The period from 0 to 700 AD in Europe is known as Late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages. It was a time of significant transition and change, marked by the decline of the Western Roman Empire, the emergence of various Germanic and barbarian groups, the spread of Christianity, and the gradual formation of medieval kingdoms and states.
Fall of the Western Empire
The Roman Empire, which had reached its height of power in the preceding centuries, began to decline during the third century AD due to a combination of internal political instability, economic challenges, and external pressures from barbarian groups.
In 476 AD, the last Roman emperor in the West, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the Germanic chieftain Odoacer, traditionally marking the end of the Western Roman Empire.
Barbarian Invasions and Migrations
The collapse of the Western Roman Empire led to a period of migrations and invasions by various Germanic tribes such as the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and Franks, as well as the Huns and other groups. Some of these groups settled in former Roman territories, establishing their own kingdoms and contributing to the transformation of the political landscape.
Formation of Medieval Kingdoms
The vacuum left by the Roman Empire’s collapse led to the emergence of new political entities. Kingdoms such as the Merovingian Franks in Gaul (modern-day France), the Visigothic kingdom in Spain, and the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain began to take shape.
Christianity’s Spread and Influence
Christianity, which had been persecuted by the Roman authorities, gained prominence during Late Antiquity. In 313 AD, the Edict of Milan granted religious tolerance to Christians, and the religion eventually became the official faith of the Roman Empire under Emperor Theodosius I.
The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD was a significant event that aimed to address theological disputes within Christianity.
The Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire, continued to thrive during this period. Its capital was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The Byzantine Empire preserved many aspects of Roman culture, law, and administration, while also adopting Greek as its primary language and developing its own distinct cultural and religious identity.
End of the Period
The year 700 AD roughly marks the transition from Latin Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. By this time, the groundwork had been laid for the development of feudal societies and the medieval kingdoms that would shape the course of European history.
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