Middle Ages of European history (adjective ‘medieval’)
are a period in history which lasted for roughly one
thousand years, commonly dated from the fall of the
Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the beginning
of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century.
International school students might be
interested to know that the plural form of the term,
Middle Ages, is used in English and Dutch while other
European languages use the singular form (French le
moyen âge, German das Mittelalter, Spanish
edad media). The Middle Ages form the middle period
in a division of European history into three ‘ages’: the
classical civilization of Greece and Rome, the Middle
Ages, and the modern period. The Middle Ages are
themselves often subdivided into three.
The early medieval period was from the
5th to the 8th century. Sometimes called the Dark Ages,
this period is associated with the consequences of the
break up of the Roman Empire and regular invasions into
Europe by non-Christian ‘Barbarians’.
The middle period (the High Middle
Ages) follows, a time of the feudal system, castle and
cathedral building, new methods in warfare and the
growth of towns. The last span (the late Middle Ages) is
a later period of growing power of kings and queens,
increasing importance of trade, and weakening of the
feudal system after the 14th century plague.