Difference Between Middle Age and Medieval Age

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: July 16, 2022

       

Difference Between Middle Age and Medieval Age Difference Between Middle Age and Medieval Age

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Introduction

History is one of the most complicated and exhausting subjects that exists and can never perish. Majority of the subject depends highly upon the reliability of the sources in order for the records to be absolutely accurate. Besides the factor of accuracy, history prevails in each and every part of the world regardless of how small the location is geographically. Whether it might be recording history or studying it, both the tasks can prove to be highly taxing due to the vastness of the subject.

Western history is said to be divided into three main parts: The Classical period, the Middle ages, the Renaissance period. Out of all the three, the study of the Middle ages is said to be the most challenging of them all. You can hear the terms middle age and medieval age being tossed around and sometimes used interchangeably. However, this is wrong as they do not have the same utility. We shall look into more about the two terms and how they are used in order to properly differentiate them.

Middle age vs. Medieval age

The main difference between middle age and the medieval age lies in the utility of the terms. The middle age is used as a noun form and describes the period between 5th century and 15th century whereas medieval age is used as an adjective that describes the people, events and places of the middle ages, more specifically referring to the history of the European subcontinent.

Difference between Middle age and Medieval age in Tabular Form

Table: Middle age vs. Medieval age
Parameters of Comparison
Middle age
Medieval age
Definition
Middle age refers to the period of history that falls between the events of ‘the fall of Roman empire’ and the beginning of ‘the Renaissance’, more specifically as the period between 5th century A.D and 15th centuryA.D.
Medieval age does not refer to time literally. Instead, it refers to the description of the middle ages i.e., the people, events, places and other such elements of the middle ages.
Utility
Middle age is used as a noun to describe a part of the timeline in history.
Medieval age is used as an adjective to describe the elements that existed during the middle ages.
Origins
The term ‘middle ages’ finds its roots in the latin word ‘media tempestas’. The latin word literally translates to ‘middle times’.
The term ‘medieval age’ is derived from the combination of two latin words: ‘medium’ and ‘aevum’, which literally translate to middle age.
References
Middle age is also otherwise referred to as the ‘dark age’
Medieval age does not exactly have any other terminology but is called the middle age when used in its noun form or when used in a context of time.
Example
The Carolingian empire can be described as a part of the middle ages.
Christianization was one of the events that occurred during the middle ages and serves as an example of the medieval ages.

What is Middle age?

The term ‘Middle Ages’ describes the period between 5th century A.D and 15th century A.D. To be more descriptive, the Middle age is the period that existed between the end of the classical period and the beginning of the age of discovery and renaissance. Middle ages are also referred to as the ‘dark ages’, but why?

Several scholars believe that the European subcontinent was plagued with dark times following the fall of the roman empire. Not only was this period filled with ignorance that was being complemented by a few who tried to revive the culture of the classical age, but also with no advancement in the scientific contexts. With people neither achieving advancement nor revival of culture or any other fields,most humanists refer to the middle ages as ‘one thousand years of darkness’. The late middle ages were also considered a very unfortunate time due to major calamities and wars that would go on to reduce the population of Europe by a significant percentage. Accounting to all the above-listed reasons, the Middle ages may also be referred to as the Dark ages.

Western history is typically viewed and divided into three chief parts: The classical period, the middle ages and the modern period, amongst which, the study of middle ages is described to be the most enduring one of them all. Middle age coincides with the period that is described as ‘post-classical period’ in global history and can be referred to as the same, in case of comparisons. Although some historians from post-roman countries tend to accept two categories of the middle ages, most historians around the globe accept the three-category system of the middle ages as it is more convenient and used far more widely. The three eras of the middle ages are: early, high and late.

  1. Early middle age: The starting point to the middle ages that is most popularly used is around 476 A.D. Most of the early middle ages comprised activities that focused on repairing the damage caused by the fall of the Roman empire. People were trying to find replacements and fillers for positions that the Romans abandoned, renewing their systems, reviving the damaged artifacts and heritage. The main objective throughout this period was to find a cultural middle ground to establish some balance in the community and help set the foundation for the newer generations to come. This was because the Roman empire was a significant part of European history and one of the most influential kingdoms. The befalling of such a vast empire skewed the balance between communities and thus needed immediate amendments.

As a result of these efforts, many new realms were established as people kept migrating to better homes and kingdoms kept expanding due to invasions. The early middle ages marked the initiation of many developments that would be improved and expanded in the high middle ages.

  1. High Middle age: The high middle age lasted from 1000 A.D to 1250 A.D. While this period saw developments in many areas, agriculture in European countries saw the most significant expansions. There was also a tremendous increase in the population since households were much more balanced, owing to the efforts in early ages. Peasant women were allowed to be involved in acute forms of trade and noblewomen were allowed to handle some portions of their estate. Proper state powers were established and the military saw some significant innovations.
  2. Late middle age: The period of late middle ages lasted from 1300 A.D to 1500 A.D. This period comprises events that pretty much explain why the middle ages are also called the dark ages. There were major famines, wars and plagues that plunged most of Europe’s countries into darkness. This not only left an irreversible mark on the history across the world but also significantly reduced the population of Europe. Even though education and literacy saw huge improvements compared to earlier periods of history along with art and literature, this dark period, also referred to as the black death, obstructed further developments and disturbed the balance among other fields of livelihood.

What is the Medieval age?

Medieval ages or the term ‘medieval’ is used to describe all the events, people, places and other such elements that existed in the middle ages. Thus all the activities that happened in the middle ages can be described along with the prefix ‘medieval’.

  • Christianization: The Middle Ages saw major movements that focused on converting whole kingdoms to christianity. The entire movement was initiated by the third century crisis and accelerated further by a great momentum due to the conversion of Constantine the great. Thus, by the end of the century, christianity was observed to be the dominant religion in most kingdoms.
  • The Byzantine and developments:
  • Rise of Islam: While there were major debates going on about the ethics, morals and the culture of christianity, Islam took birth in Arabia and went on to conquer vast territories. They knocked on the doors of Europe somewhere around the 8th century, posing danger to the people there. Only Franks, one of the major powers in Europe could defeat the Muslim empires, leading to creation of Carolingian empire.
  • Hundred Years war: The French kings tried to expand their kingdom around the 14th century. However, they came across many obstacles when doing so with English kingdoms located in Southern France. Push came to shove and the historical rivalry began in 1337 that led to a war between both the empires. This brutality lasted until 1453, fetching the war its name as ‘the hundred years war’.
  • The Black death: The black death refers to the pandemic that started in 1347 when a ship that reached Sicily was carrying plague. The plague then spread all across Europe as there wasn’t development in the medical fields and nor was there any awareness as to how to deal with highly contractive diseases. The pandemic lasted for 3 years and is said to have killed almost one-thirds of the continent’s population.

Popular works of literature written in the Middle Ages:-

  • Divine comedy: Written by Dante Alighieri and published in the year 1472.
  • The travels of Marco Polo: Written by Marco Polo and published in the 1300s.
  • Rubáiyát: Written by Omar Khayyám and published during the 1100s.
  • History of the Kings of Britain: Written by Geoffrey of Monmouth and published around 1136.
  • The book of Margery Kempe: Written by Margery Kempe and published in the year 1501.
  • Canterbury tales: Written by Geoffrey Chaucer and published around 1392.

Some other anonymous works of literature that stood significant in the medieval times were:

  • The Mabinogion: Written and published around the 14th century.
  • Beowulf: Written and published somewhere between the years 700 to 1000 A.D
  • The Nibelungenlied: Written and published in the year 1200.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Written and published around the late 14th century.

Main differences between Middle age and Medieval age in points

  • The Middle Ages describe the period of history that falls between the events of ‘the fall of the Roman empire’ and the beginning of ‘the Renaissance’. Thus the Middle age marks the end of the Classical period and ends at the beginning of the Age of discovery,more specifically the period between 5th century A.D and 15th century A.D. On the other hand, Medieval ages or the term ‘medieval’ is used to describe all the events, people, places and other such elements that existed in the middle ages.
  • While middle ages and medieval ages essentially refer to the same period of time, the terms are used in different contexts. ‘Middle age’ is used as a noun form as it describes a period of history. ‘Medieval age’ or ‘medieval’ is used as an adjective as it describes the elements that existed in the middle ages.
  • Middle age is also otherwise referred to as the ‘dark ages’. On the other hand, ‘medieval ages’ does not technically have any other terminology but it can be referred to as the middle age when used in a noun form of context.
  • Both the terms can find their origins from latin words of relevance. The word ‘middle age’ was born from the Latin word ‘media tempestas’ that literally translates to ‘middle times’. Medieval age was born from the combination of two Latin words, medium and aevum, that literally translate to middle age.
  • ‘The six ages’ or ‘ The four empires’ can be described as an example of the middle ages whereas events such as the conquest of Constantinople, various battles and famous personalities that existed during the middle ages can be described as medieval.

Conclusion

To clear up any remnant confusion and sum it up properly, middle age and medieval age refer to the same period in history. But middle age is used as a noun that refers to the portion of history in the context of time whereas medieval age is used as an adjective that specifically describes the elements that existed in the middle ages, such as the people, events and literature.

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"Difference Between Middle Age and Medieval Age." Diffzy.com, 2022. Tue. 06 Dec. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-middle-age-and-medieval-age-134>.



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