This course offers an overview of the most important political, institutional, social-economic, cultural and environmental evolutions from c. 500 until c. 1500. Particular attention is paid to structures and institutions determining the everyday life of ordinary people. Geographically the main emphasis is on Western Europe, although comparisons with the rest of the world are made, in particular with the Southern Mediterranean Area (the Byzantine and Muslimworld). Whether the Western European political, economic and cultural hegemony of the Early Modern and Modern Periods found its roots in the medieval period is a crucial question in this course. The course has a thematical focus: during each class, one broad thematic issue is addressed, including a brief overview of the problems, chronology, relevance and state-of-the art in research. Each theme is illustrated by easily comprehendible case-studies, discussing the relevance and research potential of the theme.