It covered much of Western Europe but later succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions—Vikings from the north, Hungarians from the east, and Saracens from the south.During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase.
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Kings became the heads of centralised nation states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant.
Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities.
The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
Population decline, counterurbanisation, invasion, and movement of peoples, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages.
Bruni and later historians argued that Italy had recovered since Petrarch's time, and therefore added a third period to Petrarch's two.
The "Middle Ages" first appears in Latin in 1469 as media tempestas or "middle season". Depending on the context, events such as Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492, the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, or the Protestant Reformation in 1517 are sometimes used.
Monasteries were founded as campaigns to Christianise pagan Europe continued.
The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire during the later 8th and early 9th century.
The large-scale movements of the Migration Period, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire.
In the seventh century, North Africa and the Middle East—once part of the Byzantine Empire—came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors.
Controversy, heresy, and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms.