Ohio 7th Grade World History/Causes of Middle Ages

There were many causes of the Middle Ages, including the Fall of Rome, Viking invaders, Charlemagne, and the spread of Christianity.

Fall of Rome


The fall of Rome was the largest because, as Rome fell, various groups from the north and south began to move into former Roman land. Because the empire was too large, the army had a difficult time traveling to defend land from invaders. As they moved in, powerful warlords created their own states and declared themselves king. By the early 500s, there were many small kingdoms. The small sovereignties kept fighting among themselves. Without Rome’s central government there was no central authority to keep the peace between the small territories. As a result, bandits and invaders became common.

The Vikings

Artwork depicting Vikings

Invaders invaded Rome and stole goods. The three most common invaders were the Vikings, Magyars, and the Franks. The invaders created mass hysteria; people were robbed, killed; there was no law or order. Entire villages were burned to the ground. It was easy for the Vikings because they were great sailors and northern Europe contained a lot of rivers. The rivers allowed the Vikings to show up without notice and destroy a town. The facts that the Vikings could come and go at any time made people’s fear grow exponentially. People were scared and looking for protection. They started feudal societies for protection because they were scared and they clung to anything that gave them hope. Christianity boomed and became the leading religion.

Charlemagne and the Spread of Christianity

Bust of Charlemagne

Charlemagne tried to conquer the Roman Empire but failed. Through his wars of conquest, Charlemagne united many of the tribes of Central and Western Europe into a single empire. While Europe was still reeling from the collapse of Rome, Charlemagne brought people together. He helped Europeans realize that they shared common bonds such as Christianity that linked them. He helped people see themselves as Europeans, not members of tribes.