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Middle Ages

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**Periodization and Sources**:
– The Middle Ages is one of three major periods in European history analysis.
– Leonardo Bruni and Christoph Cellarius established the tripartite periodization.
– The term ‘medieval’ stems from ‘medium aevum’ in 1604.
– The Middle Ages typically span from around 500 to 1500, with arbitrary start and end years.
– Available sources limit comprehensive study of the Middle Ages.
– Systematic publication of medieval sources began with works like ‘Rerum italicarum scriptores.’
– Collections like ‘Monumenta Germaniae Historica’ and the Rolls Series focus on annals and chronicles.

**Population and Migration**:
– Counterurbanization and population decline occurred in the Early Middle Ages.
– Mass migration of tribes, mainly Germanic peoples, led to the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire.
– Christianization continued into the Early Middle Ages.
– The movements of peoples led to the rise of new kingdoms.
– The Eastern Roman Empire survived but lost territories to Muslim conquerors.

**Social Developments in the Middle Ages**:
– Population increased greatly in the High Middle Ages due to the Medieval Warm Period.
– Technological innovations led to a commercial revolution.
– Slavery nearly disappeared, and peasants could improve their status.
– New towns developed, and urban artisans formed guilds.
– Feudalism system emerged, where knights owed military service to lords.

**Challenges and Changes in the Late Middle Ages**:
– The 14th century introduced difficulties like the Black Death.
– Conflicts between ethnic and social groups intensified.
– Local conflicts often escalated into full-scale warfare.
– The Western Schism and dissident movements challenged the Western Church.
– Humanist scholars emphasized human dignity, leading to the Early Renaissance.

**Post-Roman Empire and Transformation**:
– Roman Empire peaked in the 2nd century AD.
– Crisis of the Third Century caused by inflation, external pressure, and plague.
– Military expenses increased due to wars.
– Emperor Diocletian split the empire in 286.
– Constantine the Great established Constantinople as the eastern capital.

Middle Ages (Wikipedia)

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period (also spelt mediaeval or mediæval) lasted approximately from 500 AD to 1500, although some prefer other start and end dates. The Middle Ages is the second of the three traditional divisions of Western history: antiquity, medieval, and modern. Major developments include the predominance of agriculture in the economy, the exploitation of the peasantry, slow interregional communication, the importance of interpersonal relations in power structures, and the fragility of state bureaucracy. The medieval period is itself sometimes subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages, and the early medieval period is alternatively referred to as the Dark Ages.

A stained glass panel from Canterbury Cathedral, c. 1175 – c. 1180. It depicts the Parable of the Sower, a biblical narrative.

Population decline, counterurbanisation, the collapse of centralised authority, the mass migration of tribes (mainly Germanic peoples), and Christianisation, which had begun in late antiquity, continued into the Early Middle Ages. The movements of peoples led to the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire, and the rise of new kingdoms. In the post-Roman world, taxation declined, the army was financed through land grants, and the blending of Later Roman civilisation and the invaders' traditions is well documented. The Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire) survived but lost the Middle East and North Africa to Muslim conquerors in the 7th century. Although the Carolingian dynasty of the Franks reunited much of the Western Roman lands by the early 9th century, the Carolingian Empire quickly fell apart into competing kingdoms, which later fragmented into autonomous duchies and lordships.

During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as the Medieval Warm Period allowed crop yields to increase, and technological and agricultural innovations introduced a "commercial revolution". Slavery nearly disappeared, and peasants could improve their status by colonising faraway regions in return for economic and legal concessions. New towns developed from local commercial centers, and urban artisans united into local guilds to protect their common interests. Western church leaders accepted papal supremacy to get rid of lay influence, which accelerated the separation of the western Catholic and eastern Orthodox Churches, and triggered the Investiture Controversy between the papacy and secular powers. With the spread of heavy cavalry, a new aristocracy emerged who stabilised their position through strict inheritance customs. In the system of feudalism, the noble knights owed military service to their lords in return for the lands they had received in fief. Stone castles were built in regions where central authority was weak but by the end of the period state power was in the rise. The Western European peasants' and aristocrats' movement towards the peripheries of Europe, often in the guise of crusades, led to the expansion of Latin Christendom against the neighbouring Muslim, pagan, and Orthodox peoples. The spread of cathedral schools and universities stimulated a new method of intellectual discussions, with an emphasis on rational argumentation, known as scholasticism. Mass pilgrimages prompted the construction of massive Romanesque churches, while structural innovations led to the development of the more delicate Gothic architecture.

Difficulties and calamities, including a great famine and the Black Death, which reduced the population by 50 per cent, introduced the Late Middle Ages in the 14th century. Conflicts between ethnic and social groups intensified, and local conflicts often escalated into full-scale warfare, such as the Hundred Years' War. By the end of the period, the Byzantine Empire and the Balkan states were conquered by a new Muslim power, the Ottoman Empire, whereas in the Iberian Peninsula, the Christian kingdoms won their centuries-old war against their Muslim neighbours. The prominence of personal faith is well documented, but the Western Schism and dissident movements condemned as heresies presented a significant challenge to traditional power structures in the Western Church. Humanist scholars started to put a special emphasis on human dignity, and Early Renaissance architects and artists revived several elements of classical culture in Italy. During the last medieval century, naval expeditions in search for new trade routes introduced the Age of Discovery.

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