Definiton of Middle Ages

The Middle Ages is a period in European history from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the height of the Renaissance in the late 15th century. However, there is no unique view among the historians about the start and much less about the end date of the Middle Ages.…

The Middle Ages is a period in European history from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the height of the Renaissance in the late 15th century. However, there is no unique view among the historians about the start and much less about the end date of the Middle Ages.

All historians agree that the medieval times emerged on the ruins of the Western Roman Empire which came to an end in 476 when the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus was deposited by Germanic chieftain Odoacer. The event is traditionally viewed as the end of the classical antiquity and beginning of the Middle Ages despite the deposition of Romulus Augustulus itself did not cause any significant changes at the time. For that reason all scholars do not consider the year 476 as the start date of the Middle Ages.

There are several alternative dates for the beginning of the medieval times:

  • year 313; issue of the Edict of Milan which proclaimed religious tolerance and ended the persecution of Christians
  • year 375; beginning of the Migration Period
  • year 378; decisive defeat of the Roman army by the Visigoths in the Battle of Adrianople
  • year 395; death of Roman Emperor Theodosius I and permanent division of the Roman Empire into the eastern and western halves
  • year 410; Sack of Rome by Visigoths
  • year 480; death of Julius Nepos, the last de jure Western Roman Emperor
  • year 529; closure of the last pagan school in Athens
  • year 647; Muslim request of North Africa

Historians also disagree about the end date of the Middle Ages. Some schools see the end of the Middle Ages in spread of Renaissance in the mid-15th century, while the others consider Renaissance a part of the Middle Ages.

Like the beginning, the end of the medieval times has several alternative dates:

  • year 1445; invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg
  • year 1453; Fall of Constantinople and the end of the Hundred Years' War
  • year 1492; discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and the end of Reconquista
  • year 1494; invasion of Charles VIII of France in Italy and beginning of the Italian Wars
  • year 1517; beginning of the Protestant Reformation
  • year 1571; decisive defeat of the Ottomans by the fleet of the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto