From Antiquity to Our Modern World: Europe In The Middle Ages.
What time period extended a thousand years, and created such legacies as Camelot, chivalry, and the Gothic style of architecture (Corbishley 34-35)? The answer, of course, would be the Middle Ages, which spanned from the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 to the exploration of the New World in the 1500's (Hartman 15). In these times, Europe went from the urbanized, structured Roman government to the loose ties of the feudal system, which incorporated kings, knights, lords, and peasants. Many of the advantages a centralized government had brought Rome was lost, and the many breakthroughs in economy, education, science, and politics that had been made were lost (Briquebec 10). The Middle Ages was a time of economic and creative standstill, held captive to a system of feudalism that allowed little progress to be made.
The transformation of life from urbanized Rome to the farming communities that trademarked medieval life did not occur instantly (Corbishley 14). For centuries, Rome had lived in fear of invasion from the numerous barbaric tribes that wanted land (Corbishley 15). When Emperor Romulus Augustulus lost power to a king of a German tribe, the Roman Empire ceased to exist (Corbishley 16). Now there existed many kingdoms that the barbarians ruled with their own customs (Briquebec 10). The centralized order that had existed for centuries was now over, and there was no government to maintain peace and prosperity (Hartman 27). As Hartman says, "for hundreds of years all Europe was given over to fighting and plundering" (27). This instability made Europe a very dangerous place, and no tribal kings" lands were ever safe for long (Hartman 27).
The rulers of this time were generally weak and unable to provide stability and resist outside attacks (Rowling 31). They needed protection for their vast lands, and so they had nobleman pledge allegiance to the king in return for large properties known as fiefs (Hartman 27-28).