1. Religion & Spirituality

Chronology of Medieval Christianity

Christian History Timeline 1200 CE - 1300 CE

When was Constantinople sacked by Western Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade? When was the The Childrens' Crusade launched? When was Thomas Aquinas born? When did the Mongols destroy Baghdad? 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: 1200 CE - 1300 CE
c. 1200 The Jewish mystic movement Kabbalah develops in France and spreads to Spain.
1200 The Fourth Crusade is launched.
March 30, 1202 Joachim Van Fiore Italian (founder of Joachimism), dies.
April 12, 1204 The armies of the Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople and established the Latin Empire.The residents of Constantinople suffer the worst devastation in the city's history. As a result, Latin domination of the Eastern Church begins. Thomas Morosini of Venice is installed as patriarch of Constantinople, increasing the rivalry between Eastern and Western churches.
December 13, 1204 Jewish philosopher and Talmudic scholar Maimonides dies in Cairo at the age of 69.
1205 Pope Innocent III, in the Bull Si adversus vos, forbade any legal help for heretics: "We strictly prohibit you, lawyers and notaries, from assisting in any way, by council or support, all heretics and such as believe In them, adhere to them, render them any assistance or defend them in any way. "
July 15, 1205 Pope Innocent III asserted that Jews are doomed to perpetual servitude and subjugation due to role in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
1206 Mongol leader Temujin is proclaimed "Genghis Khan," which means "emperor within the Seas."
1207 A crusade against the Albigenses in southern France, proclaimed by Pope Innocent III, commences.
1208 A papal legate in Southern France who had been making some progress in converting Cathar heretics (also known as Albigensians) to orthodox Catholicism was murdered. This sparks an outcry and, later this same year, a violent Crusade against the Cathars and Waldenses in Southern France was called by Innocent III. In Beziers alone in 1209, at least 20,000 people were massacred.
1208 The first recorded witchcraft trial in England takes place. Gideon, alleged to be a sorcerer, is acquitted.
January 14, 1208 Peter of Castelnau, papal legate appointed by Innocent III to organize the Catholic forces which moved against the Cathars in Southern France, died.
February 24, 1208 At the age of 26, Francis of Assisi received his calling to a life of poverty and service in the name of Christianity.
1209 While conducting the crusade against the Albigenses in southern France, Simon de Montfort lays siege to the town of Beziers. When asked how to tell friend from foe, he commanded that all be put to death, saying "God will find his own." Later at Minerba he would burn 150 Albigenses alive.
1209 Cambridge University is founded in England.
April 16, 1209 Pope Innocent III gave oral approval to the rule of the order founded by St. Francis of Assisi.
1212 The Childrens' Crusade is launched. More than 50,000 children would be sold into slavery.
July 17, 1212 Muslim forces were defeated in the Spanish Crusade.
1215 The Magna Carta is signed and English barons forced King John to agree to a statement of their rights.
August 24, 1215 Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta invalid. Innocent declared the Catholic Church to be a genuine state and, hence, heresy became a crime against the state which could be punished accordingly - both for the spiritual good of the individual as well as the preservation of the Church.
November 11, 1215 The Fourth Lateran Council opened in Rome. Organized by Pope Innocent III in Rome in order to discuss and define central dogmas of Christianity, it is one of the most important councils ever held and its canons sum up Innocent's ideas for the church. It recognizes the necessity of the Eucharist and penance as sacraments for salvation. It also addresses heresies, declaring that: "...Convicted heretics shall be handed over for due punishment to their secular superiors, or the latter's agents. ...If a temporal Lord neglects to fulfill the demand of the Church that he shall purge his land of the contamination of heresy, he shall be excommunicated by the metropolitan and other bishops of the province. If he fails to make amends within a year, it shall be reported to the Supreme Pontiff, who shall pronounce his vassals absolved from fealty to him and offer his land to Catholics. The latter shall exterminate the heretics, possess the land without dispute and preserve it in the true faith... "
November 30, 1215 The Fourth Lateran Council ended its final session.
1216 The Dominican order is founded.
July 16, 1216 Pope Innocent III died.
July 18, 1216 Honorius III was elected pope.
December 22, 1216 Pope Honorius III gave official approval for the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), founded in 1216 by St. Dominic. Its purpose is to convert Muslims and Jews and to put an end to heresy. The Dominicans eventually become the main administrators of inquisitorial trials.
1218 Newgate Prison, London's infamous debtor prison, is completed.
1219 Mongol armies lead by Genghis Khan invaded Muslim territories, reaching Persia by 1221 and were only stopped in Syria in 1260.
November 22, 1220 Pope Honorius III crowned Holy Roman Emperor Frederick in the expectation that Frederick would support the Church and participate in the Fifth Crusade.
August 06, 1221 Saint Dominic died. Dominic founded the Dominicans, an order of monks which played an important role in the Inquisition and the defense of church orthodoxy.
1222 Andres II of Hungary issues "A Golden Bull" exempting clergy from taxation and denying land or offices to Jews or foreigners.
December 29, 1223 Pope Honorius III gave formal approval for the Franciscan religious order.
1224 In his Constitution of 1224 Frederick III declares that heretics convicted by an ecclesiastical court should suffer death by fire.
September 10, 1224 The first Franciscans arrived in England. At the time the habit worn by Franciscans was gray (today it is brown) and they came to be called "the Gray Friars" by the English.
1226 Louis IX orders the French barons to deal with heretics according to the dictates of duty.
October 03, 1226 St. Francis of Assisi died.
1227 Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas is born. Aquinas codified Catholic theology in works like Summa Theologica, marking the high point of the medieval scholastic movement.
March 18, 1227 Pope Honorius III died.
March 19, 1227 Gregory IX was elected pope.
September 29, 1227 Pope Gregory IX excommunicated German emperor Frederick II
September 30, 1227 Pope Nicholas IV was born.
1228 The Sixth Crusade is launched.
1229 The Inquisition prohibits the reading of Bible by lay persons.
March 18, 1229 Frederick II crowned himself king of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Frederick had promised Pope Honorius III that he would go on a Crusade when he crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Honorius III, but after many delays the next pope, Gregory IX, excommunicated him for his failure.
1231 Earliest legislation on the topic of torture is passed in Italy.
February 1231 Pope Gregory IX issues the Excommunicamus, resulting in the inclusion into canon law of the harsh 1224 constitution of Frederick II. This explicitly permits the burning of heretics at the stake.
1232 Earliest known use of rockets in war between Mongols and Chinese occurs.
May 26, 1232 Pope Gregory IX dispatched the first of many Inquisition crews to Aragon in Spain, after having assigned management of the process to the Dominican Order the previous year.
May 26, 1232 Pope Gregory IX begins the Medieval Inquisition in Aragon and setting up in Toulouse, France, the first permanent tribunal to deal with heresy. In the Bull Declinante jam mundi, Archbishop Esparrago and his suffragans were instructed to search for and punish heretics in their dioceses.
1233 The Holy Inquisition is established by Pope Gregory IX in order to abolish heresy wherever it can be found. Dominicans are assigned to carry out the Inquisition's duties.
1237 At the Council of Lerida in 1237 the Inquisition was formally placed under the authority of the Dominicans and the Franciscans.
May 12, 1237 By decree of Pope Gregory IX, the crusading order "The Swordbrothers" was merged into the order,"The Teutonic Knights." Both orders had been heavily involved in crusades against pagan Prussians; the Swordbrothers, however, experienced numerous defeats and their growing weakness necessitated that they join with the Teutonic Knights.
May 29, 1239 At Montwimer in Champagne, Robert le Bougre burns about a hundred and eighty heretics whose trials had all had begun and ended within one week.
1240 Mongols capture Moscow and destroy Kiev.
1241 The first person recorded to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in England is pirate William Marise.
August 22, 1241 Pope Gregory IX died. Gregory canonized a number of people who were important in the history of the Catholic Church, including Elizabeth, Dominic and Anthony of Padua, and also Francis of Assisi, who had been a personal friend.
1242 At the Synod of Tarragona in 1242, Raymund of Pennafort defines the terms haereticus, receptor, fautor, defensor, etc., and outlines the penalties to be inflicted.
April 05, 1242 Under the command of Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod, Russian forces defeated the Teutonic Knights.
June 25, 1243 Innocent IV is elected pope.
July 27, 1245 Frederick II of France was found guilty of sacrilege at the First Council of Lyons and deposed.
August 01, 1245 First Council of Lyons opened. At this Council, Pope Innocent IV deposed Frederick but lacked the power to enforce it and have Frederick replaced.
1247 Traditional date for the death of Robin Hood.
1248 Muslim control of Spain is reduced to the Kingdom of Granada which survives for over two more centuries.
1248 The Seventh Crusade is launched.
1249 Count Raylmund VII of Toulouse has eighty confessed heretics burned in his presence without giving them a chance to recant.
1250 Trial by fire or water is abolished in England.
1252 The papacy approves the use of torture for religious disobedience.
May 15, 1252 Torture to elicit confessions is first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in his Bull Ad exstirpanda of May 15, 1252, which was confirmed by Pope Alexander IV in 1259 and by Clement IV in 1265. In Ad exstirpanda Innocent IV wrote: "When those adjudged guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the bishop or his representative, or the Inquisition, the podestˆ or chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once, and shall, within five days at the most, execute the laws made against them. " He also ordered that this Bull and corresponding regulations of Frederick II be entered in every city among the municipal statutes under pain of excommunication, a punishment also visited on those who failed to follow the papal and imperial decrees.
1254 Pope Innocent IV prohibits perpetual imprisonment or death at the stake without episcopal consent.
December 07, 1254 Pope Innocent IV died.
December 12, 1254 Alexander IV was elected pope.
December 20, 1254 Alexander IV was crowned pope.
1256 With the decree Ut Negotium, Pope Alexander IV allows inquisitors to absolve one another of any "irregularities" they commit while engaged in their work.
May 04, 1256 Pope Alexander IV founded the Roman Catholic religious order of the Augustine Hermits.
1258 The Abbasid period was finally ended with the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols. The Mongols had tried and failed to take Baghdad in 1245. Now, after a series of devastating floods, the city's defenses were weakened, and Hulegu, grandson of Genghis Khan, led the victorious invasion. Thus began a long period of economic, political, and cultural decline in Iraq that was only overcome in the sixteenth century.
1258 Flagellants begin physically punishing themselves in the belief that this would prevent plagues.
November 30, 1259 Pope Alexander IV confirms the policy of using torture to elicit confessions, first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in his Bull Ad exstirpanda. In Ad exstirpanda Innocent IV wrote: "When those adjudged guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the bishop or his representative, or the Inquisition, the podestˆ or chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once, and shall, within five days at the most, execute the laws made against them. " Innocent IV had also ordered that this Bull and corresponding regulations of Frederick II be entered in every city among the municipal statutes under pain of excommunication, a punishment also visited on those who failed to follow the papal and imperial decrees.
1260 A 1988 Vatican-sponsored scientific study places the origin of the Shroud of Turin to this year.
April 27, 1260 Pope Alexander IV authorizes inquisitors to absolve one another of irregularities in the pursuit of their duties. Pope Urban IV would renew this on in 1262 and it would be interpreted as formal license to continue the examination in the torture chamber itself.
1261 Michael Palaeologus (1224 - 1282) finally drives the Latin rulers out of Constantinople and reestablishes Eastern Orthodox rule.
May 25, 1261 Pope Alexander IV died.
July 25, 1261 Michael VIII Palaeologus recaptured Constantinople from Western European crusaders who had, for more than fifty years, controlled the Byzantine capital.
August 29, 1261 Urban IV was elected pope. Urban had been patriarch of Jerusalem and was only visiting Italy on business when he was elected.
August 02, 1262 Pope Urban IV renews the policy that inquisitors should absolve one another of irregularities in the pursuit of their duties, begun by Pope Alexander IV. This policy would come to be interpreted as formal license to continue the examination in the torture chamber itself.
October 02, 1264 Pope Urban IV died.
1265 Dante Dante Alighieri is born.
February 05, 1265 Clement IV was elected pope.
August 27, 1265 Pope Clement IV issued the bull Licet ecclesiasrum, asserting exclusive right of the pope to appoint ecclesiastics to certain posts under certain conditions.
November 03, 1265 Clement IV confirms the policy of using torture to elicit confessions, first authorized by Pope Innocent IV in his Bull Ad exstirpanda and earlier confirmed by Pope Alexander IV in 1259. In Ad exstirpanda Innocent IV wrote: "When those adjudged guilty of heresy have been given up to the civil power by the bishop or his representative, or the Inquisition, the podestˆ or chief magistrate of the city shall take them at once, and shall, within five days at the most, execute the laws made against them. " Innocent IV had also ordered that this Bull and corresponding regulations of Frederick II be entered in every city among the municipal statutes under pain of excommunication, a punishment also visited on those who failed to follow the papal and imperial decrees.
1267 Kublai Kahn establishes the city of Beijing.
May 10, 1267 Church officials in Vienna ordered all Jews to begin wearing distinctive clothing.
July 26, 1267 Pope Clement IV formed the Inquisition in Rome.
November 29, 1268 Pope Clement IV died, after which three years passed before a new pope could be elected.
October 30, 1270 The eighth and final crusade was launched.
1271 Marco Polo set off to visit the court of Kublai Khan.
1271 Marco Polo sets off to visit the court of Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan).
September 01, 1271 Gregory X was elected pope.
1274 Mongols, led by Kublai Khan, attempted to invade Japan.
March 07, 1274 Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas died.
May 07, 1274 The Second Council of Lyons convened under Pope Gregory X, primarily for the purpose of reunifying the Western and Eastern Christian Churches.
July 15, 1274 Saint Bonaventure, a leading Franciscan theologian and author, died.
January 10, 1276 Pope Gregory X died.
January 21, 1276 Innocent V was elected pope.
June 22, 1276 Pope Innocent V dies.
September 08, 1276 John XXI was elected pope, but his reign lasted just few months.
1277 Roger Bacon is imprisoned for heresy.
May 20, 1277 Pope John XXI died.
November 25, 1277 Nicholas III was elected pope.
May 10, 1278 Government officials in England began arresting and imprisoning Jews on charges of coining.
November 17, 1278 680 Jews were arrested and 293 were hanged in England on charges of counterfeiting.
1280 A bull from Nicholas III states: "...If any, after being seized, wish to repent and do penance, they shall be imprisoned for life. ...All who receive, defend, or aid heretics shall be excommunicated. ...If those who were suspected of heresy cannot prove their innocence, they shall be excommunicated. If they remain under the ban of excommunication for a year, they shall be condemned as heretics. They shall have no right of appeal. "
1280 Eyeglasses are invented and later improved upon in the late medieval period.
August 22, 1280 Pope Nicholas III died. Nicholas engaged in a major renovation of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Palace, which he made his official residence.
November 15, 1280 Albertus Magnus died in Cologne.
February 22, 1281 Martin IV was elected pope.
March 30, 1282 Rebels in Sicily successful overthrew French rule under Charles of Anjou. The rebel leaders wrote to Pope Martin IV for support, but Martin promised to assist Charles in reclaiming control of the island.
March 28, 1285 Pope Martin IV died.
April 02, 1285 Honorius IV was elected pope.
May 20, 1285 Honorius IV was officially consecrated pope (although elected in April, he had not been a bishop at the time and so could not become Bishop of Rome and Pope until consecrated).
October 12, 1285 In Munich, Germany, 180 Jews refused baptism and as a result were burned to death.
1286 The consuls of Carcassonne complained to the pope, the King of France, and the vicars of the local bishop about the inquisitor Jean Garland, whom they alleged had been inflicting torture in an utterly inhuman manner
April 03, 1287 Pope Honorius IV died.
1290 Margaret, Maid of Norway, dies and leaves a struggle for the throne of Scotland - 13 people claim title of King.
July 18, 1290 King Edward I ordered the expulsion of Jews from England.
October 09, 1290 The last of 16,000 English Jews were expelled by King Edward I.
May 17, 1291 Scottish medieval Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus was ordained.
May 18, 1291 Acre, the last territory in Palestine taken by the first Crusaders, fell to invading Muslim forces. Around 60,000 Christians are believed to have perished. This was the end of a Christian military presence in the Near East and the task of spreading Christianity was left to friars who preached among the people.
June 30, 1294 Jews are expelled from Berne, Switzerland.
December 13, 1294 Pope Celestine V abdicated.
December 24, 1294 Boniface VIII was elected pope.
January 23, 1295 Boniface VIII was elected pope.
1296 Edward I of England deposes John Balliol from the Scottish throne, taking control of Scotland.
1297 At the Battle of Cambuskenneth, Scottish patriot William Wallace defeats an English army.
1298 The longbow revolutionizes warfare at the Battle of Falkirk.
July 23, 1298 The Jewish community of Wurzburg, Germany was destroyed in what came to be known as the Rindfleish Persecutions.
1299 - 1326 Reign of Osman, founder of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. He defeated the Seljuks.


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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