What does the term "Middle Ages" mean?

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The Middle Ages did indeed extend from around 500 to 1500. The reason they are called the "Middle" Ages is because they are in the middle, in between the Roman Empire, which eventually fell around 500 AD, and the Renaissance, which occurred sometime around 1500 AD. Starting with the Renaissance, the kind of social order, commercial activity, and intellectual ferment that had characterized the Roman Empire, reappeared in the West. So the Middle Ages are called that because they are in between two periods of more or less advanced social organization and intellectual progress. You probably know that a large part of the Middle Ages (how much is in dispute) is called the "Dark Ages" because it was so dark and dreary without that social and intellectual order and progress and the darkness did not end until the Renaissance. (The reason it is in dispute is because many historians now claim that there was plenty of social organization, intellectual ferment, and progress in the Dark Ages--but ... more
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