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Chronology of Medieval Christianity

Christian History Timeline 450 CE - 800 CE

When did the Western Roman Empire fall to barbarian armies, leaving the church as the primary authority in the West? When was the monastery on Monte Cassino established? When was the Battle of Poitiers which halted Islamic expansion in the West? These are all important dates in the history of Christianity; not only are they presented here in this timeline, but they are presented in historical and religious context.

There are several different types of color-coded dates in this timeline of Medieval Christianity, explained in a color key at the bottom of the timeline.

Timeline of Medieval Christianity: 450 CE - 800 CE
0450 The Athanasian Creed was written by an anonymous author in Gaul.
0451 Attila the Hun invaded Gaul but was repulsed by joint forces of Franks, Alemanni and, Romans at the battle of Chalons. Attila Invaded Italy the next year.
October 08, 0451 Council of Chalcedon (4th ecumenical council) opened.
October 22, 0451 During the Fifth Session of the Council of Chalcedon, the final form of the Chalcedonian Creed was drafted, defining for the early church the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Council voted that Christ was simultaneously "truly man and truly God."
October 31, 0451 During the 15th Session of the Council of Chalcedon, Constantinople was given a patriarchate that extended over the civil dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace.
November 01, 0451 The Council of Chalcedon was closed.
0460 - 0467 Pope Leo I asserted papal primacy, arguing that the pope alone has the responsibility and authority to care for the entire church.
March 17, 0461 Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is believed to have died in Saul, County Down.
November 10, 0461 Pope Leo I (the Great) died.
November 17, 0461 St. Hilarius was elected pope.
November 19, 0461 St. Hilary was consecrated pope.
February 29, 0468 Pope Hilarius died.
March 03, 0468 Simplicius was elected pope.
0476 The Western Roman Empire falls to barbarian armies, leaving the church as the primary authority in the West. In the East, the Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople continues for the next 977 years.
0477 Latest date for the invention of the stirrup in China. Stirrups provide many advantages to the horseback rider: an easy way to mount a horse, lateral stability while mounted, and they make it much easier to strike to the left or right with a sword while mounted without falling.
0478 The first Shinto religious shrines are built in Japan.
0480 - 0543 Life of St. Benedict who introduced monastic life to Europe and who, in 529, founded the monastery of Monte Casino in Campania, Italy, with eleven of his followers.
March 10, 0483 Pope Simplicius died.
March 13, 0483 Felix III was elected pope.
0492 - 0496 Pope Gelasius I developed the doctrine of papal primacy.
March 01, 0492 Pope Felix III died.
March 01, 0492 Gelasius I was elected pope
0494 St. Valentine's Day was set as February 14th by Pope Gelasius I.
November 21, 0496 Pope Gelasius I died.
November 24, 0496 Anastasius II was elected pope.
November 19, 0498 Pope Anastasius II died.
0500 Incense was introduced in Christian church services.
c. 0500 The first plans for the Vatican were drawn up.
0503 Britons, possibly under war leader Arthur, defeated the Saxons at Mount Badon.
0511 The Merovingian Dynasty was founded under Clovis.
July 20, 0514 Hormisdas was elected pope.
August 06, 0523 Pope Hormisdas died. Hormisdas is known for having developed a formula of faith which re-affirmed the teaching that Christ had both a Divine and a Human Nature
August 13, 0523 John I was elected pope. John was imprisoned by Theodoric, the Gothic King, for not convincing emperor Justin to retract various anti-Arian decrees
May 18, 0526 Pope John I died.
July 12, 0526 Felix IV was elected pope.
0529 Plato's Academy was dissolved by Justinian the Great, ruler of the Byzantine Empire.
c. 0529 Italian monk Benedict establishes a monastery on Monte Cassino, in Italy. His Benedictine order eventually establishes the Western monastic tradition which spread rapidly throughout Europe.
September 17, 0530 Boniface II was elected pope.
September 22, 0530 Boniface II was elected pope
0532 The Church of Hagia Sofia (Divine Wisdom), the largest Christian church in the world, is built in Constantinople by emperor Justinian (483 - 565) as the focal point of Byzantine Christianity.
October 17, 0532 Pope Boniface II died.
January 02, 0533 John II was elected pope.
May 08, 0535 Pope John II died.
May 13, 0535 Agapitus I was elected pope.
April 22, 0536 Pope Agapitus I died.
March 29, 0537 Vigilius was elected pope.
November 11, 0537 Pope Silverius died.
December 02, 0537 Pope Silverius died.
January 06, 0548 This was the last year churches in Jerusalem observed the birth of Jesus on this date. The celebration of Christmas on December 25th began in the late 300s in Western churches.
0550 Saint David introduces Christianity to Wales.
February 23, 0553 Pope Vigilius ratified the decisions of Second Council of Constantinople.
May 05, 0553 The Second Council of Constantinople opened. Under the leadership of Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, the council would condemn various Nestorian writings. The West, in general, was slow in recognizing it as an ecumenical council, though ultimately it was accepted - mainly because of the orthodoxy of its pronouncements.
June 02, 0553 The Second Council of Constantinople closed. Under the leadership of Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, the council condemned various Nestorian writings.
June 07, 555 Pope Vigilius dies.
April 16, 0556 Pelagius I was elected pope.
0560 The first abbey is founded in England at Bangor
March 03, 0561 Pope Pelagius I died.
0562 Japanese power in Korea comes to an end.
0563 Irish monk Saint Columba founded a monastery on the island of Iona and begins the conversion of the Picts to Christianity. This island monastery becomes an important place where knowledge and learning were preserved.
January 19, 0570 According to tradition, Muhammad was born on this date.
June 02, 0575 Benedict I is elected pope.
July 30, 0579 Pope Benedict I died.
November 26, 0579 Pelagius II was elected pope.
0587 Visigoths of Spain convert to Christianity.
0589 Irish monk Columbanus of Bangor (543 - 615) traveled to the continent with 12 companions where they preached and built churches. They also established several monasteries in Switzerland, Burgundy, and northern Italy.
0589 Lombards of Italy convert to Christianity.
February 07, 0590 Pope Pelagius II died.
September 03, 0590 Gregory I was consecrated as pope. Later known as "Gregory the Great," he would institute important liturgical reforms and changes in church administration. Gregory would launch a series of liturgical reforms and changes in church administration, enhancing both the power and prestige of the papacy.
0596 Pope Gregory I sent Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605) to England on a missionary journey to spread Christianity.
0597 St. Augustine of Canterbury visited England and converted the kingdom of Kent to Christianity, baptizing King Ethelbert (also known as King Aethelbryht or Aethelberht). This led to the development of Celtic Christianity.
June 02, 0597 Augustine, a missionary sent to England by the pope and first archbishop of Canterbury, baptized Saxon king Ethelbert. After this event, Christianity was able to spread much more quickly and easily among the Angles and Saxons.
June 09, 0597 St. Columba dies. Columba played a crucial role in the spread of Christianity through Scotland.
February 16, 0600 Pope Gregory the Great decreed that the phrase "God bless You" is an appropriate response to a sneeze. This was begun by the people due to the widespread presence of the plague in society at the time.
0601 The first cathedral was built in England.
0602 The earliest Anglo-Saxon code of law, known as the Laws of Aethelberht, are created.
March 12, 0604 Pope Gregory I died.
May 26, 0604 Saint Augustine of Canterbury died.
September 13, 0604 Sabinian was elected pope.
February 22, 0606 Pope Sabinian died.
February 19, 0607 Boniface III was elected pope.
November 12, 0607 Pope Boniface III died.
September 15, 0608 Boniface IV was elected pope.
May 13, 0609 Pope Boniface IV turned the Roman Pantheon into a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all martyrs. This was also, therefore, the first celebration of All Saints' Day (a.k.a. All Hallows' Day).
0610 Pretzels were invented by an Italian monk who uses them as rewards to children who learn their prayers.
May 08, 0615 Pope Boniface IV died.
May 25, 0615 Pope Boniface IV died.
November 08, 0618 Pope Deusdedit I died.
December 23, 0619 Boniface V was elected pope.
0620 Vikings begin regular invasions of Ireland.
0622 Muhammad and his small band of followers migrate to the town of Yathrib in the north. The leaders of that town invited him to come and lead them and were willing to adopt Islam. The Hijrah of 622, the migration, marked the beginning of the Muslim era and the Islamic calendar.
0624 Buddhism becomes the established religion of Japan.
0624 Muhammad broke with his Jewish supporters because they refused to recognize him as a prophet and adopt Islam. He chose now to emphasize the Arabness of the new religion and has his followers face Mecca when praying instead of Jerusalem. In the end, all the Jews were either banished or executed.
October 25, 0625 Pope Boniface V died.
October 27, 0625 Honorius I was elected pope. Honorius would show great interest in the church in Spain and the British Isles and did much to reform the education of the clergy.
0627 Meccan leader Abu Sufyan (c. 0567 - c. 0655) laid siege to Muhammad's forces in Medina during the battle of the Trench. Even with 10,000 men he was unsuccessful for the 15 days he was there. Muhammad suspected the Banu Quraiza Jews of helping the Meccans and had all the men killed.
0632 East Anglia was Christianized.
0635 Christianization of Wessex.
October 12, 0638 Pope Honorius I died.
May 28, 0640 Severinus was elected pope.
August 02, 0640 Pope Severinus died.
December 24, 0640 John IV was elected pope.
October 12, 0642 Pope John IV died.
November 24, 0642 Theodore I was elected pope.
May 14, 0649 Theodore I, the first Greek Pope, died
0650 - 0754 The theology of Eastern Orthodox Christianity developed, particularly under the influence of John of Damascus, who wrote Fount of Wisdom.
August 10, 0654 Eugene I was elected pope.
September 16, 0655 Pope Martin I died while in exile.
June 02, 0657 Pope Eugene I dies.
0661 Uthman's followers murder Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. One of Uthman's relations takes the title of caliph, and Damascus replaces Medina as seat of the caliphate. The Umayyad family ruled Islam until 750. Ali's followers formed a religious party called Shi'ites (Party of Ali) and insist that only descendants of Ali deserve the title of caliph or deserve any authority over Muslims. The opposing party, the Sunnis, insist on the customs of the historical evolution of the caliphate rather than a hereditary descent of spiritual authority.
0664 At the Synod of Whitby, Oswy abandoned the Celtic Christian Church and accepted the faith of the Latin Church of Rome. The Celtic Christian Church began its decline and was eventually merged with the Roman Church.
January 27, 0672 Pope Vitalian died.
April 11, 0672 Deusdedit II was elected pope.
0674 Arab conquest reached the Indus River.
0674 Churches in England were fitted with glass windows for the first time.
June 17, 0676 Pope Deusdedit II dies.
November 02, 0676 Donus was elected pope.
April 11, 0678 Pope Donus died.
June 27, 0678 Agatho is elected pope.
November 07, 0680 The Third Council of Constantinople opened. It was convoked by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV to deal with Monotheletism. The council was attended by more than 150 bishops from all over the world and presided over by papal legates.
January 10, 0681 Pope Agatho died.
August 17, 0682 Leo II was consecrated pope. Leo condemned Pope Honorius I for his position in the Monothelite controversy.
July 03, 0683 Pope Leo II died.
June 26, 0684 Benedict II is elected pope.
May 08, 0685 Pope Benedict II died.
August 02, 0686 Pope John V died.
0687 Pepin of Heristal, a Merovingian ruler, united the Frankish territories and built the center of his kingdom in Belgium. He was succeeded by his son, Charles Martel, who creates an alliance with the Christian Church, allowing the Merovingian Dynasty (and Christianity) to expand into Germany. Pepin the Short succeeded his father, Charles Martel, and strengthened the convergence of Benedictine missionaries and Frankish expansion.
December 15, 0687 Sergius I was elected pope.
0695 Spain began persecution of Jews.
0700 The Psalms were translated into Anglo-Saxon and the Lindsisfarne Gospels were produced.
0700 Benedictine missionaries completed the conversion of England begun by Pope Gregory the Great when he sent Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605) to England on a missionary journey.
September 08, 0701 Pope Sergius I died.
January 11, 0705 Pope John VI died.
March 01, 0705 John VII was elected pope.
October 18, 0707 Pope John VII died.
January 15, 0708 Sisinnius was elected pope.
February 04, 0708 Pope Sisinnius died.
March 25, 0708 Constantine was elected pope.
0710 The first permanent capital of Japan was established at Nara.
October 24, 0711 Pope Constantine returned to Rome after meeting with Emperor Justinian II in Nicomedia.
April 09, 0715 Pope Constantine died.
May 19, 0715 Gregory II was elected pope.
0718 Visigoth king Pelayo defeated a Muslim Army in Alcama in the neighborhood of Covadonga, beginning the Christian Reconquest of Spain.
0719 St. Boniface begins his mission to Christianize Germany.
c. 0725 Earliest known mechanical clock is built in China.
0726 Byzantine emperor Leo III (c. 680 - 741) began the "Iconoclastic Controversy" by banning the worship of religious images (icons).
February 11, 0731 Pope Gregory II died.
March 18, 0731 Gregory III was elected pope.
0732 At the Battle of Poitiers, Islamic expansion was halted in France but continued into parts of Asia and Africa.
0735 Venerable Bede, an Anglo-Saxon Benedictine scholar, writes the History of the English Church and People in Latin, generally regarded as the best historical writing of medieval history.
c. 0740 Earliest known printed newspaper appears in China.
October 22, 0741 Charles Martel died. At one time the mayor of the palace in the eastern part of Merovingian France, Charles "the Hammer" Martel reunified France (which he then ruled) and stemmed a Muslim invasion. Although he maintained the fiction of Merovingian rule, he founded what would become the Carolingian dynasty.
November 28, 0741 Pope Gregory III died.
December 03, 0741 Zacharias was elected pope.
April 02, 0742 Charlemagne was born.
January 25, 0749 Emperor Leo IV of Byzantium was born, leading the Eastern Church in a transition away from Iconoclasm and towards a restoration of Icons.
0750 The Arabian Nights, a compilation of stories written under the reign of the Abbasids, became representative of the lifestyle and administration of this Persian influenced government.
0750 - 0850 The Four Orthodox Schools of Islamic Law were established.
0750 The first great English epic poem, Beowulf, is written in Old English. An anonymous and untitled work until 1805, it was a Christian poem that exemplifies early medieval society in England and exhibits roots that reach back to Old Testament laws.
0751 St. Boniface anoints Pepin the Short as a divinely sanctioned king, and thus the Frankish monarchy becomes fused with the papal order. With this, the Carolingian dynasty was established.
March 15, 0752 Pope Zacharias died.
March 23, 0752 Stephen II was elected pope, but he lived just a couple of days and died before he could be consecrated.
March 26, 0752 Stephen III was elected pope. Stephen reigned at a time when the papacy was under severe pressure Byzantine emperors.
March 26, 0752 Pope Stephen II died just a couple of days after his election.
0756 Donation of Pepin: according to church tradition, the papal domains in Italy are created and established as territory under the sovereign control of popes. Later scholars have concluded that the "donation" was a fraud created by medieval figures.
April 26, 0757 Pope Stephen III died.
May 29, 0757 Paul I was elected pope.
June 28, 0767 Pope Paul I dies.
0768 Pepin's son, Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne), succeeded his father and became one of the most important European rulers of medieval history.
August 06, 0768 Antipope Constantine died.
August 07, 0768 Stephen III was elected pope.
January 24, 0772 Pope Stephen III died.
February 01, 0772 Adrian I was elected pope. A popular pope, Adrian's reign was one of the longest in papal history. He also presided over the important Second Council of Nicea and maintained a good relationship with secular leaders like Charlemagne.
0778 The army of Charlemagne suffers a stinging defeat at the battle of Roncesvalles at the hands of the Vascons. It is here that, according to tradition, the famous knight Roland dies.
0787 Danes invade England for the first time.
September 24, 0787 The Second Nicene Council opened under Pope Adrian I. The 7th of the church's 21 ecumenical councils, Nicea II condemned iconoclasm (that is to say, they voted to allow the veneration but not the worship of icons). This was the last of the seven church councils commonly accepted as authoritative by both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
October 30, 0791 John VI was elected pope.
December 25, 0795 Pope Adrian I died. A popular pope, Adrian's reign was one of the longest in papal history. He also presided over the important Second Council of Nicea and maintained a good relationship with secular leaders like Charlemagne.
December 26, 0795 Leo III was elected pope.
April 25, 0799 Pope Leo III was attacked by supporters of his predecessor, Pope Adrian I.
0800 - 1200 Jews experience a "golden age" of creativity and toleration in Spain under Moorish (Muslim) rule.
December 25, 0800 Charlemagne (c. 742 - 814) was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. This coronation marked the beginning of a new relationship between the church and state, with the emperor's temporal authority depending upon the spiritual blessing of the pope.


Color Key: This chart explains which sorts of topics are given which colors in the chronologies.

Color Topic
Blue Councils, Synods, Bulls, and other official church decisions.
Yellow Violence: Crusades, wars, insurrections, and other acts of violence.
Green Popes: births, deaths, elections, and other actions important to the papacy.
Orange Heresies, schisms, and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation.
Purple Jews: acts of antisemitism and persecution against the Jews
Red Other: various events important to the development of medieval Christianity.
Grey Miscellaneous events to provide historical context and comparison

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