Timeline of Catholic Church History


1-849 AD

by Suzanne Fortin

Copyright 2003-2006.

All rights reserved.

Editorial note on the Timeline

The primary purpose of the Timeline is to be a quick reference to important dates for Catholic apologists. It also gives a general overview of the history of the Church to the Catholic who might like an idea of what occurred in the past, but has little inclination to read in-depth.

The Timeline contains dates concerned with secular history that are pertinent to the Catholic apologist, as well as quirky Catholic history bits for the trivia buff.

I've attempted to include as many important events as possible, both good and bad, and to include facts commonly raised in Catholic apologetic discussions. To that end, I've focused mostly on the Western Church. In some cases, I have attempted to debunk common myths. It would be beyond the scope of this work to count every historical objection and accusation made regarding Catholicism.


Bernard Grun, Timetables of History.

The online Catholic Encyclopedia-- numerous articles.

Oxford Dictionary of Saints, fourth edition.

Our Sunday Visitor Online Almanac.

Philip Hughes, A History of the Church to the Eve of the Reformation.

J.M. Roberts, The Penguin History of the World.

R. Grant Jones' Timeline of Church History (Orthodox).

Medieval Sourcebook

John Julian Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium

Simon Schama, A History of Britain, 3000 BC to 1603 AD.


* c. 29 AD Our Lord's Resurrection. The First Pentecost. St. Peter preaches in Jerusalem and converts three thousand people, creating the first Christian community.

* c. 35 Saul of Tarsus has an apparition of Jesus Christ and is converted to Christianity.

* c. 39 St. Peter baptizes Cornelius. This event marks the beginning of the missionizing to the Gentiles.


* 42 The first persecution of Christians in Jerusalem under Herod Agrippa. Many Christians escape to Antioch, establishing its first community.

* 44 Martyrdom of St. James the Great, brother of the Apostle John. He is the first apostle to die for the faith. He was sentenced by Herod Agrippa in 44 AD. Today he is honored at the shrine of Santiago Compostela.


* c. 51 The Council of Jerusalem. It rules that Gentile converts do not have to observe the Moasaic Law.

* 62 Martyrdom of St James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem. He is stoned to death.

* 64 First persecution of the Christians by Nero, who blames them for setting a fire that burned much of Rome. Christianity soon after becomes a capital crime.

* 64 The apostle Paul is martyred in Rome.

* 66 Jews revolt against Roman authority. The Christians, remembering the prophecies of Christ, leave Jerusalem, led by their bishop, St. Simeon. A civil war ensues. Nero sends Vespasian and Titus to put down the insurrection.

* 67 Martyrdom of St. Peter. Tradition states that he was crucified upside down. St. Linus succeeds him as pope (-76).

* 69 Fall of Jerusalem. The Temple is destroyed. Tacitus records that 600 000 Jews were slaughtered during the siege; Josephus said it was a million.


* 76 Pope St. Cletus reigns(-88).
* c. 88 The reign of Pope St. Clement I (-97). During his pontificate, he issues a letter to the Corinthians, urging them to submit themselves to lawful religious authority. He writes "Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry."
* 95 Persecution of Christians in Rome under Domitian.

* 97 Pope St. Evaristus accedes to the Chair of Peter (-105).


* c. 100 Death of John, the last apostle. The period of Public Revelation comes to an end.

* c.100 Birth of St. Justin Martyr (d. c. 165), Church Father. He wrote two Apologies of the Faith, and A Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew. In his writings, he bears witness to a number of Catholic doctrines. In one famous passage, he describes the Order of the Mass.

* c. 105 Death of Pope St. Evaristus. Pope St. Alexander I replaces him (-115).

* c.107-117 Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch, apostolic Father and bishop. He was a disciple of St. John, along with St. Polycarp. Theodoret, the Church historian says he was consecrated bishop by St. Peter, who was at first bishop of Antioch before going to Rome. Ignatius was martyred in Rome under Emperor Trajan's rule. It was during the journey to Rome that he wrote his famous letters that contain invaluble information about the early Church. He was the first to use the term "Catholic" to describe the Church.


* 111 Pliny the Younger, govenor of Bithynia, writes in a letter to the Emperor Trajan that to his surprise, the Christians are not guilty of any of the vices they are rumoured to engage in. He executes Christians who would not apostatize.

* c. 115 Pope St. Sixtus I begins his reign (-125).

* 117 Persecution of Christians under Hadrian (-138).


* 125 Pope St. Telesphorus begins his reign (-136).


* c.130 Birth of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father and bishop. He had heard St. Polycarp in Smyrna. He wrote a famous treatise, Against Heresies, refuting Gnosticism, and intervened in favour of the Quartodecimians when they were excommunicated by Pope Victor I for not observing Easter according the Roman Calendar (i.e. the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring equinox).

* 135 Emperor Hadrian excludes Jews from Jerusalem.

* 136 Pope St. Hyginus accedes to the see of Peter (-140).


* 140 Election of Pope St. Pius I (-155).

* 144 Marcion of Pontus is excommunicated for heresy (Marcionism): he believed that the God of the Old Testament is a different God than that of the new, and that he is a vengeful God; he denied the inspiration of the Old Testament. Marcionites established a parallel church that survived for several centuries.


* 155 Death of Pope St. Pius I. St. Anicetus becomes Pope (-166).

* c. 156 Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, disciple of St. John the apostle. First recorded instance of devotion to a martyr and the devotion to relics in the Martyrdom of Polycarp.


* c. 160 Birth of Tertullian, Church Father. Tertullian apostatized to the Montanist sect and in his later years rejected the Catholic Church. However, in his earlier years, c. 200 AD, he justified Catholic belief against heretics by appealing to the apostolic origin of the Church, whereas the heretics and their heresies were subsequent to it.

* 165 Death of St. Justin Martry (b. 100), Church Father.

* 166 St. Soter becomes Pope. (-175).


* 172 Montanus launches his Montanist movement, based on his private revelations. He claimed that there was an age of the Father (the Old Testament), the Age of the Son (the New Testament) and the age of the Holy Spirit, which he would inaugurate and which would announce the end of the world. It denied the divine nature of the Church and preached a very rigorous morality.

* 175 St. Eleutherius succeeds as pope (-189).

* c.176-177 Athenagoras writes Embassy for the Christians, aka Apology, a work addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus that shows the reasonableness of the Christian faith and the absurdity of the charges made against Christians. It also defended the notion of the Trinity.

* 177 St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against All Heresies, a work of apologetics refuting Gnosticism, which claimed salvation through an esoteric knowledge. Irenaeus argues that this belief counters that universal tradition handed down from the apostles, and that the bishops are the successors of the apostles who have the authority to transmit Revelation. To make his point, he lists the succession of popes beginning with Peter.


* 185 Birth of Origen, controversial Church Father. His writings were, in many ways, productive for the orthodox faith. However, a number of his ideas were problematic or downright heretical. Among them: his excessive allegorism in Scriptural interpretation, his subordinationist tendencies, his belief in eternal creation and final salvation of all souls. His writings sparked complex doctrinal controversies. In spite of the problems, he had many admirers among orthodox Fathers.

* 189 Pope Victor I takes over the See of Peter. (-199)

* 189 Pope Victor I excommunicates the Quartodecimians. The Quartodecimians of Asia Minor reckoned the date of Easter according to the Jewish Passover, as 14 Nisan, regardless of whether or not it fell on a Sunday, contrary to the majority of the faithful in various parts of the Empire. Pope Victor ordered Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus to call a synod and have the bishops of Proconsular Asia submit to the Roman practice. The bishop called the synod, but the assembly refused to submit, citing that the apostles John and Philip followed the same custom. The pope then excommunicated the bishops and their followers. St. Irenaues protested this action as too harsh, but did not say the pope had overstepped his authority. This is the first record of an episcopal council in the post-apostolic age.


* 190 Pope Victor I excommunicates Theodotus for his denial that Jesus is God. The latter gathered together a band of followers, whose teachings would eventually influenced Paul of Samosata, the true originator of Arianism.

* 199 Pope St. Zephyrinus accedes to the See of Peter (-217). Pope Zephyrinus was not inclined to philosophical speculation and would not either endorse or condemn St. Hippolytus' attacks against the Monarchian heresy. This made the pope's faith appear suspect.


* c. 200 Death of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Church Father and bishop.

* c. 200 Monarchianism makes its appearance. In contrast to Arianism, Monarchians affirm Jesus is God, but in order to safeguard the unity of God, they essentially deny the distinction between the Son and the Father. St. Hippolytus was an ardent opponent of this heresy.

* 202 Emperor Septimius Severus persecutes Christians with the aim of establishing one common religion in the Empire.

* c.208 The first record of prayers for the dead in the writings of the Church Fathers. Tertullian writes that a good widow prays for her dead husband's soul in On Monogamy.


* c. 210 Tertullian testifies to the belief in purgatory in A Treatise on the Soul. He writes "No one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides" (A Treatise on the Soul, 58).

* c.213 Birth of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea, (d. c. 270) aka the Wonderworker, aka Thaumaturgus. He defended the Unity and the Trinity of God in his writings.

* c. 216 Tertullian writes of prayers for the dead in On Monogamy.

* 217 Death of Pope St. Zephyrinus. Pope St. Callistus I succeeds him (-222). Callistus was a former slave who was in charge of his master's bank. He lost a lot of money to bad debts, some of the debtors being Jews. When he attempted to recover the money, some Jews denounced him as a Christian and he was sent to the mines of Sardinia, but survived to return to Rome in 190 AD. During Pope Zephyrinus' reign, he was a power behind the throne, making his faith appear suspect to the future anti-pope St. Hippolytus.

* 217 Election of anti-pope St. Hippolytus, Church Father, the first anti-pope in Church history, and the only one venerated as a saint. He considered Pope St. Callistus I to be a Monarchian heretic, and he continued his claim to the Chair of Peter through to the reign of Pope St. Pontian. He reconciled with the Church before being martyred in the mines of Sardinia in 235.


* 220 Pope St. Callistus I excommunicates Sabellius, a priest who taught that the Son of God did not exist before the Incarnation, and that God exists in three "modes" but not in three persons, therefore the Son and the Father suffered at the passion. This heresy, Sabellianism, would become prevalent in the fourth century.

* 222 St. Urban I becomes Pope (-230).

* 222 Alexander Severus becomes emperor (-235). He lifted many harsh laws against the Christians, and essentially gave them the right to exist as a religion. They now had the right to own property and assemble for worship. He had a personal devotion to Jesus Christ, but he honoured him as one among many gods.


* 230 Death of Tertullian, Church Father who later joined the Montanists, a heretical sect. His writings are invaluable for the historical testimony they provide.

* 230 St. Pontian succeeds St. Urban I as pope (-235). In 235, the Emperor Maximian launched a persecution against the heads of the Church. Pontian was banished to the mines of Sardinia. In order to make possible the election of a new pope, he resigned.

* 235 Pope St. Anterus reigns for forty days (-236).

* 236 Election of Pope St. Fabian (-250). Eusebius relates in his History of the Church that when it came time to elect a new pope, the assembly put forward several names of prominent people, but a dove rested on Fabian's head, whom no one had considered for the office. The assembly took it as a sign of divine favour and selected him as the new pope.


* 250-251 The Decian Persecution. The Emperor Decius requires all citizens in every town and village of the Empire to perform acts of worship to the gods of the State. People suspected of Christianity are brought before a commission and required to sacrifice. Refusal meant a long prison stay and subjection to torture so that the accused would apostatize. Failing that, they are put to death. Many Christians apostatize or obtain certificates stating that they had sacrificed. This systematic persecution produces numerous martyrs.

* 250 Martyrdom of Pope St. Fabian in the Decian persecution. He was not given the opportunity to apostatize but was swiftly executed for his faith.

* c. 250 The devotion to martyrs, once a more private practice, becomes widespread after the Decian persection due to the great numbers of martyrs it produced.

* c. 250 Birth of St. Anthony of Egypt (d. 355) considered to be the founder of monasticism. Approximately 5000 disciples of both sexes had gathered around him in the Nitrian desert (Egypt), despite his opposition. We know of him through a biography of St. Athanasius.

* 251 Council of Cartage under St. Cyprian allows those who lapsed during the persecution to be readmitted after a period of penance.

* 251 Pope St. Cornelius succeeds Pope St. Fabian (-253).

* 251 Novatian becomes the second anti-pope in Church history (-258). He strongly disagrees with Pope Cornelius' stance allowing those who apostatized during the Decian persecution to return to the fold after a suitable penance. He insisted on permanent excommunication for them. This period is known as the Novatian Schism. The Novatian church will continue to exist up to the eighth century, but will be absorbed by the Catholic Church.

* c. 251 St. Cyprian writes his famous treaty, On the Unity of the Church. He argues that the Church was founded on Peter, and that the local bishop was the head of the local Church. In practice, however, he contradicted himself by asserting that the pope could not make him accept Christians baptized by heretics.

* c. 253 Death of Origen, Church Father. He probably died from the tortured he suffered under the Decian persecution.

* 253 Election of Pope St. Lucius I (-254).

* 254 St. Stephen I is elected Pope (-257). He is the first pope known to have invoked Matt. 16:18 as evidence for the authority of the Chair of Peter.

* 256 Pope St. Stephen I upholds the baptisms administered by heretics.

* 257 The Emperor Valerian launches a persecution against Christians (-259). The clergy is summoned to sacrifice to the pagan gods. If they refused, the church property they legally held in the church's name was to be confiscated and they were to be exiled (a year later, the penalty would be immediate execution). All faithful Christians who met in religious assemblies were punishable by death.

* 257 St. Sixtus II becomes Pope (-258). He was arrested very shortly after his election and beheaded for his faith.

* 258 Martyrdom of St. Cyprian of Carthage. He defended the readmission to the Church of those who apostatized during persecution, but rejected the idea that baptism by heretics and schismatics is valid. In his writings, he defended the primacy of Peter as the source of unity in the Church. He remained the foremost Latin writer until Jerome. At his execution, his followers placed cloths and handkerchiefs near his place of execution in order to catch his blood and thereby have a relic of him.

* 259 Peace of Gallenius. Emperor Gallenius succeeds to the throne, ends the persecution of Christians and legally recognizes their existence. Church property is restored. This peace lasts for forty years. Churches are built, bishops gain social prestige and Christians acquire more social status. Christians serve the regimes of various emperors. Christianity still remains a target for hostility.

* 259 Pope St. Dionysius begins his pontificate (-268).


* c. 260 Birth of Eusebius of Caesarea, Church Father, bishop and "Father of Church History." His Church History is an important source of information about the Early Church. He also wrote the Life of Constantine.

* 261 A period of relative peace begins for the Church (-303).

* c. 265 Three councils held at this time in Antioch condemn Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, for his heretical teachings on the relationship of God the Father and God the Son. He maintained that Jesus the man was distinct from the Logos and became the Son of God through adoption because of his merits, and that God is only One Person. His teachings were a pre-cursor to the Arianist heresies of the fourth century and beyond.

* 269 Pope St. Felix I fills the See of Peter (-274).


* c.270-275 Death of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea (b. c.213) , aka the Wonderworker, aka Thaumaturgus, Church Father and bishop.

* c. 272 Crucifixion of Mani by Bahram, king of Persia. Mani founded the Manichaean religion, which centred on the battle between the good god and the evil god. He had travelled widely, going as far as India, and drew from many philosophies and religions-- including Buddhism. He also claimed to be the Paraclete. His religious ideas would persist throughout the Middle Ages, and were adopted by the Cathari and the Bogomils.

* 272 Emperor Aurelian rules that the bishop of a city is whomever the bishops of Italy and Rome acknowledge as such. The ruling deprived the deposed Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, of all church property--including churches. This way the secular arm made it possible for Rome to effectively depose bishops.

* 275 Pope St. Eutychian succeeds Pope St. Felix I.(-283).


* 283 Pope St. Caius is elected head of the Church (-296).

* 285 Partition of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western halves. Diocletian rules the Eastern half, Maximian, the Western.


* 293 Diocletian forms the Tetrarchy. In order to improve the transition of power upon the death of an emperor, Diocletian created a system of co-rulers. Thus, the Emperors are Augusti, their heirs apparent are Caesars. Diocletian chooses Galerius as Caesar; Maximian chooses Constantius I Chlorus. The Tetrarchy system would eventually fail in its goal of assuring smooth transitions of power.

* 296 Election of Pope St. Marcellinus I (-304).

* c. 297 Birth of St. Athanasius (d. 373), Doctor of the Church. Archbishop of Alexandria. He was a staunch defender of the Divinity of Jesus Christ against Arianism, and was exiled sevral times for his orthodoxy.


* c. 300 Christianity introduced in Armenia.

* 302 Growing intolerance of Christians leads to the army and the imperial service being closed to professed Christians.

* 303 Persecution of Christians by Diocletian through a series of edicts.All people were to worship state gods. Churches were to be destroyed, Christian books were to be burned. The first act of the persecution was to burn down the cathedral at Nicomedia.

* 304 Christians faithful to the their religion are now subject to the death penalty. The government commits massacres to terrify the faithful.

* 304 Death of Pope St. Marcellinus I.

* 305 Emperors Diocletian and Maximian resign. Galerius, viciously anti-Christian, succedes as emperor in the East. The new emperor in the West, Constantius Chlorus, ceases the persecution in his domains.

* c. 305 The Council of Elvira, Spain approves the first canon imposing clerical celibacy.

* 306 Constanine becomes the emperor in the West and continues the policy of toleration towards Christians.

* 306 Galerius orders all his subjects to make pagan sacrifices.

* 306 Birth of St. Ephraem the Syrian (d. 373), Doctor of the Church. Known as the Harp of the Holy Spirit. Author of the Nisibene Hymns, some of which are Marian.

* 308 Election of Pope St. Marcellus I (-309). His stance against apostates who demanded immediate re-entry into the Church raised a commotion and led to the Emperor Maxentius exiling him. He died soone after leaving Rome.

* 309 Reign of Pope St. Eusebius.


* 310 Sapor II becomes king of the Persian Empire (-381). Until the third century, the Church grew in Persia without persecution. However, with the accession of the Sassinid Dynasty (227 AD) the Church became suspect and was eventually persecuted. Under Sapor II, Christians are subject to a persecution worse than any undertaken by the Roman Emperors. It was considered the religion of the Roman Empire, with whom the Persian were constantly at war.

* 311 An edict of toleration is emitted in the names of Galerius, Constantine and Licinius. The emperors come to realize that persecution produced non-believers in either the gods of the state or in the Christian God. Emperor Maximinus of Daza only follows the policy for six months, then continues the persecution in the East.

* 311 Pope St. Militiades begins his reign (-314).

* 311 The Beginning of the Donatist Schism. Donatus, Primate of Numidia, will not recognize the election of Cecilian as Bishop of Carthage. Cecillian's consecrator is Felix of Aptonga, a man who had allegedly apostatized under Maximian's persecution (303-305). To the Donatists, apostasy and other serious sins destroys a priest's spiritual powers. The priest's powers are therefore dependent on his personal holiness. Donatus holds a council which illegally elects a pretendant to the see. Although he lives in Carthage, Donatus has no jurisdiction there.

* 312 Martyrdom of Lucian of Antioch during the persecution of Maximinus of Daza. He taught that the Word (logos) was a creature. He taught Arius, the heresiarch, and his teaching was at the origin of the Arian heresy. He is also known for having rejected allegorical interpretations and was strongly literal in his biblical interpreations. He reconciled with the Church.

* 312 Constantine defeats the Emperor Maxentius at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. The night before the battle, Constantine has a vision of a cross in the sky and the words "In this sign you shall conquer". After the victory, Constantine orders that the cross be put on the soldiers' shields and standards. Once Constantine enters Rome, he offers the Lateran Palace to the Pope as a residence.

* 313 Edict of Milan. Toleration of Christians in the Western Roman Empire. All people, not only Christians, have freedom of religion so long as they render honour to "the divinity". Emperor Constantine returns Church property. In the Eastern Empire, Maximinus continues to persecute Christians until he grants them toleration in a last-ditch effort to gain their favour and keep alive his struggle against his enemy Licinius.

* 313 Constantine intervenes on the Donatist schism and recognizes the election of Cecillian of Carthage, the orthodox candidate. The churches held by Donatists are handed over to Catholics.

* 313 The Lateran palace makes its first appearance in Catholic history as it is the scence of an appeal of the Donatists in the matter of Cecillian's election as Bishop of Carthage. Emperor Constantine chose the bishops to sit on the tribunal, but the pope presided over it. It rules in favour of Cecillian.

* 314 St. Sylvester I is elected Pope (-335)

* c.314 Constantine agrees to hear a new appeal by the Donatists in the case of Cecillian's Episcopal election. This time the appeal is brought to a secular court. The Donatists maintained that Felix of Aptonga could not have validly ordained Cecillian because he had apostatized during a persecution. The police books of the persecution were produced, and there was no evidence Felix had ever been arrested. It was also shown that the Donatists had attempted to forge the certificate proving his guilt. Constantine sends this evidence to the Council of Arles, where the Fathers note that the Donatists are "crazy fanatics, a danger to Christianity." They rule in favour of Cecillian.

* 315 Birth of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 387), Doctor of the Church. He fought Arianism in the East.

* 315 Birth of St. Hilary of Poitiers (d. 368), Doctor of the Church.

* 316 Constantine hears another appeal of the Donatists in the matter of the election of Cecillian of Carthage. He rules in favour of Cecillian. He rules that the churches held by the Donatists were to be handed over to the Catholics, and that the Donatists were forbidden to meet.

* c. 318 Beginnings of the Arianist controversy. Arius taught: that the Father and the Son were not of the same substance, and therefore the latter was inferior; and that the Word (Logos) is a creature and that the Holy Spirit is a creature of the Logos.


* 320 St. Pachomius founds the first two monasteries-- one for each sex-- in Tabennisi.

* 321 The Donatists appeal to Constantine for toleration. He grants it, in spite of his contempt for the sect.

* 323 Licinius, Emperor of the East launches a persecution against Christians.

* 323 Constantine and Licinius do battle at Chrysopolis. Licinius dies six months later. Constantine has no rival and is the sole ruler of the Empire. Constantine preserves freedom of religion but his attitude towards paganism becomes contemptuous. Paganism and Christianity enjoy equal status before the law.

* 323 Constantine sends letters to Bishop Alexander and the priest Arius, asking that they charitably disagree on nature of Jesus Christ for the sake of peace.

* 325 The Council of Nicea. Presided by Emperor Constantine and Hosius of Cordoba. Pope St. Sylvester I sends papal legates, being too old to make the journery from Rome. Many of the bishops in attendance had been physically injured in the persecutions of previous decades. The Council defines trinitarian belief in God. God the Father and God the Son are declared of the same substance against the teachings of Arius. Emperor Constantine considers heresy to be a form of rebellion, and banishes Arian bishops to Illyria.

* 325 Building of Church of Natitvity, Bethlehem.

* 326 Constantine recognizes the Novatian Church, the parallel Church established under the Novatian schism in the preceding century. It would die out a century later in Rome, but would survive until at least the seventh century in the East.

* 329 Birth of St. Basil the Great (d. 379), Doctor of the Church and father of Eastern monasticism. He was the first to draw up a rule of life and he developed the concept of the novitiate.

* c. 329 Birth of St. Gregory of Nanzianzus (d. 389), Doctor of the Church, one of the traditional four Greek Doctors.


* 330 Building of first St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It was torn down in 1506 and re-built.

* 330 Birth of St. Gregory Nanzianzus (d. 390), Doctor of the Church. One of the Cappadocian Fathers.

* 331 Seat of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople (formerly Byzantium).

* 331 Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian, schemes to have a local synod depose the orthodox bishop Eustathius of Antioch. Constantine recognizes the authority of the synod and expels Eustathius. His successor, Paulinus of Tyre dies a few months later, and, for the first time in history, a secular ruler interferes in the choice of a bishop. Constantine recommends the Arian Euphronios, who was elected.

* 335 By this time Eusebius of Nicomedia succeeds in convincing the emperor of his orthodoxy by proposing at the Council of Jerusalem an ambiguous formula of faith to which both Arians and Catholics can adhere.

* 336 Reign of Pope St. Mark.

* 336 Death of Arius, heresiarch, creator of the Arian herersy. Right before his death, the Emperor Constantine's sister, Constantia, requested on her deathbed that Arius be recalled from his place of banishment and exonerated. The Emperor paid heed to her request. He ordered the bishop of Alexandria to give Arius Communion, but the latter died right before he was to receive. Arius is said to have died on the latrine of a serious digestive problem. The populace views it a sign of divine condemnation.

* 336 The earliest record of the celebration of Christmas in Rome. The East kept the Feast of Epiphany, January 6th.

* 337 Death of Constantine. He was baptized on his deathbed by bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, an ally of Arius. The Empire is ruled by his three sons, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans.

* 337 Election of Pope St. Julius I (-352).

* 338 Election of St. Julius I (-352).


* c. 340-350 The Arian bishop Ulfilas makes a corrupt translation of the Bible into the Gothic language and converts the Goths. From then on, barbarian tribes that converted to Christianity were Arian, until the conversion of the Franks in the 6th century.

* 340 Birth of St. Ambrose of Milan, one of the four traditional Latin Doctors of the Church. He baptized St. Augustine. He fought the Arian heresy in the West and promoted consecrated virginity.

* c. 340 Persian Emperor Sapor II launches a persecution of Christians in his realm. Christians were associated with the enemy, the Roman Empire. Churches were confiscated, and Christians were massacred, especially priests and bishops. Thousands were killed.

* 341 Emperors Constans and Constantius II abolish and prohibit pagan sacrifices. Pagan sentiment becomes very anti-Christian.

* 341 Death of Eusebius of Nicomedia, bishop of Constantinople. He schemed to depose Catholic bishops throughout the empire and replace them with Arians. He made Arians appear orthodox through ambiguous formulas of faith.

* c. 343 Birth of St. Jerome (d. 420), one of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. He translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin and produced the first authoritative translation, the Vulgate. At that time, Latin was still a vernacular language. He also wrote a treaty against Helvidius, upholding the Virgin Birth.

* 347 Birth of St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Constantinople. He is the foremost Greek Doctor of the Church, known especially for his homilies on Scripture. He alienated the court at Constaninople with his preaching against the vanities of the rich. The conspiracy of his enemies resulted in his exile. The pope and many Western bishops supported him but could not obtain justice for him.

* 347 Emperor Constans ends the toleration of Donatists in Numidia. The period of Donatist dominance in Africa had been one of license, including riots and massacres. He exiles the Donatist bishops and hands their churches to Catholics.


* 350 Assassination of Emperor Constans. Constantius II, an Arian, becomes sole Emperor. Arians attempt to link St. Athanasius with Constans' assassin.

* 353 Emperor Constantius II prohibits idol worship under penalty of death. The Western Empire is majoritarily Pagan.

* 352 Reign of Pope Liberius (-366), the first pope who is not considered a saint. He would not be pressured by Constantius to condemn St. Athanasius.

* 354 Birth of St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430), Doctor of the Church. One of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church. One of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church. Among his most famous works: Confessions, City of God, On the Trinity.

* 354 Constantius II ignores his own law and confirms the rights and privileges of the city of Rome, including their share of state subsidies.

* c. 355 Constantius II kidnaps Pope Liberius to pressure him to condemn St. Athanasius, and thereby approve the Arian creed. The pope refuses and is banished to Baerea in Thrace. Constantius attempts to replace Liberius with Felix, but the laypeople of Rome would not hear of it.

* 357 Constantius II is persuaded to allow Pope Liberius to return to Rome. There is some dispute as to whether his return was prompted by his signing a semi-Arian formula that would have satisfied Constantius, or by the Roman faithful, who drove out Felix, the anti-pope. Much appears to be uncertain about this situation.


* c. 360 Scrolls begin to be replaced by books.

* 361 Emperor Julian "the Apostate" becomes Roman Emperor (-363). He was brought up in Arian Christianity in his early childhood, but was tutored by Pagans in his adolescence. Upon his accession to the throne, he attempts revive Paganism, and in his contempt the Christian Faith, he tries to re-build the Temple in Jerusalem, but fails.

* 362 Emperor Julian recalls the exiled Donatist bishops.

* 363 Emperor Julian "the Apostate" dies before getting a chance to launch a systematic persecution against the Christians, although mobs that riot and kill them go unpunished.

* 363 Jovinian, a Catholic, becomes Emperor. He restores toleration for all religions.He reigns only for nine months.

* 364 Valentinian, a Catholic, now rules the Western empire (-375). He takes the property of State-run temples, but instead of handing it over to the Church, as Constantius II did, he puts the imperial treasury in charge of it.

* 364 The Arian Valens becomes Emperor of the Eastern Empire (-378). He seeks to Arianize his Christian subjects and makes life difficult for Catholics.

* 366 Reign of Pope St. Damasus I (-384). He is most famous for compelling St. Jerome to undertake a faithful translation of the Scriptures, the version known as the Vulgate. St. Damasus condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism. He approved the canons of the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (381).

* c. 368 Death of St. Hilary of Poitiers (b. 315), Doctor of the Church and bishop. He was exiled for his orthodox faith by the Emperor Constantius, but eventually was able to return to Poitiers. He attempted to reconcile the Semi-Arians and the orthodox faithful.


* 370 Valens, Emperor of the East, orders the bishops of his realm to conform to an Arian formula on pain of of deposition and exile. Many refuse. Their churches are handed over to Arian appointees. Other dioceses organize resistance, and in some cases massacres ensue.

* 373 Death of St. Athanasius (b. 297), Doctor of the Church, Bishop of Alexandria.

* 373 Death of St. Ephraim of Nisibis, Church Father.

* 375 At the death of Valentinian I, Gratian becomes the emperor of the Western Empire (-383). He abolishes the office of Pontifex Maximus, the head of the Pagan religion, which, by default, was held by the Roman Emperor, even if he was Christian (although he did not necessarily exercise the office).

* 376 Birth of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Doctor of the Church. Opposed Nestorianism.

* 377 A synod in Rome condemns the teachings of Apollinaris of Laodicea. Apollinarism posited that Christ had a human body and a human sensitive soul, but his rational mind was taken over by the Logos or the Divine nature of the Second Person of the Trinity. It was also condemned at the first Council of Constantinople, 381.

* 379 Theodosius, a devout Catholic, becomes the Eastern Roman Emperor (-395). For the first time in half a century, the State would favour Catholicism over Arianism. Theodosius is the first emperor to legislate against heresy. The churches of heretics are to be confiscated and handed over to the Catholic Church. Heretical gatherings are forbidden and heretics cannot make wills or inherit. He also legislates against apostasy from Christianity to Paganism.

* 379 Death of St. Basil the Great (b. 329), Doctor of the Church.


* c. 381 Emperor Theodosius makes Christianity the de facto official religion of the Empire by forbidding the worship of the ancient Gods.

* 381 The First Council of Constantinople. Presided by Pope Damasus and Emperor Theodosius I. It proclaimed the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

* 382 By this time, the pagan priesthood in the Western Empire no longer enjoys any of its former privileges, and the State has confiscated temple property, making their legacies void.

* 383 Roman legions begin to leave Britain. British Christians gradually disconnected from Rome until St. Augustine of Canterbury re-introduces the faith in 590.

* 384 Pope St. Siricius begins his reign (-399).

* c. 385 Priscillian becomes the first heretic ever sentenced to death under a Christian prince. He was executed for witchcraft, which was a capital offense, but in reality, he made enemies because of his Manichaean doctrines. Many in the Church protest this action. St. Martin of Tours objects to the interference of a lay court in an ecclesiastical matter. Pope Siricius denounces Bishop Ithacus of Treves for being the leader of the campaign against Priscillian.

* c. 386 Death of St. Gregory of Nyssa, Church Father, brother of St. Basil the Great. Before he became a monk, he was married. His wife either died or became a nun.

* c. 386 Death of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He is famous for a quotation demonstrating the antiquity of the practice of Commuion in the hand: "Do not come with thy palms stretched flat nor with fingers separated. But making thy left hand a seat for thy right, and hollowing thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, responding Amen."

* 386 St. Ambrose refuses to hand over a church to the Arian sect when ordered to do so by the Emperor. In a sermon he says a famous phrase " The emperor is within the Church, and not above the Church." He says of the Arians: " it has been the crime of the Arians, the crime which stamps them as the worst of all heretics, that "they were willing to surrender to Caesar the right to rule the Church". The Emperor backs down.

* 388 Christians attack and burn down a synagogue in Callinicum at the instigation of the Bishop. St. Ambrose persuades Emperor Theodosius to not force the local bishop to pay for its restoration. In a letter to the Emperor, he makes many arguments, but principal among them is that re-building the synagogue would amount to being disloyal to the Faith, and that the law is unfairly applied, seeing as Jews burned a number of churches during the reign of Julian the Apostate, and no one was punished. The Emperor ignores the letter. But when he attends Mass presided by St. Ambrose, the bishop refuses to offer the sacrifice until the Emperor revokes his edict.

* c. 389 Death of St. Gregory of Nanzianzus, Doctor of the Church.


* 390 St. Ambrose threatens Theodosius with excommunication for massacring 7000 people in Thessalonica as punishment for the murder of an imperial official. Theodosius does public penance.

* 391 Emperor Theodosius closes all pagan temples in his realm.

* 392 Upon the death of Western Emperor Valentinian II, Theodosius becomes the sole ruler of the whole Roman Empire. He forbids all pagan household rites and idols, but does not compel any of his Pagan subjects to become Christian. Paganism will continue to exist, mainly in the backwaters, for the next three centuries.

* c. 392 Death of Apollinaris of Laodicea, heresiarch. In his early years, he was respected for his classical and Scriptural knowledge, on the same level as St. Athanasius, St. Basil and St. Jerome. However, he taught that Christ's reason was taken over by the Logos. Apollnaris did not reconcile with the Church.

* c. 393 Birth of Theodoret of Cyrus, Church Father, bishop and historian. He opposed St. Cyril of Alexandria in the Nestorian controversy, but he eventually submitted to the Council of Ephesus on the matter.

* 397 Death of St. Ambrose of Milan (b. 340), Doctor of the Church.

* 399 Election of Pope St. Anastasius (-401). A man of great holiness, he was friends with St. Augustine and St. Jerome. He condemned Origenism.

* 397 Death of St. Martin of Tours. He was the first saint honoured for his asceticism, not for martyrdom, and whose prayers were invoked in liturgy. He is considered the founder of monasticism in the West. He was also the first to attempt to convert the pagan countryside of Gaul.


* 401 Reign of Pope Innocent I (-417).

* 405 St. Jerome completes his translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew.

* 405 Emperor Honorius declares Donatists to be heretics and that they should be rooted out.

* 407 Death of St. John Chrysostom (b. 347) Church Doctor and Bishop of Constantinople. He died from exposure to the elements during his forced march to Pontus, his place of exile.


* 410 The Sack of Rome by the Visigoths, led by Alaric. This event is the inspiration for St. Augustine of Hippo's monumental work, The City of God.

* 410 The Donatists are granted toleration by Emperor Honorius.

* c. 411 Beginning of the Pelagian controversy in Northern Africa. Pelagius, an unordained monk, denied the theory of Original Sin, stating that death was a physical necessity, not a result of Original Sin, and that Adam's fault was transmitted through bad example. He denied the necessity of grace to perform good acts, and affirmed it was possible to lead a life completely free of sin. St. Augustine refuted these beliefs at length.

* 411 286 Catholic Bishops and 279 Donatist Bishops meet at a conference in Carthage to discuss reunion. It was presided by an Imperial official. He rules that the Donatists have to submit to the Catholic Church. An imperial edict the following January, 412, confirms this decision and threatens banishment for all who disobey.

* 415 After the Jews massacred a group of Chrisitans, St. Cyril of Alexandria organizes a mob to drive out the Jews from Alexandria, as the Prefect of the city, Orestes, sided with the Jews and had condemned a guilty Christian for disturbing the peace.

* 417 Election of Pope St. Zosimus (-418).

* 418 Election of Pope St. Boniface I (-422).

* 418 The Council of Carthage condemns Pelagianism. Emperor Honorius banishes all Pelagians from the cities of Italy. Eighteen bishops, led by Julian of Eclanum, must leave their sees for refusing to sign an orthodox creed, not because it was anti-Pelagian, but because it was based on St. Augustine's ideas.

* 419 The Council of Africa produces the first Code of Canon Law in Church History: the Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae. It forbade appeals overseas in disciplinary matters, including to Rome.


* c. 420 The Semi-Pelagian controversy erupts. Many Pelagians accepted the condemnation of their beliefs at the Council of Carthage (418). In light of that, a more moderate form of Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, arose. It stated that the act of will preceded the grace of salvation. The main proponents of this belief were the monks of Marseilles, including Vincent of Lerins and its main opponents were St. Augustine and his disciple Prosper of Aquitaine. It was condemned at the Second Council of Orange, 529.

* 422 Pope St. Celestine I begins his pontificate (-432). During his reign, Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, professed the heresy of the two-person nature of Christ, known as Nestorianism.

* c. 422 A mob of Christians in Alexandria murder Hypatia, a renowned female pagan philosopher. They tore her to shreds using sharp roof tiling, then burnt her remains. Damascius attributes the murder to St. Cyril of Alexandria's envy of her reputation; he is, however, a Christian-hater. The Church historian Socrates does not mention any motive on Cyril's part, but says that it did bring disgrace on the Church of Alexandria.

* 426 The Council of Africa formally requests the pope that he not be so ready to hear appeals settled in their jurisdiction or lift excommunications that they have imposed. Rome makes no reply.

* 427 Nestorius, heresiarch, is appointed Bishop of Constantinople.

* 428 Nestorius campaigns and obtains a new law against heresy. His friend, the monk Anastasius, in attempt to promte Nestorius' theology, preaches that the title "Mother of God" should only be used with the greatest of care, if at all. This creates a tumult. Nestorius excommunicates those who object to this novel theology. They appeal to the Emperor.

* 429 Vandals invade North Africa led by Genseric. They were Arian and very anti-Catholic. Catholic churches are burnt, Catholic meetings are prohibited, and Catholic clergy are exiled and replaced by Arian clergy.


* 430 Death of St. Augustine (b. 354), Church Doctor and bishop.

* 431 Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, presided by St. Cyril of Alexandria in the name of Pope Celestine I. It condemns Nestorianism, the belief that Christ is two persons and declared Mary is the Mother of God (theotokos). It also condemned Pelagianism.

* 432 Pope St. Celestine I sends St. Patrick to evangelize Ireland.

* 432 Pope St. Sixtus III begins his pontificate (-440).

* c.434 Death of St. Vincent of Lerins, Church Father and Abbot, famous for upholding the universal opinion of the Fathers as the Rule of Faith in disputed matters.

* 436 Promulgation of the Theodosian Code, issued by Theodosius II. It was a systematic presentation of laws in existence. Observance of Sunday, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost enforced.


* 440 Election of Pope St. Leo I "The Great" (-461), Doctor of the Church. He vigourously fought many heresies: Manichaenism, Priscillianism, Euctychianism, Monophytism and Nestorianism. He is famous for his encounter with Attilia the Hun, whom he persuaded not to pillage Rome. He also obtained a promise from Genseric, leader of the Vandals, that they would not injure the inhabitants of Rome when they sacked it in 455.

* 444 Death of St. Cyril of Alexandria (b. 376), Doctor of the Church. He fought the teachings of Nestorius, proclaiming Christ had two natures in one person, and that Mary was thereby the God-bearer (Theotokos) the Mother of God. Unfortunately, he used the phrase " one incarnate nature of God the Word" to express his orthodox belief. This phrase led to misunderstandings, to the extent that Monophysites claimed he was on their side.

* c. 447 Death of Sozomen, Church Father and historian. He continued the Church History begun by Eusebius in the previous century.

* 449 The "Robber Council" of Ephesus. Eutyches, a monk from Constantinople, had been condemned by his bishop, Flavian, for teaching that Christ only had a divine nature. He made an appeal to the emperor to hold a Council, which has been dubbed the "Robber Council" of Ephesus. Pope St. Leo I had written a famous letter for the occasion, the Tome of Leo, in which he explained the Catholic Faith on the subject of the two natures of Christ. His letter is ignored at the Council. Eutyches' condemnation is made void, while Flavian is deposed and sentenced to prison for his orthodox faith.


* 451 The ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, presided by the Emperor Marcian and the legates of Pope St. Leo I. Over five hundred bishops attend. They approve the Tome of St. Leo as an orthodox statement of faith. It affirms that there is a hypostasis in Christ, a union of the Divine and the Human natures in one person. Bishop Dioscoros of Alexandria is condemned for having protected Eutyches the heretic.The Council also denounces the intervention of the Emperor in religious affairs.

* 454 At the death of the exiled Monophysite bishop Dioscoros of Alexandria, they elect a successor, Timothy, nicknamed "the Cat" to replace the Catholic bishop who had already been installed. Imperial troops are sent in to restore order and Timothy the Cat is exiled along with other Monophysite bishops.


* 461 Beginning of reign of Pope St. Hilarus (-468).

* 461 Death of St. Patrick, apostle to the Irish.

* 468 St. Simplicius becomes Pope (-483).


* 477 Death of Genseric, King of the Vandals and persecutor of Catholics. His successor, Hunseric, seeks to eliminate Catholicism entirely from Northern Africa. He assembles 466 Catholic bishops and gives them four months to apostatize to Arianism, or else the traditional imperial decrees against heresy would be applied to them. Many trades are closed off to the common people unless they can produce a certificate of Arian conformity.


* 480 Birth of St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 543), founder of Western monasticism and originator of the Benedictine Rule.

* 480 Birth of Boethius (d. c.524), Christian philosopher. He was exceptionally well-educated for his time. He was a member of the Roman nobility and served under King Theodoric of Italy. He translated a number of philosophical works from Greek, but he is best remembered for his Consolation of Philosophy, a dialogue he wrote in prison after being unjustly accused of treason. The king had him executed.

* c. 482 Birth of Justinian (527-565), probably the greatest of all the Byzantine Emperors.

* 483 St. Felix III is elected Pope (-492).

* 484 Beginning of Acacian Schism. Pope Felix III excommunicates Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople for signing the Henoticon, a vague document, which contained no heretical statement, but did not condemn Monophytism. It was intended by the Emperor Zeno to be a compromise formula of faith to please both Catholics and Monophysites.

* 484 Hunseric, King of the Vandals, outlaws Catholicism entirely in Spain and North Africa. Catholic churches were transferred to Arian clergy; priests and bishops were exiled, and anyone who would not accept Arian baptism would be deprived of their rights. The persecution lasts until 487 and the bishops are recalled in 494.


* 491 The Armenian Church secedes from the Church of Rome and Constantinople.

* 492 Pope Gelasius I (-496) begins his pontificate. He was also a staunch defender of the papal office during the Acacian Schism.

* 494 Some persecuted bishops of North Africa are recalled from exile.

* 496 Pope Anastasius II begins his reign (-498).

* 496 Clovis, king of the Franks, converts to Catholicism. When his troops appear to be losing against the Alemanni at Strasbourg, he invokes the God of his Catholic wife Clotilda to give him victory. He is baptized by St. Remi, and brings the Franks to the Catholic fold, the first barbarian people to adopt Catholicism.

* 498 Election of Pope St. Symmachus (-514).

* 499 The Synod of Rome issues decree on papal elections. It banned discussions on the election of a future pope during a reigning pope's lifetime. It was an attempt to make an election truly democratic, and not make the reigning pope choose his successor.


* 500 King Trasimund becomes King of the Vandals and continues the repression of Catholicism in North Africa.


* 514 Death of Pope St. Symmachus. Pope St. Hormisdas (-523) is elected.

* 518 Justin becomes the Byzantine Emperor (-527). He is a Catholic. This brings great hope to orthodox Catholics, as his predecessor, Anastasius, was ardently Monophysite and had attempted to place Monophysites as heads of eastern sees.

* 519 The Akoimetoi present a dogmatic formula to the legates of Pope Hormisdas to settle the dispute between the Monophysites and the Catholics. The Akoimetoi were monks living in Constantinople who, because of the continuous nature of their devotions, were known as "The Sleepless" (in Greek "Akoimetoi"). They suggest the phrase "One of the Trinity suffered in the Flesh" to satisfy Monophysites, but repulse Nestorians. It would only be approved in 534 by Pope John II.

* 519 Papal legates arrive in the East to end the Acacian schism. Each bishop had to sign a document that: 1) condemned Nestorius, Eutchyes, Dioscoros, Timothy the Cat, Acacius and other notorius heretics; 2) recognized the Councils of Ephesus, Chalcedon and the Tome of St. Leo; 3) stated that the signatories promised to remain in agreement with the Holy See.


* 523 Death of Pope St. Hormisdas. Election of Pope St. John I (-526).

* 523 The Emperor Justin issues a severe decree against Arians, forcing them to hand over their churches to the Catholics.

* 523 Hilderic becomes king of the Vandals (Spain and North Africa) and ceases the persecution of Catholics. He recalls the bishops from exile, restores churches to Catholics and allows bishops to be elected.

* c. 524 Boethius (b. 480), scholar, accused of high treason, is executed. The charge is laid on him after he defended the senator Albinus. Against the wishes of the Arian king Theodoric, Albinus had written to Byzantine Emperor Justin I in an attempt to reconcile the Churches of the East and West. Boethius writes The Consolation of Philosophy, his most famous work, while prison. It is a dialogue underscoring the inconstancy of princes and friends.

* 525 Dionysius Exiguus (c. 500-560) in his "Easter Tables" wrongly dates the birth of Christ as 753 years after the founding of Rome. He is responsible for the modern-day method of dating from the birth of Christ. His method of calculation would eventually be replaced by that of Victor of Aquitaine a century later.

* 525 In response to Emperor Justin's decree (523) against Arianism, the Arian Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths in Italy forcibly dispatches Pope St. John I as a head of the delegation to plead for clemency at the Emperor's Court. He is the first pope to visit Constantinople.

* 526 Pope St. John I returns from his forced mission in Constantinople without obtaining the desired results for Theodoric. Details in the primary sources are sketchy as to what exactly happened. Theodoric throws the pope in prison in Ravenna where he dies soon after.

* 526 At the death of Pope St. John I, Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, handpicks his successor, Pope St. Felix IV (-530). The clergy and laity of Rome bow to the wishes of the King, and recognize his choice. This is th first time a western ruler overtly influences the election of a pope.

* 526 King Theodoric of Italy dies. His heir, Athalaric, is still a minor, therefore, Amalsuntha, his mother, becomes the de facto ruler of Italy. She is well-disposed towards Catholics. The Roman clergy write to her a letter complaining of the civil power's usurping of ecclesiastical powers.

* 527 Justinian I becomes Eastern Emperor (-565). He was a Catholic and had helped to end the Acacian schism. His wife, Theodora, plays an important role in religious and political affairs, and she gradually leaned towards Monophytism.

* 529 Justinian closes 1000-year-old School of Philosophy in Athens as a move against Paganism.

* 529 The Second Council of Orange. Semi-pelagianism, the belief that the movement of the will precedes the grace of salvation, is condemned.

* 529 St. Benedict of Nursia (480-543) founds the monastery at Monte Cassino. This marks the beginning of the Benedictine Order.

* 529 Byzantine Emperor Justinian issues the Codex Justinian, a revision of all the laws of the Empire, eliminating the repititions and contradictions. Justinian makes sure his laws do not contradict the Christian faith.


* 530 Pope St. Felix IV falls seriously ill, and in an unusual move, nominates his successor, the future Boniface II. Felix feared that the papal election would become a contest between those who favoured Byzantine rule and those who favoured Gothic rule. In choosing a successor, he thought he would be ensuring a smooth transition of power. He threatens anyone who does not recognize his choice with excommunication.

* 530 Death of Pope St. Felix IV. Boniface II becomes Pope (-532). He had been appointed by his predecessor. Sixty clergymen, representing almost all the clergy in Rome, reject Boniface's claim and elect Dioscoros as anti-pope. They fear Boniface's election would lead to the Gothic kings interfering in Church affairs because his predecessor, Felix, had been nominated by Theodoric. Dioscoros dies twenty-two days after his consecration. Boniface rallies the dissident clergy and has them sign a document anathemizing the late anti-pope.

* 531 Pope Boniface approves the acts of the Second Council of Orange.

* 531 Pope Boniface II submits a constitution to a Roman Synod, giving himself the right to nominate a successor to the papacy. They approve of it and promise obedience. He nominates Vigilius as a future successor, but its enactment provoked bitter feelings and imperial disfavour. He therefore rescinded the constitution by burning it in the Roman Senate the following year.

* 531 The Empress Theodora influences her husband Justinian to lift the sentence of banishment to Monophysite clergy and religious. More than five hundred return to Constantinople.

* 532 Building of St. Sophia Basilica, Constantinople (-537).

* 532 A revolt breaks out against Hilderic, King of the Vandals, led by his heir. Justinian sends his general, Belisarius to conquer Carthage and the rest of Africa. It is the beginning of the end of the Vandal Regime.

* 532 Death of Pope Boniface II. He was the first pope known to be of Germanic ancestry. He was known in his lifetime for his love of the poor during the year of famine.

* 533 Pope John II begins his pontificate (-535). He becomes the first pope to change his name. He was formerly known as Mercurius. Not until the reign of Sergius IV (1009) did the change of names become standard practice.

* 535 Christian Basilica built at Leptis Magna, North Africa.

* 535 Death of Pope John II. Election of Pope Agapetus I (-536).

* c. 535 Pope Agapetus I appoints Vigilius as Aprocrisiary (ambassador) to Constantinople. The Empress Theodora promises him 700 pounds of gold and the Papal See if he promises to avenge the deposition of the Monophysite Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople and deal favourably with Monophysites.

* 536 Death of Pope Agapetus I. Pope St. Silverius succeeds him (-537). He was the son of Pope Hormisdas, who was married before he was ordained into the higher clergy. The Monophysite Empress Theodora wanted to have the deacon Vigilius elected pope, but the Ostrogothic king Theodatus thwarted her plans. When she could not persuade Silverius to act favourably towards the Monophysites, she successfully plotted his downfall.

* 536 General Belisarius captures Rome from the Ostrogoths for the Eastern Empire. The Ostrogoths would return to the city in 537 and lay a siege on it for a year.

* 537 Pope St. Silverius is arrested for treason. A forged letter allegedly written in his hand promised King Vitiges he would leave one of the gates of the city of Rome open so that the Goths could easily attack. He is dressed in a monk's habit and carried off into exile in Lycia in the East. Pope Vigilius is elected in his stead. When he hears of evidence of the Silverius innocence, the Emperor Justinian orders a second inquiry into the matter, but the General Belisarius, who had conducted the first interview, condemned him again. Silverius was banished once more and died of harsh treatment.

* 537 At the death of Pope St. Silverius, Vigilius is recognized as the legitimate pope by the Roman clergy (-555). He had been consecrated invalidly while Pope. St. Silverius was still alive and banished on a false charge of treason. Even though he was put on the throne by Empress Theodora and bribed into favouring Monophysites, once elected, he changes his mind and acts in the interest of the orthodox faith.

* 539 Belisarius completes his conquest of Northern Africa. Now the Arians who had once persecuted Catholics were in turn being persecuted.


* c. 540 Birth of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604), Doctor of the Church. He was trained as a lawyer, and at the age of thirty filled the office of prefect of Rome, the highest office in the city. In c.574, he gave up his substantial estate to form six monasteries. He then converted his own house into a monastery and became a monk himself. Pope Pelagius II ordained him in 578 and appointed him the papal representative in Constantinople in order to summon military aid against the invading Lombards. No help was forthcoming. Despite the fact he remained about seven years in the Imperial Capital, he never mastered the fundamentals of Greek.

* 540 The Persian King Chroses captures Antioch.

* c. 541 The Persian King Chroses persecutes Christians, as they are considered sympathetic to his enemy, the Byzantine Empire (-545).

* c. 542 St. Gildas, a Celtic monk, writes Concerning the Ruin of Britain, a chronicle of the Anglo-Saxon invasions in which he denounces of the wickedness of his age.

* 543 Emperor Justinian issues an edict condemning the "Three Chapters". The theological brains behind this effort was Theodore Askidas, bishop of Cappadocia, an Origenist who wanted to detract Justianian from his anti-Origenist campaign. In order to make possible the reunion of Catholics and Monophysites, he proposed that the following writings be condemned: 1) all the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia; 2) the works of Theodoret of Cyrrus against St. Cyril of Alexandria during the Nestorian controversy and 3) a letter of Ibas, bishop of Edessa addressed to Maris, a Persian bishop, in which he describes the events of the Council of Ephesus. These three are known as "The Three Chapters". The problem is that Theodoret and Ibas had already renounced Nestorianism, and were thus cleared of heresy at the Council of Chalcedon. If the Pope acceded, it would appear that he would be on the way to repudiating the Council of Chalcedon, thereby angering the Catholics of the West. He refused to do so.

* 543 The Monophysite Jacob Baradaeus becomes bishop of Edessa. Monophysitism was a dying heresy at that point in time. He devoted himself entirely to ordaining Monophysite priests, thereby assuring the future of his sect. He is the reason why Monophysite churches today are called Jacobite churches.

* 545 The Empress Theodora orders that Pope Vigilius be carried off to Constantinople. Anthimus, the court official, barged in on a Mass the Pope was celebrating in memory of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. Before the pontiff could finish, Anthimus ordered him onto his ship

* 546 Rome falls to the forces of the Gothic King Totila. Narses would win back the city for the Byzantine Empire, but it would be re-captured once more in 550.

* 547 Pope Vigilius signs a private condemnation of the Three Chapters (see 543), but Justinian is not satisfied with this. Vigilius fears the controversy the condemnation would cause in the West, especially since the vast majority of Latins, including Vigilius, did not read Greek and could not judge for themselves.

* 548 Death of Theodora, (b. 508) Byzantine empress, consort of Justinian I.

* 548 Pope Vigilius issues the Judicatum, a document condemning the Three Chapters (see 543), but preserving the teachings of Chalcedon. It has no positive effect on the Monophysites, and raises a storm of controversy in the West. He withdraws it soon after.


* 550 Pope Vigilius arranges an agreement with the Emperor that the edict of 544 against the Three Chapters should be rescinded until a council could meet to decide the question.

* 550 Wales is converted to Christianity by St. David.

* c. 550 The crucifix develops as ornament, to counter the Monophysite heresy. Monophysites believed that Christ had only a divine nature, and therefore could not be represented, as per the first commandment.

* 551 Prompted by Theodore of Askidas, Justinian issues a new edict condemning the Three Chapters, breaking his agreement with the Pope to not issue any laws on the matter. Vigilius excommunicates Theodore and flees to St. Peter's Church in Constantinople, where he was living at the time. The Emperor sends his soldiers to arrest him. They try to drag him, but the pope clings so hard to the columns of the altar, they come crashing down, nearly missing his head. The mob is so incensed at their treatment of the pope, that they turn on the troops. The pope escapes by travelling the roofs of the city and taking a boat across the Bosphorus to Chalcedon. Justinian must eventually withdraw his edict.

* c. 552 Emperor Justinian sends Nestorian Monks as missionaries to China and Sri Lanka to smuggle out silkworms, thus marking the beginning of the silkworm industry in Europe.

* 552 Justinian appoints Narses as head of his army in Italy. The general would win decisive battles that would ensure Byzantine supremacy until the invasion of the Lombards in 568.

* 553 The Ostrogoths lose their last major battle against the Byzantine army at Mount Vesuvius. Italy now becomes a province of the Byzantine Empire.

* 553 The Second Council of Constantinople (-555) condemns the Three Chapters and the Nestorian doctrines of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa.

* 553 The Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople opens in the Sancta Sophia. The Emperor Justinian, to ensure that the Council condemns the Three Chapters, makes sure that Western bishops do not show up. Pope Vigilius, anticipating this move, declares that he would not take part in the deliberations, and that he would judge the conclusions independently. He issues the Constitutum, in which he condemns the theological errors of Theodore of Mopsuestia, but not his person. It was not presented to the Council. The Emperor Justinian lays before it the documents showing Pope Vigilius' waivering and equivocation. For this, and his refusal to attend the Council, the Council Fathers excommunicate the Pope.

* 554 Pope Vigilius finally agrees to condemn the Three Chapters unconditionally, and is allowed to return to Rome from Constantinople after a nine-year absence. He never makes it home as he dies in Syracuse the following year on the trip back. The condemnation of the Three Chapters causes a schism among the Italian bishops that was not completely healed until the seventh century.

* c. 555 St. Benedict of Nursia composes his famous Rule for monks. Unlike earlier rules, it was not simply a list of prohibitions and maxims, but covered every aspect of a monk's life.

* 556 Pope Pelagius I is elected (-561). He was Justinian's choice for pope, and though the people of Rome accepted his candidacy, they were very hostile toward him for having acquiesced to Pope Vigilius' condemnation of the Three Chapters; so much so that Pelagius could not find three bishops in Italy to consecrate him; a priest had to stand in the place of the third bishop. His main mission during his pontificate was to rally the West to the Fifth General Council of Constantinople (553). The Italians warmed up to him when he used his own wealth to prop up Church revenues which went towards re-building churches devastated in the recent war, and towards helping the poor.


* c.560 Birth of St. Isidore of Seville, Church Father and Archbishop of Seville (-636). His predecessor was his brother, St. Leander of Seville. Isidore's most famous work is his Etymologies, an encyclopedia of twenty-one books covering all fields of knowledge. It was used as a textbook throughout the Middle Ages. In theology, he is remembered chiefly as a compiler, not as an innovator.

* 561 Upon the death of Pope Pelagius I, John III (-574) succeeds to the papal throne. Very little is known about his papacy, as it occurred during the stormy years of the Lombard invasions of Italy. The records of his acts probably perished.

* 563 St. Columba (521-597), Irish abbot and missionary, founds a monastery at Iona, converts the Picts.

* 563 The Chuch of St. Sophia, Constantinople, is consecrated.

* 565 Death of Emperor Justinian I (b. c. 482).

* 568 The Lombards invade Italy. They are a Germanic tribe of pagans and Arian Christians. In their decades-long quest to take over Italy, they would cause the popes and the Church much grief.

* 568 The exarchate at Ravenna is established. The Byzantine Emperor rules parts of Italy through the Exarch, in theory, but because of the dissaray, the role of governing falls on bishops in many towns.


* 570 Birth of Mohammed (d. 632) founder of Islam.

* 571 The Armenians rebel against King Chrosroes I of Persia. The following year, Byzantine Emperor Justin II sends aid. The Empire resumes the wars against Persia.

* 574 Death of Pope John III

* 575 Benedict I becomes Pope. Almost nothing is known about him because his pontificate occurred during the invasion of the Lombards, a very difficult time.

* 579 Pope Benedict I dies. Pelagius II begins his pontificate (-590). Throughout his reign, he repeatedly protests the use of the title "ecumenical" by the Patriarch of Constantinople

* 579 King Leovigild of Spain, an Arian, begins a persecution of Catholics (-584).


* 580 Birth of St. Maximus the Confessor (d. 662). He was the leader of the orthodox party in the Monothelite controversy. He was a champion of Roman primacy in the Eastern Church.

* 583 Death of Cassiodorus (b. c. 490).

* 585 St. Columban founds a monastic school at Luxeuil.

* 589 The Lombards convert to Catholicism.

* 589 The Spanish nobility and royalty, along with eight bishops, make submission to the Catholic Church at the third Council of Toledo and renounce Arianism. The Filioque makes its first appearance in the Nicene Creed, which was added to the liturgy.


* 590 Pope Gregory I "The Great" becomes Pope (-604). He is the first monk to become a pope. During his reign, he dedicated himself to ecclesiastic reforms, promoting monasticism, and missionary work, especially to the Angles. Because of the apathy of both the Emperor and the exarch of Ravenna, he was de facto the only authority in Rome and provided for the defense of the city against the Lombards, even buying them off without the consent or knowledge of the secular authorities. Contrary to popular belief, he did assert his role as supreme head of the Church on numerous occasions, but he was careful to respect canonical jurisdictions. In Letter IX, vers 26 he wrote "As regards the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See? Why, both our most religious lord the emperor, and our brother the Bishop of Constantinople continually acknowledge it.". As a theologian and Church Doctor, Gregory was not an innovator, but a summarizer. His writings were used as textbooks in the Middle Ages.

* 590 St. Gregory of Tours mentions church window-glass in his writings.

* 594 Death of St. Gregory of Tours (b. c. 540). He was the author of a history of the Franks.

* 596 Pope Gregory sends St. Augustine of Canterbury as a missionary to Britain. His objective is to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There are already Christian Britons on the Isle.

* 597 Conversion of Ethelbert, king of Kent, the first English Christian king. It led to the establishment of the Church in southeastern England.

* c. 598 First English school, at Canterbury.


* c. 600 Pope Gregrory I introduces picture books of Bible stories for the illiterate. He writes a manual on the duties of the clergy. He also founds the "Schola Cantorum" in Rome, and creates a collection of chants. "Gregorian chant" is named for him.

* 602 St. Augustine establishes Canterbury as an episcopal see.

* 602 The Persians invade the Byzantine Empire. They conquer Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia and Galatia. Their advance would only be halted in 608 at Chalcedon, across the water from Constantinople.

* 604 Death of Pope Gregory I. Sabinian becomes the new pope (-606).

* 606 Death of Pope Sabinian. The interregnum lasts a year.

* 607 Pope Boniface III accedes to the See of Peter. His reign does not last the year.

* 608 St. Boniface IV becomes the new pope (-615).

* 608 The Byzantine Emperor Phocas begins a campaign of forced conversions against the Jews in Antioch. He suspects them of being in league with Persia, which had invaded the Empire in 602. The Jews riot in response and kill the Patriarch Anastasius.

* 609 Pope St. Boniface IV obtains permission from the Byzantine Emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon into a Church. It is consecrated as Santa Maria Rotonda. It is the first instance of a Roman Temple being converted into a church.


* c. 610 Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, reports being called by God.

* 611 The Persians capture Antioch from the Byzantine Empire.

* 613 The Persians capture Damascus.

* 614 The Persians capture Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is burned down. Jews, welcoming the Persians as liberators, massacre Christians. Thousands of Christians are killed.

* 615 Death of Pope St. Boniface IV. St. Adeodatus I becomes the new pope (-618). Very little is known about him.

* 618 Death of Pope St. Adeodatus I. Pope Boniface V is consecrated Pope (-625).


* 622 Mohammed flees from Mecca to Medina. This is the Hegira, and marks the Year 1 in the Muslim calendar.

* 622 St. Isidore of Seville writes his Etymologies, a major compendium of knowledge on wide range of subjects: grammar, rhetoric, history, theology and medicine. It was used as a reference work right into the Early Modern Period.

* 625 Death of Pope Boniface V. Honorius I becomes the new Pope (-638). He is famous for having been condemned as a heretic by by the Sixth General Council in 680 over the Monothelite controversy.

* 626 The Byzantine army repulses an attack by the Persians on the City of Constantinople.

* 627 After decisive Byzantine victories, the Persians agree to a peace treaty and return conquered territory.

* 628 Mohammed captures Mecca. He writes letters to all the rulers of the world, including the Byzantine emperor, concerning the founding principles of Islam.

* 628 The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius forces the Persian empire to forefeit its conquests. Jerusalem returns to the Byzantine empire.


* c. 633 Mohammed dies. Abu-Bakr succeeds as "Caliph", i.e. representative of the Prophet.

* c. 634 Palestine, Syria and Persia are invaded by Muslim armies.

* 634 Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople sends a famous letter to Pope Honorius I, launching the Monothelite controversy. Monothelitism espoused that Christ essentially had one will, that there was only "one operation" of the will, an experssion Patriarch Sergius had avoided. In a letter, Pope Honorius I commends him for avoiding that expression, but also tells him to avoid the orthodox formula "two operations" because it might be understood in a Nestorian fashion. Unfortunately, Pope Honorius also states that Jesus Christ had One Will, which he meant in an orthodox sense (i.e. that the human and divine wills were as one), which contributed to the confusion.

* 635 Damascus becomes the capital of the Muslim caliphs of the Ommayyad dynasty. Muslims capture Gaza.

* c. 636 Death of St. Isidore of Seville (b. c. 540), Church Father and Archbishop of Seville.

* 638 After a four-month siege, Patriarch Sophronius surrenders Jerusalem to the Muslim Caliph Omar I in order to avoid a massacre. The city was poorly defended and the situation was hopeless for the Christians. The Patriarch agrees to surrender if Christians are not forced to convert to Islam, allowed to keep their churches, and if the Caliph agrees to the terms himself.

* 638 Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople composes an "Ecthesis" for Emperor Heraclius in which he tells the faithful that Jesus Christ had one will, and that the faithful should avoid the expressions "one operation" or "two operations", as per the letter of Pope Honorius in 634.

* c. 638 The Arabs conquer Syria.

* 638 Death of Pope Honorius I. The next pope would only be consecrated in 640.

* 639 Muslim armies attack Armenia.


* 640 Severinus becomes the Pope, but dies the same year. In his short reign, he condemned the Ecthesis of the Emperor Heraclius (see 638). The Emperor had required that he sign it in order to confirm his election. When the Pope refuses, the Exarch Isaac plunders the Lateran Palace. Pope Severinus defined that Christ had two wills, and that there were two operations of the will in him.

* 640 Death of Pope Severinus. Pope John IV succeeds him (-642). He was instrumental in beginning the conversion of the Croatians. He also wrote an apology for Pope Honorius, attempting to show that he was not a Monothelite. He said that when Pope Honorius wrote that Christ only had one will, that he did not have two contrary wills or conflicting desires.

* 641 Arabs take over the Persian Empire.

* 642 Arabs attack Egypt.

* 642 Death of Pope John IV. Election of Pope Theodore I (-649). He was a Greek from Jerusalem. He was a strong opponent of Monothelitism.

* 643 Beginning of construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

* 647 Carthage falls to the Arabs.

* 649 Arabs conquer Cyprus.

* 649 Emperor Constans retracts the Ecthesis (see 638) and issues The Typos, an edict forbidding the use of the the expressions "one operation" or "two operations", in order to prevent disputes. The penalties are extremely severe.

* 649 Death of Pope Theodore I. St. Martin I becomes the new Pope (-655).

* 649 Pope St. Martin I holds a local council in the Lateran condemning bothe Ecthesis (see 638) and The Typos for its prohibition of the orthodox formula "two operations". These decisions were sent to all the bishops as dogmatic decrees. The Emperor Constans was so furious with him that he had the pope dragged to Constantinople in 653, from which he was exiled to Cherson, in the Crimea. Cherson was a town suffering from famine. He died and buried there as a martyr in 655.


* 654 Pope Eugene I succeeds as pope (-657) even before the death of the legitamite pope, St. Martin I. Since the legitamite pope was exiled to the Crimea, and there was no news of his whereabouts, Eugene was appointed. He was placed on the throne by the will of the Emperor, with the intent of doing the latter's will. The Emperor's hopes were misplaced. Pope St. Martin I eventually recognized Eugene's election.

* 655 Pope St. Martin I dies a martyr for the faith in Cherson, Crimea. He had been exiled by the Emperor Constans for condeming the Typos (see 649).

* 657 Death of Pope Eugene I (654-657). Election of Pope St. Vitalian (-672).

* c. 657 Birth of St. John Damascene (d. c.749), Doctor of the Church. Various dates are listed for his birth and death. He was born in Damascus and spent his whole life under Muslim rule. In his youth, he lived as a lay person, and was in charge of revenue for the Muslim caliph. Later on, he became a monk and lived near Jerusalem. His most famous work is De Fide Orthodoxa, a summary of the teachings of the Greek Fathers on the Faith. He wrote three treatistes against iconoclasm, to the displeasure of the iconoclastic Greek Emperors, who could not prosecute him as he lived in a Muslim jurisdiction.


* c. 660 First publication of the Koran.

* 661 The murder of the caliph Ali, son-in-law of the prophet Muhammed, inaugurates the Umayyad Dynasty, founded by Caliph Muwaiya. Muwaiya is not a relative of the prophet, and his ascendsion to the caliphate causes a split in Islam. The Shi'ites believe only the relatives of the prophet have the right to be caliphs, whereas their opponents are Sunnis. The Umayyads would rule the extensive Muslim empire. Muwaiya makes Damascus his capital. The dynasty comes to an end in 750.

* 662 Death of St. Maximus the Confessoer (b. 580). He fought Monothelitism.

* 663 Synod of Whitby. In the British Church, Easter is now reckoned according to Roman method, as opposed to an obsolete Celtic method. It took several decades for this calendar to be implemented.

* c. 668 Theodore of Tarsus is named Archbishop of Canterbury. He set off from Rome, bringing with him Hadrian the African and Benet Biscop. He opens a school that becomes one of the leading centres for languages in the West. It teaches Latin as a dead language, remaining true to grammatical rules. In the following centuries, English scholars would return to the continent to teach Latin.


* 670s Arabs attack North Africa.

* 671 Birth of Caedmon, the earliest English Christian poet.

* 672 Death of Pope St. Vitalian. Election of Pope St. Adeodatus (-676). Very little is known about him.

* 672 The armies of Caliph Muwaiya capture the city of Cyzicus. Constantinople is only fifty miles away across the Sea of Marmara.

* 673 Emperor Constantine IV holds off a Muslim-led attempt to lay siege to the city of Constantinople. This effort lasts five years (-678).

* c. 673 Birth of the Venerable Bede (d. 735), English historian and Doctor of the Church. He is best remembered for his History of the English Church, althought he also wrote commentaries on Scripture. His contribution to Church history and English history is invaluable, sometimes being the only source for events in this obscure period.

* 674 The Arabs lay siege to Constantinople. The struggle lasts five years.

* 676 Death of Pope St. Adeodatus. Election of Pope Donus (-678).

* 678 Death of Pope Donus. Election of Pope St. Agatho (-681). It is said that he was over one hundred years old when he ascended the papal throne. The main event of his pontificate was the Sixth General Council of Constantinople (680-681), in which Monothelitism was condemned, and Pope Honorius I was sanctioned for having failed to uphold the Catholic faith by encouraging the Patriarch Sergius to avoid the orthodox formula "two operations" (see 634). St. Agatho sent legates to preside in his name, but the Council acts arrived after his death. They were confirmed by Pope St. Leo II (682-683). Agatho was said to have been a wonderworker who performed many miracles in his lifetime.

* 679 The Byzantine Emperor Constans and the Caliph Muawiya conclude a peace treaty. The Arab Empire would pay Constantinople an annual tribute, and agreed to abandon the Aegean Islands.


* c.680 Birth of St. Boniface, apostle to the Germans. His name was originally Winifrid, but it was changed to Boniface by the pope. He was martyred in 755.

* 680-681 Sixth Council of Constantinople condemns Monothelitism and practically ends the controversy on the subject of the two wills of Christ. It teaches that Christ had two separate Wills and Energies. Pope Honorius I (625-638) is condemned for having approved of Sergius' action of avoiding the orthodox expresion "two operations".This ensues Eastern reunion with the Church.

* 681 Death of Pope St. Agatho.

* 682 St. Leo II is consecrated pope (-683). He was elected a few days after the death of his predecessor, but nine months lapsed until his consecration.

* 682 In a letter confirming the Acts of the Council of Constantinople (680-681), Pope St. Leo II (682-683) writes "We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius,...and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted." Thus, contrary to anti-Catholic belief, Pope Honorius was not condemned as a heretic per se, but for not having proclaimed the true Catholic Faith, and countenancing that the matter should be hushed up. It is the Pope's own confirmation that secures whether a council acts are accepted, and it is his interpretation that is binding on the faithful. In the letters he wrote to the Western nations, he made it known the Pope Honorius was not condemned as a heretic, but for his failure to protect the integrity of the Faith.

* 683 Death of Pope St. Leo II (682-683). The interregnum lasts eleven months.

* 684 Pope St. Benedict II accedes to the See of Peter (-685). In this period, the practice was to wait for the confirmation of the election by the Byzantine Emperor. Pope St. Benedict was able to obtain concessions from the Emperor, either eliminating the need for imperial confirmation, or making it possible to have the Exarch of Ravenna make the confirmation in the Emperor's name. This shortened the span of interregnums between popes.

* 685 Death of Pope St. Benedict II (684-685). Election of Pope John V (-686), a Syrian.

* 686 Death of Pope John V. Election of Pope Conon (-687).

* 687 Death of Pope Conon. Election of Pope St. Sergius I (-701), a native of Antioch. He refused to sign the acts of the Quinisext Council, which attempted to make the Patriarch of Constantinople equal to the Pope. Byzantine Emperor Jusitinian II was so outraged, that he sent an officer to bring the pope to Constantinople, but the people of Rome protected him and successfully rebuffed the attempt.


* 692 Byzantine Emperor Justinian II convenes the Quinisext Council, also known as the Trullan Council. Only Greek bishops attend. The Emperor sends a list of the 102 canons of this council to Pope Sergius, but the pontiff refuses to sign them as many of them are contrary to the faith. Among the most notable canons are ones making the Patriarch of Constantinople independent from the Roman .

* 691 Arabs overrun Armenia.

* c. 692 Caliph Abd el-Malik builds the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

* 694 The Arian King Egica of the Visigoths believes the Jews are conspiring with Muslims to take over his kingdom. He reduces Jews to slavery, and all children over the age of seven are required to be raised by Christians.

* 696 Willibrord (657-739), missionary to the Frisians, is appointed Bishop of Utrecht.

* c. 698 Arabs destroy the Exarchate of Carthage. The Byzantine empire had attempted to sent a fleet to defend the city, but it revolted.


* 700 Arabs conquer Northern Africa. Christianity is almost completely eradicated in that region.

* 700 Production of the Lindisfarne Gospels, illuminated monastic manuscripts. In this age, it took 500 calf-skins to produce a whole Bible.

* 701 Death of Pope St. Sergius I. Election of Pope John VI (-705).

* 705 Death of Pope John VI. Election of Pope John VII (-707), a Greek. He was of timourous disposition. When Emperor Justinian II sent him the Acts of the Quinisext Council (see 692), which attempted to make the Patriarch of Constaninople equal to the Pope, he simply sent them back, without condemning the proposal.

* 707 Death of Pope John VII.

* 708 Election of Pope Sissinius. His reign would not outlast the year.

* 708 Election of Pope Constantine (-715), a Syrian.

* 709 Emperor Justinian II, in an attempt to get the pope to confirm the canons of the Quinisext Council (see 692), recalls Pope Constantine to Constantinople. The Pope approved the canons that were not contrary to the Faith; the Emperor seems to have been satisfied with this.


* 711-712 A Muslim army crosses the straight of Gibraltar and invades Spain beginning a period of Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula that would last until the fall of Grenada, their last stronghold, in 1492. The successive Muslim regimes inaugurate the rise of Jewish culture.

* 712 Liutprand becomes king of the Lombards (-744). He was a devout Catholic, but warlike. During his reign, many Lombards converted from Arianism to Catholicism. He protected Rome when Emperor Leo III sent his army to execute his decree against the display of images in church. However, he made a number of conquests in Italy.

* 714 Charles Martel becomes King of the Franks. This pivotal figures succeeds in uniting Gaul under one ruler, something not seen in three centuries. He was successful in pushing back the Muslim advance, winning an important battle at Tours in 732. He sponsored the missionary activity of St. Boniface to the Germans. Knowing that St. Boniface was protected by such a strong ruler, the Germans do not attempt to harm him. Unfortunately, the Gaul of his time undergoes a prolonged period of spiritual neglect.

* 715 The Muslim Empire of the Umayyads extends from the Pyrenees to China. Damascus is its capital.

* 715 Death of Pope Constantine (708-715). Election of Pope St. Gregory II (-731). During his pontificate, he became alarmed at the advance of the Muslims, and attempted to repair the walls of Rome, but was prevented from doing so for many reasons, one being a major flood of the Tiber river. He also sent St. Boniface to convert Bavaria.

* 716 St. Boniface begins his mission among the Germans. 716 Arabs conquer Lisbon, Portugal. 717 Leo the Isaurian becomes Byzantine Emperor Leo III (-740). During his reign, he forbids paying homage to images. 717 Muslims lay siege to the city Constantinople, but are repulsed by a Bulgarian army the following year in a bid to make the city theirs. 718 The Muslims take Saragossa, Spain. 719 St. Boniface obtains a commission from Rome to preach the Gospel to the Saxons.


* 720 The Muslims cross the Pyrenees and invade Narbonne, France. They suffer their first defeat.

* 720 Beginning of iconoclasm in the Eastern Empire.

* 721 The Muslims fail to take Toulouse. Bordeaux, Nimes and Carcassonne are controlled by Arabs.

* 722 St. Boniface is consecrated bishop. Charles Martel becomes interested in his labours. It his protection that makes the progress of evangelization of Germany possible.

* 725 St. Boniface fells the Donar Oak near Fritzlar, Hesse in Germany.

* 726 The Eastern Emperor Leo III issues its first law against venerating images. Icons were to be removed throughout the Empire and the picture of Our Lord placed over the city gate of Constantinople was to be taken down and destroyed. This law provokes a riot in the city, and demonstrations in Greece and southern Italy. The fight over iconoclasm was not only about religion, it was also about the emperor's attempt to centralize power.

* 726 St. John Damascene writes three essays defending the veneration of images (-730).

* 727 In the brouhaha over Emperor Leo III's edict against Images, the Exarch of Ravenna is murdered in a rebellion by the people.


* 730 Emperor Leo III summons Patriarch Germanus I of Constantinople to sign a decree condemning the veneration of images. The Patriarch refuses. He is deposed, imprisoned and put to death.

* 731 Death of Pope St. Gregory II. Election of Pope St. Gregory III (-741), the son of a Syrian. During his reign, he made it a point of venerating images to contest the iconoclast policies of Emperor Leo III.

* 731 Pope Gregory III summons a Council at Rome, and threatens excommunication to anyone who condemns the veneration of images or destroys them. Emperor Leo III attempts to abduct the pope, but the fleet assigned with the task is destroyed by a storm in the Adriatic. Instead, the following year, the emperor seizes Calabria and Sicily, papal states that were an important source of revenue for the Church.

* 730 The Venerable Bede writes his History of the English Church.

* 732 Charles Martel defeats the Arabs at Tours. He stems the westward advance of the Muslims.

* 735 Death of The Venerable Bede (b. 672). He had introduced the counting of dates before the birth of Christ. He dies while preparing a translation of the Gospel of John into Anglo-Saxon.

* 735 Birth of Alcuin of York, one of the greatest scholars of his age (d. 804). He is best known for his contribution to the revival of learning during Charlemagne's reign. He headed the Palace School where he taught Charlemagne, his wife Liutgarde and his sister Gisela, among others. He went to great lengths to purchase, copy and preserve books for his library. The Palace School became a centre of learning for all of Europe. Alcuin was instrumental in the defeat of the Adoptionist heresy, having disputed with Felix of Urgel, its main proponent. He also wrote numerous treatises on religious and secular subjects.

* 737 Charles Martel wins Nimes back from the Muslims.

* 739 The Lombard King Liutpriand dispoils the Exarch of Ravenna and begins a march south to subject his vassals, including the Duchy of Rome. The Pope calls on Charles Martel, king of the Franks, for military assistance.


* 741 Death of Pope St. Gregory III (731-741). Election of Pope St. Zacharias (-752). He was active in fighting iconoclasm, securing peace with the Lombards, of in missionary efforts in Gaul and Germany.

* 741 Constantine V Copronymous becomes Byzantine Emperor (775). During his reign, he prohibits the veneration of images, and in the latter part, launched a reign of terror, martyring faithful monks, forcibly marrying them and forbidding novices in monasteries. His nickname "Copronymous" comes from the fact that at his christening as an infant, he soiled the baptismal font.

* 741 Charles Martel dies. Pepin the Short becomes Mayor of the Frankish Court. St. Boniface reforms the Frankish church by organizing councils that fill vacant sees and decreed moral reforms of the clergy.

* 742 Birth of Charlemagne (d. 814), son of Pepin the Short, an iconic figure in the history of Christian Europe. Whereas the Byzantine Emperor had been recognized as the leading temporal leader up to that point, Charlemagne's power made it possible to regard him as the de facto Emperor of Western Europe. Charlemagne was a devout Catholic and very conscientious in his role as protector of the Church.

* c. 749 Death of St. John Damascene (b. c. 657), Church Doctor.


* 750 The Umayyad dynasty of Damscus comes to an end. The Abassids of Baghdad now succeed to the Caliphate. They are less interested in Europe than conquests closer to their own home base. They were also made up of many non-Arabs. Christian and Jewish scholars translate many important works into Arabic during this period, including Aristotle and Plato.

* 751 Pope Zacharias acknowlegdes the authority of Pepin the Short, since he was the real ruler of the Franks, whereas the Merovingian kings who preceded him were but figureheads. St. Boniface consecrates the new king.

* 751 The Saracens conquer Samarkand and learn how to develop paper. This knowledge eventually made its way to Europe after many centuries, and eventually made possible the printing of inexpensive Bibles in the late Medieval period.

* 752 Death of Pope St. Zachary. Election of Pope Stephen II, but dies in the same year he is elected. He is succeeded by Pope Stephen III (-757). He would gain Frankish assistance in rebuffing the Lombards.

* 752 Lombard King Aistulf captures Ravenna and terminates the Byzantine Empire's presence in Italy. Without the Empire's presence in Italy, Rome is left practically defenseless.

* 752 King Aistulf demands tribute from the Pope Stephen III for his "protection" of Rome. Emperor Constantine V orders the pope to negotiate. The pope could not pay the tribute, and Aistulf was not interested in negotiation. The pope calls on King Pepin the Short for help. He requests an escort to Gaul so that he could meet secretly with Pepin in person to discuss the issue.

* 753 Just as Pepin the Short's armed escort enters Rome, an ambassador from the Byzantine empire arrives with orders that the pope seek out Aistulf and negotiate yet again in order to restore Ravenna. The pope, the imperal ambassador and the Frankish contigent make their way to Pavia to meet Aistulf. The Lombard king remains unmoved. The Greeks return to Constantinople; the pope and the Frankish escort continue to Gaul.

* 753 At a Council at Hieria in the Eastern Empire, 338 bishops sign a declaration condemning the veneration of images as sinful.They order the removal of images from churches on pain of excommunication, or, in the case of priest or bishop, deposition. The eastern clergy go along with this. The monks resist. Notably absent from the Council are the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, not to mention the Pope, who are all iconophiles.

* 754 Pope Stephen III (752-757) finally arrives at Ponthieu to meet with Pepin the Short to ask for his protection. Pepin agrees to help restore Ravenna to the Empire. He attempts to get Aistulf to agree not to attack Rome. When Aistulf refuses, Pepin crosses the Alps and attacks the Lombard king at Pavia. Aistulf surrenders Ravenna and other conquests, but once the Frankish army was out of Italy, he went back on his word and set out on another war of conquest.

* 754 Emperor Constantine V of the Byzantine Empire begins dissolution of monasteries in his realm in order to combat the veneration of images.

* 754 St. Boniface, apostle to the Germans, is murdered (b. 673).

* 756 King Aistulf of the Lombards, breaking the treaty he had made with King Pepin the Short, lays siege to Rome. As the Frankish army moved in to rescue the Eternal City, Aistulf abandons the campaign. The Franks defeat the Lombards and acquire their territory.

* 756 The Byzantine Ambassador arrives in Rome to demand that the lands conquered by the Franks be given over to the Empire. Pepin the Short refuses, and the Empire abandons its claim to Italy.

* 756 The Frankish army collects the keys to the gates of the various Italian cities under their control. The keys were laid at the St. Peter. The pope now controlled this territory. This was the origin of the Papal States. At about the same time, the Donation of Constantine is forged (or sometime within the next hundred years). It maintained that Emperor Constantine the Great bequeathed the Papal States to the Pope. It was also used to bolster the claim that the pope could translate the Imperial Title to Charlemagne. The earliest quotation of the False Donation is in the second half of the ninth century.

* 757 Death of Pope Stephen III. He is succeeded by his brother Pope Paul I (-767). During his pontificate, he continued good relations with King Pepin the Short, while the Lombards kept up their struggle to dominate Rome.

* 759 The Franks win back Narbonne from the Arabs.

* 759 Birth of St. Theodore of Studium (d. 826) one of the great defenders of the veneration of images during the iconoclast persecution in the East. For defending the orthodox faith, he suffered torture and banishment numerous times. His regulations on monastic life were taken as a model all over the Orthodox world, including the famous monastic colony at Mount Athos. He was also upheld Papal Supremacy. He said “Whatever novelty is brought into the Church by those who wander from the truth must certainly be referred to Peter or to his successor . . . . Save us, chief pastor of the Church under heaven” and also “Arrange that a decision be received from old Rome as the custom has been handed down from the beginning by the tradition of our fathers.”


* 761 The Byzantine Empire executes the first martyrs of the iconoclast controversy. A monk named Peter was scourged to death, while the Abbot John of Monagria was tied up in a sack and thrown into the sea for refusing to trample on an icon.

* 766 King Ethelbert of England and the scholar Alcuin make York a centre of learning.

* 767 Death of Pope Paul I. The Roman nobility, unhappy with the state of affairs, plot a conspiracy. Led by Duke Toto, they proclaim Constantine, a layman, the new pope and hastily have him ordained and consecrated. The Primercerius (chief of the notaries) Christopher is the only one who would stand up to this plot. He agrees with Toto to retire to a Monastery in Easter 768, but instead he flees to the King of the Lombards to ask for help.

* 768 The Lombards answer Primercerius Christopher's plea for help and remove the anti-pope Constantine. They conquer the city and kill Duke Toto. Christoper presides over the valid election of Pope Stephen III. He then sentences Constantine to be deprived of his clerical power, blinded and imprisoned.

* 768 Death of Pepin the Short (b. 768), king of the Franks. His kingdom is handed over to two of his sons, Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman (d. 771). A conflict develops between the two brothers when Carloman does not aid Charlemagne in the suppression of a revolt in Aquitaine, as custom required. When Carloman dies, Charlemagne acquires his domains, but not through inheritance. The leaders of the feudal domains prefer Charlemagne to Carloman's sons. Frankish law did not recognize primogeniture (inheritance by oldest sons).

* 769 Following the scandalous election of the anti-pope Constantine (768), a council opens in the Lateran and decrees that only cardinal-priests or cardinal-deacons could be eligible for the papacy, and that only clerics had the right to vote.


* 770 Charlemagne marries Desiderata, daughter of Desiderius, King of the Lombards. It was hoped that this alliance would pacify the Lombards. Three years later, Charlemagne would repudiate his wife and marry Hildegarde, a Swabian.

* 771 Death of Carloman, brother of Charlemagne. The latter becomes the sole ruler of the Franks (-814).

* 772 Death of Pope Stephen III. Election of Pope Adrian I (-795). He would be the longest-reigning pope until Pope Pius VI. He presided through his legates over the seventh General Council of Nicea (787) which affirmed Church doctrine on the veneration of images. He was good friends with Charlemange, who would secure temporal independence for Rome. Adrian is considered the founder of the temporal sovereignty of the popes.

* 772 Charlemagne conquers Saxony and forces their conversion to Christianity. The Saxons worshipped Norse Gods and were very hostile to Christianity, often killing missionaries. They occasionally engaged in human sacrifice.

* 772 Pope Hadrian I (-795) asks Charlemagne to defend the Papal States against Lombards.

* 773 Charlemagne crosses the Alps and annexes Lombard territory. He proclaims himself King of the Lombards.

* 774 Charlemagne enters Rome with great fanfare. He celebrates Easter in Rome. He renews the pact that his Pepin had made with Pope Stephen II and is recognized as the Patricius Romanus, the Church's protector. He confirms Pepin's donation of territory to the pope, an act known as the "Donation of Charlemagne". He enlarges the donation in 781.

* 775 On the death of Constantine V, Leo IV becomes the Byzantine Emperor (-780). He is an iconoclasts, but halts the persecution of those who venerate images. His wife, the Empress Irene, is secretly Catholic.

* 777 Three Spanish Muslim emirs, enemies of the Ummayad regime in Spain, do homage to Charlemagne and propose an invasion of Norther Spain. The invasion was launched in the spring of 778, but it was a losing campaign. It inspired the famous Song of Roland.

* 778 Birth of Louis the Pious, future Holy Roman Emperor (814-840).


* 780 On the death of Emperor Leo IV, Empress Irene becomes virtually the only ruler of the Byzantine Empire (-802) as regent over her minor son. She restores the veneration of images. Tarasius, the patriach of Constantinople, the Empress and the Pope call for a council on the matter. Attempts at convening a council are thwarted by the army.

* 781 The "Saxon Capitulary" of Charlemagne requires the Saxons to accept Baptism on pain of death.

* 781 The Nestorian Church, settled in China since 645, build Christian monasteries and set up missionary activity. Nestorians deny Mary is the Mother of God.

* 782 Alcuin leaves his monastery at York to help revive learning in Charlemagne's domains.

* 785 Pope Adrian I condemns the heresy of Adoptionism in a letter to Spanish Bishops. Adoptionism is one of the few heresies to have sprung from Western Europe, and its impact was felt mostly in Spanish dominions under Muslim rule and in Southern France. It posited that while the divine Christ was the natural son of God, Christ the man was the adopted Son of God. St. Benedict of Aniane helped convert 20 000 people from this heresy.

* 785 After having lost in his rebellion against Charlemagne, the Saxon king Witterkind acknowledges the Christian God is stronger than Odin and receives baptism at Attigny. Charlemagnes stands in as his godfather.

* 787 Three hundred bishops assemble at the second Council of Nicea. It is presided by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the pope is represented by two legates. They anathemize the council of Hieria in 753 and uphold the traditional veneration of images.

* 787 Charlemagne issues a law ordering that all bishops and abbots keep open their monasteries and cathedral schools for the study of the seven liberal arts and the interpretation of Scripture.

* 789 In a letter to the bishops and abbots of his realm, Charlemagne bids that not only those destined to the clergy be allowed to attend monastic and cathedral schools, but all children from the surrounding areas.


* 790 Alcuin is made principal of Frankish court school.

* 791 Byzantine Emperor Constantine imprisons his mother Empress Irene for her cruelty.

* 792 Empress Irene regains power over the Byzantine Empire.

*c. 792 Beginning of Viking era in England. Vikings attack the island monastery of Lindisfarne. The Vikings would have a tremendous impact on the evolution of Western history. They were known to target monasteries for their ecclesiastical treasures, destroying invaluable pieces of art, not to mention priceless books and other documents. They would eventually settle in many parts of Europe, notably England, Normandy, Iceland, Ukraine, and Russia; and they would shape their destiny. They would be the first Europeans known to have visited and settled in North America. In their heyday (c. 800-1100) they were known for their expertise in the fabrication of weapons, jewelry, ships and for their navigational abilities. Norse literary techniques, as they are found in the Icelandic sagas, would find their way into Medieval English literature, and many Scandinavian words would appear in the English language.

* 793 The Muslim Saracens invade Septimania (southern France).

* 794 Charlemagne condemns the veneration of images at the Synod of Frankfurt. It does not recognize Nicea II (see 787) as en Ecumenical Council. Pope Adrian I condemns this decision. Part of the reason why the Synod condemn Nicea II is that they had received an imperfect Latin translation of the Greek proceedings of the Council, which led them to believe that images were being adored, not venerated. They were also unfamiliar with their elaborate forms of showing respect, such as kisses, incense, prostrations, etc. Nonetheless, they rejected the iconoclast Council of Constantinople (754) .

* 795 Death of Pope Adrian I. Pope Leo III accedes to the papal throne (-816). Upon his election, he sent Charlemange the keys of the Confession of St. Peter and the standard of the city to show the king that he considered him the protector of Rome. He was most famous for crowning Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 800.

* c. 795 The Vikings raid Ireland.

* 796 Alcuin of York retires to a monastery in Tours. This monastic school becomes a famous centre of learning, and many of his pupils go on to obtain important posts in the Church.

* 797 Byzantine Empress Irene blinds her son Emperor Constantine. She makes sure that it is done in such a fashion that he dies of his wounds. He has no heir. She then assumes power as Basileus (Emperor). Pope Leo III considers the emperor's throne to be vacant, as traditionally, Roman Law did not acknowledge women to be legitamite successors.

* 797 Charlemagne enacts a law bidding priests to open schools in every town and village and teach children for free or only accept voluntary donations. 799 The Roman nobles make an attempt on the life of Pope Leo III in order to replace him with their candidate for Pope. He suffers injuries to the eyes and tongue, but it is said that he recovered miraculously. He seeks Charlemagne's protection.


* 800 Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day. In theory, this was a revival of the Empire of the West. The Byzantine population is angered by this move, as traditionally Christendom only had one emperor. He is called "Emperor of the Franks" by the Greeks, but never "Roman Emperor".

* 801 Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, conquers Barcelona from the Muslims.

* 801 Birth of St. Ansgar (d. 865), Archbishop of Hamburg, and apostle of the North. He brought the Faith to Sweden, and preached in Denmark, and tried to mitigate the horrors of the Viking slave trade in his domain.

* 802 Nicephorus I dethrones Empress Irene and becomes Emperor (-810).

* 802 Charlemagne's ambassadors arrive in Constantinople with the mission of arranging a marriage between him and the Empress Irene. Both Pope Leo and Charlemagne felt that the marriage would have been fortuitous, as it would have united the crowns of both empires. The Byzantine people had heard of this proposal and vehemently against the proposal, as they did not want their Empress marrying what they viewed as an illiterate barbarian from the West. Irene had been well-disposed to accept, in order to consolidate her waning power. Unfortunately for her, Charlemagne's ambassadors arrive after she is deposed.

* 803 The former Empress Irene dies on the island of Lesbos a year after her fall from power. Her championing of the veneration of images made her a saint in the eyes of the Greek Church, but her lust for power and murder of her son Emperor Constantine (See 797) earned her the revulsion of most of her subjects.

* 804 Death of Alcuin of York (b. 735). He was instrumental in the Carolingian renaissance, the revial of learning in the ninth century.

* 806 Charlemagne bequeaths his empire between his three sons as if it were his personal property. Frankish law did not require primogeniture (automatic inheritance by the eldest son). A landholder could dispose of his domains as he pleased. Two of his sons would pre-decease him, leaving the Empire intact to Louis the Pious (see 814).

* Vikings destroy the famous monastery of St. Columba on the island of Iona. All the monks are killed.

* 807 The Byzantine Empire and the Frankish Empire go to war over Charlemagne's claim to be Emperor. The Byzantine Empire viewed itself as the only legitamite successor to the old Roman Empire.

* 809 The Council of Aachen includes the addition of the “filioque” clause (the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son) in the Nicene Creed. Pope Leo III approves of the doctrine, but says it should not be added to the Creed. The “filioque” continues to be said in the Creed, despite the Pope's advice.


* 810 Birth of Johannes Scotus Erigena, theologian (d. 877). He was one of the greatest theological minds of his time. He was accused of pantheistic tendencies and and placed too much faith in the power of reason to solve every problem. His translation of Pseudo-Dionysius into Latin was an impetus for future Medieval theologians.

* 813 Charlemagen crowns his son Louis the Pious as co-emperor at the Diet of Aix-la-Chapelle (aka Aachen).

* 813 A French synod at Tours grants permission to the French clergy to preach in the lingua rustica romana, the language of the common people that would eventually become French. Latin was no longer comprehensible to the people. The vernacular of the people was not considered a suitable literary language. Texts that were written in the common vernacular were intended to be read aloud.

* 814 Death of Charlemagne. Such is the affection that many have for him that he is considered a saint. His cultus would be permitted at Aachen. He is succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious (-840). This marks the beginning of decline of the Western Empire.

* 815 The Byzantine Empire ratifies a treaty recognizing Charlemagne's claim to be Emperor of the West (even though he is now dead). This new state of understanding would be called the Pax Nicephori, in memory of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I who initiated the pact several years earlier, while he and Charlemagne was still alive. For the first time, the Byzantine Empire acknowledges that there are two Empires. However, it would not extend their recognition to Charlemagne's successors.

* 815 Patriarch Nicephorus I of Constantinople is exiled for not having approved Emperor Leo V's manifesto supporting iconoclasm.

* 815 Byzantine Emperor Leo V appoints an illiterate layman by the name of Theodotus as Patriarch of Constantinople. A council is convened, and of the few Orthodox clergy who appear, a number are thrown to the ground, punched, and kicked. The Council votes to revive the canons of Hieira (753) and annul the canons of Nicea (787). A new persecution against iconophiles is launched. Monks are expelled from their monasteries, some abbots are killed by being sewn into sacks and thrown into the sea.

* 816 Death of Pope Leo III. Election of Pope Stephen IV (-817).

* 817 Pope Stephen IV crowns Louis the Pious Emperor in Rheims. Louis was first coronated by Charlemagne as co-emperor, before the latter's death in 814.

* 817 Louis the Pious decrees that his upon his death, his Empire should be shared between his sons Pepin, Lothair and Louis the German. Lothair is co-emperor, and in the upon Louis' death would be the overlord of the Empire. Lothair was give Italy to rule over; under him, Pepin would rule Aquitaine and some neighbouring regions and the younger Louis would receive Bavaria and adjacent areas.

* 817 The sudden death of Pope Stephen IV. Election of Pope St. Paschal I (-824). He continued the struggle against iconoclasm in the East.

* 817 King Louis the Pious decrees that all monasteries in the Carolingian Empire must follow the rule of St. Benedict. He issues separate decrees for canons regular and for nunneries.

* 817 King Louis the Pious issues a famous charter promising Pope Paschal I and his successors the rule over the city of Rome and its dependencies. The Charter of Louis the Pious (Pactum Ludovicianum) was reaffirmed by Holy Roman Emperor Otto I in 962 and Emperor Henry II in 1020.

* 817 St. Nicephorus, the deposed Patriarch of Constantinople, writes Apologeticus major, defending the veneration of icons.


* 820 On Christmas Eve, Byzantine Emperor Leo V is assassinated due to a daring and dramatic plot by his successor, Emperor Michael II. Michael had been caught red-handed in a first plot to kill Leo. In prison, Michael hatched another plot, sending out a servant to fetch a priest before his imminent execution, but in fact, the servant rallied co-conspirators, who disguised themselves as monks in the choir at the Christmas mass that Leo was attending. They struck off his head.Later he had Leo's sons castrated to prevent any kind of claims of succession. Emperor Michael II was an iconoclast, but more tolerant of iconophiles, and he released those imprsioned for venerating images, although he did not annul any laws on the matter. His tolerance would progressively diminish.

* 822 Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims undertakes efforts to convert Denmark. The effort is a failure

* 823 Lothair, son of Louis the Pious, is crowned ruler of Italy by Pope St. Paschal I. Lothair would claim sovereignty over Roman and other papal domains, but the Pope continued to assert his papal rights.

* 824 Death of Pope St. Paschal I. Election of Pope Eugene II (-827). He is believed to be a pro-Frankish pope, and offers favourable terms to the Emperor in the dispute over jurisdiction in papal domains.

* 824 Pope Eugene II and Lothair, son of Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious, conclude the Constitution Romana. There were many articles, but essentially, the people had to swear to uphold the primacy of the pope, all the while swearing allegiance to the Frankish Empire, and only allowing for canonical papal elections. The Pope was to also swear fealty to the Frankish Empire before being consecrated. This represented an extension of Frankish influence on the papacy.

* 825 Arabs found the city of Candia in Crete. Originally, this group had been expelled from Andalusia, Spain; they conquered Alexandria in Egypt in 818, but were then conquered by Caliph Mamun. Candia becomes a meeting place of Arab pirates and the biggest slave market in Europe. From there, the Arabs invade other Greek islands.

* 826 Baptism of King Harold of Denmark at Mainz. He returns to his country with St. Ansgar, a missionary monk who spread Christianity in Scandinavia.

* 826 Death of St. Theodore of Studium (b. 759), a leader figure in the fight against iconoclast in the East and a supporter of papal primacy.

* 827 Beginning of the Arab conquest of Sardinia and Sicily. The forces of the Emir of Kairouan were invited by Euphemios, a dismissed Byzantine admiral with a grudge against the Empire. From there, the Arabs attack other parts of Italy. Sicily becomes another nest of Arab pirates.

* 827 Death of Pope Eugene II. Pope Valentine succeeds but dies quickly after. Election of Pope Gregory IV (827-844). He was a well-intentioned man, but not very politically astute.

* 828 The relics of St. Mark the Evangelist are moved from Egypt to Venice, where he is a patron saint.


* 832 Emperor Theophilus issues a strict decree against the veneration of images in the Byzantine Empire. St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, would suffer scourging for his opposition to the Emperor.

* 838 Arabs sack Marseilles and settle in southern Italy. They defeat the Byzantine army at Amorion, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).


* 840 Death of Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious. Had had divided his succession between the three sons of his first union (see 817), but the eldest, Lothair, strove to overcome his two younger brothers to become Emperor. His defeat spells the downfall of the Frankish Empire. While the temporal protectors of the Papal States were embroiled in civil war, the Muslim Saracens were pushing forward in Europe.

* c. 840 The Arabs begin to form colonies in Southern Italy. Some of the local princes of form alliances with them.

* 842 Oaths of Strasbourg mark the beginning of the distinction between the Latin and French languages. Louis the German, and Charles the Bald swear an oath in the local “Roman” language to oppose the Emperor Lothair, the Frankish Emperor.

* 842 Death of Byzantine Emperor Michael II (aka Michael the Stammerer). The Catholic Empress Theodora becomes regent over the two-year-old heir the future emperor Michael the Drunkard, and effectively rules the empire. She puts an end to the persecution of iconophiles.

* 843 After the accession of Empress Theodora as Regent, the faithful restore the images in a solemn procession in Constantinople. This first Sunday in Lent is recognized as the Feast of Orthodoxy in the Eastern Church. Iconoclasm is regarded as the epitome of all heresies, therefore the feast is celebrates the triumph of the whole Orthodox faith.

* 843 The Treaty of Verdun finalizes the division of Charlemagne's Empire and ends the civil war in the Frankish Empire. Lothair would remain the nominal Emperor and rule the central corridor from the Low Countries to Italy. Louis of Bavaria claims the eastern portion, which would become modern Germany; the western portion would go to Charles the Bad, and it would become modern France.

* 844 It has been 520 years since the Emperor Constantine defeated Licinius and stopped the last persecution of Christians. Out of those 520 years, the East had been in schism 203 years.

* 844 Death of Pope Gregory IV. Election of Pope Sergius II (-847). He was a glutton, who left to his brother Benedict the charge of administering the Church. His reign was rife with simony and corruption.

* 844 The Kingdoms of the Picts and the Scots are united when Kenneth Mac Alpin, King of the Scots, inherits the Pictish throne.

* 846 Saracens sack Rome and damage the Vatican. They pillage the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul. St. Peter's Basilica would never be as splendid until its re-building in the 16th century. A Venetian fleet is destroyed by Arabs.

* 847 Death of Pope Sergius II. Election of Pope St. Leo IV (-855). He made efforts for the protection of Rome against the Muslims, and was known as a worker of miracles. The Frankish emperor Lothair was not pleased with his election.

* 848 Pope Leo IV builds Leonine Wall around the Vatican hill to protect it from attack.

* 849 Birth of Alfred the Great of England (d. 899).

* 849 Saracens from Sardinia make an attempt on Rome, but fleets from Rome, Naples, Amalfi and Gaeta manage to destroy the Muslim fleets, in conjunction with a storm.