The Medieval World

Medieval World Information



Site Info

Welcome, Guest

Medieval Beginings

From the 5th century AD - After the fall of Rome

Barbarian Invasions

Barbarian Invasions

From the third century onwards, Germanic tribes displaced by the Westward migration of the Huns began to attack the Roman Empire. The Visigoths sacked Rome in AD 410. The Franks and Vandals attacked France. With the help of Germanic Celts, the Romans defeated Attila in AD 453, but the Roman Empire was exhausted by this time. In AD 476, the last Roman emperor was deposed. In AD 453, the Ostrogoths destroyed Rome. 1

The Roman empire had already been divided by Justinian, with the setting up of an Eastern seat of government in Constantinople. This served to weaken rather than extend the Empire's capacity to defend its existence in an integrated fashion. It did mean that there was some survival of Roman imperial values in Turkety, when the rest of Europe was abandoned to the "barbarians".

Rochester Castle

The so-called "Dark ages" began in the period after the fall of Rome. The phrase refers to a time when the unifying cultural, social and political systems associated with the Roman empire gave way. A largely unified Europe fragmented into a collection of warring tribes. There was a decline in scholarship. The churches kept alive some written knowledge as monasteries were to become centres of study but much was lost and education was limited even for the aristocrats. Trade and commerce declined across Europe. Roman cities and their associated technologies fell into disuse throughout most of the former empire.


1. The traditional view of what caused the western Roman empire to fall follows Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Gibbon's perspective is Victorian and has been disputed by modern scholarship. However, Decline and Fall is very lively and enjoyable to read and gives a real feel for the times.