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The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to the 10th century. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages (c. 1001–1300). The period saw a continuation of trends begun during late classical antiquity, including population decline, especially in urban centres, a decline of trade, and increased immigration. The period has been labelled the "Dark Ages", a characterization highlighting the relative scarcity of literary and cultural output from this time, especially in Northwestern Europe. However, the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, continued to survive, and in the 7th century the Islamic caliphates conquered swaths of formerly Roman territory.<ref>The term "Dark Ages" is inappropriate when applied to the Iberian peninsula, since during the Caliphate of Córdoba and Taifas periods Spanish culture, learning, arts, and science flourished as nowhere else in Europe, and Córdoba was the largest city in the world. Daniel Eisenberg, "No hubo una edad media española," in Propuestas teorico-metodológicas para el estudio de la literatura hispanica medieval, ed. Lillian van der Walde (Mexico: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Iztapalapa, 2003, [1])["Top 10 cities of the Year 1000". http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa011201c.htm Retrieved 2014-08-15].</ref>

Many of these trends were reversed later in the period. In 800 the title of emperor was revived in Western Europe by Charlemagne, whose Carolingian Empire greatly affected later European social structure and history. Europe experienced a return to systematic agriculture in the form of the feudal system, which introduced such innovations as three-field planting and the heavy plow. Barbarian migration stabilized in much of Europe, although the north was greatly affected by the Viking expansion.


Early medieval sections
Intro  

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