Timeline of Events
Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Art, Literature and Music
Daily Life
Key Personalities

Timeline of Events

  • 500-549 - The Eastern and western churches are reconciled (519). Justinian I, the Great (483-565), becomes the Byzantine emperor (527), issues his first code of civil laws (529), and conquers North Africa, Italy, and part of Spain. The Plague spreads through Europe (542 et seq.). Arthur, the legendary king of the Britons is killed in 537. Boëthius, Roman scholar, is executed in 524.

  • 550-599 - The European silk industry begins after Justinian's missionaries smuggle silkworms out of China (553). Mohammed (570-632) founds the Islam religion. Buddhism spreads to Japan (c. 560). St. Augustine of Canterbury brings Christianity to Britain (597). After killing about half the population, the plague in Europe subsides (594).

  • 600-649 - Mohammed flees from Mecca to Medina (the Hegira), and the first year of the Muslim calendar is recorded (622). The Arabs conquer Jerusalem (637) and the Persians (641).

  • 650-699 - Arabs attack North Africa (670) and destroy Carthage (697). Important figures include Venerable Bede, English monk (672-735).

  • 700-749 - The Arab empire extends from Lisbon to China (by 716). Charles Martel, Frankish leader, defeats the Arabs at Tours/Poitiers, halting the Arab advance in Europe (732).

  • 750-799 - Charlemagne (742-814) becomes king of the Franks (771), and organizes a centralized system of governors throughout his kingdom, as well as conquers France down to the Pyrenees mountains, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Belgium. Caliph Harun al-Rashid rules the Arab empire (786-809), ushering in the “golden age” of Arab culture. The Vikings begin attacks on Britain (790) and Ireland (795). The city of Machu Picchu flourishes in Peru.

  • 800-849 - Charlemagne is crowned first Holy Roman Emperor in Rome (800). Charlemagne dies (814), and is succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious, who divides France among his sons (817). The Arabs conquer Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia (826-827).

  • 850-899 - Norsemen attack as far south as the Mediterranean but are thwarted (859) and discover Iceland (861). Alfred the Great becomes king of Britain (871) and defeats Danish invaders (878). The Russian nation is founded by Vikings under Prince Rurik, and its capital is established at Novgorod (855-879).

  • 900-949 - The Mayan Post-Classical period (900-1519) begins. The Vikings discover Greenland (c. 900). Arab Spain under Abd ar-Rahman III becomes a center of learning (912-961). Otto I becomes King of Germany (936).

  • 950-999 - Mieczyslaw I becomes the first ruler of Poland (960). Eric the Red establishes the first Viking colony in Greenland (982). Hugh Capet is elected King of France in 987, and the Capetian dynasty rules until 1328. Musical notation is systematized (c. 990). The Vikings and Danes attack Britain (988-999). Otto I is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John XII (962).

  • 1000-1049 - The Classic Pueblo period of Anasazi culture (1000-1300) begins. Hungary and Scandinavia are converted to Christianity (c. 1000). Viking raider Leif Eriksson discovers North America, calls it Vinland. Beowulf, an Old English epic, is written. Muslims destroy the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (1009). The Danes control England (1013). Canute takes the throne (1016), conquers Norway (1028), dies (1035). The kingdom is divided among his sons: Harold Harefoot (England), Sweyn (Norway), and Hardecanute (Denmark). In 1040, Macbeth murders Duncan, king of Scotland.

  • 1049-1099 - Robert Guiscard, Norman invader, establishes kingdom in Italy (1053) and conquers Sicily (1072). The final separation between Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman) churches occurs (1054). Seljuk Turks, Asian nomads, move west, capture Baghdad, Armenia (1064), Syria, and Palestine (1075). In 1066, William of Normandy invades England, defeats the last Saxon king, Harold II, at the Battle of Hastings, and is crowned William I of England (“the Conqueror”). Construction on the cathedral in Pisa, Italy, begins (1068). Gregory VII is elected (1073), ushering in a strong papacy. In 1095, at Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II calls for a holy war to wrest control of Jerusalem from Muslims, which launches the First Crusade (1096), one of at least 8 European military campaigns between 1095 and 1291 to regain the Holy Land.

  • 1100-1149 - Construction of the cathedral at Chartres begins (c. 1100). The Second Crusade begins (1144).

  • 1149-1199 - Angkor Wat is completed (1150). Universities of Paris and Oxford founded in France and England (1150-1167). Thomas a Becket is named Archbishop of Canterbury (1162), and is murdered by Henry II's men (1170). Troubadours (wandering minstrels) glorify romantic concepts of feudalism. Ibn-Rushd begins translating Aristotle's works (1169). Richard I (“the Lionhearted”) succeeds Henry II in England (1189), and is killed in France (1199), succeeded by King John. Third Crusade begins (1189).

  • 1200-1249 - The Fourth Crusade occurs (1200-1204). Genghis Khan invades China (1211), captures Peking (1214), conquers Persia (1218), invades Russia (1223), and dies (1227). King John forced by barons to sign Magna Carta at Runneymede, limiting royal power (1215). The Fifth Crusade (1217) and Sixth Crusade (1228) occur. The Inquisition begins as Pope Gregory IX assigns Dominicans responsibility for combating heresy (1231). In 1241, Mongols defeat Germans in Silesia, invade Poland and Hungary, withdraw from Europe after Ughetai, Mongol leader, dies. The Seventh Crusade occurs (1248).

  • 1249-1299 - Kublai Khan governs China, becomes ruler of Mongols (1259), establishes the Yuan dynasty in China (1280), invades Burma (1287), and dies (1294). The Chartres cathedral is consecrated (1260). The Eighth Crusade occurs (1270). Marco Polo of Venice travels to China (1271), in the court of Kublai Khan (1275-1292), returns to Genoa (1295) and writes Travels. Thomas Aquinas stops work on his Summa Theologica, the basis of all Catholic theological teaching (1273), and never completes it. English King Edward I summons the Model Parliament (1295).

  • 1300-1349 - The Mali Empire (1312-1337) reaches its height in Africa under King Mansa Musa. The Renaissance in Italy begins (c. 1325). The Aztecs establish Tenochtitlán on the site of modern Mexico City. Muslim culture reaches its peak in Spain. The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) begins, and English and French kings fight for control of France. The "Black Death" (bubonic plague) (1347-1351) begins, killing at least 25 million people in Europe.

  • 1349-1399 - The Ming Dynasty begins in China (1368). John Wycliffe, pre-Reformation religious reformer, and his followers translate the Latin Bible into English (1376-1382). The Great Schism (1378-1417) begins, and rival popes in Rome and Avignon, France, fight for control of the Roman Catholic Church. Chaucer writes the Canterbury Tales (c. 1387). Tamerlane, the Mongol conqueror, begins last great conquest—Delhi (1398).

  • 1400-1450 - Henry V defeats French at Agincourt (1415). Jan Hus, Bohemian preacher and follower of Wycliffe, is burned at the stake in Constance as a heretic. From 1418 through 1460, Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator sponsors the exploration of Africa's coast. Joan of Arc leads French against English (1428), is captured by Burgundians (1430) and turned over to the English and burned at the stake as a witch after an ecclesiastical trial (1431). The Incas rule in Peru (1438). Florence becomes center of Renaissance arts and learning under the Medicis (1450).