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The fall of the Roman Empire began the medieval period or middle ages which lasted some seven hundred years. The early middle ages is sometimes called the dark ages since the glories of the former Roman Empire virtually vanished. Learning and invention stagnated except in a few isolated monasteries. These were times of religious wars and barbarian invasion. The horse became largely a vehicle for battle or the hunt since the Roman roads, which had previously united Europe, fell into disrepair. Travel from one area to another was dangerous due to the hostile relations between kingdoms. For the most part, chariots fell from use and the wagon remained a farm vehicle. Despite a decline in the quality of technological innovation in many spheres of life, the Middle Ages saw the horse adapted to new roles in such diverse areas as warfare and agriculture.