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The changes that occurred in Western Europe from the Fall of the Roman Empire until 1000 AD transpired in a series of events involving the actions and movements of many peoples across the continent This period of history following the Fall and preceding the High Middle Ages was a chaotic time in which an aversion to central power became the norm warfare ran rampant and yet the foundations for Western civilization were formed Following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the late fifth century the Mediterranean Sea was still a center of trade and travel Rome was still considered a prestigious piece of real estate to own as it had been the seat of power for several centuries in Western Europe Constantinoples influence and geographic location helped it to remain a huge center of trade for Europe and Asia and that would continue for centuries to come McEvedy p25 40 Consequently this created a surplus in the treasury sufficient for Justinian to attempt a reconquering of the West in the early to mid-sixth century However in later centuries Western Europe became more land based and the center moved north of the Mediterranean coast As the Roman Empire had been agrarian based so was the lifestyle for the myriad of cultures and peoples that had migrated to the West The land there was well suited for it as Northwestern Europes dependable year-round rainfall and the fertile soils of its numerous river valleys encourage agricultural productivity Hollister p56-57 The new kingdoms that formed placed their interests in these fertile valleys of the West and not so much in the Mediterranean At its height in the second century AD the Roman Empire contained around 45 million people By its Fall the number had been reduced to around 22 million and population did not really begin to rise again until the mid-eleventh century Hollister p146 The shrinking of the cities that began in the late fifth century
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