The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three 'ages': the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times.
The Middle Ages of Western Europe are commonly dated from the end of the Western Roman Empire (or alternatively, ca. the very early 5th century) until the rise of national monarchies, the start of European overseas exploration, the humanist revival, and the Protestant Reformation starting in 1517. These various changes all mark the beginning of the Early Modern period that preceded the Industrial Revolution.
The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention ends around 1500, or more generally after printing and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation began circa 1520 AD.
Early Middle Ages —From the fall of Rome in 486 AD. To avoid undue emphasis on exact years, the date is usually rounded off and the period stated as 500-1000. The Early Middle Ages includes the Migration period (also referred to as the "Dark Ages"), the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, the Merovingians, Anglo-Saxon England, the Frankish Empire and the Viking Age.
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries (1000–1300 CE) while recognizable nations were forming.
The Late Middle Ages—Generally date from the end of the Carolingian Empire in the west (Hugh Capet) and the assumption of the title: Holy Roman Emperor by Charles the Fat, in the east founding of the Holy Roman Empire.