The Beginning of the Middle Ages
Description The Beginning of the Middle Ages
In 395 A.D. Theodosius, the last ruler of the undivided Roman Empire died. To his young and incompetent son, Honorius, he left the government of its western half. Honorius depended upon the great general, Stilicho, to withstand the Visigoths under Alaric. But when he fecklessly abandoned his general to execution by palace intriguers, Alaric conquered and sacked Rome (410). Thus opened the era of chaotic leadership, social disintegration, and barbarian conquest, which used to be called the Dark Ages. The Franks emerged and helped to found the temporal power of the Papacy. Charlemagne consolidated a wide realm and revived learning. But his last years were overshadowed by the first incursions of the terrible Vikings, who in their shallow-draft vessels penetrated the Seine and the Loire into the heart of Gaul and, landing on the British coasts, conquered half of England. - Summary by Pamela Nagami, M.D.