5th century

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Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 5th century AD.

The 5th century is the time period from 400 to 500 Anno Domini (AD) or Common Era (CE) in the Julian calendar. The 5th century is noted for being a period of migration and political instability, throughout Eurasia.

It saw the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, which came to an end in 476 AD. The Western Roman Empire was ruled by a succession of weak emperors, and true power began to fall increasingly into the hands of powerful generals. Internal instability and the pressing military problem of foreign invaders resulted in the ransacking of Rome by a Visigoth army in 410. Some recovery took place during the following decades, but the Western Empire received another serious blow when a second barbarian group, the Vandals, occupied Carthage, capital of the extremely important province of Africa. Attempts to retake the province were interrupted by the invasion of the Huns under Attila. After Attila's defeat, both Eastern and Western empires joined forces for a final assault on Vandal North Africa, but this campaign was a spectacular failure.

In China, the period known as the Sixteen Kingdoms, where various barbarian tribes formed their own kingdoms, persisted. After the fall of the Former Qin towards the end of the previous century, the north of China was eventually once again reunited by Northern Wei in 439. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Jin dynasty, the Jin statesman and general Liu Yu started consolidating his power and eventually forced the last Emperor of the Jin dynasty, Emperor Gong of Jin, to abdicate to him in 420, creating the (Liu) Song dynasty, which was also the starting point of the period known as the Northern and Southern dynasties.

Towards the end of the 5th century, the Gupta Empire of India was invaded from Central Asia and occupied by elements of the Huna peoples – who may have been related to the Huns who had attacked the Romans (see above).


Romulus Augustus, Last Western Roman Emperor

Significant people

Inventions, discoveries, introductions


  1. ^ A History of the English Language (D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935)
  2. ^ Taylor (2003), p. 19.
  3. ^ Roberts, J: "History of the World.". Penguin, 1994.
  4. ^ "Kyiv's 1,530th birthday marked with fun, protest".
  5. ^ "Kalidasa - Indian author". britannica.com.
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