Early Middle Ages

period of European history lasting from the 5th century to the 10th century

The Early Middle Ages were a period in European history. They lasted from the 5th century to the 10th century. They were followed by the High Middle Ages and the Late Middle Ages. These were called the “Middle” Ages because they came between ancient history and modern history. The Middle Ages are sometimes called the Medieval Age.

The early Middle Ages has also been called “the Dark Ages” because past scholars wrongly believed that there was very little culture, good literature, art, good architecture, technology or progress during this period.

The fall of Rome


The Early Middle Ages started with the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In ancient history, the Western Roman Empire ruled much of Europe. Eventually, that empire started to weaken. In 410, Rome was sacked by Alaric, the leader of the Germanic tribe known as the Visigoths. Rome survived, but had been weakened greatly. In 476, when Rome was again invaded and sacked by Odoacer, he was able to take the city for himself. He made himself the king of Italy. This ended the Western Roman Empire. Europe entered the Early Middle Ages.

Life in the Early Middle Ages


As the Early Middle Ages began, Europe was experiencing the effects of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Before, the empire’s communication systems made it possible for people all over Europe to share ideas and facts. Now these communication systems were no longer working. This made it much more difficult to exchange knowledge and new ideas.

For many years, the Roman army had defended the empire and kept peace between different parts of Europe. Now, wars became common as people all over Europe started to fight each other for territory and resources.

The Catholic Church was very powerful during the Early Middle Ages. Most Europeans were Christian at this time.