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27 Jul

About The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages refers to a period in European history that lasted about a millennium. It followed the period of the classical antiquity which came to an end with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The latter officially ceased to exists in 476 when Germanic chieftain Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus.

The fall of the Western Roman Empire was a result of a longer process. Deposition of Romulus Augustulus formally put an end to the empire that was already in ruins and has not caused any major disruption at the time. For that reason some historians suggested alternative start dates for the Middle Ages despite the fact that they all agree that the Middle Ages followed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Some historians see the beginning of the Middle Ages in several events that happened before the deposition of the last Western Roman Emperor and have had a major impact on the future course of history, while the others emphasize the events that took place after Romulus Augustulus’s deposition in 476.

Some of the most common alternative start dates for the Middle Ages are associated with the following events:

  • Issue of Edicts of Milan which ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire (313)
  • Beginning of the Migration Period (375)
  • Battle of Adrianople in which the Visigoths decisively defeated the Roman army and Killed Emperor Valens (378)
  • Sack of Rome by the Visigoths (410)
  • Death of the last de jure Western Roman Emperor, Julius Nepos (480)
  • Closure of the last pagan school in Athens (529)
  • Muslim conquest of North Africa (647)

There is no unique view among the historians about the end date for Middle Ages either. It is commonly associated with Renaissance, a cultural movement that started in Italy in the 14th century and spread throughout Europe in the mid-15th century. However, some historians consider the spread of Renaissance as the end of the Middle Ages and beginning of the early modern period, while the others view it as a part of the Middle Ages.

In addition, some historians associate the end date for the Middle Ages with either of the following events:

  • Invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg (1445)
  • Fall of Constantinople (1453)
  • The end of the Hundred Years’ War (1453)
  • Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1492)
  • The end of Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula (1492)
  • Beginning of the Italian Wars (1494)
  • Beginning of the Protestant Reformation (1517)
  • Battle of Lepanto in which the fleet of the Holy League decisively defeated the Ottoman Turks (1571)

Due to the fact that the Middle Ages comprises a period of about 1,000 years it is often subdivided into three periods:

  • Early Middle Ages, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages (from the 5th to end of the 10th century)
  • High Middle Ages (from the 11th to the end of the 13th century)
  • and Late Middle Ages (from the 14th to the end of the 15th century)
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