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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 5th century division of the Roman Empire (into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire) and the barbarian invasions until the 16th century schism of Christianity during the Protestant Reformation and the dispersal of Europeans worldwide in the start of the European overseas exploration. These various changes all mark the beginning of the Early Modern period that preceded the Industrial Revolution.

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