced the
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of 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– ...

Roman legion
as the main tactical unit.Brown ''World of Late Antiquity'' pp. 24–25 The need for revenue led to increased taxes and a decline in numbers of the curial, or landowning, class, and decreasing numbers of them willing to shoulder the burdens of holding office in their native towns.Heather ''Fall of the Roman Empire'' p. 111 More bureaucrats were needed in the central administration to deal with the needs of the army, which led to complaints from civilians that there were more tax-collectors in the empire than tax-payers. The Emperor
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
(r. 284–305) split the empire into separately administered
eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...

eastern
and
western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

western
halves in 286; the empire was not considered divided by its inhabitants or rulers, as legal and administrative
promulgation Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statutory A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way ...
s in one division were considered valid in the other.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' p. 9 In 330, after a period of civil war,
Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Constantine the Great
(r. 306–337) refounded the city of
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
as the newly renamed eastern capital,
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
.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' p. 24 Diocletian's reforms strengthened the governmental bureaucracy, reformed taxation, and strengthened the army, which bought the empire time but did not resolve the problems it was facing: excessive taxation, a declining birthrate, and pressures on its frontiers, among others.Cunliffe ''Europe Between the Oceans'' pp. 405–406 Civil war between rival emperors became common in the middle of the 4th century, diverting soldiers from the empire's frontier forces and allowing invaders to encroach.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 31–33 For much of the 4th century, Roman society stabilised in a new form that differed from the earlier
classical periodClassical period may refer to: *Classical Greece, specifically of the 5th and 4th centuries BC *Classical antiquity, in the Greco-Roman world *Classical India, an historic period of India (c. 322 BC - c. 550 CE) *Classical period (music), in music ...
, with a widening gulf between the rich and poor, and a decline in the vitality of the smaller towns.Brown ''World of Late Antiquity'' p. 34 Another change was the
Christianisation Christianization (American and British English spelling differences#-ise.2C -ize .28-isation.2C -ization.29, or Christianisation) was the Conversion to Christianity, conversion of societies to Christianity beginning in late antiquity in the Rom ...
, or conversion of the empire to
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, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
, a gradual process that lasted from the 2nd to the 5th centuries.Brown ''World of Late Antiquity'' pp. 65–68Brown ''World of Late Antiquity'' pp. 82–94 In 376, 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), ...
, fleeing from 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
, received permission from Emperor
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
(r. 364–378) to settle in the Roman province of
Thracia 250px, Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–38), showing the imperial province of Thracia in southeastern Europe. Thracia or Thrace ( ''Thrakē'') is the ancient name given to the southeastern Balkans, Balkan region, the land inhabited by ...
in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
. The settlement did not go smoothly, and when Roman officials mishandled the situation, the Goths began to raid and plunder. Valens, attempting to put down the disorder, was killed fighting the Goths at 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 ...
on 9 August 378.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 47–49 In addition to the threat from such tribal confederacies in the north, internal divisions within the empire, especially within the Christian Church, caused problems.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 56–59 In 400, 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 ...
invaded the Western Roman Empire and, although briefly forced back from Italy, in 410 sacked the city of Rome.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 80–83 In 406 the
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
,
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 ...
, and
Suevi The Suebi (or Suebians, also spelled Suevi, Suavi) were a large group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They ...
crossed into
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of 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 rat ...

Gaul
; over the next three years they spread across Gaul and in 409 crossed the
Pyrenees Mountains french: Pyrénées ca, Pirineus an, Pirineus oc, Pirenèus eu, Pirinioak, Auñamendiak , etymology=Named for Pyrene , photo=Central pyrenees.jpg , photo_caption=Central Pyrenees , country_type= Countries , country= , geology= granite, gneis ...

Pyrenees Mountains
into modern-day Spain.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 59–60 The
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
began, when various peoples, initially largely
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
, moved across Europe. The
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
,
Alemanni The Alemanni (also ''Alamanni''; ''Suebi'' "Swabians") were a confederation of Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – ...
, and 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 ...
all ended up in northern Gaul while the
Angles The Angles ( ang, Ængle, ; la, Angli; german: Angeln) were one of the main Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally ...

Angles
,
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languag ...

Saxons
, and
Jutes The Jutes (), Iuti, or Iutæ ( da, Jyde, non, Jótar, ang, Ēotas) were one of the Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscand ...
settled in Britain, and the Vandals went on to cross the strait of Gibraltar after which they conquered the province of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...
.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' p. 80 In the 430s the Huns began invading the empire; their king
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
(r. 434–453) led invasions into the Balkans in 442 and 447, Gaul in 451, and Italy in 452.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 67–68 The Hunnic threat remained until Attila's death in 453, when the Hunnic confederation he led fell apart.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 117–118 These invasions by the tribes completely changed the political and demographic nature of what had been the Western Roman Empire.Cunliffe ''Europe Between the Oceans'' p. 417 By the end of the 5th century the western section of the empire was divided into smaller political units, ruled by the tribes that had invaded in the early part of the century.Wickham ''Inheritance of Rome'' p. 79 The deposition of the last emperor of the west,
Romulus Augustulus Romulus Augustus ( 465 – after 511?), nicknamed Augustulus, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout ...
, in 476 has traditionally marked the end of the Western Roman Empire.Wickham ''Inheritance of Rome'' p. 86 By 493 the Italian peninsula was conquered by the
Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mention ...
, a Gothic tribe.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 107–109 The Eastern Roman Empire, often referred to as the Byzantine Empire after the fall of its western counterpart, had little ability to assert control over the lost western territories. The Byzantine emperors maintained a claim over the territory, but while none of the new kings in the west dared to elevate himself to the position of emperor of the west, Byzantine control of most of the Western Empire could not be sustained; the reconquest of the Mediterranean periphery and the
Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Reg ...
(
Gothic WarGothic War may refer to: *Gothic War (367–369), a war of Thervingi against the Eastern Roman Empire in which the Goths retreated to Montes Serrorum *Gothic War (376–382), Thervingi and Greuthungi against the Roman Empire *Gothic War (401–403), ...
) in the reign of
Justinian 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 ...
(r. 527–565) was the sole, and temporary, exception.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 116–134


Early Middle Ages


New societies

The political structure of Western Europe changed with the end of the united Roman Empire. Although the movements of peoples during this period are usually described as "invasions", they were not just military expeditions but migrations of entire peoples into the empire. Such movements were aided by the refusal of the Western Roman elites to support the army or pay the taxes that would have allowed the military to suppress the migration.Brown, ''World of Late Antiquity'', pp. 122–124 The emperors of the 5th century were often controlled by military strongmen such as
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
(d. 408), Aetius (d. 454),
Aspar Flavius Ardabur Aspar (c. 400471) was an Eastern Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middl ...
(d. 471),
Ricimer Flavius Ricimer ( , ; – 18/19 August 472) was a Romanization (cultural), Romanized Germanic peoples, Germanic general who effectively ruled the remaining territory of the Western Roman Empire from 461 until his death in 472, with a brief inte ...
(d. 472), or
Gundobad Gundobad ( la, Flavius Gundobadus; french: Gondebaud, Gondovald; 452 – 516 AD) was King of Burgundy, King of the Burgundians (473 – 516), succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician (ancient Rome), ...
(d. 516), who were partly or fully of non-Roman background. When the line of Western emperors ceased, many of the kings who replaced them were from the same background. Intermarriage between the new kings and the Roman elites was common.Wickham, ''Inheritance of Rome'', pp. 95–98 This led to a fusion of Roman culture with the customs of the invading tribes, including the popular assemblies that allowed free male tribal members more say in political matters than was common in the Roman state.Wickham, ''Inheritance of Rome'', pp. 100–101 Material artefacts left by the Romans and the invaders are often similar, and tribal items were often modelled on Roman objects.Collins, ''Early Medieval Europe'', p. 100 Much of the scholarly and written culture of the new kingdoms was also based on Roman intellectual traditions.Collins, ''Early Medieval Europe'', pp. 96–97 An important difference was the gradual loss of tax revenue by the new polities. Many of the new political entities no longer supported their armies through taxes, instead relying on granting them land or rents. This meant there was less need for large tax revenues and so the taxation systems decayed.Wickham, ''Inheritance of Rome'', pp. 102–103 Warfare was common between and within the kingdoms. Slavery declined as the supply weakened, and society became more rural.Backman, ''Worlds of Medieval Europe'', pp. 86–91 Between the 5th and 8th centuries, new peoples and individuals filled the political void left by Roman centralised government. The Ostrogoths settled in
Roman Italy (the 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 the Roman Republic, ...

Roman Italy
in the late fifth century under
Theoderic the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal ( la, Flāvius Theoderīcus; el, Θευδέριχος, Theuderichos), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent Ostrogothic Kin ...
(d. 526) and set up a
kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category in biological taxonomy Arts an ...

kingdom
marked by its co-operation between the Italians and the Ostrogoths, at least until the last years of Theodoric's reign.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 82–88 The Burgundians settled in Gaul, and after an earlier realm was destroyed by the Huns in 436, formed a new kingdom in the 440s. Between today's
Geneva Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra) is the List of cities in Switzerland, second-most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-spea ...

Geneva
and
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
, it grew to become the realm of
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 77–78 Elsewhere in Gaul, the Franks and
Celtic Britons The Britons ( la, Pritani), also known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons were the Celtic people The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C. ...
set up small polities.
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest History of the Roman Empire, post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks du ...

Francia
was centred in northern Gaul, and the first king of whom much is known is
Childeric I Childeric I (; french: Childéric; la, Childericus; reconstructed Frankish: ''*Hildirīk''; – 481 AD) was a Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europ ...

Childeric I
(d. 481). His grave was discovered in 1653 and is remarkable for its
grave goods The gilded throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamun">Pharaoh.html" ;"title="throne of Pharaoh">throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamun is but one of the treasures found within his tomb. Grave goods, in archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of hum ...
, which included weapons and a large quantity of gold.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 79–80 Under Childeric's son
Clovis I Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed 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 northern E ...

Clovis I
(r. 509–511), the founder of the
Merovingian dynasty The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulis ...

Merovingian dynasty
, the Frankish kingdom expanded and converted to Christianity. The Britons, related to the natives of
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...

Britannia
 – modern-day Great Britain – settled in what is now
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 78–81 Other monarchies were established by the
Visigothic Kingdom The Visigothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of the Goths ( la, Regnum Gothorum), was a kingdom that occupied what is now southwestern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...

Visigothic Kingdom
in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
, the
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 ...
in northwestern Iberia, and the
Vandal Kingdom The Vandal Kingdom ( la, Regnum Vandalum) or Kingdom of the Vandals and Alans ( la, Regnum Vandalorum et Alanorum) was established by the Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of ...
in
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 ...

North Africa
. In the sixth century, the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) 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 G ...
settled in
Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical cha ...
, replacing the Ostrogothic kingdom with a grouping of
duchies A duchy is a 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 s ...
that occasionally selected a king to rule over them all. By the late sixth century, this arrangement had been replaced by a permanent monarchy, the
Kingdom of the Lombards The Kingdom of the Lombards ( la, Regnum Langobardorum; it, Regno dei Longobardi; lmo, Regn dei Lombards) also known as the Lombard Kingdom; later the Kingdom of (all) Italy ( la, Regnum totius Italiae), was an early medieval state established ...
.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 196–208 The invasions brought new ethnic groups to Europe, although some regions received a larger influx of new peoples than others. In Gaul for instance, the invaders settled much more extensively in the north-east than in the south-west.
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...

Slavs
settled in
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern 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 reg ...

Eastern Europe
and the Balkan Peninsula. The settlement of peoples was accompanied by changes in languages.
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 be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
, the literary language of the Western Roman Empire, was gradually replaced by
vernacular languages A vernacular, or vernacular language is a term for a type of speech variety, generally used to refer to a local language or dialect, as distinct from what is seen as a standard language. The vernacular is contrasted with higher-prestige forms ...
which evolved from Latin, but were distinct from it, collectively known as
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
. These changes from Latin to the new languages took many centuries. Greek remained the language of the Byzantine Empire, but the migrations of the Slavs added
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
to Eastern Europe.Davies ''Europe'' pp. 235–238


Byzantine survival

As Western Europe witnessed the formation of new kingdoms, the Eastern Roman Empire remained intact and experienced an economic revival that lasted into the early 7th century. There were fewer invasions of the eastern section of the empire; most occurred in the Balkans. Peace with the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Iran (word), Ērānshahr''), and also called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian Empire, Persian imperial dynasty before the spread of I ...

Sasanian Empire
, the traditional enemy of Rome, lasted throughout most of the 5th century. The Eastern Empire was marked by closer relations between the political state and Christian Church, with doctrinal matters assuming an importance in Eastern politics that they did not have in Western Europe. Legal developments included the codification 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 ...
; the first effort—the ''
Codex Theodosianus The ''Codex Theodosianus'' (Eng. Theodosian Code) was a compilation of the laws Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against huma ...

Codex Theodosianus
''—was completed in 438.Wickham ''Inheritance of Rome'' pp. 81–83 Under Emperor Justinian (r. 527–565), another compilation took place—the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius I ...
''.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 200–202 Justinian also oversaw the construction of 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
in Constantinople and the reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals and Italy from the Ostrogoths, under
Belisarius Flavius Belisarius ( el, Φλάβιος Βελισάριος; c. 500The exact date of his birth is unknown. – 565) was a military commander of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, o ...
(d. 565).Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 126, 130 The conquest of Italy was not complete, as a deadly outbreak of plague in 542 led to the rest of Justinian's reign concentrating on defensive measures rather than further conquests.Bauer ''History of the Medieval World'' pp. 206–213 At the Emperor's death, the Byzantines had control of most of Italy, North Africa, and a small foothold in southern Spain. Justinian's reconquests have been criticised by historians for overextending his realm and setting the stage for the
early Muslim conquests The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Prophets of Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7 ...
, but many of the difficulties faced by Justinian's successors were due not just to over-taxation to pay for his wars but to the essentially civilian nature of the empire, which made raising troops difficult.Brown "Transformation of the Roman Mediterranean" ''Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe'' pp. 8–9 In the Eastern Empire the slow infiltration of the Balkans by the Slavs added a further difficulty for Justinian's successors. It began gradually, but by the late 540s Slavic tribes were in
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 Illyrium, and had defeated an imperial army near
Adrianople Edirne (, ), formerly known as Adrianople or Hadrianopolis (), is a city in Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in ...
in 551. In the 560s the
Avars Avar(s) or AVAR may refer to: Peoples and states * Avars (Caucasus), a modern Northeast Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus, Dagestan, Russia **Avar language, the modern Northeast Caucasian language spoken by the Avars of the North Ca ...
began to expand from their base on the north bank of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
; by the end of the 6th-century, they were the dominant power in Central Europe and routinely able to force the Eastern emperors to pay tribute. They remained a strong power until 796.James ''Europe's Barbarians'' pp. 95–99Curta ''Southeastern Europe'' pp. 59–66 An additional problem to face the empire came as a result of the involvement of Emperor
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 ...
(r. 582–602) in Persian politics when he intervened in a succession dispute. This led to a period of peace, but when Maurice was overthrown, the Persians invaded and during the reign of Emperor
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 ...
(r. 610–641) controlled large chunks of the empire, including Egypt, Syria, and
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
until Heraclius' successful counterattack. In 628 the empire secured a peace treaty and recovered all of its lost territories.Collins ''Early Medieval Europe'' pp. 140–143


Western society

In Western Europe, some of the older Roman elite families died out while others became more involved with ecclesiastical than secular affairs. Values attached to Latin scholarship and
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...
mostly disappeared, and while literacy remained important, it became a practical skill rather than a sign of elite status. In the 4th century,
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authoriz ...

Jerome
(d. 420) dreamed that God rebuked him for spending more time reading
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
than the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
. By the 6th century,
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish ...
(d. 594) had a similar dream, but instead of being chastised for reading Cicero, he was chastised for learning
shorthand Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand{{Short pages monitor, they were only made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities".Grant ''God and Reason'' p. 9 Also, contrary to common belief, David C. Lindberg, David Lindberg writes, "the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the Church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led".Quoted in Peters "Science and Religion" ''Encyclopedia of Religion'' p. 8182 The caricature of the period is also reflected in some more specific notions. One misconception, first propagated in the 19th centuryRussell ''Inventing the Flat Earth'' pp. 49–58 and still very common, is that all people in the Middle Ages believed that the Myth of the flat Earth, Earth was flat. This is untrue, as lecturers in the medieval universities commonly argued that evidence showed the Earth was a sphere. Lindberg and Ronald Numbers, another scholar of the period, state that there "was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference".Lindberg and Numbers "Beyond War and Peace" ''Church History'' p. 342 Other misconceptions such as "the Church prohibited autopsies and dissections during the Middle Ages", "the rise of Christianity killed off ancient science", or "the medieval Christian Church suppressed the growth of natural philosophy", are all cited by Numbers as examples of widely popular myths that still pass as historical truth, although they are not supported by historical research.Numbers
Myths and Truths in Science and Religion: A historical perspective
''Lecture archive'' Archived 11 October 2017


Notes


Citations


References

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Further reading

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External links


NetSERF
The Internet Connection for Medieval Resources.
De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History

Medievalmap.org
Interactive maps of the Medieval era (Flash plug-in required).

Learning resources from the British Library including studies of beautiful medieval manuscripts.
Medievalists.net
News and articles about the period.
Medieval History Database (MHDB)
* Medieval worlds, Medieval Worlds
Official Website
Comparative and interdisciplinary articles about the period.
ORB The Online Reference Book of Medieval Studies
Academic peer-reviewed articles and encyclopedia.
The Labyrinth
Resources for Medieval Studies. {{Subject bar , portal1=Middle Ages , portal2=History , portal3=Europe , portal5=War , commons=y , q=y , s=y 5th century 6th century in Europe 7th century in Europe 8th century in Europe 9th century in Europe 10th century in Europe 11th century in Europe 12th century in Europe 13th century in Europe 14th century in Europe 15th century in Europe Christianization Dark ages Featured articles Historical eras History of Europe by period Middle Ages, Wikipedia pages semi-protected against vandalism