This introductory chapter of volume II of the Cambridge World History of Violence, which focuses on the thousand years between 500 and 1500, or what is also known as the Middle Millennium, examines .institutions and forms of violence in the geographical area including Japan and China, Central Asia, North Africa, and Europe, with two additional chapters extending coverage into Aztec and Mayan culture. The topics of this introduction are set in four contexts in which violence occurred across this broad chronology and vast territory. They are: the formation of centralized polities through war and conquest; institution building and ideological expression by these same polities; control of extensive trade networks; and the emergence and dominance of religious ecumenes. Attention is also given to the idea of how theories of violence are relevant to the specific historical circumstances discussed in the volume’s chapters. A final section on the depiction of violence, both visual and literary, demonstrates the ubiquity of societal efforts to confront meanings of violence during this longue durée.