Eras and Their Highlights

The Middle Ages

What are the characteristics of medieval times?

Although the Middle Ages were shadowed by poverty, ignorance, economic chaos, bad government, and the plague, it was also a period of cultural and artistic achievement. For example, the university originated in medieval Europe (the first university was established in 1158 in Bologna, Italy). The period was marked by the belief, based on the Christian faith, that the universe is an ordered world, ruled by an infinite and allknowing God. This belief persisted even through the turmoil of wars and social upheavals, and it is evident in the soaring Gothic architecture (such as the cathedral of Chartres, France), the poetry of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the Gregorian chant, and the music of such composers as Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300–1377).


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