Getting Medieval on Your Brain

The medieval period is growing in popularity among history buffs and fantasy fans alike. Medieval clothing can be seen being incorporated into today’s fashion, television shows and movies are more popular than ever, and museum exhibits displaying the rich history of the medieval period are always well-attended. It seems like people can simply not get enough of medieval times. But if you ask fans where the word “medieval” comes from, many of them probably won’t know. Curious about the origin of the word? Here’s a short history of where this mysterious word comes from.

Like many words, medieval has its origins in Latin, coming from the term medium aevum, meaning “middle age.” The time period we now know as the medieval period was only first known as such in the 19th century. During that time, history scholars thought of the medieval period as being the time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.

There has been debate over when exactly the medieval era happened. Depending on which historian you talk to, the medieval era could have taken place anywhere between the 5th century and the 15th century, which would place it somewhere at the end of the Ancient period and the beginning of the Early Modern Age.

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