The Middle Ages: the Time Frame in Russia

The term "Middle Ages" came into scientific circulation during the Renaissance, thereby the philosophers-humanists emphasized the connection of their time with antiquity: from the "golden age" of mankind they were separated by a middle, intermediate period, "dark ages", as Petrarch called them. Later, the term naturally lost its semantic load, however in historiography, as the generally accepted notion, the name "Middle Ages" was preserved, the time frame of which covers the period from the 5th century to the beginning of the 16th century. These boundaries are relative in nature and differ in the history of different states.

Conventions of the chronology

Chronology and periodization are relative criteria artificially introduced by researchers, used for the convenience of designating a particular time, comparing events in different countries, etc. This fully applies to the period called "Middle Ages", whose spatial, temporal framework for Different reasons for domestic and foreign historians. As A. Gurevich correctly noted, the people of the Middle Ages, like antiquity or the New Times, did not give names to their era, they did not realize that they lived during the Middle Ages. When the historical process is divided into chronological segments, scientists are guided by certain original features, qualitative characteristics inherent in a particular epoch.


How does the historiographic tradition designate the Western European Middle Ages? Timeframe (centuries) - from the 5th century. Before the beginning of the XVI century. Within this almost thousand-year period of time, the following stages are usually distinguished:

  • V-XI centuries. Called the Early Middle Ages (or "dark ages," since this period in the history of human civilization remains the least studied due to the extremely scarce reflection in the sources). It began after the demise of the Roman Empire. One of the most striking phenomena is the great migration of peoples, the conquest by the Christians of the Iberian Peninsula (the so-called Reconquista), the flowering of Byzantium, the Frankish state.
  • XI-XIV centuries. - this is the classical (or High) Middle Ages. The main events are the rapid growth of the population of Western Europe, the almost universal spread of Christianity, the crusades, the development of cities and urbanization, the emergence and development of feudal relations.
  • XIV-XVI centuries. Refer to the Late Middle Ages (some researchers this period is already referred to the early New Year). This is a period of disasters, famine, plague, the Hundred Years War and Mongol-Tatar invasions, which seriously devastated Western Europe. At the same time, this is the time of the church reformation, great geographical discoveries, the development of science, inventions, achievements in traditional medicine.

The Middle Ages: a Time Frame for Russia

In the territory occupied by the Slavic tribes, the feudal state grew more slowly than in the West, because many historians refer to the beginning of the medieval epoch to the 9th century. A new time begins in the late XVII century. With the reign of Peter I. Within the era separate periods are distinguished:

  • IX-XII centuries. - the existence of a centralized state of Kiev.
  • XII-XIII centuries. - the beginning of feudal fragmentation and the fall of part of the lands under the power of the Mongol-Tatar yoke.
  • XIV-XVII centuries. - the formation and development of the Russian state with a center in Moscow.

Characteristics of the era

This is how the Middle Ages look chronologically, the time frames are associated with events that led to irreversible changes. At the end of the 5th c. Barbarian hordes broke into Rome - the main stronghold of ancient civilization at that time, and at the beginning of the VI. The last ancient school of philosophy ceased to exist.

A key characteristic of the Early Middle Ages is the expansion of tribal relations among the barbarian tribes of Europe and the formation of feudal ones, which by the end of the period leads to the formation of centralized states and ruling dynasties. The essence of economic relations in the Middle Ages changes radically. The spatial, temporal scope of the era is firmly connected with the spread of the Christian religion, which became a spiritual reflection of feudalism, as paganism was at one time characteristic of the communal-tribal system.

Concerning the Slavic tribes, all of the above features can be seen in their history distinctly only from the 9th century, when the establishment of a state centered in Kiev takes place. At about the same time, the Christianity of the Eastern (Orthodox) rite penetrates the Russian lands from Byzantium, and by the turn of the millennium acquires the status of an official religion.

Classical Middle Ages

The high Middle Ages (time frames XI-XIV centuries) begins in Western Europe from the formation of the state of Charlemagne and is characterized by strengthening the position of the Catholic Church, its dominant role at all levels of human activity - from politics to everyday life. The educational system is dominated by scholastic doctrine, world view and material culture are deeply religious.

Christianity also defines the Russian Middle Ages, the time frame of which, like the event content of the periods, is very different from Western European. By the XII century. Orthodoxy became not only the official state religion: the last pagans, believers in the ancient Slavic gods, remained except in remote forest areas and did not pose a threat to the existence of a centralized state. But the feudal civil strife that shook more or less any state in the Middle Ages (the timeframe in Rus - XII-XIII centuries), weakened the state of Kiev and made it easy prey for the nomads of the Mongol-Tatars who came from the east. Thus, the external threat in the face of invaders alien in the ethnic and religious sense contributed to the strengthening of the authority of the church.

Distinctive features of the European and Russian periods

The fundamental difference in this period of the history of Russia from Western Europe is obvious: for the empire of Charlemagne this is the time of the maximum flowering of culture, the creation of the canonical image of the Middle Ages; in Eastern Europe, in all spheres of life, a decline is associated with a heavy burden of opposition to the mighty Asian enemy.

After the overthrow of the Mongol-Tatar yoke, the former integrity of Kievan Rus was not restored: the western lands united in the Galicia-Volyn principality, and in the east Moscow princes gained more and more influence.

The final decades of the Middle Ages

The end of the High Middle Ages in the West is associated with a famine that struck many lands in the beginning of the fourteenth century, an epidemic of plague, peasant riots and the Hundred Years War. All these tragic events entailed literally the extinction of half of the population, hence the decline in all spheres of life.

At the same time for Russia, the Middle Ages, the timeframe of the 14th-17th centuries, became the epoch of the formation and strengthening of the state around Moscow. Rus was strong enough at this time to relieve the burden of the Golden Horde yoke. Moreover, many Russian researchers are inclined to see in the new Russian state, based on the Vladimir-Suzdal historical and cultural traditions, the characteristic features of the Renaissance. This is the flowering of culture, architecture, painting, and the emergence of literary works, in the focus of which a person and his feelings, rather than religious issues.

At the beginning of the XVII century. The Moscow throne goes back to the Romanov dynasty, whose representatives ruled the country before the overthrow of the monarchy in 1917.

Later the Middle Ages and the transition to the New Time

Such a shaky concept as the Late Middle Ages, time frames and countries embrace differently: the features of the New Age are more clearly visible somewhere, and in some places the traditional feudal way is preserved. In the states of Western Europe there is a movement for the reform of the church, industrial revolutions are under way, philosophy and views on the world are changing. And in the Moscow kingdom for almost two centuries everything remained without significant changes: therefore the Middle Ages in Russia (the time frame of the IX-XVII centuries) ends much later.

Western European Middle Ages, the timeframe, ending this almost thousand-year period, refers to the end of the XV - the beginning of the XVI century. The starting point is most often taken by Columbus's discovery of America in 1492.

In Russia, to complete the period of the Middle Ages, only Peter I succeeded through a series of progressive and often unpopular reforms in the late 17th century.

Conclusions: the Middle Ages are Western European and Russian

Thus, the time frames of the Middle Ages in Russia and Western Europe vary greatly, although the essence of the period remains the same in most questions. This is the dominance of the church and religion in all spheres of life, and the strengthening of feudal relations, and the subsequent formation of the monarchy, which will continue in the New Age.

At the end of the Middle Ages, obvious technological progress began - blast furnaces, firearms, a printing press were invented . There was a concept of educational institutions. Progress is gradually manifested in all spheres of life. In the last decades of the Late Middle Ages, a rapid flowering of art began.

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