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 Detailed Timeline of European History
Early Dark Ages (490-600) << Early Dark Ages (600-755) >> Early Dark Ages (755-840)

Early Dark Ages II (600 - 755)
Europe During the Rise of the Franks and Muslims

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Europe 755 AD

Viking Raids in Northern Europe Continue (600 - 755): Vikings from Scandinavia begin raiding the unprotected coastal lands of Britain & the northern mainland. Monasteries were a common target, since they were typically undefended, & contained valuables. Slaves were also captured.

Avar KingdomByzantine Empire Loses Southern Hispania (624): Driven out by Visigoths who will subsequently lose this territory to Muslim invaders in the 700s.

Avar Invasion of Byzantine (626): Avars launch unsuccessful attack on Constantinople, accelerating the demise of their power. Slavs, who inhabit most of the Balkan peninsula by now, become independent of the Avars. Avars now only control their own independent kingdom in Pannonia (shaded).

(Timeline Continued Below)


 Further Understanding:  Byzantine Decline

Begins with the Justinian Bubonic Plague (541), killing 25-50% of the Byzantine population. Avars came from Asia (Turkic), driving Slavs into the Balkan peninsula in massive numbers, limiting Byzantine expansion to the west. The meteoric rise of the Muslim Caliphate (empire) to the East (& in North Africa) overpowered Byzantine, cutting it off to the east as well. Muslims were empowered & unified through the new religion of Islam, using that momentum to overrun the Middle East. The Muslims offered greater security & religious tolerance for local residents (Jews & other non-Orthodox adherents). The Muslims also developed a centralized system of laws, banking, trade, and civil services (to improve local infrastructure), matters left largely neglected by the Byantines. Between the frevent converts to Islam and the political goodwill established, the Caliphate was able to accumulate a massive army of conquered peoples that converted to Islam, with the belief that they were fighting on behalf of their God, & that eternal rewards awaited them for doing so (not such a different from message from Christian leaders, especially during Crusades). The campaign against Byzantine was also emboldened by Mohammad’s call for Jihad against the Roman/Greek Empire before his death.

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Byzantine Losses

Death of the prophet Muhammad (632): At this time the Arab Muslims had unified the Arabian Peninsula under Islamic rule (Caliphate).


 Further Understanding:
 Explaining the Meteoric Rise of the Muslims

Muslims became united under a single purpose through the new religion of Islam (originating with the Prophet Muhammad who had just recently died in 632). To their west, they were able to conquer many Byzantine lands, inhabited by many who had become indifferent to Byzantine rule. The Muslims offered greater security & religious tolerance, particularly for Jews. They also developed a centralized system of laws, banking, trade & civil services (to improve local infrastructure). Muslims accumulated a massive army of conquered peoples that converted to Islam, with the belief that they were fighting on behalf of their God, & the eternal rewards believed to await them for doing so (not different than message from Christian leaders, especially during Crusades).


First Bulgarian Empire Formed (632): Bulgars shed the rule of the weakening Avar Kingdom to form the First Bulgarian Empire, encompassing modern Northern Bulgaria & Southern Romania. Original predecessor state to modern Bulgaria. First cohesive political unit of the Bulgars.

Byzantine Loses Middle East (634–41): Byzantine loses Syria, Israel (middle east) & Egypt (white) to Muslim Arab armies. Jews settled in Byzantine begin to migrate in large numbers to the newly established Caliphate (Muslim Empire), due to poor treatment they typically received by Byzantines. Byzantine loses Jerusalem to the Arab Muslims in 638, a jarring blow for Christians throughout Europe.

"South Slav" Principality of Dolcea (650): A group of Serbs form the Principality of Dolcea, roughly equivalent to modern Montenegro, the first South Slavic political entity.

Khazar KingdomBeginning of "Turkic" Khazar Kingdom (652): Khazars were a nomadic Turkic tribe that migrated west, settling in an area encompassing modern southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, & Azerbaijan. It accepted many Jews fleeing Byzantine persecution. As a result of the Jewish immigration, the Khazar Kingdom adopted Judaism as a state religion, the only Jewish state ever among a people not primarily Israelite in origin.

"South Slav" Carantania (660): Slavs form independent state of Carantania in modern Slovenia, also encompassing part of modern Austria.

Bulgaria Defeats Byzantines (680): Bulgars defeat Byzantines in battle, forcing them to officially recognize the Bulgarian Empire as an independent state. Byzantine had hoped to recapture this area which had historically been part the Roman & Eastern Roman Empire.

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Muslims Conquer Cyprus from Byzantine (688).

Byzantine Loses North Africa (697): Byzantine loses North Africa to the Umayyad Caliphate (Muslim Empire). Africa would become an unknown region to Europeans until the Age of Exploration beginning in the 15th century. Until this time, Europeans would not dare enter this Islamic-dominated region.

Inception of Venice (697): State of Venice forms, as coastal cities begin to band together to protect against barbaric invasions as Byzantine protection weakens.

Byzantine Loses Adriatic Coast (By 700): Slavs would dominate the Balkan peninsula, overwhelming Byantines by the sheer numbers in which they migrated to the region. Byzantine would retain only a handful of ports along the Adriatic coast.

Magyars Migrate Into Khazar Kingdom (700): Magyars (forefathers to modern Hungarians) migrate west to the Don River basin in modern Russia. They become subordinate to the Khazar Kingdom (Turkic people from Central Asia).

Muslim HispaniaMuslim Invasion of Hispania (711): The Muslim Empire (Umayyad Dynasty), headquartered in Syria, invaded the Iberian peninsula through Africa. The invading army is primarily comprised of the North African "Moor" tribe, ruled by the Umayyad Dynasty.

Note: Muslim Hispania. The Muslims successfully conquer Hispania, making the Iberian peninsula primarily Muslim for the next several centuries. Conquered Christians (from defeated Visigoth Kingdom) are permitted to remain Christian, but many convert to Islam (especially in south), due to the improved legal status offered.

Reign of Charles Martel - Frankish Empire (718-41): Founder of the Great Carolingian Dynasty, which expanded the Frankish Empire to cover most of Europe. Martel is the first Frankish leader to consolidate Frankish power, resulting in the most powerful kingdom/state of Medieval Europe. He is the grandfather to Charlemagne, the greatest European ruler of the middle ages. Martel would also pioneer the use of newly-advanced stirrups that allowed soldiers to more effectively wield their sword without falling off, while also introducing the concepts of heavy infantry & the permanent army to Medieval Europe. Consequently, the Franks achieved an overwhelming military advantage throughout Europe, paving the way for its imminent domination of much of Europe.

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Frankish EmpireBattle of Tours (732): Franks achieve victory over Muslim armies from Hispania, forcing Muslim to retreat and allowing the Franks to reassert control over Francia. Marks the deepest advancement of the Muslim armies into Europe. Believed to have saved Europe from Islam domination, perhaps saving Christianity from endangerment.

Christian-Ruled Hispania (732): The Christianized Visigoth Kingdom dominated nearly all of Hispania until the Muslim invasion of 711. The Muslim army, consisting largely of Moors from North Africa, quickly conquered nearly the entire peninsula. The Christians managed to hold only a small enclave along the northern coast. Beginning in 732, they would slowly begin reconquering territory, but would not completely evict the Muslims from Hispania/Iberia until late in the 15th century.

Republic of Venice (740): Republic of Venice is officially a client to Byzantine, but operates independently.

Carantania Conquered by Franks (745): Carantania (Slovenes) conquered by Franks. German migration would result in German-dominated area (modern Austria), while Slovenes were pushed south, into modern Slovenia, forming an approximate line that would forever separate German territory from Slavic territory.

Umayyad Muslim Dynasty Retains Rule Over Hispania (749): Umayyad Dynasty overthrown by Abbasid Dynasty, due to heightening dissatisfaction with the Umayyad rulers (Caliphs). The Abbasid Dynasty would assume control over the entire Muslim Empire except Hispania, which the Umayyad Dynasty managed to maintain. The Umayyad Dynasty remained intact until early in the 11th century, where it would collapse, enabling the Christians to gain greater momentum in the tug-of-war for Hispania.

Rus-KhaganateSwedes Establish First European Political Entity in Russia - Rus-Khaganate (750): Swedes begin migrating into Northern Russia/Ukraine, becoming the ruling class over the Slav & Finnic people in the region. They form a loosely organized state known as the Rus Khaganate. Although the origin of the Rus name is debated, it becomes the basis for the naming of the East Slavs (Rus people, or Russians). Swedes becoming involved in the slave trade, trading Slavs back to Scandinavia. This practice would continue until the ruling Swedes became completely assimilated into the Slav-Finnic peoples by 1000.

(Timeline Continued Below)

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Expansion of Lombard's Kingdom of Italy (751): Byzantines quarrel with Papacy over religious questions, allowing the Lombards to take advantage, expelling Byzantine from Central Italy, and expanding the Lombardy-ruled Kingdom of Italy. The Lombards take control of Byzantine lands in Central Italy except Rome & surrounding area, as the Bishop of Rome (now known as the Pope) & his armies hold out. This propels Roman Catholic Church to a position of increased power & influence, as it was essentially its own nation. Furthermore, Rome would benefit from support throughout Europe, as the continent became Christianized, & recognized the Roman Church as the leading authority in the realm of Christianity.

Note: Germanic Tribes Absorbed by Frankish Empire. Germanic tribes continue to be absorbed into the Frankish Empire as Franks continue their conquest east into Germanic lands. Most of newly-absorbed tribes maintain their German language, culture & identity, as opposed to the Frankish language & culture, which is rooted in the Roman Latin language & culture. This serves as the fault line for the future subdivision of the Frankish Empire, & the future distinction between French & German peoples.

Note: Slav Expansion. Slavs became Indigenous in a vast, sparsely-populated region (modern Russia, Belarus, Ukraine). Therefore, it was natural for them to spread out. On the other hand, this enormous region features sprawling plains with few natural barriers, which helps Slavs to the NE to remain contiguous, maintaining a unified language, culture & identity. This paves the way for the eventual Slav domination of Eastern Europe. Asian/Turkic invasions from the east would galvanize the East Slavs, who band together into organized states later in history. Until then, the Slavs remain largely under foreign rule to the Swedes and Turkic Khazars.

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Note: East Slavs centered in modern Belarus & Ukraine spread further into modern Russia, becoming the most numerous people in this region. They blend with the original Finnic peoples in the NW Russian region, coming under the control of the Turkic Khavar Empire. This Slavic-dominated blend becomes the primary ancestral people to the medieval Kievan Rus nation, which is the predecessor to modern Russian, Belarus & Ukraine nations/peoples. This group of northern Slavs later becomes known as East Slavs, separating from the West Slavs (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks).

Next: Early Dark Ages III (755 - 840)

Previous: Early Dark Ages I (490 - 600)

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Comments (3)

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