Early Western History


Rise & Fall of Rome

Roman Empire

Approx. 500 bce - Approx. 600 ce

Roman Empire's Height

Approx. 300

High taxes that forced peasants to organize and produce goods. Trade and luxury goods available to the rich.

Nine Civil Wars in 83 years

312 ce - 395 ce

Rome Slowly Dissolves: Barbarian Armies Create Local Power Blocks Among Local Romans

Approx. 400 ce - Approx. 650 ce

Rome Slowly Dissolves: Civil Wars & proxy Barbarian wars.
Exposes gap between Imperial Roman Govt & regional elites -- BIG contrib to empire break-up; Proxy wars that included the barbarian groups (reminds me of Berbers & Islam); so nnot so much that Barbarians ran amok. Rather the local romans and rival factions used and worked with the Barbarians to increase their local power.
Barbarian Armies Create Local Power Blocks Among Local Romans
This is what brought the fall of Rome. - (Wood, loc 865, citing others)
"the western emire was not so much destoyed as eroded and finally rendered unnecessary by a a score of little Romes, rooted in more restricted areas of control" (Wood, loc. 867).

Roman Empire now smaller regional states

600 ce

Barbarian invasion break Roman tax collection system. Wickham says that peasantry happy in these early Middle Ages bc freed from pressure of tax collectors & landlords (Brown, loc 838-844)


Christianity is Religion of Asia, Not West

Approx. 200 - Approx. 1000

Christianity - from social outcast to socially favored

Approx. 300 ce - Approx. 400 ce

Arian vs Trinitarianism

Approx. 300 ce - Approx. 331 ce

Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten by God the Father.
- Created by Arias (250 - 336 ce), who was condemned at Nicea

Diocletion's Great Persecution of Christians

303 - 311

Donatists refused forgive those who renounced faith

303 ce - 305 ce

Constantine the Great Reigns

Approx. 306 ce - Approx. 337 ce
  • Forges Single empire, w C as monarch.
  • Used Christianity to unite
  • Used Christian bishops to convey moral legitimacy of rule
  • had to mute differences among Christians
  • method: a. finance frequent meetings for bishops resolve differences - eg Nicea b. built bassilicas c. donations to poor, distributed by bishops

(Wills, Francis, p 67)

1st Council of Nicea

325 ce

Constantine gathers 300 bishops
- Council agrees on Trinitarian creed (Arianism declared heresy)
- Tried to bring together East & West of church (part of long process)

Islam Founded

Approx. 600

Created out of conversation with Christianity & Judaism -- saw it as a culmination of the two religions *Brown, Rise of Western" loc 720

Carolingian Renaissance

Approx. 790 CE - Approx. 900 CE

The Carolingian Renaissance, the first of three medieval renaissances, was a period of cultural activity in the Carolingian Empire occurring from the late eighth century to the ninth century, taking inspiration from the Christian Roman Empire of the fourth century. During this period there was an increase of literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and scriptural studies.

The Carolingian Renaissance occurred mostly during the reigns of the Carolingian rulers Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. It was supported by the scholars of the Carolingian court, notably Alcuin of York.[1] Charlemagne's Admonitio generalis (789) and his Epistola de litteris colendis served as manifestos.

Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor

800 ce - 814 ce

Writing & Literacy

Bound Codex (book form) replaces Scroll

Approx. 300 CE

Words separated in text (not run together)

Approx. 600 ce

Texts Punctuated & Paragraphed

Approx. 800