The Cross of Mathilde, a crux gemmata made for Mathilde, Abbess of Essen (973–1011), who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the enamel plaque. Probably made in Cologne or Essen, the cross demonstrates several medieval techniques: cast figurative sculpture, filigree, enamelling, gem polishing and setting, and the reuse of Classical cameos and engraved gems.
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages (or medieval period) lasted from the 5th to the 15th century.
The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
Population decline, counterurbanisation, collapse of centralized authority, invasions, and mass migrations of tribes, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages.
Monasteries were founded as campaigns to Christianise pagan Europe continued.
The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire during the later 8th and early 9th century.In 376, the Goths, fleeing from the Huns, received permission from Emperor Valens (r.364–378) to settle in the Roman province of Thracia in the Balkans.It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period.Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages.The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims.English-speaking historians, following their German counterparts, generally subdivide the Middle Ages into three intervals: "Early", "High", and "Late".Economic issues, including inflation, and external pressure on the frontiers combined to create the Crisis of the Third Century, with emperors coming to the throne only to be rapidly replaced by new usurpers.The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period and into the Late Middle Ages.The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 13, the Black Death killed about a third of Europeans.