Talk:Early Middle Ages

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Reconstruction Plan

OK, this entry has been marked as needing some help for a while, and I thought it would be useful to give it a bit of a push.

First problem: what exactly does "Early Middle Ages" mean? I propose dating it from AD 476 to ca. AD 1000. There's a lot of stuff going on in the 11th century that I think ought to be excluded (Hastings, Gratian, etc.)

Geographically, I think we should include as much of Europe as is practical (understanding that there are huge gaps in our knowledge about many areas during many periods). We should also include the Mediterranean and the Middle East as well, considering the huge impact that these areas had on Europe at this time. This does open up the entire thorny problem of dealing with the birth and rise of Islam, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it.

It seems to me that there are two organizational possibilities here for creating a solid entry.

  • We can basically use a timeline model, say century by century, and organize the page that way. This has the advantage of not imposing modern geographical conceptions (e.g. France, Germany, England, etc.) However, IMO it's a bit more likely to turn into something of a hodgepodge.
  • We can use a geographical model and discuss events in different areas (Hispania/al-Andalus, Gallia/France, Germania, Italia, Britannia/England, Byzantium, etc.) This is perhaps a bit easier to understand and manage. Of course the problem here is that many of these entities really didn't exist throughout the entire period. For example, how do we deal with Visigoths in southern France, Burgundians, Franks, Merovingians and Carolingians? The borders don't match with our neat conceptions :)

So perhaps we need a bit of a hybrid model. We can broadly divide the entire period into smaller units of time, perhaps not century by century, but into three or four broad divisions, perhaps built around the history of Gaul and the subsequent Frankish kingdoms. Something like:

  • The Time of the Barbarians
  • The Rise of the Islamic Caliphate (possibly folded into the first section)
  • The Time of the Carolingians and Charlemagne
  • The Transition to the High Middle Ages

Each section can have subheading dealing with specific geographical areas (e.g. the first section could individually consider the Visigoths in southern France and Spain, the Ostrogothic kingdom, the transition in the east from the Eastern Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire, etc.)

There will be some degree of overlap. For example, the Muslim conquest of Spain and the end of the Visigothic kingdom coincides with the rise of the early Carolingians, but I think this can be managed.


CrunchyFrog 14:26, 13 November 2008 (EST)

Changes 11/25/08

Two major changes today:

First, I've added a new introductory section giving the "wide sweep" of the period as a whole. This is meant more to set the context of the period rather than discuss individual events (which will come later in the article). One concern...does anyone think this is too long for an introduction? Perhaps it ought to be edited for brevity.

Second, I'm going ahead with the structure for the article that I proposed above, so I've made some alterations to section headings to be in line with that.

CrunchyFrog 20:27, 25 November 2008 (EST)