Chronology of the Late Antique and Early Medieval World
- ♣ 305 With the retirement of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, the Roman Empire falls again into civil war, which leads to the eventual triumph of Constantine the Great.♣ 313 The emperors Constantine and Licinius issue the Edict of Milan, which legalizes Christianity and establishes religious toleration in the Roman Empire.♣ 325 In the year following a victory over Licinius and reunification of the empire under one ruler, Constantine calls the Council of Nicaea to resolve the great dispute over the nature of Christ's relationship to God the Father. The council accepts the Athanasian definition and rejects the teachings of Arius. Although the former lays the foundation for later Christian belief, the latter continues to exercise great influence in the empire and on the barbarians who eventually settle in much of the Roman world.♣ 330 Constantine founds the new imperial capital of Constantinople on the straits of the Bosporus. The city will stand as the capital of the Roman Empire, and its successor the Byzantine Empire for more than 1,000 years before falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Constantine's city will be a Christian city and the political and religious heart of the empire.♣ 337 The great emperor Constantine converts to Christianity, accepting baptism, and dies shortly after on May 22, 337.♣ 341 Ulfilas is consecrated bishop. He will later translate the Bible into the Gothic language and spread an Arian form of Christianity among the Goths.♣ 370 First appearance of the Huns in southeastern Europe. Their arrival forces further movement of the peoples living along the empire's frontier, including movement into the empire.♣ 376 Emperor Valens welcomes a large number of Visigoths into the empire to settle a frontier area, which they will cultivate and help defend.♣ 378 After failing to settle the Visigoths, Emperor Valens leads a major Roman army against them and is defeated and killed at the Battle of Hadrianople. The Visigoths are then able to move freely about the empire until forced to settle by Theodosius the Great.♣ 380 Theodosius the Great issues a decree declaring Catholic Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.♣ 382 Death of Ulfilas, Gothic missionary, bishop, and translator of the Bible.♣ 391 Alaric I becomes king of the Visigoths.♣ 394 Defeat of Arbogast and the pretender Eugenius by Stilicho, the Roman military commander.♣ 395 Death of Emperor Theodosius the Great, the last ruler of a united Roman Empire. He has divided the realm between his two sons, Honorius and Arcadius. Death of the great Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.♣ 402 Stilicho wins major victories over the Visigothic leader Alaric at Pollentia and Verona.♣ 405/406 Major crossing of the Rhine by large numbers of Alans, Franks, Visigoths, and other Germanic peoples. The removal of Roman frontier troops to protect the imperial heartland more effectively has led to this serious breach of the frontier.♣ 406 Burgundians establish kingdom along the Rhine.♣ 408 Murder of Stilicho by Emperor Honorius. Despite questionable relations with the Gothic king Alaric, Stilicho has managed to keep the Goths at bay and preserve the well-being of Italy. After his death, Alaric and the Visigoths invade Italy.♣ 409 Vandals and other barbarian peoples settle in Spain.♣ 410 Sack of the city of Rome by Alaric and the Visigoths. The first major attack on the city in 800 years, the event profoundly shocks both pagan and Christian Romans across the Mediterranean. Pagan Romans blame the Christians for the event, and St. Jerome is so dismayed that he cannot speak. The sack of Rome, however, will contribute to the composition of one of the great works of Christian literature, Augustine's City of God, a response to pagan criticisms of Christianity. Roman armies make final withdrawal from Britain. Death of Alaric.♣ 414 Marriage of the Visigoth king Ataulf and the emperor's sister Galla Placidia, who was captured by the Goths during the sack of Rome.♣ 428 Gaiseric becomes king of the Vandals.♣ 429 Picts and Scots raid British territory. Vandals leave Spain and enter Africa.♣ 430 Death of St. Augustine of Hippo, the year before the city is to fall to the onslaught of the Vandals.♣ 432 St. Patrick begins the mission to Ireland, where he will remain until 461.♣ 433 Attila the Hun takes the throne.♣ 439 Vandals capture Carthage and strengthen their hold on North Africa.♣ 440 Huns begin raiding in the Balkans.♣ 449/450 Traditional date of first Saxon invasions of England at the invitation of the British leader Vortigern. The invasions will provide the context for the origins of the legend of King Arthur.♣ 451 Aëtius and an army of Roman and barbarian troops win the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains over Attila and the Huns. Council of Chalcedon is held to determine important matters of faith and ecclesiastical organization.♣ 452 Attila the Hun threatens Rome but is persuaded not to sack the city by Pope Leo I.♣ 453 Attila dies, and by 455 his great empire will collapse.♣ 454 Death of Aëtius.♣ 455 The city of Rome is sacked by Gaiseric and the Vandals. Defeat of the Huns at the Battle of Nedao and collapse of their empire.♣ 456 Ricimer, Roman military leader of Germanic descent, defeats Vandal fleet off the coast of Italy.♣ 459 The future Ostrogothic king of Italy, Theodoric, to be known as Theodoric the Great, arrives in Constantinople as a hostage and remains there for ten years.♣ 461 Ricimer becomes master of the Western Empire and remains so, ruling in the name of puppet emperors of his creation, until his death in 472.♣ 475 Traditional date of the issuance of one of the most influential barbarian law codes, the Codex Euricianus ("Code of Euric"), by the Visigothic king Euric, ruler of a large territory in France and northern Spain.♣ 476 Traditional date of the fall of the Roman Empire. Odovacar, Germanic leader serving in the Roman army, deposes the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustulus, and rules as king in Italy until his murder by the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great.♣ 481 Clovis becomes king the Franks and establishes the Merovingian dynasty, which will rule the Franks until 751.♣ 486/7 Victory of Clovis and the Franks over the Roman Syagrius, ruler of the kingdom of Soissons.♣ 488 Theodoric the Great, after long being a thorn in the side of the eastern emperor Zeno, invades Italy at the emperor's behest to deal with the Germanic king Odovacar.♣ 493 Murder of Odovacar by Theodoric, whose reign in Italy begins.♣ 496 Traditional date of Clovis's victory over the Alemanni. According to Gregory of Tours, Clovis swore that he would abandon the traditional gods and convert to Christianity if God would grant him victory.♣ 498 Traditional date of the baptism of Clovis as a Catholic Christian by Archbishop Remigius and subsequent conversion of the king's followers. Clovis is the first of the Germanic successor kings to accept Catholic Christianity.♣ 506 On February 2, the Visigothic king Alaric II issues the Breviarium Alaricianum (Breviary of Alaric) as a complement to the Codex Euricianius issued by his father Euric. The Breviary, also called Lex Romana Visigothorum (Roman Law of the Visigoths), covers the Romans living under Visigothic rule.♣ 507 Clovis defeats the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouillé, fought, according to Gregory of Tours, by the Catholic king Clovis to expel the Arian Visigoths from Gaul.♣ 511 Clovis provides for the succession, dividing the kingdom of the Franks among his four sons, and dies on November 27.♣ 516 Traditional date of the Battle of Badon Hill, in which King Arthur turns back the invading Anglo-Saxons.♣ 517 Codification and publication of the Lex Gundobada or Liber constitutionem, which probably appeared in some form already around the year 500, and the Lex Romana Burgundionum by the Burgundian king Sigismund.♣ 524 Boethius, the Roman writer and statesman who has served Theodoric the Great, is executed, having written his great work, The Consolation of Philosophy, while in prison, suspected of having conspired against Theodoric, during his last year of life.♣ 526 Death of Theodoric the Great, after which the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy enters a period of unrest caused by conflict concerning the succession and the course of royal policy. His daughter, Amalaswintha, becomes regent and focus of discontent.♣ 527 Justinian becomes Byzantine emperor and begins one of the most important reigns in Byzantine history. During his long reign, which will last until 565, he will rebuild Constantinople, reconquer much of the former Western Empire, and codify Roman law.♣ 529 St. Benedict of Nursia founds the great monastery at Monte Cassino.♣ 531 Franks destroy the kingdom of the Thuringians.♣ 532 Justinian, thanks to his empress Theodora, survives the Nika Revolt and begins construction of the great church, Hagia Sophia.♣ 533 Conquest of the North African kingdom of the Vandals by the great Byzantine general Belisarius, which will be completed in 534. Justinian's codification of Roman law, begun in 527, is completed.♣ 534 Franks, according to Gregory of Tours at the suggestion of Chlotild, destroy the Burgundian kingdom.♣ 535 Murder of Amalaswintha. Her death provides Justinian the pretext for invading Italy, and he begins what will later be known as the Gothic Wars in Italy.♣ 540 Belisarius captures Ravenna in the war against the Ostrogoths in Italy.♣ 548 Death of the empress Theodora.♣ 550 Death of St. Benedict of Nursia, the father of Western monasticism. Approximate time of the appearance of the writings of Gildas, an important writer on the conquest of England by the Anglo-Saxons.♣ 552 Byzantine armies under Narses win the Battle of Busta Gallorum, defeating the Gothic armies and essentially ending the power of the Ostrogoths in Italy, and even their independent existence.♣ 555 Last of the Ostrogoths in Italy surrender to the Byzantines.♣ 565 Death of the great Byzantine emperor, Justinian, who is succeeded by his nephew Justin II.♣ 567 Division of the Frankish kingdom into Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy.♣ 568 The Lombards begin the invasion of Italy; according to one tradition, they come at the invitation of the disgruntled Byzantine general, Narses. The Merovingian queen Radegund founds the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers.♣ 575 Murder of the Merovingian king of the Franks, Sigebert, by Chilperic I and Fredegund. Brunhilde assumes the regency and continues her rivalry with Fredegund.♣ 579 Hermenegild revolts against his father, Leovigild, the king of Visigothic Spain, and converts to Catholic Christianity. The revolt will fail, and Hermenegild will die shortly after it ends in 584.♣ 580 Lombards sack Benedict of Nursia's famed monastery of Monte Cassino.♣ 584 Assassination of King Chilperic I, possibly by his wife Fredegund.♣ 587 Reccared, king of Visigothic Spain, converts to Catholic Christianity and renounces his former adherence to Arian Christianity.♣ 590 Gregory I, called the Great, becomes pope; he will reign until 604.♣ 594 Death of Gregory of Tours, Frankish bishop and author of an important history of the Franks.♣ 589 Marriage of the Lombard king Authari with the Bavarian princess Theudelinde on May 15, which forms an important alliance against the Franks. Theudelinde will remain an important figure in the Lombard kingdom until her death in 628. A Catholic in an Arian kingdom, she will maintain good relations with Pope Gregory the Great.♣ 591 Death of King Authari. Theudelinde chooses Agilulf as her new husband and successor to Authari.♣ 595 Gregory the Great sends Augustine of Canterbury on a mission to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine will successfully introduce Christianity to England two years later.♣ 597 Death of the Merovingian queen Fredegund. Æthelberht, king of Kent, accepts baptism at the hands of Augustine, whom the king had granted land in Canterbury. According to tradition, thousands of the king's subjects accept baptism on Christmas day in this year.♣ 613 Brunhilde, queen of the Franks, is overthrown and brutally executed by Chlotar II, who will reign alone until 622, and with his son Dagobert until 629. He will then be succeeded by Dagobert, who will rule until 638. The two kings will represent the high point of Merovingian kingship after Clovis. At some point following the overthrow, Pippin of Landen and St. Arnulf of Metz will form a marriage alliance that lays the foundation for the later Carolingian dynasty.♣ 614 The Irish missionary St. Columban founds the celebrated monastery of Bobbio. Columban dies the following year.♣ 616 The Lombard king Agilulf dies, and his son, Adaloald, succeeds to the throne. Theudelinde, Adaloald's mother, acts as regent.♣ 629 Visigoths expel the last of the Byzantine armies from Spain.♣ 636 Death of the Spanish prelate and scholar Isidore of Seville, a man of great learning and the historian of the Visigoths.♣ 643 Edict of Rothari, an important Lombard legal code, is issued.♣ 652 Benedict Biscop, Anglo-Saxon churchman from the kingdom of Northumbria in northern England, makes his first trip to Rome, where he acquires many important religious manuscripts. The founder of monasteries at Jarrow and Wearmouth, Benedict exercises great influence on the religious and cultural life of northern England, and his trips to Rome will be important in the formation of Northumbrian culture and learning.♣ 656 Death of the Carolingian mayor of the palace, Grimoald, who attempted to usurp the throne but failed.♣ 657 Death of the Merovingian king Clovis II, who is suceeded by his young son Chlotar III. Balthild, Chlothar's mother, assumes the regency and provides wise rule for the kingdom.♣ 664 Synod of Whitby is held, presided over by Oswy, a powerful king in the north of England, and the Anglo-Saxon church accepts Roman Christianity over Irish Christianity. Chlotar III assumes his majority and ends the regency of his mother Balthild, who will die c. 680.♣ 674 Benedict Biscop founds the monastery at Wearmouth.♣ 681 Benedict Biscop founds the important and influential monastery at Jarrow.♣ 687 The mayor of the palace, Pippin of Herstal, wins the Battle of Tertry and establishes Carolingian hegemony in the Frankish kingdom.♣ 711 Muslims from North Africa invade and begin the conquest of the Visigothic kingdom of Spain, which will fall in 725.♣ 712 Liutprand becomes king of the Lombards and rules until his death in 744.♣ 714 Death of Pippin of Herstal. After some conflict over who will assume the Carolingian mantle, Charles Martel succeeds his father Pippin as mayor of the palace.♣ 717 Leo III, called the Isaurian, ascends the imperial throne in Constantinople and defends the city against an Arab assault that nearly succeeds.♣ 722 The Anglo-Saxon missionary, Boniface, begins his preaching in Germany. Early in his mission, he destroys the sacred oak of the thunder god Thor at Geismar.♣ 730 Leo III officially introduces the policy of iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire, a policy that will be condemned by Pope Gregory III in the following year.♣ 731 Anglo-Saxon scholar, theologian, and historian Bede, the most famous beneficiary of the revival of letters in Northumbria started by Benedict Biscop, completes his important and influential History of the English Church and People.♣ 732 Charles Martel defeats Muslim invaders from Spain at the Battle of Poitiers.♣ 735 The great Anglo-Saxon scholar and monk Bede dies.♣ 737 The Merovingian king, Thierry IV, dies, and no new Merovingian ruler is placed on the throne by Charles Martel, who will rule alone as mayor of the palace until his death in 741.♣ 739 Liutprand, king of the Lombards, lays siege to the city of Rome, and Pope Gregory III appeals to the Carolingian mayor of the palace, Charles Martel, for assistance. Charles is unable to assist because of an alliance with the Lombards that was necessary to protect the southwestern part of the Frankish realm from Muslim raids from Spain.♣ 741 Death of Charles Martel and ascension of Pippin III and Carloman to the office of mayor of the palace. They will rule without a Merovingian figurehead until 743, when they will be forced to raise Childeric III to the throne.♣ 747 The Carolingian mayor, Carloman, retires to the monastery of Monte Cassino, leaving his brother Pippin as the de facto ruler of the Frankish kingdom.♣ 749 Aistulf becomes king of the Lombards and takes up an aggressive policy against the papacy, which will lead to an alliance between the papacy and the Franks.♣ 750 Pippin III, called the Short, writes Pope Zachary asking whether the person with the title or the person with the real power should be king. The pope answers as Pippin hoped.♣ 751 Deposition of Childeric III, the last Merovingian king, by Pippin, who is crowned king of the Franks by the bishops of his realm and founds the Carolingian dynasty. The Lombards, under their king Aistulf, capture the imperial capital in Italy, Ravenna.♣ 753 Pippin welcomes Pope Stephen II to his court and begins negotiations with the pope, which possibly lead to the Donation of Pippin.♣ 754 Pope Stephen II crowns Pippin king of the Franks. Byzantine Emperor Constantine V holds the Council of Hiereia, which supports his iconoclastic policies. Martyrdom of the Anglo-Saxon missionary Boniface while evangelizing in Frisia on June 5. The Donation of Constantine, a forged document giving the papacy great power, appears around this time.♣ 755 Aistulf, king of the Lombards, lays siege to Rome. Pippin undertakes his first Italian campaign to protect the papacy against Lombard advances. Pippin holds an important reform council at Ver.♣ 756 Pippin's second Lombard campaign. Pippin deposits the so-called Donation of Pippin on the altar of St. Peter in Rome, helping to create the Papal States.♣ 757 Offa becomes king of Mercia and rules until 796. His reign will be remembered for the famed dyke he ordered built to protect his kingdom from the Welsh.♣ 763 Publication of the revised version of the Salic Law, a collection of the laws of the Franks first published under the great Merovingian king Clovis.♣ 768 Death of Pippin and succession to the throne of his sons Carloman and Charlemagne.♣ 771 Death of Carloman, whose reign was characterized by strife with his brother that nearly led to a disastrous civil war.♣ 772 Charlemagne's first campaign to punish Saxon raiders. Within the next few years, the campaign will turn into a full-scale effort to conquer and convert the Saxons that will last until 804. Hadrian becomes pope and will reign until 795.♣ 774 Pavia falls to Charlemagne, and the Lombard kingdom is incorporated into the growing Carolingian empire.♣ 778 Charlemagne invades Spain but returns to settle unrest in his own kingdom. While crossing back into his kingdom, his rear guard, led by Roland, is attacked and destroyed by the Basques. The incident will be the foundation for one of the great epics of the Middle Ages, the Song of Roland.♣ 782 Charlemagne orders the massacre of 4,500 Saxons at Verdun in retaliation for Saxon defeat of his armies and harassment of the church.♣ 785 Saxon revolt of Widukind, which is put down by Charlemagne, though only with the greatest difficulty. Widukind converts to Christianity, and Charlemagne issues the first Saxon capitulary, a law intended to impose Christianity on the Saxons.♣ 787 Irene and her son Emperor Constantine VI hold the Second Council of Nicaea, the seventh ecumenical council, to resolve the iconoclastic dispute that has raged throughout much of the century in the Byzantine Empire. Deposition of Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, by Charlemagne. The Royal Frankish Annals are first written in this year or in 788.♣ 789 Charlemagne issues the capitulary Admonitio Generalis, which lays the foundation for the religious and cultural revival known as the Carolingian Renaissance. Around the same time, certainly by 800, Charlemagne issues the Letter to Baugulf, which also encourages learning and the establishment of schools in his realm.♣ 793 First Viking raid on England.♣ 794 Charlemagne holds the Synod of Frankfurt to address the great questions facing the Frankish church, including the issues of Adoptionism and Iconoclasm.♣ 795 Pope Hadrian I dies and is succeeded by Pope Leo III.♣ 796 Charlemagne's armies destroy the Avar kingdom. King Offa of Mercia dies.♣ 797 Irene deposes and blinds her son Constantine VI and assumes the imperial throne. Charlemagne issues the second Saxon capitulary, a Carolingian law that encouraged conversion to Christianity.♣ 799 Pope Leo III is attacked while on procession in Rome and is rescued by Charlemagne's representatives in Rome. Leo goes to Charlemagne's court to explain the situation.♣ 800 Charlemagne visits Rome to resolve the dispute involving Pope Leo III and presides over a council at which the pope swears his innocence. On December 25, Leo crowns Charlemagne emperor of the Romans during Christmas mass. First Viking raids on the continent of Europe.♣ 802 Empress Irene is overthrown by Nikephoros I. Charlemagne issues important reform capitulary and uses his official imperial title.♣ 804 Death of the Anglo-Saxon Alcuin of York, one of Charlemagne's most important advisors and court scholars.♣ 806 Charlemagne introduces succession plan that divides the realm among his sons but does not pass on the imperial title.♣ 811 Charlemagne completes creation of the Spanish March, a militarized border region including territory on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.♣ 813 Coronation of Louis the Pious as emperor by Charlemagne at a great assembly in Aix-la-Chapelle (modern Aachen, Germany).♣ 814 Death of Charlemagne on January 28 and succession to the throne of his son Louis the Pious.♣ 816 Louis the Pious crowned emperor by Pope Stephen IV. Agobard, a Carolingian scholar and ecclesiastic from Spain, made archbishop of Lyons.♣ 817 Louis the Pious nearly killed in an accident while crossing a bridge. Louis holds a great council and issues his Ordinatio Imperii, which provides for the succession to the imperial title by Louis's oldest son, Lothar, and settlement of the other two, Louis the German and Pippin, as kings under the emperor's authority. Louis also issues the Pactum Ludovicianum, prepared the previous year, codifying Carolingian relations with the papacy. He promulgates important religious reforms, with the advice of the Visigothic monk and reformer Benedict of Aniane. Revolt of Louis's nephew, Bernard, king of Italy.♣ 823 Birth of Charles the Bald to Louis and his second wife, Judith.♣ 824 Lothar issues the Constitutio Romana, which further defines Carolingian relations with Rome♣ 827 Louis the Pious alters his succession plan to include his son Charles the Bald, to the dismay of his older sons.♣ 830 Revolt of Lothar, Louis the German, and Pippin against their father Louis the Pious. Einhard writes Life of Charlemagne, though some historians think it appeared as early as 817. Nennius writes the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons), though it may have appeared as early as 800.♣ 833 Meeting at the "Field of Lies," between Louis the Pious and his sons at which Louis's troops dessert, and beginning of second revolt against Louis the Pious, who is deposed and imprisoned.♣ 834 Restoration of Louis the Pious and disgrace of Lothar, the leader of the revolt.♣ 840 Death of Louis the Pious, succession of Charles the Bald, Lothar, and Louis the German, and beginning of civil war between the three sons of Louis.♣ 841 Battle of Fontenoy on June 25 between Lothar and his brothers Louis the German and Charles the Bald.♣ 842 Louis the German, Charles the Bald, and their followers subscribe to the Oath of Strasbourg, which makes the two leaders allies and which contains the first written examples of early Romance languages and of early Germanic languages.♣ 843 Restoration of the practice of the veneration of icons in the Byzantine Empire. The Carolingian rulers, Charles the Bald, Lothar, and Louis the German, agree to the Treaty of Verdun, which divides the empire equally between them.♣ 845 Vikings attack Paris.♣ 848 Gottschalk of Orbais called before a council at Mainz to defend his views on predestination, starting a controversy that will involve Hincmar of Rheims, John the Scot Eriugena, and other leading Carolingian ecclesiastics.♣ 853 Alfred the Great of England makes his first pilgrimage to Rome.♣ 855 Alfred the Great makes his second pilgrimage to Rome and on the return marries Judith, the daughter of Charles the Bald. Emperor Lothar dies and his realm is divided between his two sons.♣ 871 Alfred the Great ascends the throne in the kingdom of Wessex.♣ 875 Death of Emperor Louis II on August 12; imperial coronation of Charles the Bald on December 25.♣ 876 Death of Louis the German on August 28.♣ 877 Death of Charles the Bald on October 6.♣ 878 Danes force Alfred the Great from the kingdom of Wessex to the island of Athelney. Alfred marshals his forces and is able to win a major victory over the Danes at the Battle of Eddington. The Danes withdraw from England.♣ 882 Death of Hincmar of Rheims on December 21.♣ 884 Charles the Fat reunites the Carolingian empire under one ruler.♣ 885 Alfred the Great takes London from the Danes.♣ 888 Death of Charles the Fat, the last Carolingian to rule a united empire, who was deposed from the throne in 887.♣ 890 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle first appears in or around this year.♣ 892 Danes invade England again.♣ 896 Alfred finally expels the Danes after four years of fighting.♣ 899 Death of Alfred the Great on October 26.♣ 909 Death of Asser, biographer of Alfred the Great.♣ 911 Charles the Simple grants Normandy to the Viking Rollo. Death of Louis the Child, the last Carolingian to rule in the East Frankish kingdom.♣ 987 Carolingian dynasty replaced by the Capetian dynasty in France.♣ 1000 The sole surviving manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is written.
Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.
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