Overview of the Middle Ages | World History | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] Growing up
we all have impressions of the Middle Ages, we read about
knights in shining armor, castles with moats and
towers, but when were the Middle Ages? The simple answer, the
Middle Ages in Europe are the roughly 1000 years
from the fall of the Roman Empire and to be particular
the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman
Empire continues on for most of the Middle Ages, but
it starts in roughly 476 and it continues on for
1000 years as we get into the 14th and 15th centuries. And it’s really the time
period that connects the world of Rome, Europe during
antiquity and it connects it to the Europe that begins
to emerge in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Europe of the Age of
Exploration, the Europe of the Renaissance. Now what we’re going to do
in this video is we’re going to look at maps of the
various time periods of the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages are broadly
divided into three major sections, the early Middle
Ages, from the fall of the Western Roman Empire
to about the year 1000. The high Middle Ages,
which was a high point for the Middle Ages in Europe
which goes from about what the year 1000 to the year
1300, and then the late Middle Ages, which gets us
to the 15th century and it’s considered not that pleasant
of a time to live in Europe. So let’s just start with
what Europe looked like right after the fall of the
Western Roman Empire. So as you can see here, this
map is referring to the time period between 476 when Odoacer
takes over Rome and 493. And you can see the Eastern
Roman Empire is still here but the Western Roman
Empire is now fragmented amongst many Germanic kingdoms,
you have the Visigoths, you have the Franks, you
have the Kingdom of Odoacer. With the fall of Rome we
are entering into the early Middle Ages. Now the Eastern Roman Empire
which considers itself the Roman Empire its
capital at Constantinople under Justinian has a
little bit of a last horah and is able to recapture the
Italian peninsula so it’s able to recapture some of the
territory that was formally part of the Western Roman
Empire, some of the territory in North Africa that you
don’t see on this map. But for the most part Western
Europe stays under the control of various Germanic kingdoms. So here we have fast forwarded
to the year 814 which would be right around here on our timeline. And you can see a major event
has occurred either on the map or on this timeline. You have Charlemagne king
of the Franks crowned Holy Roman Emperor. On the map, you can see
Charlemagne’s empire right over here he has conquered Northern
Italy, much of what we consider modern day France, much of
what we consider modern day Germany, Switzerland, the
Netherlands, and Belgium. Charlemagne is really one
of the defining figures of the Middle Ages and especially
the early Middle Ages. As you can see, he’s able to
unify much of Western Europe. A lot of our ideas about kings
and castles and knights begin to emerge around the time of Charlemagne. This notion of being a Holy
Roman Emperor because he’s able to provide protection to the Pope. The Pope says hey I’m going
to say that you are continuing on the legacy of the Roman Empire. Now as we’ll see and we cover
in much more detail in other videos, the title of Holy
Roman Emperor or Emperor of the Romans, does not
continue on with Charlemagne’s descendants, but when you get
to 962, Otto who is a German king is crowned Holy Roman
Emperor again and you continue to have Holy Roman Emperors
all the way until 1806. Now another major feature
of the early Middle Ages and you can see it on this
map, is that Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries comes out
of Arabia and is able to conquer much of the Middle
East, Persia, North Africa, which you don’t see on this
map, and much of what we consider today to be modern
day Spain and you can see it, do you see the Caliphate
or Cordova right over here. You see the Abbassids here in
the east who also controlled much of North Africa. Now let’s fast forward
to the high Middle Ages. So here we are in the year
1135 on our timeline that would be right about, let’s see this
is 1100, that would be 1150 1135 would put us right around here. And you could already see
some interesting things on this map, the Holy Roman
Empire under Charlemagne is now fragmented, the Western third
is now the Kingdom of France, the Eastern 2/3 are still
considered the Roman Germanic Empire or the Holy Roman Empire. And even though it looks
fairly unified in this map, over different periods of
time it’s really a bunch of fragmented Germanic kingdoms
nominally under this Holy Roman Empire sometimes it’s
a little bit more unified under a stronger Holy Roman Emperor. Now the other things that you
see and we saw it on the last map is that the Byzantine
Empire is continuing to lose territory and you can see the
Muslim empires in this case it’s the Seljuk Turks are able
to take even more territory. Now one of the things that has
happened by the time we look at this map and it’s not
clear by looking on the map is that you have in 1054 the
Great Schism between the Latin Church centered at Rome and
the Eastern Greeks Church centered at Constantinople
and we have a whole series of videos on that and all of
the factors that led to it. But as we get to the time of
this map one of the things that the high Middle
Ages is most known for, the Great Schism or the East-West
Schism is one of the them, the Schism between what
eventually becomes the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern
Orthodox Church, but what the high Middle Ages are also
known for are the Crusades. As already mentioned you see
how the Seljuk Turks are able to take much of Anatolia,
much of the peninsula from the Byzantine Empire. And the West decides to send
what will eventually be called Crusaders to help regain
land from the Muslims. And so that’s where you see
the Crusades beginning in 1096 at the very end of the 11th century. You can see the multiple
crusades that occur over roughly the next 200 years. And the Crusaders were
trying to reclaim land from the Muslims and especially
the Holy Land, much of which is below the map where you
can’t quite see it over here. But it turns out that when
they are able to reclaim some of that land they don’t give
it back to the Byzantines they set up what are known as
Crusader Kingdoms and you can see some of them right over
here in this bluish color. So once again you had this
East-West Schism and the Crusades are further expanding the
division between east and west. And that really becomes
significant in 1204 when the Crusaders themselves
sack Constantinople, take Constantinople from the
Byzantines, so that’s in some ways the point of no return. The Byzantines are eventually
able to take Constantinople back but this is really
the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire. Now even though the high
Middle Ages are known for this tension between east and west
The Great Schism, even though it’s known for the Crusades,
most of which were fairly unsuccessful despite being
very very very bloody for the Crusaders, the high
Middle Ages were considered a high point for the Middle Ages. Farming technology coupled
with better weather actually significantly increased
agricultural productivity at this time. But then roughly in the year
1300, historians consider ourselves moving into
the late Middle Ages. So you can see here in this
map by the late Middle Ages, Europe is starting to resemble
the Europe that we know in later periods once we
get into the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. By this point, much of the
Iberian Peninsula has been reclaimed from Muslim rule
although you still have Muslim rule in Granada. Most of the Byzantine Empire
has now been taken over by the Ottomans, save
Constantinople, Constantinople eventually falls in 1453. This map right over here is
roughly what Europe looked like in the 14th century. So this period right over here,
Constantinople falls in 1453 ending the Byzantine Empire formally. And what the late Middle Ages
is most known for is being not that pleasant of a
time to live in Europe. In 1347, you have the Black
Death, which by some estimates kills 50 million people in
Europe, which is roughly 60% of the population at the time. It’s also a time of famine,
the weather cycles get worse and even before the Black
Death you have a significant famine occurring in the 14th century. You can see right over
here between 1337 and 1453 you have the Hundred Years’
War between France and England which lasts over 100 years,
once again not a pleasant time to live in especially Western Europe. But as we get into the end
of the 15th and especially into the 16th century,
historians consider that to be the end of the Middle Ages
and we start getting into the Age of Exploration and
the Renaissance which we will discuss in future videos.

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