In 476CE, warriors attacked the city of Rome and ended more than 800 years of glory for the "Eternal City." Historians mark the fall of Rome as the end of ancient history. The next one thousand years were called the Middle Ages. The Latin term for Middle Ages is "medieval."
The beginning of the Middle Ages is often called the "Dark Ages" because the great civilizations of Greece and Rome had fallen. Life in Western Europe during the Middle Ages was very hard. Very few people could read or write and nobody expected conditions to improve. The only hope for most people during the Middle Ages was their strong belief in Christianity, and the hope that life in heaven would be better than life on earth.
The Dark Ages were anything but dark in other parts of the world. The Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa studied and improved on the works of the ancient Greeks while civilization flourished in sub-Saharan Africa, China, India, and the Americas.
Europe began to experience great change by about 1450. Within one hundred years, Columbus had sailed to America, literacy spread, scientists made great discoveries, and artists created work that still inspires us today. Historians call the next period of European history the "Renaissance," or the "rebirth." The Renaissance is the beginning of modern history.