The ages of history

Nov 2017
Geneva, Switzerland
The old age began with the inversion of writing, the Middle Ages began with the fall of Rome, the modern age with the fall of Constantinople and the contemporary age with the fall of the Bastille.

I wonder how these events are so important to usher in new ages?
What events besides these could be used?
And what event could mean the end of the present age?
May 2018
I suspect that the next 'age' might be the result of a major, man made, ecological event.
Mar 2016
It's basically impossible to separate the 'ages' with only one major event, because while that event might be significant, it generally isn't for everybody at the time. I prefer to take the approach of separating the ages/eras by events relevant to particular regions rather than an all-encompassing event, so for example for me the 'Medieval Era' begins in Western Europe in 476 with the fall/dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, and begins in the Middle East with the Arab conquests of the early-to-mid 7th century. The rise of the Arabs and Islam is a significantly more important development in the history of the Middle East than the fall of Western Rome, for instance.

I also believe the Medieval Era has even more possible ending dates/events than the beginning of it. It could be argued that it 'ended' for England and France with the conclusion of the Hundred Years War in 1453, and ended for Eastern Europe with the fall of Constantinople in the same year - although personally I feel that the failure of the Varna Crusade in 1444 is more important because it saw the last chance to halt Ottoman expansion in the Balkans for almost a century and also led to the death of King Wladyslaw, the most powerful monarch in Eastern Europe (whose death led to several important regime changes in the many lands he ruled). The Medieval Era can be said to have ended in Spain in 1492, with the multiple important events including the conquest of the final Muslim lands in Iberia, the expulsion of the Jews, and Columbus's voyage of discovery in 1492 (I would argue this is the single most important event of the era, vastly more significant than anything else and if I had to name a single year for the end of the era it would be this). The Medieval Era could be said to have ended for Italy in 1494, with the French invasion of the peninsula led by King Charles VIII, which some historians argue brought an end to the golden age of the Italian Renaissance and also begun the sixty-year-long Italian Wars, which would define French, Italian, Spanish and Imperial foreign policy until the mid-16th century. An argument could be made that the Medieval Era ended for Portugal in 1498, when a sea route to India was finally discovered by them (this was vastly more important for Portugal and its subsequent history than both the conquest of Granada and the discovery of the Americas in 1492). Finally, the Medieval Era can be considered to have ended in Germany in 1517 with the issuing of Martin Luther's 95 Theses and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (which effected Germany more significantly and earlier than anywhere else in Europe).

The Early Modern Era is quite complicated to label a beginning for, as explained above with the multiple possible end dates for the Medieval Era, and it's not much easier to designate an ending for either - popular and logical suggestions might include the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (although I would argue this is still too early, though arguably the most important and defining single event for the century), the Spring of Nations revolutions in 1848, the unification of Germany in 1871, the beginning of the Scramble for Africa in 1881, or the absolute latest date being the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. As I said, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 feels like the most definitive single event of the century, since its outcome had such long-lasting effects, but it feels a bit too early since I would hazard to call everything from 1816-onwards as being in the 'Modern Era'. On the other hand, ending the Early Modern Era with the onset of World War I feels way too late. I suppose a decent argument could be made that there could be a 'Mid-Modern' era, which might encompass everything from the mid-to-late 19th century to World War I, or possibly even later to the end of World War II. Either way, I feel like 1945 - the ending of World War II - is unarguably the best and most logical date for the beginning of the Modern Era. I don't feel like the designation of a new era since 1945 is warranted yet, since we need years of distance to look back on it and judge it more objectively and critically.

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
I think the 20th century should be called the Petrochemical Age. Pretty much all conflict and progress was because of oil - energy, transport, plastics, modern fertilizers, lubricants, detergents, cosmetics, etc. The global economy is founded on oil as well.
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Apr 2014
Liverpool, England
Multi-volume histories of England tend to divide at 1483 (Plantagenets replaced by Tudors - end of Middle Ages) and 1688 ('Glorious Revolution' - Stewarts replaced by William and Mary with (gradual) change to a more constitutional monarchy.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
The accepted chronology taught in schools here in the Balkans is:

- the Old Ages - from the appearance of writing to 476 AD

- the Middle Ages - from 476 AD to 1453/1492/1789 AD

- the New Ages - from 1453/1492/1789 AD to 1918 AD

- the Modern Era - from 1918 to today.

I myself consider the chronology above relatively okay, it is not perfect, but it gives some picture of periods in history.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
I've never seen this date used. I've seen 1450 (Invention of the Printing Press.) used instead.
Maybe not in Serbian schools, but here in Srpska it is used as one of the dates. However, 1492 is considered the main "end of the Middle Ages" date.