The medieval period in European history begins after the fall of the Roman Empire around 500 C.E., and continued until the early modern period beginning around 1500. The medieval period is split into the sub-categories of early medieval (500-1000), central middle ages (1000-1300), late medieval (1300-1500), and followed by the early modern period (1500-1800). At each of these periods of time important political, economic, social, cultural, religious and scientific changes were being made in Western Europe.
The collapse of the Roman Empire led to the emergence of three successor civilizations; Byzantium, Islam, and Western Europe. The absence of a strong central government led Western Europeans landowner’s vulnerable to barbarian invasions, attacks from other landowners, and later Islamic invasions. This political and economic turmoil caused the abandonment of farmlands and the depopulation of cities. However, through all this Christianity prospered through domestic proselytiztion, and the tireless work of monks and nuns converting the lay man. The monasteries monks and nuns operated, provided a more stable environment than anywhere else in Western Europe. St. Benedict’s monasteries required a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the abbot for anyone living on the grounds. Monasteries also engaged in agriculture production and the copying and study of Latin heritage. Around the 700’s, the Carolingians became the first powerful empire of Western Christendom. The Carolingians were founded by Charles Martel, but their greatest leader was his grandson Charlemagne. Charles Martel had a large army of mounted soldiers, who used stirrups to better stay on their horses, to defeat the Umayyad’s at Tours in 732 to halt the Islamic advance into Europe. During its height, Charlemagne’s empire stretched from the Pyrenees Mountains in the East to the Avars in the West, and from the North Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The Carolingians were the first empire to use lower case letters and also helped preserve Rome’s Latin heritage. In the middle of the ninth century the Carolingian Empire collapsed due to internal fragmentation and the external invasions of the Magyars, Muslims, and Vikings. These events led to the creation of a “centralized kingdom in England, autonomous duchies and counties in West Francia, a Holy Roman Empire in East Francia; and powerful cities in the Italian peninsula.” (Hollister, 125) The terrorizing tactics of the Magyars, Muslims, and Vikings ended around 1000, when they were either defeated or adopted Christianity. By the end of the early medieval period cities were expanding, trade and commerce thriving, and the Church was growing stronger.
Central Middle Ages
The Central Middle Ages was a time of agricultural revolution, self-developing society, population expansion and religious crusading and reform. The peace and stability of the central middle ages led to changes in farming methods and...