This period is often what we think of when someone mentions "medieval culture." It is sometimes referred to as the "flowering" of medieval society, thanks to an intellectual renaissance in the 12th century, such notable philosophers as Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas, and the establishment of such Universities as those in Paris, Oxford, and Bologna.
There was an explosion of stone castle-building and the construction of some of the most magnificent cathedrals in Europe.
The Church, once so highly respected by the general populace, suffered reduced status when some of its priests refused to minister to the dying during the plague and sparked resentment when it enjoyed enormous profits in bequests from plague victims.
More and more towns and cities were wresting control of their own governments from the hands of the clergy or nobility that had previously ruled them.
The Early Medieval Era is sometimes still called the Dark Ages.
This epithet originated with those who wanted to compare the earlier period unfavorably with their own so-called "enlightened" age.
The comment has been made that all historical eras are arbitrary definitions and, therefore, how the Middle Ages is defined really has no significance.
I believe that the true historian will find something lacking in this approach.
And the reduction in population triggered economic and political changes that would never be reversed.
The nobility, the clergy, the peasantry, the guilds—all were group entities that saw to the welfare of their members but put the welfare of the community, and their own community in particular, first.