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Middle Ages definitions

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

1: the period of history between classical antiquity and the Italian Renaissance [syn: Middle Ages, Dark Ages]

Merriam Webster's

noun plural Date: 1616 the period of European history from about A.D. 500 to about 1500

Britannica Concise

Period in European history from the 5th cent. AD to the Renaissance. The sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 destroyed the centralized structure provided by the Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages are traditionally said to begin with the fall of Rome. The early Middle Ages (c.410-1000) were formerly called the Dark Ages because of the eclipse of European civilization. The empire's systems of agriculture, roads, water supply, and shipping routes gradually decayed, and the unity of imperial society, government, and culture was replaced by the conflicting powers of the various Germanic tribes that now dominated S and W Europe. Artistic and scholarly work also faded. The Roman Catholic Church gradually strengthened, providing the foundations of social unity. Spiritual and political leaders, particularly pope and emperor, often clashed. A 12th-cent. cultural and economic revival saw a growth of population, the flourishing of towns and farms, the emergence of merchant classes, and the beginnings of the erosion of feudalism. Medieval civilization reached its apex in the 13th cent. with classic Gothic architecture and art and organizations such as guilds, civic councils, and monastic chapters. The church dominated intellectual life, producing the Scholasticism of St. Thomas Aquinas. The demise of feudalism and the rise of nationalism, secular education, and other cultural developments produced a new age, the Renaissance.

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Middle Mid"dle, a. [OE. middel, AS. middel; akin to D. middel, OHG. muttil, G. mittel. ????. See Mid, a.] 1. Equally distant from the extreme either of a number of things or of one thing; mean; medial; as, the middle house in a row; a middle rank or station in life; flowers of middle summer; men of middle age. 2. Intermediate; intervening. Will, seeking good, finds many middle ends. --Sir J. Davies. Note: Middle is sometimes used in the formation of selfexplaining compounds; as, middle-sized, middle-witted. Middle Ages, the period of time intervening between the decline of the Roman Empire and the revival of letters. Hallam regards it as beginning with the sixth and ending with the fifteenth century. Middle class, in England, people who have an intermediate position between the aristocracy and the artisan class. It includes professional men, bankers, merchants, and small landed proprietors The middle-class electorate of Great Britain. --M. Arnold. Middle distance. (Paint.) See Middle-ground. Middle English. See English, n., 2. Middle Kingdom, China. Middle oil (Chem.), that part of the distillate obtained from coal tar which passes over between 170[deg] and 230[deg] Centigrade; -- distinguished from the light, and the heavy or dead, oil. Middle passage, in the slave trade, that part of the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and the West Indies. Middle post. (Arch.) Same as King-post. Middle States, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; which, at the time of the formation of the Union, occupied a middle position between the Eastern States (or New England) and the Southern States. [U.S.] Middle term (Logic), that term of a syllogism with which the two extremes are separately compared, and by means of which they are brought together in the conclusion. --Brande. Middle tint (Paint.), a subdued or neutral tint. --Fairholt. Middle voice. (Gram.) See under Voice. Middle watch, the period from midnight to four A. M.; also, the men on watch during that time. --Ham. Nav. Encyc. Middle weight, a pugilist, boxer, or wrestler classed as of medium weight, i. e., over 140 and not over 160 lbs., in distinction from those classed as light weights, heavy weights, etc.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

In European history, the Middle Ages was the period between the end of the Roman Empire in 476 AD and about 1500 AD, especially the later part of this period. N-PLURAL: the N


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