- Timeline of the Middle Ages
Note: All dates are Common Era.
Early Middle Ages
Year Date Event Significance 507 The Franks under Clovis defeat the Visigoths in the Battle of Vouillé, forcing them to retreat into Spain. 515 Battle of Mons Badonicus. The West Saxon advance is halted by Britons. 527 August 1 Justinian I becomes Eastern Roman Emperor. Justinian is best remembered for his Code of Civil Law (529), and expansion of imperial territory retaking Rome from the Ostrogoths. 529—534 Justinian I publishes the Code of Civil Law. This compiled centuries of legal writings and imperial pronouncements into three parts of one body of law. 529 Benedict of Nursia founds monastery at Monte Cassino. The first of twelve monasteries founded by Saint Benedict, beginning the Order of Saint Benedict. 534 Byzantines, under Belisarius, retake North Africa from the Vandals. 552 The Byzantine conquest of Italy completes. 563 Saint Columba founds mission in Iona. 568 The Kingdom of the Lombards is founded in Italy. 570 Muhammed is born. Professed receiving revelations from God, which were recorded in the Qur'an, the basis of Islamic theology, in which he is regarded as the most important prophet. 577 The West Saxons continue their advance at the Battle of Deorham. 581—618 Sui Dynasty in China. 590 Gregory the Great becomes Pope. 597 Augustine arrives in Kent. 598—668 Massive Chinese (Sui and Tang) invasions against Korean Goguryeo.
Year Date Event 605 Grand Canal of China constructed. 602—629 Last great Roman-Persian War Long conflict leaves both empires exhausted and unable to cope with the newly united Arab armies under Islam in the 630s 618—907 Tang Dynasty in China. The essential administrative system of this dynasty lasts for 286 years. 622 Muhammad Migrates from Mecca to Medina. 626 Joint Persian-Avar-Slav Siege of Constantinople Constantinople saved, Avar power broken and Persians henceforth on the defensive 627 Battle of Nineveh. The Byzantines, under Heraclius, crush the Persians. 631 Death of Muhammed. By this point, all of Arabia is Muslim. 632 Accession of Abu Bakr as first Caliph. 633—634 Battle of Heavenfield. Northumbrian army under Oswald defeat Welsh army. 638 Jerusalem captured by Muslims. 641 Battle of Nehawand. Muslims conquer Persia. 643 Muslims take Alexandria. 645 In Japan, the Soga clan falls. This initiates a period of imitation of Chinese culture. 650 Slav occupation of Balkans complete. 663 Synod of Whitby. Roman Christianity triumphs over Celtic Christianity in England. 668 Ends of the Three Kingdoms period in Korea. 674-678 First Arab siege of Constantinople. First time Islamic armies stopped, saving Europe from Islamic conquest. 681 Establishment of the Bulgarian Empire. A country with great influence in the European history in the Middle Ages. 685 Battle of Dun Nechtain. Picts defeat Northumbrians, whose dominance ends. 687 Battle of Tertry 698 Muslims take Carthage. 698 North South States Period begins in Korea.
Year Date Event Significance 711 Muslims under Tarik invade Spain. 718 Second Muslim attack on Constantinople, ending in failure. The combined Byzantine–Bulgarian forces stop the Arab threat in Eastern Europe. 726 Iconoclast movement begun in the Byzantine Empire under Leo III. This was opposed by Pope Gregory II, and an important difference between the Roman and Byzantine churches. 732 Battle of Tours. Charles Martel halts Muslim advance. 735 Death of Bede. Bede was later regarded as "the father of history" 750 Beginning of Abbasid Caliphate. 751 Pepin founds the Carolingian dynasty. 754 Pepin promises the Pope central Italy. This is arguably the beginning of the temporal power of the Papacy. 768 Beginning of Charlemagne's reign. 778 Battle of Roncevaux Pass. 786 Accession of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad. 793 Sack of Lindisfarne. Viking attacks on Britain begin. 795 Death of Offa. Marks the end of Mercian dominance in England.
Year Date Event Significance 800 Charlemagne is crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III. 814 Death of Charlemagne. 825 Battle of Ellandun. Egbert defeats Mercians. Wessex becomes the leading kingdom of England. 827 Muslims invade Sicily. 840 Muslims capture Bari and much of southern Italy. 843 Division of Charlemagne's Empire between his grandsons with the Treaty of Verdun. Sets the stage for the founding of the Holy Roman Empire and France as separate states. 840 Kenneth McAlpin becomes king of the Picts and Scots, creating the Kingdom of Alba. 862 Viking state in Russia founded under Rurik, first at Novgorod, then Kiev. 864 Christianization of Bulgaria. 866 Fujiwara period in Japan. 866 Viking "Great Army" in England. Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia were overwhelmed. 868 Earliest known printed book in China with a date. 871 Alfred the Great assumes the throne, the first king of a united England. He defended England from Viking invaders, formed new laws and fostered a rebirth of religious and scholarly activities. 872 Harold Fairhair becomes King of Norway. 874 Iceland is settled by Norsemen. 885 Arrival of the disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Bulgaria Creation of the Cyrillic alphabet; in the following decades the country became the cultural and spiritual centre of the whole Eastern Orthodox Slavic World. 885—886 Vikings attack Paris. 893 Simeon I becomes ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire in the Balkans. 896 Arpad and the Magyars are present in Pannonia. 897 Death of Alfred the Great.
Year Date Event Significance 910 Edward the Elder, son of Alfred, defeats the Northumbrian Vikings at the Battle of Tettenhall; they never raid south of the River Humber again. 910 Cluny Abbey is founded by William I, Count of Auvergne. Cluny goes on to become the acknowledged leader of Western Monasticism. Cluniac Reforms initiated with the abbey's founding. 911 The Viking Rollo and his tribe settle in what is now Normandy by the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, founding the Duchy of Normandy. 917 Battle of Anchialus. Simeon I the Great defeats the Byzantines. Recognition of the Imperial Title of the Bulgarian rulers. 919 Henry the Fowler, Duke of Saxony elected German King. First king of the Ottonian Dynasty. Henry I considered the founder and first king of the medieval German state. 925 The first King of Croatia (rex Croatorum), Tomislav (910–928) of the Trpimirović dynasty was crowned. Tomislav united Croats of Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single Kingdom, and created a sizeable state. 927 According to Theophanes Continuatus (The Continuer of Theophanes's Chronicle) - Tomislav of Croatia defeated Bulgarian army of Tsar Simeon I under Duke Alogobotur, in battle of the Bosnian Highlands. Bulgarian expansion to the west was stopped. 927 Death of Simeon I the Great. Recognition of the Bulgarian Patriarchate, the first independent National Church in Europe. 929 Abd-ar-Rahman III of the Ummayad dynasty in al-Andalus (part of the Iberian peninsula) takes the title of Caliph or ruler of the Islamic world. Beginning of the Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031). 936 Wang Geon unified Later Three Kingdoms of Korea. 955 Battle of Lechfeld. Otto the Great, son of Henry the Fowler, defeats the Magyars. This is the defining event that prevents the Hungarians from entering Central Europe. c.960 Mieszko I becomes duke of Polans. First historical ruler of Poland and de facto founder of the Polish State. 962 Otto the Great crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. 963-964 Otto deposes Pope John XII who is replaced with Pope Leo VIII. Citizens of Rome promise not to elect another Pope without Imperial approval. 965-967 Mieszko I of Poland and his court embrace Christianity, which becomes national religion. 969 John I Tzimiskes murders Nikephoros II and is crowned Byzantine co-emperor in his place. 976 Death of John I Tzimiskes; Basil II (his co-emperor) takes sole power. Under Basil II zenith of the power of Eastern Empire after Justinian. 978 Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir becomes de facto ruler of Muslim Al-Andalus. Peak of power of Moorish Iberia under "Almanzor". 981 Basil II (called "Bulgar Slayer") begins final conquest of Bulgaria by Eastern Empire. Conquest finished by 1018. 985 Eric the Red, exiled from Iceland, begins Scandinavian colonization of Greenland. 987 Succession of Hugh Capet to the French Throne. Beginning of Capetian Dynasty.
High Middle Ages
Year Date Event Significance 1018 The Byzantines under Basil II conquer Bulgaria after a bitter 50-years struggle. 1049 Pope Leo IX ascends to the papal throne. 1050 The astrolabe, an ancient tool of navigation, is first used in Europe. 1054 The East-West Schism which divided the church into Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. 1066 William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invades England and becomes King after the Battle of Hastings. End of Anglosaxon rule in England and start of Norman lineage 1067 Pope Gregory VII elevated to the papal throne. This begins a period of church reform. 1071 The Seljuks under Alp Arslan defeat the Byzantine army at Manzikert. The Normans capture Bari, the last Byzantine possession in southern Italy. Beginning of the end of Byzantine rule in Asia Minor. 1075 Dictatus Papae in which Pope Gregory VII defines the powers of the pope. 1077 Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV walks to Canossa where he stands barefoot in the snow to beg forgiveness of the Pope for his offences, and admitting defeat in the Investiture Controversy. This helps establish Papal rule over European heads of state for another 450 years. 1077 The Construction of the Tower of London begins. The tower of London was the ultimate keep of the British Empire. 1086 The compilation of the Domesday Book, a great land and property survey commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess his new possessions. This is the first such undertaking since Roman times. 1098 The Cistercian Order is founded. 1099 First Crusade. Jerusalem is re-taken from the Muslims on the urging of Pope Urban II.
Year Date Event Significance 1102 Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Hungary formed a personal union of two kingdoms united under the Hungarian king. The act of union was deal with Pacta conventa, by which institutions of separate Croatian statehood were maintained through the Sabor (an assembly of Croatian nobles) and the ban (viceroy). In addition, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles. Medieval Hungary and Croatia were (in terms of public international law) allied by means of personal union until 1526. Although, Hungarian-Croatian state existed until the beginning of the 20th century and the Treaty of Trianon. 1106 9/28 Henry I of England defeats his older brother Robert Curthose, duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Tinchebrai, and imprisons him in Devizes castle; Edgar Atheling and William Clito are also taken prisoner. This victory made a later struggle between England and the rising Capetian power in France inevitable. 1107 Through the Compromise of 1107, suggested by Adela, the sister of King Henry, the Investiture Struggle in England is ended. This compromise removed one of the points of friction between the English monarchy and the Catholic Church. 1109 In the Battle of Naklo, Boleslaus III Wrymouth defeats the Pomeranians. Polish access to the sea is re-established. 1109 8/24 In the Battle of Hundsfeld, Boleslaus III Wrymouth defeats Emperor Henry V. German expansion to the east is stopped. 1116 The Byzantine army defeats the Turks at Philomelion. The Turks abandon the entire coastal area of Anatolia and all of western Anatolia 1117 The University of Oxford is founded. 1118 The Knights Templar are founded to protect Jerusalem and European pilgrims on their journey to the city. 1121 12/25 St. Norbert and 29 companions make their solemn vows marking the beginning of the Premonstratensian Order. This order played a significant role in evangelizing the Slavs, the Wends, to the east of the Holy Roman Empire. 1122 9/23 The Concordat of Worms was drawn up between Emperor Henry V and Pope Calixtus II. This concordat ended the investiture struggle, but bitter rivalry between emperor and pope remained. 1123 3/18-3/27 The First Lateran Council followed and confirmed the Concordat of Worms. 1125 Lothair of Supplinburg, duke of Saxony, is elected Holy Roman Emperor instead of the nearest heir, Frederick of Swabia. This election marks the beginning of the great struggle between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. 1130 12/25 Roger II is crowned King of Sicily, a royal title given him by the Antipope Anacletus II. This coronation marks the beginning of the Kingdom of Sicily and its Mediterranean empire under the Norman kings, which was able to take on the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy, and the Byzantine Empire. 1139 April The Second Lateran Council declared clerical marriages invalid, regulated clerical dress, and punished attacks on clerics by excommunication. 1147–1149 The Second Crusade was in retaliation for the fall of Edessa, one of the first Crusader States founded in the First Crusade. It was an overall failure. This was the first Crusade to have been led by European kings. 1150 Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, married Queen Petronilla of Aragon. They had been betrothed in 1137. This marriage gave the Kingdom of Aragon access to the Mediterranean Sea, creating a powerful kingdom which expanded to control many of the Mediterranean lands. 1152 The Synod of Kells-Mellifont established the present diocesan system of Ireland (with later modifications) and recognized the primacy of Armagh. This synod marks the inclusion of the Irish Church into western European Catholicism. 1158 The Hanseatic League is founded. This marks a new period of trade and economic development for northern and western Europe. 1163 The first cornerstone is laid for the construction of Notre Dame de Paris. 1166 Stefan Nemanja united Serbian territories, establishing the Medieval Serbian state. This marks the rise of Serbia which will dominate the Balkans for the next three hundred years. Allies of Serbia at this moment become the Hungarian Kingdom and the Republic of Venice. 1171 King Henry II of England lands in Ireland to assert his supremacy and the Synod of Cashel acknowledges his sovereignty. With his landing, Henry begins the English claim to and occupation of Ireland which would last some seven and a half centuries. 1174 7/12 King William I of Scotland, captured in the Battle of Alnwick by the English, accepts the feudal lordship of the English crown and does ceremonial allegiance at York. This is the beginning of the gradual acquisition of Scotland by the English. 1175 Hōnen Shōnin (Genkū) founds the Jōdo shū (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism. This event marks the beginning of the Buddhist sectarian movement in Japan. 1176 5/29 At the Battle of Legnano, the cavalry of Frederick Barbarossa is defeated by the infantry of the Lombard League. This is the first major defeat of cavalry by infantry, signaling the new role of the bourgeosie. 1179 March The Third Lateran Council limits papal electees to the cardinals alone, condemns simony, and forbids the promotion of anyone to the episcopate before the age of thirty. 1183 The final Peace of Constance between Frederick Barbarossa, the pope, and the Lombard towns is signed. The various articles of the treaty destroyed the unity of the Empire and Germany and Italy underwent separate developments. 1183 The Taira clan are driven out of Kyōto by Minamoto Yoshinaka. The two-year conflict which follows ends at the Battle of Dan no Ura (1185). 1184 November Pope Lucius III issues the papal bull Ad Abolendam. This bull set up the organization of the medieval inquisitions. 1185 Windmills are first recorded. 1185 The reestablishment of the Bulgarian Empire. 1185 At the Battle of Dan no Ura, Minamoto Yoshitsune annihilates the Taira clan. The elimination of the Taira leaves the Minamoto the virtual rulers of Japan and marks the beginning of the first period of feudal rule known as the Kamakura Period. 1186 1/27 The future emperor Henry VI marries Constance of Sicily, heiress to the Sicilian throne. This marriage shifts the focus of the Guelphs/Ghibelline struggle to Sicily and marks the ruin of the House of Hohenstaufen. 1187 Saladin recaptures Jerusalem. 1188 Richard I ascends the throne of England. His heavy taxation to finance his European ventures created an antipathy of barons and people toward the crown, but his being absent enabled the English to advance in their political development. 1189–1192 The Third Crusade follows upon Saladin's uniting the Muslim world and recapturing Jerusalem. Despite managing to win several major battles, the Crusaders did not recapture Jerusalem. 1192 Minamoto Yoritomo is appointed Sei-i Taishōgun, or shōgun for short. He is the first of a long line of military dictators to bear this title. The institution would last until 1913. 1193 Turkic Muslim invaders sack and burn the university at Nalanda. This is the beginning of the decline of Buddhism in India. 1193 The first known merchant guild.
Year Date Event Significance 1202 The Fourth Crusade sacked Croatian town of Zadar (Italian: Zara), a rival of Venice. Unable to raise enough funds to pay to their Venetian contractors, the crusaders agreed to sack the city despite letters from Pope Innocent III forbidding such an action and threatening excommunication. Siege of Zara was the first major Crusade's action and the first attack against a Catholic city by Catholic crusaders. 1204 Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. 1205 Battle of Adrianople. The Bulgarians under Emperor Kaloyan defeat Baldwin I. Beginning of the decline of the Latin Empire. 1206 Genghis Khan was elected as Khagan of the Mongols and the Mongol Empire was established. The Mongols would conquer much of Eurasia, changing former political borders. 1208 Pope Innocent III calls for the Albigensian Crusade which seeks to destroy a rival form of Christianity practiced by the Cathars. 1209 The University of Cambridge is founded. 1212 Children's Crusade. 1212 Spanish Christians succeed in defeating the Moors in the long Reconquista campaigns. By 1248, only the small southern kingdom of Granada remained under Muslim control. 1215 The Magna Carta is sealed by John of England. This marks one of the first times a medieval ruler is forced to accept limits on his power. 1215 Fourth Lateran Council. Dealt with transubstantiation, papal primacy and conduct of clergy. Proclaimed that Jews and Muslims should wear identification marks to distinguish them from Christians. 1216 Papal recognition of the Dominican Order. 1219 Serbian Orthodox Church becomes autocephalous under St. Sava, its first Archbishop. 1223 Founding of the Franciscan Order. 1257 Founding of the University of Paris. 1257 Provisions of Oxford forced upon Henry III of England. This establishes a new form of government-limited regal authority. 1273 Rudolph I of Germany is elected Holy Roman Emperor. This begins the Habsburg de facto domination of the crown that lasted until is dissolution in 1806. 1274 Thomas Aquinas' work, Summa Theologica is published. 1295 Marco Polo publishes his tales of China. A key step to the bridging of East and West 1296 Edward I of England invades Scotland, starting the First War of Scottish Independence. 1297 William Wallace emerges as the leader of the Scottish resistance to England.
Late Middle Ages
Year Date Event Significance 1307 Friday, October 13th The Knights Templar are rounded up and murdered by Philip the Fair of France, with the backing of the Pope. 1307 Beginning of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy during which the Popes moved to Avignon. 1310 Dante publishes his Divine Comedy. 1314 Robert the Bruce restores Scotland's de facto independence at the Battle of Bannockburn. 1328 The First War of Scottish Independence ends in Scottish victory with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and de jure independence. 1337 The Hundred Years' War begins. England and France struggle for dominance of Western Europe. 1347 The Black Death ravages Europe for the first of many times. An estimated 20% - 40% of the population is thought to have perished within the first year. 1347 The University of Prague is founded. 1361 The fall of the Yuan Dynasty. Its remnants, known as Northern Yuan, continued to rule Mongolia. The breakup of the Mongol Empire, which marked the end of Pax Mongolica. 1378 The Western Schism during which three claimant popes were elected simultaneously. The Avignon Papacy ends. 1380 Prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to a victory over the Mongols in the Battle of Kulikovo. 1380 Chaucer begins to write The Canterbury Tales. 1381 Peasants' Revolt in England. 1381 The Bible is translated into English by John Wycliffe. 1386 The University of Heidelberg is founded. 1389 June 28th Battle of Kosovo in Serbia. This was in many respects the decisive battle between the Turks, led by Sultan Murat, and Christian army, led by the Serbs and their duke Lazar. The battle took place in Kosovo, the southern province of the Medieval Serbian Empire. After this battle Turkish empire continued to spread over the Balkans, to finally reach Vienna. 1392 Joseon Dynasty founded in Korea. 1396 The Battle of Nicopolis the last great crusade fails.
Year Date Event Significance 1409 Ladislaus of Naples sells his "rights" on Dalmatia to the Venetian Republic for 100,000 ducats. Dalmatia would with some interruptions remain under Venetian rule for nearly four centuries, until 1797. 1415 Battle of Agincourt. Henry V and his army defeat a numerically superior French army, partially because of the newly-introduced English longbow. 1417 The Council of Constance ends the western Schism at last, and elects Pope Martin V as the sole pope. 1429 Joan of Arc lifts the siege of Orléans for the Dauphin of France, enabling him to eventually be crowned at Reims. The battle at Orléans is the first of many which ultimately drive the English from continental Europe. 1430 Capture, trial, and execution of Joan of Arc. 1434 The Medici family rises to prominence in Florence. 1439 Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press 1453 Constantinople falls to the Ottoman Turks 1459 Smederevo falls under the Turks, which marks the end of the Medieval Serbian Empire. 1461 The Empire of Trebizond falls to the Ottoman Turks. Last Roman outpost to be conquered by the Ottomans 1485 Thomas Malory composes Le Morte d'Arthur 1492 Reconquista 1492 Christopher Columbus reaches the New World.
Events between the traditional end of the Middle Ages in 1492 and the beginning of the 16th century:
Year Date Event Significance 1494 Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas and agree to divide the World outside of Europe between themselves. The Italian Wars begin. Italian Wars will eventually lead to the downfall of the Italian city-states. Pope's ruling will lead to the division of Brazil and Spanish America, as well as the formation of the Spanish Philippines and Portuguese colonies in India and Africa. 1497 Vasco da Gama begins his first voyage from Europe to India and back. 1499 Ottoman fleet defeats Venetians at the Battle of Zonchio.
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