Summary What is the Middle Ages? From the Roman Empire to
the Renaissance

Middle Ages

What is the Middle Ages?

There was a time when people lived within the walls of castles, in total ignorance, a time when they burned women at the stake as witches and fought on horseback under gleaming, heavy metal armour, this would seem to be the Middle Ages, a very long dark age between the glorious Roman Empire and the three caravels of Columbus. Nothing could be more wrong. Yes, because although these are all things that belong to the Middle Ages (even if divided by centuries), the Middle Ages is also and above all an era of great discoveries, brilliant minds and extraordinary inventions.

But before going into the history step by step, it is good to clarify a few fundamental aspects about the Middle Ages:

  • The Middle Ages is a long and varied historical period conventionally fixed between the fall of the Western Roman Empire (year 476) and the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (year 1492).
  • Being such an extended period, the convention of having a single name encompassing a thousand years of history is often questioned, so further subdivisions are opted for: the most classic is high and low middle ages (respectively 5th to 10th century and 11th to 15th century), but even better is to divide between high middle ages (5th to 9th century), full middle ages (10th to 13th century) and late middle ages (14th to 15th century).
  • The middle ages is only applicable to European history, it is impossible to create a real similarity with other civilisations in the world during the same period.
  • It is good to keep in mind that it is not possible to refer to something by labelling it as medieval, in fact, often things that are commonly imagined as medieval actually belong to a specific century.

From the Roman Empire to the Renaissance

If the Middle Ages exist, it is because at a certain point in history a break with Greco-Roman culture was felt, leading to its rebirth in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, two centuries that we know today as the "Renaissance"". Although this discontinuity can be felt, this does not mean that the Middle Ages were an age devoid of culture and dominated solely by religious superstition.

In the following articles we will see which of these stereotypes are true and to what extent, we will discover the story of men who changed the course of our history, we will talk about kings, emperors, popes and battles, but also about revolutionary geniuses, great cities, castles and artistic masterpieces, through a journey through our history

Dante Alighieri portrait
Dante Alighieri: life, works, poetics

The entire cultural tradition of modern Europe looks to the person of Dante and his Comedy as the highest point of maturity of thought ever reached in human history: he is the only poetic thinker capable of rising up in the face of the past millennium and summing it up with creative originality in a new thought to give it back to the following centuries, up to us.

sky and stars
700 Dante: from the stars of his birth to the origin of his name

What was Dante's sign of the zodiac and how did he, as a man of the Middle Ages, experience his relationship with the stars? And the origin of his name, a simple paternal attribution or a prophetic omen of future virtues? Who is Dante, once he has put down the laurel wreath? There has always been a lot of talk

Dante Alighieri portrait
Dante's nose: anecdotes and legends about the Supreme Poet

Alongside the rich manuscript and critical tradition linked to the name of Dante, there is another equally copious one of a strictly anecdotal nature, which undoubtedly has the merit of contributing in the first place to increasing the already considerable importance of the figure of the Florentine Supreme Poet.

rappresentation of a Battle
The Crusades, complete history of the conquest of Jerusalem

After almost a thousand years, the crusades continue to fascinate us and make us discuss them. They are often used as an example of Christianity's eagerness to conquer and its inability to accept anything different, or as a defensive war against the Muslims who were threatening Europe.