Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Europe is the home to about 50 countries, including Russia.

The period from the third century AD to the seventh century AD, is traditionally known as the 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.

Europe | 0 to the 9th century AD

Roman Empire | 1st century BC – 5th century AD
The first century BC saw the expansion of the Roman Republic, which eventually transformed into the Roman Empire. The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) characterized the first two centuries AD, bringing stability and prosperity to the empire. In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine I moved the capital to Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul), marking the beginning of the Byzantine Empire.

Decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire | 5th century
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 of the West, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the Germanic chieftain Odoacer, traditionally marking the end of the Western Roman Empire.

Migration Period | 4th – 7th centuries
The collapse of the Western Roman Empire led to a period of migrations and invasions by various Germanic tribes such as the Visigoths and 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. The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 AD, and the Vandals did so again in 455 AD.

Byzantine Empire | 4th – 15th centuries
The Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire, with its capital in Constantinople, continued to exist for several centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. 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. It played a crucial role in preserving and transmitting classical knowledge, art, and culture.

Rise of Christianity
Christianity, which had been persecuted by the Roman authorities, gained prominence during Late Antiquity. Emperor Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, also known as the Cunctos populos decree, which declared Nicene Christianity (a specific form of Christianity based on the Nicene Creed) to be the state religion.

Emperor Constantine I, on the other hand, had played a crucial role in the earlier recognition of Christianity through the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which granted tolerance to all religions, including Christianity. While Constantine himself converted to Christianity, it was Theodosius I who took further steps to establish it as the sole and official religion of the Roman Empire.

Early Medieval Period | 5th – 9th centuries
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.

The Carolingian Empire, under Charlemagne, became a major power in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III in 800 AD, marking a revival of the idea of a unified Western Roman Empire.

Viking Raids | 8th – 9th centuries
Viking raids and invasions from Scandinavia began in the late eighth century, disrupting coastal regions of Europe and leading to the establishment of Viking settlements.

See also
Europe the Large | The Legend of King Arthur