The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guérard, is the produce of Pagan civilisation, of Germanic barbarism, and of Christianity. It began in 476, on the fall of Agustulus, and ended in 1453, at the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II., and consequently the fall of two empires, that of the West and that of the East, marks its duration. Its first act, which was due to the Germans, was the destruction of political unity, and this was destined to be afterwards replaced by religions unity. Then we find a multitude of scattered and disorderly influences growing on the ruins of central power. The yoke of imperial dominion was broken by the barbarians; but the populace, far from acquiring liberty, fell to the lowest degrees of servitude. Instead of one despot, it found thousands of tyrants, and it was but slowly and with much trouble that it succeeded in freeing itself from feudalism. Nothing could be more strangely troubled than the West at the time of the dissolution of the Empire of the Caesars; nothing more diverse or more discordant than the interests, the institutions, and the state of society, which were delivered to the Germans
Costume of the Franks in the Eighth Century
The Germans had brought with them over the Rhine none of the heroic virtues attributed to them by Tacitus when he wrote their history, with the evident intention of making a satire on his countrymen. Amongst the degenerate Romans whom those ferocious Germans had subjugated, civilisation was reconstituted on the ruins of vices common in the early history of a new society by the adoption of a series of loose and dissolute habits, both by the conquerors and the conquered.