The Middle Ages (Group 1)

This semester our group will collectively edit a timeline covering the period we are studying. Each week students will add six new dates, events or people to the timeline. Three of these will be specifically related to the topic being studied that week. The other three will help set the topic in its wider context by considering what else was happening at the time.

Major Events

This layer shows important things happening during the period we are studying, thereby setting seminar topics within a wider context.

Diarchy and Tetrarchy

285 - 324

In order to provide stability in the Roman Empire, power was split between first two, and then four men. The two-way split (diarchy) lasted from 285-293. The four-way split (tetrarchy) from 293-c. 313. The final years of this system were marked by warfare between the leaders of different sections of the Empire.

Great Persecution

303 - 311

In the midst of a crisis, a major clampdown on Christians began in the Roman Empire, although it was not uniformly applied. In theory it officially ended with the Edict of Milan in 313, but there was a lack of conviction among several rulers long before this, and it was coming to an end in the West by 311.

Roman Empire Reunited


Constantine completes his reunification of the Roman Empire, bringing to an end the diarchy/tetrarchy arrangement.

Life of Augustine of Hippo

354 - 430

Bishop of Hippo and prominent theologian.

Death of Muhammad


Muhammad, regarded as the last prophet of God by his followers, died in this year. He had united the Arabs under the banner of Islam, while his religious teachings left a lasting legacy.

Bede finishes his Ecclesiastical History


Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People' is our chief narrative source for the conversions of the Anglo-Saxons.

Battle of Tours


Charles Martel led a Frankish and Burgundian army to victory over a Muslim force led by ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, who was the governor of Al-Andalus (modern day Spain and Portugal). The date has gone down in history as the point at which Muslim expansion into Europe stopped and Martel's family began their rise to power (although note that some historians debate its actual significance).

The First Crusade

1096 - 1099

In the late eleventh century a number of factors came together to prompt Pope Urban II to call for Christian knights to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and win it back from the Muslims. The response of the laity was enormous, and several years later Jerusalem was captured.

Lateran IV


The Fourth Lateran Council was held by Pope Innocent III. It discussed and issued canons on a huge range of topics affecting the church and Christendom. Included in these canons was an opening statement declaring the orthodox Catholic faith. The third canon put forward measures for dealing with heresy.

Seminar Topics

This layer shows when the things we are studying happened.

Writing of the 'Martyrdom of Polycarp'


The actual date of composition for this text is not known, so c. 167 is used as an approximation. It is important because it is the earliest surviving Christian hagiography.

Conversion of Constantine


Contemporary and later accounts date Constantine's conversion to Christianity to the period when he was marching on Rome, shortly before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. The nature of his conversion and how long it actually took are both debatable.

Edict of Milan


Agreement between Constantine and Licinius promoting religious tolerance within the Roman Empire.

First Council of Nicea


A general council of the Church, called by Constantine, which discussed and made proclamations on various articles of Christian faith.

Augustine's mission to Kent


Not to be confused with the earlier bishop of Hippo, this Augustine was a Christian missionary sent to King Æthelberht of Kent by Pope Gregory the Great.

Gregory the Great writes to King Æthelberht


The letter offers advice to Æthelberht and addresses him as a Christian.

Battle of Yarmuk


At al-Yarmuk river an Arabic army defeated a Byzantine one, in an important battle for the Arabic conquest of Syria. Reports of the battle were passed down through later generations of Muslims. As a group, we suggested that they became something of a folktale, glorifying the quick early expansion of the Muslim Arabs.

King Arwald is the last English king to die openly pagan


Even by the 680s there were still pagan Anglo-Saxon kings, and others of questionable Christian conviction.

Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor


At a ceremony in Rome Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Emperor on Christmas Day AD 800.

Death of Al-Baladhuri


Persian scholar based at the Caliph's court in Baghdad who wrote a history of the Muslim Arabs' conquests from the seventh century onwards. He relied in part on oral tradition, for example recording accounts of the battle of Yarmuk and its aftermath.

Henry III and the three Popes


Emperor Henry III intervened in a dispute between three men claiming to be the rightful Pope. At a council in December 1046 all three were deposed, and a new man, Clement II, was raised to the position of Pope.



Henry IV was in dispute with Pope Gregory VII over lay investiture of clerical positions. He had been excommunicated and faced rebellion within his kingdom. In 1077 he travelled to Canossa, where the Pope was staying, and reportedly knelt in the snow for three days begging for forgiveness. Often seen as a demonstration of the papacy's increasing power, there are still question marks over the actual significance of the incident, not least because the dispute soon flared up again and Henry was once again excommunicated (and this time did not provide a similar apology).

Concordat of Worms


After decades of disputes the papacy final came to terms with the imperial secular power with regard to lay investiture. With the Concordat of Worms Pope Calixtus II and Emperor Henry V agreed the role that was to be played by secular lords and rulers in ecclesiastical elections.

Wendish Crusade


This was a campaign fought as part of the second crusade against a collection of Western Slavs. There were two main armies, which campaigned with varying levels of success. In terms of Christianisation, the impact is debateable, not least because the second army discovered that its target was a city that already had a large Christian population.

Albigensian Crusade

1209 - 1229

Concern over the widespread presence of the Cathar heresy in the region that is now south-west France led to a call for crusade against the people of that region. A long campaign, which included several large massacres of whole towns, was fought. Quite who the enemy was, or how they should be dealt with, were issues that were never really resolved, and undermined the effectiveness of the crusade as a weapon against heresy.

Conversion of the Grand Duke of Lithuania


The date of 1387 is often given as the conversion of Lithuania (the last major European pagan society) to Christianity. This was the year in which Grand Duke Jogaila received baptism and opened Lithuania up to full Christianisation. Previous conversions of Lithuanian rulers had failed to produce a lasting Christianity.