5th century

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The 5th century is the time period from AD 401 (represented by the Roman numerals CDI) through AD 500 (D) in accordance with 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. This empire had been ruled by a succession of weak emperors, with the real political might being increasingly concentrated among military leaders. Internal instability allowed a Visigoth army to reach and ransack Rome in 410. Some recovery took place during the following decades, but the Western Empire received another serious blow when a second foreign group, the Vandals, occupied Carthage, capital of an extremely important province in 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 of the Sixteen Kingdoms continued. This was characterized by the formation and collapse of small sub-kingdoms, ruled by warring ethnic groups. After the fall of the Former Qin towards the end of the previous century, the north of China was once again reunited by Northern Wei in 439. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Jin dynasty, the Jin statesman and general Liu Yu consolidated his power and forced the last Emperor of the Jin dynasty, Emperor Gong of Jin, to abdicate to him in 420. This created 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. These peoples may have been related to the Huns who devastated Rome during the same period.


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

Inventions, discoveries, introductions[edit]


  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". 31 May 2012.