I possess a fascination for history, often that being of the middle ages. However there exists a difficultly in defining when the hell it actually began and when it actually ended.
Whilst it happened slowly over a period of time, you can apply some dates where life before was completely different to what it was like after. For example a battle can define whenever an empire ends or not.
I will provide some dates with an explanation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_middle_ages and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Antiquity
There are several dates for when it began.
305 with the death of Diocletian, who reformed the Roman Empire in such a way it was never the same as before.
378 with the battle of Adrianople and death of Valens. The battle also showing the superiority of cavalry to infantry and contemporaries marking it as the end of the empire.
395 with the death of Theodosius, who was the last emperor to rule the empire in its entirety and made Christianity popular.
410 with the withdrawal of Roman troops from its borders towards Rome, which was also sacked for the first time in 800 years.
476 with the removal of Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the western Latin empire.
565 with the death of Justinian 1st, who was the last to speak Latin as a first language, tried to rebuild the empire, and after his death the empire entered slow decline.
632 with the death of Mohammed, who introduced Islam and around this time the Roman way of life had almost vanished.
Also some dates for when it ended and begin the slow transition from feudalism to capitalism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Middle_Ages and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance
1299 with the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, which would eventually have a major part to play in Europe for the next 5 centuries.
1315-17 with the great famine of Europe, reducing the population of Europe by a tenth and setting in motion the social and economic turmoil of the century as the faithful lost faith in the church, the end to the population growth in the preceding centuries, the start to increased social violence with more violent wars, massive revolts and the such.
1337 with the start of the hundred years war. (Lasting 116 years)
1347 with the black death, causing so much death that the social and economic changes it brought about changed medieval views of religion and allowed labourers to apply a monetary value to their labour, starting off capitalism.
1378 with the schism of the church, causing it to weaken and massive heretical uprisings to occur.
1381 with the translation of the bible into English and the peasants revolt in England, both showing and later causing lasting social effect.
1415 with Agincourt marking the inferiority of cavalry to infantry, early use of gunpowder and the capture of Cueta in Africa by Portugal.
1453, with the introduction of the printing press, end of the hundred years war, capture of Constantinople and Henry 6ths losing his mental state. All with lasting consequences.
1492 with the conquest of Granada and opening up of the new world to Europe.
1517 with the 95 these of Luther and the decline of the churches influence in Europe along with the first official diplomatic envoy from Europe to China.
I personally think that the Middle ages began with Theodosius dying in 395, as it marked the east and west splitting and the widespread adoption of Christianity, with the power of the emperors in the west practically vanishing after this time to exist as puppets put in place by barbarians or generals until they got tired and just got rid of the title altogether.
I think that they ended in 1347, as after this the social and economic makeup of Europe was vastly different from before. The wane of fuedalism and introduction of capitalism being one and also the pessimism after, as the confused people of Europe became disillusioned with Christianity and began to question how god could let such a calamity befall them, along with becoming more interested with money over land gradually over time.
I ask if you can provide your viewpoints on what dates you think they began/ended, and if possible provide ones other than the dates I provided.
Perhaps the most amusing quote I remember about it ending was when a English lord in the early 15 century complained that "Nobody looks at books anymore, instead they read them.", by which he referred to how people did not appreciate the artwork in the book and merely read it to extract information or find out a story.