After Rome fell in 476 AD, Europe was plunged into chaos and darkness. All of the advances of the Classic times were lost and Europe was subject to invasions. This is why the time period following Rome is called the Dark Ages.
After Rome fell, Europe was vulnerable to outside threats by horse and ship, like this Viking invasion.
The smallest part of Rome survived in Eastern Europe and was renamed the Byzantine Empire, known for being the safe-haven of Christianity during the Dark Ages, and constantly attacked by the new Islamic Turk Empire of Turkey and the Middle East.
The title "Dark Ages" did not apply on a global scale. The Dark Ages for Europe were a golden age of advanced for people in the rest of the world.
While Europe was in the Dark Ages, China saw its great Age of Inventions and Advances, creating such fantastic tools as the compass, printing press, gunpowder, and money paper which would forever transform the rest of the world.
Chinese inventions above: compass, gunpowder, paper, porcelain, fireworks, etc.
In the Middle East, Muhammad developed the major World Religion of Islam in 622 and saw the rapid spread of its religion throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Another impact would be the rise of the Islamic Empire of the Turks.
The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam.
During this time, the American civilizations began to emerge. The Mayas, Olmec, Toltecs, and numerous North American cultures spread, populated, and developed the Americas.
The Olmecs established the first American civilization in 1200 BC. By 300 BC, the Mayans built large cities, excelling at agriculture, pottery, hieroglyph writing, calendar-making and mathematics.
Over in Africa, vast networks of trade developed throughout the east coast; and kings and queens ruled their kingdoms in the heart of Africa. At this time, East Africa had developed an extensive trade route, and later in West Africa with the Mali Empire.
Finally, the Europeans started to find a solution to the invasions by creating a political, economic, and military system known as feudalism based on land ownership and mutual obligation. Men with money built castles and raised armies. Men without money worked for them and served in their armies. Eventually, everybody started fighting over land and Europe became carved into countries such as England, France, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and so on, each with a powerful King.
In Asia, a similar form of feudalism developed with the rise of Samurai Warriors under Fujiwara family lords.
Meanwhile, fierce Islamic warriors known as the Mongols (Genghis Khan) ruled the land. It was the ONLY time in history when China was ruled by non-Chinese.
Compare the size of the Roman empire to the Mongol empire. Wow!
Christianity flourished in Europe served by newly established churches, monasteries, nunneries, and eventually grand cathedrals. Spurred on to revenge invasions by Muslims, the Crusades were launched.
In America two great civilizations were at their height: the Incas in Peru and the fierce Aztecs of Mexico.
Tenochititlán The Capitol City of Aztecs - Pyramids
Back in Europe trouble started to brew. France and England fought the Hundred Year's War (which really lasted 116 years), in which Joan of Arc saved France and was then burned as a witch. Also the Great Plague hit and wiped out more than 1/3 of the population.
To Europeans in the mid-1300s, the end of the world seemed to have come. First, widespread crop failures brought famine and starvation. Then plague and war ravaged populations. Europe eventually recovered from these disasters.
Around the 1400s - a millennium after the fall of Rome - Italy began to gain power and strength again. As it did, people began to "rediscover" the works of the classic Greek and Roman cultures which is known as the Renaissance and is our very first topic.