Middle Ages

The Cross of Mathilde, a crux gemmata made for Mathilde, Abbess of Essen (973–1011), who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the enamel plaque. The figure of Christ is slightly later. Probably made in Cologne or Essen, the cross demonstrates several medieval techniques: cast figurative sculpture, filigree, enamelling, gem polishing and setting, and the reuse of Classical cameos and engraved gems.
A late Roman sculpture depicting the Tetrarchs, now in Venice, Italy
Barbarian kingdoms and tribes after the end of the Western Roman Empire
A coin of the Ostrogothic leader Theoderic the Great, struck in Milan, Italy, c. AD 491–501
A mosaic showing Justinian with the bishop of Ravenna (Italy), bodyguards, and courtiers.
Reconstruction of an early medieval peasant village in Bavaria
An 11th-century illustration of Gregory the Great dictating to a secretary
Map showing growth of Frankish power from 481 to 814
Charlemagne's palace chapel at Aachen, completed in 805
10th-century Ottonian ivory plaque depicting Christ receiving a church from Otto I
A page from the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created in the British Isles in the late 8th or early 9th century
Medieval French manuscript illustration of the three classes of medieval society: those who prayed (the clergy) those who fought (the knights), and those who worked (the peasantry). The relationship between these classes was governed by feudalism and manorialism. (Li Livres dou Sante, 13th century)
13th-century illustration of a Jew (in pointed Jewish hat) and the Christian Petrus Alphonsi debating
Europe and the Mediterranean Sea in 1190
The Bayeux Tapestry (detail) showing William the Conqueror (centre), his half-brothers Robert, Count of Mortain (right) and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux in the Duchy of Normandy (left)
Krak des Chevaliers was built during the Crusades for the Knights Hospitallers.
A medieval scholar making precise measurements in a 14th-century manuscript illustration
Portrait of Cardinal Hugh of Saint-Cher by Tommaso da Modena, 1352, the first known depiction of spectacles
The Romanesque Church of Maria Laach, Germany
The Gothic interior of Laon Cathedral, France
Francis of Assisi, depicted by Bonaventura Berlinghieri in 1235, founded the Franciscan Order.
Sénanque Abbey, Gordes, France
Execution of some of the ringleaders of the jacquerie, from a 14th-century manuscript of the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis
Map of Europe in 1360
Joan of Arc in a 15th-century depiction
Guy of Boulogne crowning Pope Gregory XI in a 15th-century miniature from Froissart's Chroniques
Clerics studying astronomy and geometry, French, early 15th century
Agricultural calendar, c. 1470, from a manuscript of Pietro de Crescenzi
February scene from the 15th-century illuminated manuscript Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Medieval illustration of the spherical Earth in a 14th-century copy of L'Image du monde

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history.

- Middle Ages
The Cross of Mathilde, a crux gemmata made for Mathilde, Abbess of Essen (973–1011), who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the enamel plaque. The figure of Christ is slightly later. Probably made in Cologne or Essen, the cross demonstrates several medieval techniques: cast figurative sculpture, filigree, enamelling, gem polishing and setting, and the reuse of Classical cameos and engraved gems.

232 related topics

Alpha

Portrait of Chaucer (19th century, held by the National Library of Wales)

Geoffrey Chaucer

English poet, author, and civil servant best known for The Canterbury Tales.

English poet, author, and civil servant best known for The Canterbury Tales.

Portrait of Chaucer (19th century, held by the National Library of Wales)
Chaucer as a pilgrim, in the early 15th-century illuminated Ellesmere manuscript of the Canterbury Tales
Chaucer crest A unicorn's head with canting arms of Roet below: Gules, three Catherine Wheels or (French rouet = "spinning wheel"). Ewelme Church, Oxfordshire. Possibly funeral helm of his son Thomas Chaucer
A 19th-century depiction of Chaucer
Portrait of Chaucer (16th century). The arms are: Per pale argent and gules, a bend counterchanged
Portrait of Chaucer from a 1412 manuscript by Thomas Hoccleve, who may have met Chaucer
Portrait of Chaucer by Romantic era poet and painter William Blake, c. 1800
Title page of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, c. 1400
Opening page of The Knight's Tale—the first tale from Canterbury Tales—from the Ellesmere Manuscript held in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California
Engraving of Chaucer from Speght's edition. The two top shields display: Per pale argent and gules, a bend counterchanged (Chaucer), that at bottom left: Gules, three Catherine Wheels or (Roet, canting arms, French rouet = "spinning wheel"), and that at bottom right displays Roet quartering Argent, a chief gules overall a lion rampant double queued or (Chaucer) with crest of Chaucer above: A unicorn head
Spine and title page of John Urry's 1721 edition of Chaucer's complete works. It is the first edition of Chaucer to be entirely in Roman type.
Statue of Chaucer, dressed as a Canterbury pilgrim, on the corner of Best Lane and the High Street, Canterbury
Balade to Rosemounde, 1477 print

They introduced him to medieval Italian poetry, the forms and stories of which he would use later.

Petrarch portrait by Altichiero

Petrarch

Scholar and poet of early Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists.

Scholar and poet of early Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists.

Petrarch portrait by Altichiero
Santa Maria della Pieve in Arezzo
La Casa del Petrarca (birthplace) at Vicolo dell'Orto, 28 in Arezzo
Summit of Mont Ventoux
Petrarch's Arquà house near Padua where he retired to spend his last years
Original lyrics by Petrarch, found in 1985 in Erfurt
Petrarch's Virgil (title page) (c. 1336)
Illuminated manuscript by Simone Martini, 29 x 20 cm Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
The Triumph of Death, or The 3 Fates. Flemish tapestry (probably Brussels, c. 1510–1520). Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, draw out and cut the thread of life, represent Death in this tapestry, as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. This is the third subject in Petrarch's poem "The Triumphs". First, Love triumphs; then Love is overcome by Chastity, Chastity by Death, Death by Fame, Fame by Time and Time by Eternity
Petrarch revived the work and letters of the ancient Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero
Laura de Noves
Dante Alighieri, detail from a Luca Signorelli fresco in the chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto.
Statue of Petrarch on the Uffizi Palace, in Florence
Petrarch's tomb at Arquà Petrarca

Disdaining what he believed to be the ignorance of the era in which he lived, Petrarch is credited with creating the concept of a historical "Dark Ages".

Location of Byzantion

Byzantium

Ancient Greek city in classical antiquity that became known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul today.

Ancient Greek city in classical antiquity that became known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul today.

Location of Byzantion

In the Middle Ages, Byzántion was also a synecdoche for the eastern Roman Empire.

Western Roman Empire

Used in historiography to describe the period from 286 to 476, where there were separate coequal courts dividing the governance of the empire in the Western and the Eastern provinces, with a distinct imperial succession in the separate courts.

Used in historiography to describe the period from 286 to 476, where there were separate coequal courts dividing the governance of the empire in the Western and the Eastern provinces, with a distinct imperial succession in the separate courts.

The Western Roman Empire in 418 AD, following the abandonment of Britannia and the settlement of the Visigoths, Burgundians and Suebi within imperial territory as foederati
The Roman Republic before the conquests of Octavian
The Western Roman Empire in 418 AD, following the abandonment of Britannia and the settlement of the Visigoths, Burgundians and Suebi within imperial territory as foederati
The Roman Empire in AD 117 at its greatest extent, at the time of Trajan's death (with its vassals in pink)
The Roman, Gallic and Palmyrene Empires in 271 AD
The organization of the Empire under the Tetrarchy
Division of the Roman Empire among the Caesars appointed by Constantine I: from west to east, the territories of Constantine II, Constans I, Dalmatius and Constantius II. After the death of Constantine I (May 337), this was the formal division of the Empire, until Dalmatius was killed and his territory divided between Constans and Constantius.
The division of the Empire after the death of Theodosius I, c. undefined 395 AD, superimposed on modern borders
Solidus of Emperor Honorius
Barbarian invasions and the invasion of usurper Constantine III in the Western Roman Empire during the reign of Honorius, 407–409
Germanic and Hunnic invasions of the Roman Empire, 100–500 AD
Boxwood relief depicting the liberation of a besieged city by a relief force, with those defending the walls making a sortie. Western Roman Empire, early 5th century AD
The Western Roman Empire during the reign of Majorian in 460 AD. During his four-year-long reign from 457 to 461, Majorian restored Western Roman authority in Hispania and most of Gaul. Despite his accomplishments, Roman rule in the west would last less than two more decades.
The Western and Eastern Roman Empire by 476
The city of Ravenna, Western Roman capital, on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 13th-century medieval map possibly copied from a 4th- or 5th-century Roman original
Map of the Barbarian kingdoms (major kingdoms and the Roman Empire labelled below) of the western Mediterranean in 526, seven years before the campaigns of reconquest under Eastern emperor Justinian I
6th-century Visigothic coin, struck in the name of Emperor Justinian I
Odoacer's Italy in 480 AD, following the annexation of Dalmatia
Solidus minted under Odoacer with the name and portrait of the Eastern emperor Zeno
Map of the realm of Theodoric the Great at its height in 523, following the annexation of the southern parts of the Burgundian kingdom. Theoderic ruled both the Visigothic and Ostrogothic kingdoms and exerted hegemony over the Burgundians and Vandals.
The Eastern Roman Empire, by reoccupying some of the former Western Roman Empire's lands, enlarged its territory considerably during Justinian's reign from 527 (red) to 565 (orange).
Map of the Eastern Roman Empire in 717 AD. Over the course of the seventh and eighth centuries, Islamic expansion had ended Roman rule in Africa and though some bastions of Roman rule remained, most of Italy was controlled by the Lombards.
Romance languages, languages that developed from Latin following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, are spoken in Western Europe to this day, with the exception of Romanian, which developed from the Latin spoken in the eastern provinces and the early Eastern Empire. Their extent in Western Europe almost reflects the continental borders of the old Empire.
Bust of Emperor Maximian, the first Western Roman emperor
Bust of Emperor Constantine I, the founder of the Constantinian dynasty
Bust of Emperor Valentinian II, a member of the Valentinianic dynasty's second generation of emperors
Emperor Honorius, as depicted by Jean-Paul Laurens in 1880

The date of 476 was popularized by the 18th-century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

Petrarch conceived of the idea of a European "Dark Age" which later evolved into the tripartite periodization of Western history into Ancient, Post-classical and Modern.

Periodization

Process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified and named blocks of time.

Process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified and named blocks of time.

Petrarch conceived of the idea of a European "Dark Age" which later evolved into the tripartite periodization of Western history into Ancient, Post-classical and Modern.

The term Middle Ages also derives from Petrarch.

The House of Lords is the upper legislature of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is filled with members that are selected from the nobility (both hereditary titleholders and those ennobled only for their individual lives).

Nobility

Social class found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy.

Social class found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy.

The House of Lords is the upper legislature of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is filled with members that are selected from the nobility (both hereditary titleholders and those ennobled only for their individual lives).
Nobility offered protection in exchange for service
French aristocrats, c. 1774
A French political cartoon of the three orders of feudal society (1789). The rural third estate carries the clergy and the nobility.
Opening of the Hungarian Diet (Országgyűlés) with the members of hungarian nobility in the Royal Palace, 1865
Polish magnates 1576–1586
Polish magnates 1697–1795
Hungarian prince Ferenc József in the typical dress of the Hungarian nobility, 18th century
Count Carl Robert Mannerheim (1835–1914), a Finnish aristocrat, businessman, and the father of Baron C. G. E. Mannerheim, the Marshal of Finland
Russian boyars
The Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Large numbers of English nobility perished in the Wars of the Roses
A Maratha Durbar showing the Chief (Raja) and the nobles (Sardars, Jagirdars, Istamuradars & Mankaris) of the state.
Illustration of Nair nobles in 18th century Kerala, India. The Nair caste was a martial nobility, similar to the Samurai of Japan.
In Korea, royalty and yangban aristocrats were carried in litters called gama. A Korean gama, circa 1890.
An aristocratic family in Lhasa, Tibet in 1936.
Emperor Farrukhsiyar Bestows a Jewel on a Nobleman
Maratha Peshwa Madhavrao II, surrounded by nobles in his court in 18th-century India.
Japanese samurai, 1798
Typical costume of a family belonging to the Principalía of the late 19th century Philippines. Exhibit in the Villa Escudero Museum, San Pablo, Laguna.
Heraldic Crown of Hispanic Hidalgos.
A pre-colonial Tagalog couple belonging to the Datu class or nobility as depicted in the Boxer Codex of the 16th century.
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia (center) and members of the imperial court
King Radama I of Madagascar was from the Andriana stratum of the Merina people.
The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, on his throne in 2016.
Angélica Larrea, Queen Consort of the Afro-Bolivians, in 2012. The queen is the wife of King Julio Pinedo.
Portrait of Marquis of Paraná, Prime Minister of Brazil.
Regent of Bandung, Java, Dutch East Indies, with his pajung bearer – 1863–1865
Sons of Crown Prince Krom Loeang of Siam, Bangkok, 1862
A Siamese noble in a hammock, 1900
Burmese nobles and servants

In the last years of the ancien régime the old nobility pushed for restrictions of certain offices and orders of chivalry to noblemen who could demonstrate that their lineage had extended "quarterings", i.e. several generations of noble ancestry, to be eligible for offices and favours at court along with nobles of medieval descent, although historians such as William Doyle have disputed this so-called "Aristocratic Reaction".

The Balkan states
 Political communities that are included in the Balkans 
 Political communities that are often included in the Balkans

Balkans

Geographic area in southeastern Europe with various geographical and historical definitions.

Geographic area in southeastern Europe with various geographical and historical definitions.

The Balkan states
 Political communities that are included in the Balkans 
 Political communities that are often included in the Balkans
Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Croatia (yellow) joined the EU in 2013.
Panorama of the Balkan Mountains (Stara Planina). Its highest peak is Botev at a height of 2,376 m.
Sutjeska National Park contains Perućica, which is the largest primeval forests in the Balkans, and one of the last remaining in Europe.
View toward Rila, the highest mountain of the Balkans and Southeast Europe (2,925 m).
Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and Southern Europe.
The Jireček Line
Pula Arena, the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved.
Remnants of the Felix Romuliana Imperial Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apollonia ruins near Fier, Albania.
The Balkans in 850 AD
Modern political history of the Balkans from 1796 onwards.
Hagia Sophia, built in sixth century Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, later a mosque, then a museum, and now both a mosque and a museum
Tsarevets, a medieval stronghold in the former capital of the Bulgarian Empire – Veliko Tarnovo.
The 13th-century church of St. John at Kaneo and the Ohrid Lake in North Macedonia. The lake and town were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
State entities on the former territory of Yugoslavia, 2008
View from Santorini in Greece. Tourism is an important part of the Greek economy.
Dubrovnik in Croatia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
View towards Sveti Stefan in Montenegro. Tourism makes up a significant part of the Montenegrin economy.
View towards Piran in Slovenia. Tourism is a rapidly growing sector of the Slovenian economy.
Golden Sands, a popular tourist destination on the Bulgarian coast.
Belgrade is a major industrial city and the capital of Serbia.
The Stari Most in Mostar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.
Map showing religious denominations
Approximate distribution of religions in Albania
Ethnic map of the Balkans (1880)
Transhumance ways of the Romance-speaking Vlach shepherds in the past

From classical antiquity through the Middle Ages, the Balkan Mountains were called by the local Thracian name Haemus.

Solidus of Romulus Augustus, marked:

Romulus Augustulus

Romulus Augustus (c.

Romulus Augustus (c.

Solidus of Romulus Augustus, marked:
The Eastern (orange) and Western (green) Roman Empires in 476
Romulus Augustus' family originated in Pannonia
19th-century illustration of Romulus Augustus surrendering his crown in front of Odoacer
Castel dell'Ovo, or castellum Lucullanum, where Romulus Augustus lived following his deposition in 476
Another solidus of Romulus Augustus
Tremissis of Julius Nepos ((r. undefined – undefined)474–475/480), Romulus Augustus' predecessor

The deposition of Romulus Augustulus is also sometimes used by historians to mark the transition from antiquity to the medieval period.

Drawing of two Celtic Britons (c. 1574); one with tattoos, and carrying a spear and shield; the other painted with woad, and carrying a sword and round shield.

Celtic Britons

Map Gaels Brythons Picts GB.png and adjacent islands in the 5th century AD, before the invasion and subsequent founding of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Map Gaels Brythons Picts GB.png and adjacent islands in the 5th century AD, before the invasion and subsequent founding of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Drawing of two Celtic Britons (c. 1574); one with tattoos, and carrying a spear and shield; the other painted with woad, and carrying a sword and round shield.
The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan
The Battersea Shield, a ceremonial bronze shield dated 3rd–1st century BC, is an example of La Tène Celtic art from Britain
Tribal groups in southern Britain c.150 AD
A reconstruction drawing of Pagans Hill Romano-British temple
Britons migrated westwards during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
Yr Hen Ogledd (the Old North) c. 550 – c. 650

The Britons (*Pritanī, Britanni), also known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons were the Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from at least the British Iron Age and into the Middle Ages, at which point they diverged into the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons (among others).

Head of the Colossus of Constantine, Capitoline Museums

Constantine the Great

Roman emperor who reigned from 306 to 337 AD, and was the first one to convert to Christianity.

Roman emperor who reigned from 306 to 337 AD, and was the first one to convert to Christianity.

Head of the Colossus of Constantine, Capitoline Museums
Remains of the luxurious residence palace of Mediana, erected by Constantine I near his birth town of Naissus
Mosaic in the Hagia Sophia, section: Maria as patron saint of Constantinople, detail: donor portrait of Emperor Constantine I with a model of the city
Porphyry bust of the Emperor Galerius
Modern bronze statue of Constantine I in York, England, near the spot where he was proclaimed Augustus in 306
The portrait of Constantine on a Roman coin; the inscription around the portrait is "Constantinus Aug[ustus]"
Public baths (thermae) built in Trier by Constantine, more than 100 m wide by 200 m long and capable of serving several thousand at a time, built to rival those of Rome
Dresden bust of the Emperor Maxentius, who was defeated by Constantine at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge
A gold solidus of "Unconquered Constantine" with the god Sol Invictus behind him, struck in AD 313. The use of Sol's image stressed Constantine's status as his father's successor, appealed to the educated citizens of Gaul, and was considered less offensive than the traditional pagan pantheon to the Christians.
A Roman fresco in Trier, Germany, possibly depicting Constantia, c. 310 AD
Battle of Constantine and Maxentius (detail of part of a fresco by Giulio Romano in the Hall of Constantine in the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican), copy c. 1650 by Lazzaro Baldi, now at the University of Edinburgh
The Milvian Bridge (Ponte Milvio) over the River Tiber, north of Rome, where Constantine and Maxentius fought in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge
Silver medallion of 315; Constantine with a chi-rho symbol as the crest of his helmet
Gold aureus of the Emperor Licinius
Coin struck by Constantine I to commemorate the founding of Constantinople
Constantine burning books by Arian heretics ('Heretici Arriani'), from a 9th-century manuscript now in Vercelli
Pope Sylvester I and Emperor Constantine
Hexagonal gold pendant with double solidus of Constantine the Great in the centre, AD 321, now in the British Museum
A nummus of Constantine
The Baptism of Constantine, as imagined by students of Raphael
Possible portrait of Constantine's daughter Helena and his nephew and son-in-law Julian
Constantius appoints Constantine as his successor by Peter Paul Rubens, 1622
Constantine the Great by Philip Jackson, a statue unveiled in York in 1998.
York Minster is in the background.

The age of Constantine marked a distinct epoch in the history of the Roman Empire and a pivotal moment in the transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages.