The medieval period, often called the Middle Ages, spans approximately one thousand years, from the fifth to the fifteenth century AD. The fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD marks its inception, while the fall of Constantinople (and the Byzantine Empire) to the Ottomans in 1453 AD marks its end. The cultures of Western Europe during this period were feudal--that is, strictly hierarchal--in nature. Each region was ruled by a monarch and, over the course of the centuries, grew more distinct from its neighbors, eventually becoming a defined nation. 


The Byzantine Empire, also called the Eastern Empire, was the perpetuation of the Roman Empire into the Middle Ages; it lasted from the fourth to the fifteenth century AD. It grew, over the course of centuries, into its own entity after Diocletian’s division of the Roman Empire, Constantine’s establishment of Constantinople as the capital, and the fall of the western half of the empire in the late fifth century AD.