What if the Middle Ages never happened
The Middle Ages is an epoch, that is, a chapter in history. As one of the three great epochs, the Middle Ages lie between ancient and modern times. The Middle Ages are in the middle. The term is mainly used when it comes to the history of Europe.
The Middle Ages began around 500 AD, when the Roman Empire ended, at least in Western Europe. New peoples had long since immigrated to the empire, during the time of the great migration. Islam came from Arabia.
The Middle Ages ended around the year 1500 AD. So it took a total of about 1000 years. At that time, Christopher Columbus sailed to America. Soon after, Martin Luther and other reformers tried to renew Catholic Christianity. As a result, there were several ways of believing in God in Western Europe. The reformers translated the Bible into German and had it printed. They used Johannes Gutenberg's new invention, book printing.
The Middle Ages are now divided into three epochs: the early Middle Ages, the high Middle Ages and the late Middle Ages. The demarcation cannot be fixed to a few years. It also always depends on which events the scientists consider to be a transition.
How was it in the early Middle Ages?
The early Middle Ages lasted roughly from the 6th century to the middle of the 11th century. Christian missionaries went through the countries, from Rome or from Ireland. The belief in the old Germanic gods first mixed with the Christian belief and then more and more died out. Some kings converted to the new faith with their entire kingdom.
The former Roman Empire was divided into a Christian and an Islamic area. The Christian part in turn was divided into a Latin area in the west and an Orthodox area in the east.
The most important new empire was the empire of the Franks. Their most important king was Clovis the first. One of his later successors was Charlemagne. After his death, the Franconian Empire fell apart. What would later become France was formed in the west, and Eastern Franconia emerged from the eastern half.
There were free people, that was a minority. They were rich and mostly owned a lot of land or they had borrowed it from the ruler. The nobility belonged to them. A great majority of the people were unfree. So they belonged to someone. Most of them worked as farmers, servants or maids. They couldn't just move away or marry without asking their master. They often exchanged goods among themselves, even though there was money in coins at the time.
Towards the end of the early Middle Ages the Vikings raided, especially on the west coast of Europe. The Magyars, the later Hungarians, invaded from the east. They were repeatedly beaten back in wars.
How was it in the High Middle Ages?
The High Middle Ages lasted roughly from the middle of the 11th century to the middle of the 13th century. All of Europe was Catholic at the time. Its head was the Pope in Rome. The population grew rapidly. That also gave an economic upturn. There was more trade and craft. Money became more and more important. The first banks came into being in Italy.
The first cathedral and monastery schools emerged. The first universities were also founded. Most important were three things to study: Theology is the teaching about God and the Church. In medicine one wants to heal people. The law is about laws and what is just. The painters not only painted pictures from the Bible, but also from nature. The common architectural style was the Romanesque with its typical round arches.
The crusades began in the Middle Ages: armies of knights and their helpers moved to Jerusalem. This holy city should be liberated from the Muslims. Knights were fighters who had a horse and otherwise special rights. But there were very few of them.
In the Middle Ages, people came up with important inventions: the windmill or water mill could not only grind grain, but also press oil or saw wood. The spinning wheel, better looms and the wheelbarrow date from this time. The clock with gears was developed, the explosive power of black powder was discovered. The compass came from China to Europe and was further developed here. The idea arose that not the earth but the sun is at the center of the planets.
How was it in the late Middle Ages?
The late Middle Ages lasted roughly from the middle of the 13th century to the end of the 15th century. The climate cooled down. As a result, the harvests were lower. Due to a great famine and plague, around half of all European residents died in the 14th century. The Hundred Years War broke out between England and France. Islam spread over much of what is now Spain and Portugal.
But important inventions were also made in the late Middle Ages: Leonardo da Vinci invented the parachute. The glasses made it possible for many people to see or even read small things again. The paper mill made paper from rags. It was cheaper than parchment made from animal skins. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and thus made the Reformation really possible.
At the end of the late Middle Ages, Vasco da Gama circumnavigated the continent of Africa and reached India by sea. This boosted trade significantly. The craftsmen in the cities also benefit from it. The banks grew and gained influence.
The Romanesque became the Gothic. The arches above the pillars were no longer round, but came to a point at the top. The arts and science made great strides. The texts of ancient Greece and Rome were rediscovered. This was an important preparation for the Renaissance, which already belongs to the modern age.
Who invented the term “Middle Ages”?
In the Middle Ages nobody thought that he would live in the Middle Ages. Only then was time divided this way, namely in the Renaissance, around the year 1500. At that time, important thinkers said: there was the great time of antiquity, then a bad time, and now we have our time.
The bad times got their name back then: middle age. It was still over a hundred years before many people used this name. Some people thought very badly of the Middle Ages. For example, the Protestants found the Middle Ages bad because there were only Catholics back then.
Today many historians think very differently about the Middle Ages. They find that there are other ways to divide the time. Nowadays the question of when exactly the Middle Ages began or when it ended is no longer taken so seriously.
One only speaks of the Middle Ages when one thinks of Western Europe. For the Byzantine Empire one has a different classification. Even with the history of Asia or America, one does not think of the Middle Ages.
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