An Introduction to the Middle Ages

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The Middle Ages – An Introduction

The Middle Ages is a period between the Greek and Roman Classical Period (Antiquity) and the Renaissance. It dates from the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West in the year 476. However, there aren't any fixed dates. The most conventional dates marking the Middle Ages is circa 400-500 AD and it lasted for 1, 000 years (i.e. up to 1, 400 AD). The Dark Ages refer to the period of cultural stagnation between the glory of classical antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Before the fall of the Roman Empire, Constantine accepted the Christian religion in the year 312 AD. Although Christianity was not the official religion, it became the religion of the majority and Christians were stopped being persecuted for their beliefs. This is very important as religions have also cultural content which happens to be one of the most important ingredients to Western and Modern Mediterranean culture.

In 476 AD, there was the fall of the Roman Empire and the West was invaded by Germanic tribes. There were economic imbalances due to lack of trade, cultural and linguistic divisions. During this period the loose confederation of tribes began to unite into kingdoms. There no longer was a single political entity and at first there was no real form of government as we find in the previous Roman Empire. Each kingdom belonged to a king and some form of administration was made possible by means of nobles loyally working for the king by each taking care of a piece of the king's territory. Kingdoms were run by the feudal system. For the West, the Middle Ages were periods of weakness and, in fact, the East was more prosperous and more powerful.

Western Europe, although invaded by Germanic tribes, did not speak German but Latin which has then given rise to different languages by the end of the medieval times. There was no concept of Europe. There was only a sense of Christendom. Christianity served as the people's sense of belonging....
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