Middle Ages

The Cross of Mathilde, a crux gemmata made for Mathilde, Abbess of Essen (973–1011), who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the enamel plaque. The figure of Christ is slightly later. Probably made in Cologne or Essen, the cross demonstrates several medieval techniques: cast figurative sculpture, filigree, enamelling, gem polishing and setting, and the reuse of Classical cameos and engraved gems.

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages (or medieval period) lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Population decline, counterurbanisation, collapse of centralized authority, invasions, and mass migrations of tribes, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages. The large-scale movements of the Migration Period, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East—once part of the Byzantine Empire—came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with classical antiquity was not complete. The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire, Rome's direct continuation, survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power. The empire's law code, the Corpus Juris Civilis or "Code of Justinian", was rediscovered in Northern Italy in 1070 and became widely admired later in the Middle Ages. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated the few extant Roman institutions. Monasteries were founded as campaigns to Christianise pagan Europe continued. The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire 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 from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens 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 climate change allowed crop yields to increase. Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages. The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralised nation-states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities. The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as 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 killed about a third of Europeans. Controversy, heresy, and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period.

Terminology and periodisation

The Middle Ages is one of the three major periods in the most enduring scheme for analysing European history: classical civilisation, or Antiquity; the Middle Ages; and the Modern Period.[1] The "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas or "middle season".[2][A] In early usage, there were many variants, including medium aevum, or "middle age", first recorded in 1604,[4] and media saecula, or "middle centuries", first recorded in 1625.[5] The adjective "medieval" (or sometimes "mediaeval"[6] or "mediæval"),[7] meaning pertaining to the Middle Ages, derives from medium aevum.[6]

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.[8] When referring to their own times, they spoke of them as being "modern".[9] In the 1330s, the humanist and poet Petrarch referred to pre-Christian times as antiqua (or "ancient") and to the Christian period as nova (or "new").[10] 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".[11] Tripartite periodisation became standard after the 17th-century German historian Christoph Cellarius divided history into three periods: ancient, medieval, and modern.[5]

The most commonly given starting point for the Middle Ages is around 500,[12] with the date of 476 first used by Bruni.[11][B] Later starting dates are sometimes used in the outer parts of Europe.[14] For Europe as a whole, 1500 is often considered to be the end of the Middle Ages,[15] but there is no universally agreed upon end date. Depending on the context, events such as the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492, or the Protestant Reformation in 1517 are sometimes used.[16] English historians often use the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 to mark the end of the period.[17] For Spain, dates commonly used are the death of King Ferdinand II in 1516, the death of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1504, or the conquest of Granada in 1492.[18]

Historians from 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".[1] In the 19th century, the entire Middle Ages were often referred to as the "Dark Ages",[19][C] but with the adoption of these subdivisions, use of this term was restricted to the Early Middle Ages, at least among historians.[8]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Middeleeue
Alemannisch: Mittelalter
aragonés: Edat Meya
arpetan: Moyen Âjo
asturianu: Edá Media
azərbaycanca: Orta əsrlər
تۆرکجه: اورتا عصرلر
বাংলা: মধ্যযুগ
Bân-lâm-gú: Tiong-sè-kí
башҡортса: Урта быуаттар
беларуская: Сярэдневякоўе
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сярэднявечча
български: Средновековие
Boarisch: Middloita
bosanski: Srednji vijek
brezhoneg: Krennamzer
буряад: Дунда зуун
català: Edat mitjana
čeština: Středověk
corsu: Medievu
Deutsch: Mittelalter
dolnoserbski: Srjejźowěk
eesti: Keskaeg
Ελληνικά: Μεσαίωνας
español: Edad Media
Esperanto: Mezepoko
estremeñu: Edá Meia
euskara: Erdi Aroa
فارسی: قرون وسطی
Fiji Hindi: Middle Ages
føroyskt: Miðøldin
français: Moyen Âge
Frysk: Midsiuwen
Gaeilge: An Mheánaois
Gàidhlig: Meadhan-aoisean
galego: Idade Media
贛語: 中世紀
한국어: 중세
հայերեն: Միջնադար
Արեւմտահայերէն: Միջնադար
हिन्दी: मध्ययुग
hornjoserbsce: Srjedźowěk
hrvatski: Srednji vijek
Bahasa Indonesia: Abad Pertengahan
interlingua: Medievo
íslenska: Miðaldir
italiano: Medioevo
kaszëbsczi: Strzédnowiek
kernowek: Osow Kres
Kiswahili: Zama za Kati
Kreyòl ayisyen: Mwayenaj
Кыргызча: Орто кылымдар
Latina: Medium aevum
latviešu: Viduslaiki
Lëtzebuergesch: Mëttelalter
lietuvių: Viduramžiai
Limburgs: Middeliewe
Lingua Franca Nova: Eda medieval
lumbaart: Medioév
magyar: Középkor
македонски: Среден век
മലയാളം: മദ്ധ്യകാലം
Malti: Medjuevu
मराठी: मध्य युग
მარგალური: შქა ოშწანურეფი
مازِرونی: ووسطا قورون
Bahasa Melayu: Zaman Pertengahan
Minangkabau: Abaik Patangahan
Mirandés: Eidade Média
монгол: Дундад зуун
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အလယ်ခေတ်
Nederlands: Middeleeuwen
Nedersaksies: Middeleewn
日本語: 中世
Napulitano: Medioevo
Nordfriisk: Madelääler
norsk nynorsk: Mellomalderen
Nouormand: Mouoyen Âge
occitan: Edat Mejana
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Oʻrta asr
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਮੱਧਕਾਲ
Patois: Migl Iejiz
Picard: Moéyin Ache
Piemontèis: Età ëd mes
Plattdüütsch: Middelöller
português: Idade Média
română: Evul Mediu
rumantsch: Temp medieval
русиньскый: Середновік
русский: Средние века
саха тыла: Орто үйэлэр
Seeltersk: Middeloaler
shqip: Mesjeta
sicilianu: Mediuevu
Simple English: Middle Ages
سنڌي: وچون دور
slovenčina: Stredovek
slovenščina: Srednji vek
српски / srpski: Средњи век
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Srednji vijek
suomi: Keskiaika
svenska: Medeltiden
татарча/tatarça: Урта гасырлар
Türkçe: Orta Çağ
Türkmençe: Orta asyrlar
українська: Середньовіччя
vèneto: Età de mezo
Tiếng Việt: Trung Cổ
Võro: Keskaig
walon: Moyinådje
West-Vlams: Middelêeuwn
吴语: 中世
ייִדיש: מיטל אלטער
粵語: 中世紀
Zeêuws: Middeleêuwen
žemaitėška: Vėdoromžē
中文: 中世纪
kriyòl gwiyannen: Mwayen-Aj