New Dorp High School
Social Studies Department
Europe during the Middle Ages
The medieval period of European history, also known as the Middle Ages, is considered to have lasted
from 500-1500. Traditionally, the medieval era is broken down into three phases: the Early Middle Ages
(500-1000), the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), and the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500).
The decline and eventual fall of the Roman Empire led to the Dark Ages. Europe became known
as an “undeveloped area.” Intellect, taste and imagination disappeared from art and literature. During the
Early Middle Ages the year’s 500-1000 was a period of political decentralization and overall
backwardness. From 1000-1300, Europe enjoyed a revival. Nations became stronger, the economy grew
healthier, and the level of technological and cultural knowledge improved. The concept of Europe as a
single civilization, joined together by a common cultural heritage and the Christian religion, took greater
shape during these years. The period between 1300-1500 was a complex one, marked by both crisis and
advancement. On one hand, Europe was struck by social unrest, constant warfare, and struck by the
Black Death. On the other hand, these years were the start of major advancement. The Renaissance
began in Italy, ushering in a period of tremendous artistic and intellectual achievement.
Describe what the three periods of the Middle Ages were like in the following graphic organizer.
The Early Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages
The Rise of Regional States in Western Europe
After the chaos of the fall of the Roman Empire, some areas of Western Europe witnessed the rise of
powerful nobles and monarchs who established unified regional governments that provided a glimpse of
the future of Western Europe. In the decades following the fall of Rome, local governments in the form
of small Germanic kingdoms replaced imperial rule. At the same time, the Catholic Church served as a
unifying force in the territories of the former Roman Empire. Eventually many of the Germanic tribes
surrounding the former Roman Empire converted to Christianity.
Germanic rule structured itself around loyalties to family and the individual, such as the Germanic
chiefs. In the former Roman province of Gaul, power was in the hands of a Germanic people called the
Franks. Clovis the leader of the Franks converted to Christianity along with his army. Their adoption of
Roman Christianity gained the Franks the support of the pope, thereby strengthening the power of the