The medieval period encompasses the fifth to 14th or 15th centuries. Historians date this period from the collapse of the Roman Empire until the dawn of the Renaissance.
"Middle Ages" is an alternate term for medieval times. While it is often used interchangeably with the medieval period, the Middle Ages is also considered to include only the latter part of that era. The period immediately following the Roman decline and fall is then referred to as the Dark Ages. Feudalism, Gothic art, the rise of the Catholic church and the Crusades characterize the medieval period. The terrible plague called the Black Death occurred at the end of this period.