Timeline of the Middle Ages
Of special importance to the Middle Ages, and beyond, was the unlikely establishment of a new religion, Christianity. This originated in the Middle East with Jesus of Nazareth whose teachings were later compiled into a sacred text, the Bible.
Christianity – like Judaism, Islam, and some other lesser religions (the Abrahamic religions) – was a monotheistic semitic faith that claimed descent from the Judaism of ancient Israelites and worship of the God of Abraham.
Christianity arose out of Judaism, the bible recording oppressed and marginalized people on the fringes of powerful empires, the early Old Testament being about nomadic tribes persecuted by the polytheistic Babylon, and the New Testament an account of similar people, now Christians, under the persecution of Rome with Jesus crucified for his beliefs. The Christian mission was continued by Jesus’s followers (disciples), the most influential being the apostle Paul, who was a Greek-educated orthodox Jew and one-time Roman soldier. Paul travelled widely but was eventually arrested by the Roman authorities. Much of the New Testament consists of fourteen epistles (letters) attributed to Paul, and it is the ideas discussed in Paul’s epistles that have had the greatest influence on the West.
Initial Roman indifference to Christianity was followed by antagonism but took an unusual turn several centuries after Jesus’s death when Emperor Constantine I (c. 272–337 CE) adopted the new religion. With the Edict of Milan in 313 CE Christians were to be treated with respect, and by 325 CE Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman empire. In 330 CE Constantine created an eastern or Byzantine Roman Empire by transferring the capital from Rome to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople after himself). Constantine also instigated the provision of a doctrinal statement of correct belief or orthodoxy, the Nicene Creed, first written in 325 CE and amended in 381 CE.Though, by 476 CE, the western Roman Empire had fallen, the legacy of Christianity flourished, spreading through Latin Europe (Christendom).
Christianity and other monotheistic religions cleared away the complexities and confusion resulting from polytheism and animistic beliefs. Romans had, for example, absorbed the gods of conquered peoples into a vast pantheon. Monotheism identified a single god and, through a holy book, revealed god’s teachings on the Creation, human conduct, the spiritual world, life after death, and the future of humanity. Religion was the medium for social rites of passage, and it underpinned the education system. Collectively these were powerful forces in daily life that had a profound influence on the Middle Ages and beyond not least of which was the Christian calendar which places the origin of Judaism to a covenant between god and Abraham in 1812 BCE, Christianity to the birth of Jesus in the year 0, and Islam to the prophet Mohammed’s teachings in the Quran beginning around 610 CE.
410 – Alaric I, first king of the Visigoths from 395–410 sacks Rome. Roman garrisons leave Britain
476 – Soldier statesman and former barbarian Flavius Odoacer (c. 433 – 493 CE) deposes child emperor Romulus Augustulus to become King of Italy from 476 to 493 CE, though he deferred to emperor Zeno in Constantinople. This date is often regarded by historians as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire
c. 900 – establishment of Danelaw
1016 – Cnut unites England, Denmark and Norway into a trading bloc
1054 – The Great Schism (East–West Schism) was the break between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches resulting from both theological and political differences that had developed during the preceding centuries.
1066 – Norman invasion
c. 1300 to c. 1850 – The Little Ice Age lasts for about 550 years
1314 – England defeated by Scotland at the Battle of Bannockburn
1378-1417 – The Western Schism was a split within the Catholic Church when two men claiming to be the true pope ruled (by 1410 this was three) each excommunicating the another. The schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418).
1400-> -Italian Renaissance from the 15th (Quattrocento) and 16th (Cinquecento) centuries, spreading across Europe and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity
1419 –Portuguese discovery of Madeira
1427 – Portuguese discovery of the Azores
1434 –> – exploration of coast of west Africa
1440 – Advent of the Gutenberg printing press. Western European lists of medicinal plants appeared for the first time, not in copied manuscript form, but as printed herbals. From Spain and Portugal came the herbals of de Orta (1490-1570), Monardes (1493-1588), and Hernandez (1514-1580) and mention of plants from the New World and Asia. From Germany the works of Brunfels (1489-1534), Bock (1498-1554), and Fuchs (1501-1566), from the Low Countries Dodoens (1517-1585) appointed Professor of Medicine in Leiden in 1582, Lobel (1538-1616), and Clusius (1526-1609). From Italy Mattioli (1501-1577) who studied at the University of Padua in 1523 and Alpino (1553-1617) who assisted the establishment of the Botanic garden at this university in 1545. From England of this period came the herbals of Turner (c.1508-1568) and Gerard (1545–1612),
1453 – Seljuk Turks captured Constantinople with many artists, intellectuals and merchants fleeing to the major cities of northern Italy that would become the epicentre of a Renaissance revival in ancient learning, art and trade
1485 – The accession of Tudor Henry VII with the defeat of the Plantagenet Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field has been used by historians as a convenient marker for the commencement of both Renaissance England and the early modern period
1488 – Diaz rounds the Cape
1498 – Vasco da Gama finds sea route to India’s Calicut
1492–1502 – Christopher Columbus’s trans-Atlantic voyages to the Americas
1512 – Antonio de Abreu lands on the Spice Islands
1519-1522 – Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the globe between 1519–1522, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano and Enrique of Malacca