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The Middle Ages was a time that still fascinates and fascinates many. Knights and fortresses characterize our expansive picture of this period, but even if the Middle Ages is described as “the dark time”, the achievements of this period paved the way for the beginning of modern times.

After the final collapse of the West Roman Empire in the 5th century, Western Europe fell for a considerable period of time in barbarism, lawlessness and economic standstill, which is generally referred to as the Dark Period. The infrastructure created by the Romans, including public buildings, courts, legal and education, documents, coinage and trade, disappeared to a large extent. The Germanic invaders from the region north of the Rhine and the Rhine brought with them a political tribal culture based on loyalty to individual, local tribal princes. A gradual recovery was fostered by three main factors: the stabilization of vast areas by extraordinary influential leaders, the Christian Church (with its centers of power in Rome and Ireland), which was tried to preserve and spread a minimum of education and the resistance of trade branches, whose basis was agriculture, in particular the trade in wool and fabrics.

The Franconian empire founded by Charlemagne in the 9th century is generally regarded as the ending point of the Dark Age and the beginning of the feudal period in Europe. The barbaric tribes, which claimed a large part of Western Europe, were replaced by better organized regional powers. The Christian faith represented its own social and cultural power. Charles the Great encouraged the revival of education, art and culture. The empire created by him, however, disintegrated after his death, and the newly invading Germanic hordes destroyed a large part of his work. The political and economic power passed from the kings to sovereign princes, who exercised their power within a constant network of feudal relations. The common people ordered the ground and thus supported the power of the nobility and the church.

When the settled feudal lords in the 9th century were trying to strengthen their positions of power, castles appeared in Europe for the first time. They protected the feudal lords from attacks by the neighbors and served as a safe starting point for expeditions of mounted warriors who controlled the surrounding country from there. A characteristic date for the Knights’ Eve was the conquest of Wales by Edward I of England. Through the construction of massive castles at strategic points throughout Wales, Eduard won the victory with a minimum of warlike clashes. The castles were inconceivable to the isolated warriors of Wales. The English soldiers were able to dispense at will, supervising the trade, harvesting, and driving the taxes. The knightly period was characterized by population and economic growth, the crusades to the Holy Land, a revived interest in art, the spread of castles and the establishment of mighty kings.

The rise of great kings and their pursuit of power characterize the last stage of the Middle Ages, which can be called the imperial age. The feudal system was replaced by nations like England, France, Spain and Scandinavia, governed by kings. The trade experienced an enormous upswing and cities gained in size and influence. The Renaissance era had begun in Italy and spread throughout the rest of Europe. Technology and knowledge were further developed than in the ancient world. Firearms and other innovations ended the military superiority of knights and castles. The end of the Middle Ages is marked by a series of important events, including the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, the discovery of the New World, the coming sea trade with Asia and the Reformation by Martin Luther.

You can find out more about the Middle Ages here.