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Video:Overview of The Middle Ages

with Zach Toombs

The Middle Ages was a crucial time in history, and spanned about 1,000 years. Watch this About.com video to learn more about important events in the Middle Ages.See Transcript

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Transcript:Overview of The Middle Ages

Hi, I'm Zach Toombs for About.com.  Today we're taking a closer look at the thousand-year period known as the Middle Ages.

Periods of the Middle Ages

When someone speaks of Medieval times, they are referring to a period known as the Middle Ages, which stretched from roughly the 5th to 15th century A.D.  It's a period sandwiched between the fall of the western Roman Empire and the dawn of the Renaissance, also known as the "Age of Discovery." Because if covers such a large period of time, the Middle Ages are often divided into three parts: Early, High and Late.

Early Middle Ages

The early Middle Ages are characterized by the rise of the Islamic Empire in Africa and the Middle East and by the Frank Empire in western Europe.  Both replaced the rule of the western Roman Empire.  This period was also marked by a great migration, and a creation of new governments and civilizations, which replaced the departing Roman leadership.  While the Eastern Roman Empire remained intact.

High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages ushered in the era of feudalism and were marked by the Crusades. It was a period of great population growth, particularly in Europe, which grew from 35 to 80 million people in a period of just 350 years, beginning around the year 1000. During this period, much of Europe was divided into three classes: the clergy, nobility and knights, and peasants.  It was also a period which saw the rise of the modern city-state and improved agriculture.  In particular, the kings of France, Spain and England set up enduring empires during this time period. 

Late Middle Ages

The expansion of monarchies grew during the late Middle Ages, though it was a period which also saw famine, plague and war -- most notably, the Black Death, which wiped out a third of the entire European population. The end of the Middle Ages saw a greater move toward discovery and enlightenment, as signified by world events such as Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492 and the Protestant Reformation of 1519. In fact, the Middle Ages are often characterized as a period when ignorance and superstition reigned, a time when intellectual endeavors were confined to a few.

And that's a short look at The Middle Ages. For more information, check out About.com.

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