How long ago was the Middle Ages

From when to when was which time period?


Well, it wasn't like that sometime at the beginning of the Middle Ages someone sat down and wrote down, "Today the Middle Ages begins", but WE give names to the past times TODAY. This nomenclature of a period of time helps us to converse about it or to develop an idea of ​​the world of the past.

Sections or epochs of contemporary history are usually attached and defined to specific events or content. The following are suitable for this:

  • cultural
  • religious
  • military
  • geological
Events and content
which mark a certain time frame or dominate in it.

The choice of these contents or events, which are used to determine and define a period of time, depend very much on the subjective way of viewing. A military certainly sees things differently than a clergyman, and a person who tries to look at the world from the point of view of the people at that time also again. But strangely enough, the dates are still very close.

Dating models

There are different dating models in the historical sciences, which we will go into in more detail later.

Other periodization models

  • Fernand Braudel: La longue Durée (German: long duration)
    The 'long duration' eludes human perception. E.g. people get bigger, climate, nutrition, med. Supply, etc.
  • Otto Brunner: Old Europe or Old Class Europe
  • intra-European development differences

For the Middle Ages, the following applies conventionally: 500 - 1500

  • Early Middle Ages: 500 - 900
  • High Middle Ages: 900 - 1250
  • Late Middle Ages: 1250-1500

Event history classification (conventional)

Modern history today tends more towards the transitions
from ancient times / antiquity to the Middle Ages and from the Middle Ages to the modern times
to be seen as a process that extends over 300-400 years
and is not tied to a date.

Beginning of the Middle Ages

  • 308-337: Reg.time of Ks. Konstantins
  • 313: Edict of Tolerance of Milan, recognition of Christianity
  • 324: Constantine's victory over Licinius
  • 375: The Huns invade Western Europe
  • 378: Battle of Adrianople (today Edirne in Turkey): Defeat of Ks. Valens against Visigoths
  • 394: End of the Olympic Games
  • 395: Death of Ks. Theodosius, division of the Roman Empire
  • 410: Visigoths conquer Rome
  • 476: Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman emperor
  • 482: Clovis takes power in the Merovingian Empire
  • 529: The Academy in Athens closes
  • 622: Hejra / Hidjra Mohammeds (emigration of Mohammed and followers from Mecca to Medina)
  • 633: Beginning of Islamic expansion
  • 711: Landing of the Arabs in Spain
  • 750: (around) beginning of the second Christianization

End of the Middle Ages

  • 1452 last imperial coronation in Rome
  • 1453 Fall of Constantinople
  • 1454 Invention of printing with movable metal letters
  • 1477 Unification of Habsburg with Burgundy
    • a. Particularly successful dynasty, has managed to rule large parts of Europe: - The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Northern France, (old Netherlands), Iberian Peninsula, Eastern France, all the way to Bern
  • 1492 discovery of America
  • 1493 Death of Emperor Friedrich III.
    • a. [The modern age begins with Maximilian I.]
  • 1494 King Charles VIII of France invades Italy
    • Reaction to the Habsburg expansion
  • 1517ff. reformation
    • Luther / Theses: Luther did not see himself as a reformer, but as a good member of the old church. Only in the course of the years did Luther recognize the scope and importance of the differences.

Origin of the term Middle Ages

The term "the Middle Ages" originated in the time of humanism / renaissance and the reformation.
  • Francesco Petrarca (1304-1347)
  • Giovanni Andrea´ Bussi (n.bek.)
  • Christoph Cellarius (1638-1707)

But back to the subjective view.
Let's take an example:
Let's just ask a few hundred people what is the most likely to come to mind on the subject of the Middle Ages.
So the answer could be “knight”. If we now ask what constitutes a "knight", we might come to armor.
If we now consider the period in which heavy full armor came into play, we are probably in the period from around 1400 to, if we assume the fall / abandonment of the island of Rhodes, December 1522, the Middle Ages could be calculated from 1400 to 1522.
But nobody does.

What really dominated in the Middle Ages was the Christian religion with its "blossoms", which among other things suppressed any form of science (spiritual, technical, nature). What led to a standstill of scientific, technical and spiritual development and to a tunnel vision of the believing community.
The term “dark Middle Ages” relates precisely to this fact, the mental self-limitation. Which in no way means that people were stupid!
If we now take this extremely dominant aspect of the cultural and religious world, since there is a close connection here, we now need key data to which we can link the beginning and end of this effect.
The end is easy to find.
We choose a cultural event that simplified or made the enlightenment and education of many people possible and also promoted it. Exactly, the mass printing. Through the invention of letterpress printing with movable metal letters, Gutenberg 1450. The beginning of the end, so to speak.
Now what was the event on which we can fix the beginning?
Let us consider the time of the 8th century.
At that time Christianity only existed in Rome, in the rest of Europe, also in the East Franconian Empire, some missionizing monks ran around, the best known may have been Boniface, who wanted to convert the population to Christianity.
In order to promote this and probably also to demonstrate power, Rome had its northernmost (?) Monastery founded in 750, which was also the largest in the East Franconian Empire. The Fulda monastery.
Only four years later the above-mentioned Boniface was killed in Friesland (he had the habit of cutting down "sacred trees", which fueled the displeasure of the "heathen". Well, the one in Friesland was probably one too many). He died a martyr's death and was canonized.
This was the beginning of the massive Christianization. With all the blossoms and effects that we know today. If we take this as the beginning of the Middle Ages, the result is 750 - 1450 for the Middle Ages, before the old times and afterwards the modern times, beginning with the Renaissance, the time of the Enlightenment and revolution.
This summary of the justification is certainly only a summary of the most striking aspects of these points in time and there are a lot of other aspects and connections, such as the basis for the empire.
Of course, other aspects of cultural, historical, religious or military events can also be used. E.g. the use of black powder as the basis of weapon technology in the 15th century, or ..., or ..., or ....
But the chosen expression of the period of time is probably the most dominant for the culture and the life of the people.
We have therefore decided to follow this doctrine and define the Middle Ages from 750 to 1450.

We see it this way:
Now there are the epochs and their subdivisions, as
- The migration period was in the old days,
- the Viking Age in the Middle East
- the renaissance in modern times

Perhaps with this definition some questions and understanding difficulties will be resolved.
History is just not a science in which we can clearly measure with laboratory tests and physical methods.
People of today judge things, events and people who lived hundreds, even thousands of years ago. If a man of today rides a horse in Roman armor from Rome to Trier, and needs two months and then medical care, then we must not deduce from it, even if he believes that a Roman legionnaire also needed two months and had to go to the hospital afterwards, or that this was not possible at all. The armor and his horse were his daily bread. He didn't sit at a desk most of the time, but rather trained on the training area with shield, gladius and pilum, in his armor.
(One of the shortest distances TODAY is around 1280 km, with two months that would be an average of 20 km per day. Who knows whether our Romans really took the shortest route back then. The view of the geographical world was already different than it is today.)
We know today that the Roman legions were quite capable per day To cover 60 to 80 km!
And that with everything a legionnaire had to wear!
On foot! Not with the one-way or troop transports.