Karl 1 mit papst gelasius gregor1 sacramentar v karl d kahlen

Ninth-century depiction of Charlemagne with popes Gelasius I and Gregory the Great

The Middle Ages of European history (adjective form medieval or mediaeval) are a period in history which lasted for roughly a millennium, 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, marked by the division of Western Christianity in the Reformation, the rise of humanism in the Italian Renaissance, and the beginnings of European overseas expansion. There is some variation in the dating of the edges of these periods, which is due mainly to differences in specialization and focus of individual scholars.

The Middle Ages form the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three "ages": the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the modern period. The idea of such a periodization is attributed to Flavio Biondo, an Italian Renaissance humanist historian, but commonly seen periodization ranges span the years ca. 400476 AD (the sackings of Rome by the Visigoths to the deposing of Romulus Augustus) to ca. 14531517 (the Fall of Constantinople to the Protestant Reformation begun with Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses). Dates are approximate, and are based upon nuanced arguments; for other dating schemes and the reasoning behind them.

The Middle Ages witnessed the first sustained urbanization of northern and western Europe. Many modern European countries owe their origins to events unfolding in the Middle Ages; present European political boundaries are, in many regards, the result of the military and dynastic achievements during this tumultuous period.


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