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8th Century AD

Updated: Jul 29, 2023


Decline of Classical Maya Civilization

The classical Maya civilization, which was once a major pre-Columbian civilization in Mesoamerica, began to experience a decline during the Terminal Classic period, which spanned from approximately 800 AD to 1000 AD. This decline was characterized by numerous factors, including political instability, environmental degradation, overpopulation, and economic stress. As a result, the Maya people were forced to abandon many of their cities and urban centers, and their societal structure underwent significant changes. Despite this decline, the Maya civilization continued to have a lasting impact on the region's culture, language, and history, and many of their achievements in fields such as mathematics, astronomy, and architecture remain a testament to their ingenuity and intelligence.


The Tang Dynasty

During the Tang dynasty in China, which lasted from 618 to 907 CE, many great achievements were made in fields such as poetry, painting, and calligraphy. The empire was prosperous, with its capital Chang'an being one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world. However, the Tang dynasty faced many challenges, including rebellions such as the An Lushan Rebellion, which lasted from 755 to 763 CE. This rebellion was one of the bloodiest in Chinese history and severely weakened the Tang dynasty, leading to its eventual downfall. Despite these challenges, the Tang dynasty remains an important period in Chinese history, known for its cultural and artistic achievements as well as its political and military struggles.


Expansion of Umayyad Caliphate

The Umayyad Caliphate, a powerful Islamic empire, conquered Hispania, which consisted of the modern-day territories of Spain and Portugal. This conquest was an important event in history, as it marked the beginning of Islamic rule in the region and had significant cultural and religious implications. The Umayyads introduced new architectural styles, such as the horseshoe arch, and brought with them a rich Islamic culture that influenced the development of the region's art, literature, and language. While the conquest was initially met with resistance, the Umayyads were able to establish a strong presence in Hispania, which lasted for centuries. The Umayyad Caliphate, which was one of the greatest Arab empires in history, emerged in the early 7th century, and it was able to extend its influence over a vast region that encompassed much of North Africa, the Middle East, and even parts of Europe and Asia. One of the defining moments of the Caliphate's history was the Battle of Talas, which took place in the high Pamirs near Samarkand. In this battle, the Caliphate's forces faced off against troops from the Chinese Tang dynasty, which was one of the most powerful empires of the time. Despite being outnumbered, the Caliphate managed to secure a decisive victory, which allowed it to extend its control over Central Asia, a region of strategic importance due to its location at the crossroads of several trade routes. This victory paved the way for the Caliphate's further expansion into Asia, and it helped to establish it as a major player on the world stage.


The Vikings Raids Begin

The first Viking raids took place in Britain during the late 8th century when they raided the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. These raids were often brutal and involved the plundering of monasteries and towns. The Vikings were known for their seafaring skills and their ability to navigate the treacherous waters of the North Sea. They were also skilled warriors who used their knowledge of the terrain to their advantage. Despite initial setbacks, the Vikings were eventually able to establish settlements in Britain, particularly in the north and east of the country. These settlements would go on to have a lasting impact on British culture, particularly in terms of language and place names.


West African State Takrur

The ancient West African state of Takrur or Tekrour was established during the medieval period, and it was one of the earliest states in the region. The state was located in the Senegal River valley, and it played a significant role in the trans-Saharan trade network. Takrur was a powerful and prosperous state, with a well-organized government and a complex society. The state had a strong economy based on agriculture, trade, and craft production. The people of Takrur were skilled in various crafts, such as weaving, pottery, and metalworking, and they produced a wide range of goods that were traded across the region. In addition, the state was known for its religious and cultural diversity, with Muslims, Christians, and traditional African religions coexisting in harmony. Overall, Takrur was a fascinating and important state in the history of West Africa, and it left a lasting legacy in the region.


Venerable Bede

Bede, a prominent English scholar, theologian and historian, made significant contributions to the study of Britain's Anglo-Saxon past. One of his most notable works is the Ecclesiastical History, which he wrote in Latin in the early 8th century. This historical text provides valuable insights into the political, social, and religious aspects of Anglo-Saxon society, including its conversion to Christianity. Bede's detailed accounts of the various rulers and kingdoms of the time, as well as his descriptions of important events such as the arrival of the Germanic tribes and the Viking invasions, have helped historians understand and appreciate the complexity of this period. Moreover, his work has been influential in shaping the way we think about early medieval history, and continues to be studied and debated by scholars around the world.


Achievements of the Arab World

Also in the 8th century, the Arab world made significant contributions to science, mathematics, and art, which helped them to expand their empires. For instance, the Arab mathematicians developed algebraic concepts, which were later adopted by the Europeans. Similarly, the Arab scientists made important discoveries in the fields of astronomy, medicine, and chemistry, which had a profound impact on the world. Furthermore, the Arab artists produced beautiful works of art, including intricate calligraphy, stunning mosaics, and exquisite ceramics, which were highly valued by the wealthy patrons of the time. All of these achievements played a crucial role in the growth of the Arab world and the spread of their cultural influence beyond their borders.


Charles Martel and Feudalism

During the 8th century, the Frankish ruler Charles Martel established a military and political system that would eventually become known as European feudalism. This system was characterized by a hierarchy of lords and vassals, with each lord owing loyalty and military service to the lord above him, and each vassal owing loyalty and military service to the lord who granted him land. Feudalism was a complex system that had a profound impact on medieval European society, shaping everything from politics and economics to culture and religion. As feudalism evolved over the centuries, it would take on many different forms and variations across Europe, reflecting the unique social, economic, and political conditions of each region. Nevertheless, the legacy of Charles Martel's reign as the founder of European feudalism endures to this day, serving as a testament to the enduring influence of one of the most innovative and influential rulers in European history.


The Byzantine Empire

During the 8th century, the Byzantine Empire was shaken by the iconoclastic controversy, a dispute over the use of religious images in worship. Emperor Leo III was a key figure in this controversy, as he launched an official campaign to remove all religious images from churches and other places of worship. This caused great outrage among many Christians, who believed that religious images were an important part of their faith. In response, soldiers were sent out to destroy these images, including the famous depiction of Christ over the gateway to the emperor's palace. This event created a deep divide within the Byzantine Empire and had long-lasting effects on the religious practices of the time.

 

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Sharer, R. J. (1994). The ancient Maya (Vol. 6). Stanford University Press.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the ancient Maya civilization, including their culture, society, and achievements. It includes detailed accounts of their political and economic systems, as well as their advancements in fields such as mathematics and astronomy. The book is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Maya civilization.

  1. Ebrey, P. B. (2010). The Cambridge illustrated history of China (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

This book provides an in-depth look at the history of China, with a particular focus on the Tang dynasty. It includes detailed accounts of the dynasty's political and military struggles, as well as their cultural and artistic achievements. The book is well-written and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of China.

  1. Kennedy, H. (2004). The court of the Caliphs: The rise and fall of Islam's greatest dynasty. Basic Books.

This book provides a detailed account of the Umayyad Caliphate, one of the greatest Arab empires in history. It includes detailed accounts of their conquest of Hispania, as well as their military campaigns in Central Asia. The book is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Arab world.

  1. Sawyer, P. H. (1997). The Viking expansion. Psychology Press.

This book provides an in-depth look at the Viking expansion, including their raids on Britain and their eventual settlement in the region. It includes detailed accounts of their seafaring skills, as well as their cultural and linguistic impact on British society. The book is well-written and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Vikings.

  1. McKitterick, R. (2008). Charlemagne: The formation of a European identity. Cambridge University Press.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the reign of Charlemagne, including his military conquests, administrative reforms, and cultural achievements. It includes detailed accounts of the Carolingian Renaissance, as well as his role in the establishment of feudalism in Europe. The book is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of medieval Europe.

  1. Ewens, G. (2007). Takrur (Tekrur): The Senegal River Valley in the era of trans-Saharan trade. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History.

This article provides an overview of the ancient West African state of Takrur, including its political and economic systems. It includes detailed accounts of their craft production and their role in the trans-Saharan trade network. The article is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of West Africa.

  1. Bede. (1999). Ecclesiastical history of the English people. Penguin UK.

This book provides a detailed account of Anglo-Saxon society, including its conversion to Christianity. It includes detailed accounts of the various rulers and kingdoms of the time, as well as important events such as the arrival of the Germanic tribes and the Viking invasions. The book is well-written and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of early medieval England.

  1. Saliba, G. (1994). Islamic science and the making of the European Renaissance. MIT Press.

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the contributions made by the Arab world to science, mathematics, and art during the medieval period. It includes detailed accounts of their discoveries in fields such as astronomy, medicine, and chemistry, as well as their artistic achievements. The book is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Arab world and its impact on Europe.

  1. Brown, W. (1998). Feudalism. Columbia University Press.

This book provides an in-depth look at the history of feudalism in Europe, including its origins and development over time. It includes detailed accounts of the various forms of feudalism that existed, as well as their impact on medieval European society. The book is well-written and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of medieval Europe.

  1. Cameron, A., & Herrin, J. (Eds.). (1987). Constantinople in the early eighth century: the Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai. Brill.

This book provides a detailed account of the Byzantine Empire during the 8th century, with a particular focus on the iconoclastic controversy. It includes detailed accounts of the religious and political struggles of the time, as well as the impact of these struggles on the Byzantine Empire. The book is well-researched and provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the Byzantine Empire.




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