The ‘Introduction’ presents the period called the Middle Ages as the story of Europe between c.500–1500. Considering it as a single ‘age’ is misleading as it was a period of constant transformation. European lives were shaped through diverse human exchanges and interactions: conquest, conversion, imitation, legislation, and persuasion. There was the legacy of the Roman Empire with its city life, its Christian intellectual heritage, its trade, and its principles of election to public office. There was also the growing influence of the values and capacities of the Germanic, kin-based societies—the barbarians—and the spread of Islam in Mediterranean countries from the 7th century.