The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's e...
Depiction of St. Thomas Aquinas from the Demidoff Altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli via Wikipedia

Medieval is a term that usually but not always describes a period of European history. Historical references are sometimes made, for instance, to Medieval India. So this makes the term a bit difficult to define.

The term is also difficult to define because it may be determined by various criteria. Are the dates for the Medieval period set by achievements in art, economics, technology, standard of living, morality, social issues or critical thinking?

Also called the Middle Ages, the Medieval period is generally seen as running from about 1000 CE to 1500 CE, a time when a relative few kings, notables, literati and Church leaders had a firm, exploitative and sometimes ruthless grip on the masses. As for the people who made up the masses, they for the most part were of dramatically lower economic and educational status.

Some say the Middle Ages differ from the Medieval period, with the former beginning about 600 CE. Others use the terms interchangeably, with the Medieval period also beginning in 600 CE or 1000 CE. And yet some see the Medieval period beginning somewhere between the Council of Nicea (313 CE) and the Sack of Rome (410 CE), and extending to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE.

The term ‘Middle Ages’ was first used in the 16th century by Renaissance writers describing the period from 600 CE to about 1400 CE because they viewed their own civilization as a reinstatement and elaboration of themes prevalent in ancient Greece and Rome.

Recent views of the Medieval period, whatever it may be, question the idea that it was backward. Several innovations were made, although they were not necessarily as dramatic, technologically speaking, as they were within the periods before and after medieval times. Medieval theologians such as Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, came up with some of the most amazingly subtle thinking, on a variety of topics, known to mankind. Likewise, Christian polyphonic devotional music underwent dramatic innovations during this time.

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