|1.||the period from about the late 5th century |
|2.||(occasionally) the whole medieval period|
the early medieval period of western European history. Specifically, the term refers to the time (476-800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life. It is now rarely used by historians because of the value judgment it implies. Though sometimes taken to derive its meaning from the fact that little was then known about the period, the term's more usual and pejorative sense is of a period of intellectual darkness and barbarity. See Middle Ages.
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