Early Middle Ages

Period of European history / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th to the 10th century.[note 1] They marked the start of the Middle Ages of European history, following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and preceding the High Middle Ages (c. 11th to 14th centuries). The alternative term late antiquity, for the early part of the period, emphasizes elements of continuity with the Roman Empire, while Early Middle Ages is used to emphasize developments characteristic of the earlier medieval period. The time between the 8th and 11th centuries (c.800–1000) is assigned to the Early Middle Ages generally, even by those who extend (late) antiquity to a time well after the 5th century.

The jewelled cover of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c.870, a Carolingian Gospel book

The period saw a continuation of trends evident since late classical antiquity, including population decline, especially in urban centres, a decline of trade, a small rise in average temperatures in the North Atlantic region and increased migration. In the 19th century the Early Middle Ages were often labelled the Dark Ages, a characterization based on the relative scarcity of literary and cultural output from this time, the term is scarcely used by academics today.[1] The Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, survived, though in the 7th century the Rashidun Caliphate and the Umayyad Caliphate conquered the southern part of the Roman territory.

Many of the listed trends reversed later in the period. In 800, the title of Emperor was revived in Western Europe with Charlemagne, whose Carolingian Empire greatly affected later European social structure and history. Europe experienced a return to systematic agriculture in the form of the feudal system, which adopted such innovations as three-field planting and the heavy plough. Barbarian migration stabilized in much of Europe, although the Viking expansion greatly affected Northern Europe.

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