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The Political East in the Early Middle Ages

An introduction to the early middle ages important political events:

330 - Foundation of Constantinople

In 330 AD, Constantinople was founded as an important location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. As Byzantium, it was already a strategic location, but Roman Emperor Constantine the Great saw its potential as a great center of commerce and culture. In the following centuries, Constantinople's impressive architecture, vibrant culture, and strategic importance ensured its place as one of the most important cities in the world. It was a hub of learning, with many great philosophers, scientists, and writers calling it home, and played a crucial role in the development of Western civilization.

376 - Passage of Danube by the Goths

In 376, the Goths made a decisive move by crossing the Danube river to enter the Roman Empire. This momentous event marked the beginning of a series of wars and conflicts between the Goths and the Roman Empire. Seeking refuge from the invading Huns who threatened their territories, the Goths were allowed by the Roman Emperor Valens to enter the empire. However, tensions soon arose between the Goths and the Romans over issues such as land, supplies, and military service. These tensions eventually led to a full-scale war that lasted for several years, culminating in the defeat of the Roman army at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The aftermath of this battle was catastrophic for the Roman Empire, resulting in the loss of over 10,000 soldiers and the tragic death of the emperor himself.

378 - Battle of Adrianople

The Battle of Adrianople took place in the year 378. It was a significant battle in the history of the Roman Empire as it marked the first time a Roman Emperor was killed in battle by a foreign enemy. The battle was fought between the Roman Empire and the Visigoths, a Germanic tribe. The Roman army was under the leadership of Emperor Valens, who was killed in the battle. The Visigoths, on the other hand, were led by Fritigern. The battle was a major defeat for the Romans and had long-lasting consequences for the empire. It is remembered as one of the most important battles in the history of the Roman Empire.

395 - Death of Theodosius the Great

In 395 AD, Theodosius the Great, the last emperor to rule over both the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire, passed away. His passing marked the end of an era, as the empire would soon be permanently divided into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), each with its own distinct ruler. Theodosius was celebrated for his unwavering efforts to maintain the unity of the empire throughout his reign, as well as his pivotal role in establishing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

400 - Revolt of Galina

The Revolt of Galina in 400 was a critical moment in the region's political history. The revolt was characterized by a series of protests and uprisings against the ruling government, which had faced widespread criticism for its corrupt practices and oppressive policies. The movement was spearheaded by a group of influential leaders who aimed to overthrow the government and establish a new political order based on democratic principles and social justice. Over several months, the movement gained significant momentum as more and more people joined the cause and took to the streets to demand change. Despite facing a violent crackdown from government forces, the rebels persevered and ultimately emerged victorious, ushering in a new era of political freedom and reform.

413 - Land walls of Constantinople built

In the year 413, a significant event occurred in the city of Constantinople. The construction of land walls served as a crucial defensive measure against potential invaders. The walls were built with the intention of ensuring the safety and security of the city and its inhabitants. The massive undertaking required the labor and expertise of many skilled workers, resulting in a testament to the ingenuity and determination of the people of Constantinople in safeguarding their city.

428-633 - Persian rule in Armenia

Between 428 and 633, Armenia was under the rule of the Persian Empire. During this time, the country experienced significant changes in its political and cultural landscape. The Persian influence can be seen in various aspects of Armenian life, such as art, language, and religion. Persian rulers implemented various administrative reforms, which led to the establishment of a more centralized government. The Persian language and culture also had a significant impact on Armenian literature and architecture.

433 - Accession of Attila

In 433 AD, Attila ascended to the throne of the Huns. This event marked a significant turning point in the history of Europe, as it set in motion a series of events that would shape the continent for centuries to come. Attila was a formidable leader who brought the Huns to new heights of power and influence. He was known for his military prowess, his strategic thinking, and his ability to inspire his troops to fight with unparalleled ferocity. Under his leadership, the Huns conquered vast territories and established themselves as a dominant force in Europe. However, Attila's reign was not without its challenges. He faced opposition from many quarters, both within his own kingdom and from outside forces. Despite these challenges, Attila remained a powerful and influential figure until his death in 453 AD.

450 - Death of Theodosius II

In the year 450, Theodosius II, who was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 408 to 450, passed away. He was known for his contributions to the law, including Theodosian Code, which was a compilation of Roman laws that had been in force since the reign of Constantine. During his reign, he oversaw the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which were a series of defensive walls around Constantinople that were designed to protect the city from invasions. Additionally, he sponsored the construction of the University of Constantinople, which was the first university in the Eastern Roman Empire. His death marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one in the Eastern Roman Empire's history.

491 - Accession of Anastasius I

The year 491 marked a significant event in history with the accession of Anastasius I to the throne. Anastasius I was the Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518 and was known for his administrative skills and reforms. During his reign, he introduced various policies that aimed to reduce corruption and improve the economy. He also made efforts to strengthen the military and expand the territory of the Byzantine Empire. The accession of Anastasius I was a turning point in the history of the Byzantine Empire and had a lasting impact on the region's political and economic landscape.

518 - Accession of Justin

In the year 518, Justin ascended to the throne and became the emperor of the Byzantine Empire. This marked a significant turning point in the history of the empire, as Justin was able to enact significant reforms that helped to stabilize and strengthen the empire. During his reign, he worked to improve the infrastructure of the empire, particularly in the areas of public works and military defense. He also implemented new laws and policies that helped to promote economic growth and social stability. Justin's reign was characterized by a strong commitment to the well-being of his people and the long-term prosperity of the empire, making him one of the most revered emperors in Byzantine history.

527 - Accession of Justinian

The year 527 marks the beginning of a significant event in history, namely the accession of Justinian. This was a crucial moment in the Byzantine Empire, as Justinian was a highly influential leader who made sweeping reforms. During his reign, he implemented various changes in the fields of law, culture, and religion, leaving a lasting impact on the empire. Some of his notable achievements include the construction of the Hagia Sophia, the codification of Roman law, and the suppression of the Nika riots. The accession of Justinian thus marked a turning point in the history of the Byzantine Empire, ushering in a new era of progress and reform.

531-79 - Reign of Chosroes

During the year 531-79, the reign of Chosroes was a significant period in history. It was a time of great change, where political and social reforms took place. Chosroes was known for his ability to unite the diverse groups of people under his rule, creating a sense of unity and stability. The period saw the growth and development of various fields, including art, literature, and philosophy. The reign of Chosroes also saw the emergence of new technologies, which greatly improved the lives of the people. Overall, the reign of Chosroes was a time of innovation, progress, and prosperity, which left a lasting impact on the world as we know it today.

533 - Belisarius conquers Africa

In the year 533, the famous general Belisarius achieved a great feat by conquering the African continent. This momentous event marked a turning point in history, as it not only expanded the Byzantine Empire's territory but also allowed for the spread of Byzantine culture and influence throughout the region. Belisarius' conquest paved the way for future military campaigns and established the Byzantine Empire as a major power in the Mediterranean world. The victory in Africa was not without its challenges, as Belisarius faced many obstacles and enemies along the way. However, his strategic prowess and leadership skills ultimately led to triumph and the securing of a significant victory for the empire. The impact of Belisarius' success can still be felt today as it helped shape the course of history and left an indelible mark on the world.

536-7 - Belisarius at Rome

Belisarius was a Byzantine general who lived during the 6th century. He played a significant role in the Eastern Roman Empire's military campaigns, particularly under the reign of Emperor Justinian I. One of his most notable achievements was his reconquest of much of the former Western Roman Empire, including Italy and parts of North Africa. However, his success was not without controversy, as he found himself embroiled in political conflicts with other members of the court. Despite this, he remained a respected figure in Byzantine history and is still remembered for his military prowess and strategic thinking.

540 - Persians capture Antioch

In 540, the Persians, under the command of Khosrow I, captured the ancient city of Antioch. Antioch, located in present-day Turkey, was an important city in the ancient world and served as the capital of the Seleucid Empire. The city was known for its strategic location on the trade route between the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Following the capture of the city, the Persians held it for a significant period, during which they implemented various reforms and established a new system of governance. The capture of Antioch was a significant event in the history of the region, marking a turning point in the balance of power between the Byzantine and Persian empires. It marked the beginning of a long period of conflict between the two powers, which would continue for centuries to come.

550 - Avars and Bulgars on Lower Danube

In 550, the Avars and Bulgars were present on the Lower Danube. This was a significant time period in European history as it marked the beginning of a new era of political and cultural changes. The Avars and Bulgars were both nomadic tribes with rich histories and traditions, and their presence in the Lower Danube region signaled a shift in power and influence. As they interacted with the local populations and established their own settlements, they brought with them new ideas, technologies, and social structures that would shape the future of the region for centuries to come. It is important to study this time period in order to gain a deeper understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of European history and the many factors that have contributed to its development over time.

552 - Narses reconquers Italy

In 552, the Byzantine Empire's General Narses successfully led a campaign to reconquer Italy from the Ostrogoths. This marked a significant turning point in the history of Italy and the Mediterranean world, as it ended the Ostrogothic Kingdom's rule in Italy, which had lasted for over 60 years. The reconquest was a result of a long and complex series of events, including political instability and the Ostrogoths' inability to effectively govern their territories. Narses' campaign was not only a military success, but also a testament to his strategic and diplomatic skills, as he was able to rally support from various groups and factions in Italy to his cause.

554 - Pragmatic Sanction

The 554 - Pragmatic Sanction was a decree issued by Emperor Justinian I which aimed to strengthen the power of the Western Roman Empire. The decree was issued in 554 AD, following a series of military defeats and political upheaval in the region. One of the key provisions of the decree was the recognition of the Bishop of Rome as the supreme leader of the Christian Church, which helped to reinforce the authority of the papacy in the region. Additionally, the decree sought to address issues related to property rights, taxation, and governance, which were critical to the stability of the Empire as a whole. Despite its ambitious goals, the 554 - Pragmatic Sanction faced significant opposition from various quarters, and its impact was limited in the long run. However, the decree remains an important historical document, shedding light on the complex political and social dynamics of the late Roman Empire.

565 - Death of Justinian

In the year 565, one of the most significant events in the history of the Byzantine Empire took place. This event was the death of Emperor Justinian. Justinian was known for his significant contributions to the Byzantine Empire, including his work in codifying Roman law and his architectural achievements, such as the construction of the Hagia Sophia. Justinian's death marked the end of an era in Byzantine history, as well as the end of a remarkable reign that shaped the empire in many ways. Despite his death, Justinian's legacy lived on and continued to influence the Byzantine Empire and the world for centuries to come.

566-7 - Lombards and Avars destroy Gepid Kingdom

In the year 566-7, the Gepid Kingdom was destroyed by the Lombards and Avars. This event had significant consequences for the political landscape of the time, as it marked the end of the Gepid Kingdom's reign and paved the way for the Lombards and Avars to establish their own kingdoms. The Lombards, who were originally from Scandinavia, migrated to central Europe in the 6th century and played a significant role in the region's history. Meanwhile, the Avars were a nomadic people from the Eurasian steppes who had a powerful military and were able to conquer many territories. The fall of the Gepid Kingdom was just one of the many conquests of these two groups, who went on to establish their own kingdoms and shape the course of European history.

610 - Accession of Heraclius

In the year 610, a significant event took place - the accession of Heraclius. This marked the beginning of a new era, as Heraclius was known for his military prowess and administrative skills. During his reign, he implemented several reforms, including the introduction of Greek as the language of administration and the establishment of new military tactics. Heraclius also pursued successful military campaigns, including the Byzantine-Sassanid War, which resulted in the return of the True Cross to Jerusalem. Overall, the accession of Heraclius was a pivotal moment in Byzantine history, and had lasting effects on the empire's culture, language, and military strategies.

614 - Persians take Damascus and Jerusalem

In the year 614, the Persians achieved an important military victory by taking control of the cities of Damascus and Jerusalem. This event was significant in the history of the Middle East, as it marked a turning point in the ongoing conflict between the Persians and the Byzantine Empire. The capture of these two cities allowed the Persians to expand their territory and exert greater influence over the region. It also had profound implications for the people living in Damascus and Jerusalem, who were forced to adapt to new rulers and political systems. Overall, the events of 614 had far-reaching consequences for the political, cultural, and social landscape of the Middle East, and continue to be studied and analyzed by historians and scholars to this day.

619 - Persians invade Egypt

In 619, the mighty Persians launched a massive invasion of Egypt, a land known for its ancient civilization and rich history. The Persian forces, led by their fearless commander, swept across the Egyptian landscape with their advanced weaponry and superior military tactics. The people of Egypt, caught off guard by the sudden attack, put up a valiant struggle, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the sheer size and strength of the Persian army. The invasion had a profound impact on the history of Egypt, as it marked the beginning of a new era of foreign domination and influence that would last for centuries to come. Despite the devastation wrought by the Persian invasion, the people of Egypt refused to give up their proud heritage and continued to resist foreign rule in the years that followed.

626 - Avar-Persian siege of Constantinople

The 626 Avar-Persian siege of Constantinople was a significant event in the history of the Byzantine Empire. The siege lasted for several months and had a profound impact on the city's population and infrastructure. During this time, the Byzantine Empire faced a significant threat from the Avar and Persian forces, which were determined to conquer Constantinople. The Byzantine defenders, led by Emperor Heraclius, were able to successfully repel the invaders and protect the city from falling into enemy hands. However, the siege left a lasting impact on the city, and its effects could be felt for many years to come. The Avar-Persian siege of Constantinople is an important event to study and understand the history of the Byzantine Empire and its resilience in the face of adversity.

633-93 - Byzantine rule in Armenia

During the period of 633-93, Armenia was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine rule had a significant impact on Armenia, with changes in political, social, and economic systems. The Byzantine Empire brought new administrative policies, which led to the development of new governmental structures in Armenia. Moreover, the Byzantine Empire introduced new cultural and religious practices, which impacted the beliefs and traditions of the Armenian people. The period of Byzantine rule in Armenia was marked by both conflict and cooperation between the two powers, resulting in a complex and multifaceted history.

634 - Omar Caliph

In this document, we will discuss the historical significance of Omar Caliph who was the second caliph of the Islamic world. Omar Caliph is known for his remarkable achievements in expanding the Islamic empire. He was a just ruler who established a strong administrative system, created a system for the collection of taxes, and was responsible for the establishment of the first Islamic calendar. Omar Caliph also played a crucial role in spreading Islam beyond the Arabian Peninsula and into other parts of the world. Despite his many accomplishments, Omar Caliph also faced many challenges during his reign, including several assassination attempts. Nevertheless, he remained steadfast in his commitment to Islam and the welfare of his people. Overall, Omar Caliph is an important historical figure who continues to be revered for his contributions to the Islamic world.

634 - Arabs invade Palestine

In the year 634, Palestine witnessed a significant event that would shape its history. This event was the invasion of Arabs, which brought about massive changes to the region. The Arabs, who were renowned for their military prowess, swept through the land, leaving a lasting mark on Palestine's culture, society, and governance. Their arrival brought with it a new religion, Islam, which would become the dominant faith in the region. The Arab conquest also led to the establishment of new political structures, the introduction of new customs and traditions, and the development of new economic systems that would shape Palestine's future for centuries to come.

636 - Battle of Yarmuk

In the year 636, one of the most significant battles in history took place: the Battle of Yarmuk. It was a decisive conflict fought between the Arab Muslim forces and the Byzantine Empire. The battle lasted for six days and resulted in a resounding victory for the Muslims, who were able to expand their territory and consolidate their power in the region. It is believed that the battle involved over 100,000 soldiers, making it one of the largest battles in history. The battle of Yarmuk had a significant impact on the history of the Middle East, as it marked the beginning of the Arab conquests and the end of the Byzantine influence in the region.

637 - Battle of Kadesiya

The 637 Battle of Kadesiya was a significant engagement in the early Islamic conquests of Iraq. It was fought between the Arab Rashidun Caliphate and the Sassanid Persian Empire. The battle took place near the ancient city of Kadesiya, which was strategically located on the west bank of the Euphrates River. The Arab forces, led by the commander-in-chief Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, defeated the Sassanid army and gained control of southern Mesopotamia. This victory paved the way for the subsequent Muslim conquests of Persia and beyond. The battle is considered a turning point in Middle Eastern history, as it marked the beginning of the end of the Sassanid Empire and the rise of Islamic power in the region.

639-41 - Arabs conquer Mesopotamia

The Arab conquest of Mesopotamia took place from 628 to 632, according to Pourshariati. The Sassanians and Parthians were engaged in internecine warfare over who was to succeed the Sasanian throne at the time of the conquest. The Arab Muslim forces of Caliph Umar first attacked Sasanian territory in 633, when Khalid ibn al-Walid invaded Mesopotamia (then known as the Sasanian province of Asōristān). Sassanid Mesopotamia was a tempting target for the Arab tribes living in the region, who were unhappy with the heavy Sassanid taxes, and the conquest of the region removed a threat to the nascent Muslim community. Khalid won a series of four consecutive and decisive victories over the Sassanids, and by 638 CE, the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia was practically complete, with the Suwad, Tigris valley, and Euphrates valley under Muslim control. The Arab Conquest of the Sassanid Empire brought to an end a 400-year period of Persian rule. Eastern Mesopotamia (Iraq) fell in 637, Jerusalem fell to 'Umar in 638, Egypt fell between 639-41, and Persia (Iran), Sassanid Empire was defeated in the Battle of Nihawand in 641.

641-2 - Fall from Alexandria

The fall of Alexandria occurred in 641 AD when forces of the Rashidun Caliphate seized the major Mediterranean port of Alexandria from the Eastern Roman Empire. The city was left virtually defenseless after the destruction of the Byzantine forces at Heliopolis. The fall of Alexandria and the acquisition of the Byzantine Empire's oriental provinces of Egypt and Syria are generally seen as a turning point in the history of the Mediterranean world. After the city fell to the Arabs, a new capital of Egypt, Fustat, was founded on the Nile. The fate of the Library of Alexandria remains controversial, but it is generally believed that it had already perished long before the Arab conquest. According to the Muslim historian al-Qifti, the Library of Alexandria was destroyed by order of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab sometime between the years 642-644.

642-3 - Arabs conquer Persia

The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, was carried out by the Rashidun Caliphate from 632 to 654 and led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire as well as the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion. The conquest started when the Sassanians and Parthians were engaged in internecine warfare over succession to the Sassanian throne. The Muslims first appeared in the Sassanian territories in 633 when they invaded Mesopotamia, which resulted in the loss of Iraq to the Muslims. The Battle of Nahavand, fought in 642 between the Rashidun Muslim forces under caliph Umar and Sasanian Persian armies, was a significant battle in the conquest. Following defeat by the Arabs in 639, the "King of Kings" Yazdgerd III was forced to abandon his capital at Ctesiphon and withdraw into the Sāsānian homeland in what is now the southern plateau of Iran. The Arab Conquest of the Sassanid Empire brought to an end a 400-year period of Persian rule and culturally, politically, economically, and even religiously the territories of the former Sassanid Empire would exercise a profound influence on the new Islamic empire of the Rashidun Caliphate.

647 - Arabs conquer Tripoli

In 647, Arab forces led by 'Abdu'llah ibn Sa'ad, the foster-brother of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, conquered Tripoli from the Byzantines. The campaign lasted for fifteen months, after which the Arab forces returned to Egypt after Gregory's successor Gennadius promised them an annual tribute of some 330,000 nomismata. The conquest of North Africa by the Arabs in the 7th century allowed the spread of Islam into the urban areas of Libya. However, the Byzantines survived on the coast and Amazigh tribes controlled the hinterlands.

649 - Arabs conquer Cyprus

In 649 AD, Muawiya I, a member of the Umayyad family, led a raid against Cyprus and sacked the capital Salamis-Constantia after a short siege. The conquest of Cyprus was part of the Muslim Arab conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean, which began in the 7th century. The Arabs established a joint rule with the Byzantines as a condominium, despite the nearly constant warfare between the two parties on the mainlanD. The collected taxes were divided among the Arabs and the Byzantines.

661-750 - Umayyad Caliphus at Damascus

The Umayyad Caliphate was the second caliphate established after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It existed from 661 to 750 CE. The caliphate was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, also known as the Umayyads. The first caliph was Mu'awiya I, who reigned from 661 to 680. The last caliph was Marwan II, who reigned from 744 to 750. The capital of the Umayyad Caliphate was Damascus. The official language of the caliphate was Classical Arabic. However, other languages such as Coptic, Greek, Latin, Persian, Aramaic, Turkic, Berber, African Romance, Armenian, Mozarabic, Sindhi, Georgian, Prakrit, and Kurdish were also spoken in certain regions. The Umayyad Caliphate was governed under Islam. Under the Umayyads, the Arab empire extended from Spain to Central Asia and India, reaching its greatest period of expansion under the reign of Abd al-Malik (685-705). The decline of the Umayyad Caliphate began with a defeat by the Byzantine Empire in 717. Intertribal feuding, discontent among non-Arab Muslim converts, and financial reforms also contributed to their downfall. They were eventually overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty.

664 - Arabs invade Punjab

In 664, Arabs invaded Punjab, which was part of the Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent. The Arabs lost control over the newly conquered territories and part of Sindh due to Arab tribal infighting and Arab soldiers deserting the newly conquered areas. The Arabs marched north along the east bank of the Indus after the siege and capture of Rawer. Brahmanabad, then Alor (Aror) and finally Multan, were captured alongside other in-between towns with only light Muslim casualties. Abbasid's Governor of Sindh, Hisham, raided Kashmir and recaptured parts of Punjab from Karkota.

673 - Arabs invade Constantinople

In 673, Arab fleets secured bases along the coasts of Asia Minor and installed a loose blockade around Constantinople. They used the peninsula of Cyzicus as a base to spend the winter and returned every spring to launch attacks against the city's fortifications. Under Emperor Constantine IV, the Byzantines managed to destroy the Arab navy by using a new invention called Greek fire. This liquid incendiary substance proved highly effective in combatting the Arab fleet. The Byzantines also defeated the Arab land army in Asia Minor, forcing them to lift the siege. The Byzantine victory was of major importance for the survival of the Byzantine state, as the Arab threat receded for a time.

693-862 - Arab Rule in Armenia

Arab rule in Armenia lasted for approximately 200 years, from 645 to 862. The Muslim conquest of Armenia began with the Rashidun Caliphate, which conquered Persian Armenia by 645. During the Umayyad and Abbasid rule, Armenian Christians enjoyed political autonomy and relative religious freedom but were considered second-class citizens with dhimmi status. The Armenian Church had greater recognition under Arab rule than under Byzantine or Sassanid jurisdiction. Arab presence and control in Armenia were minimal for most of the second half of the 7th century. The caliphate and the Armenian nobility signed a treaty that established de facto autonomy for Armenia, which the Arabs considered to be their conquered territory. Initially, the caliphs allowed an Armenian prince to represent the province of Arminiya in exchange for tribute and loyalty during times of war. However, Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan established direct Arab rule over the area, with an ostikan (governor) in charge and Dvin as his capital. Arab rule in Armenia was interrupted by several revolts In 885, Caliph al-Mu'tamid consented to the crowning of Ashot Bagratuni as King Ashot I, marking the end of direct Arab rule in Armenia.

717 - Accession of Leo III (the Isurian)

Leo III, also known as Leo the Isaurian or the Syrian, was the Byzantine Emperor from 717 to 741. He founded the Isaurian dynasty, which ruled the Byzantine Empire until 802 CE. Born around 675 or 680 in Germanicia, Commagene, Syria, Leo III successfully resisted Arab invasions and founded the Isaurian, or Syrian, dynasty. Some of his major accomplishments include successfully defending Constantinople against the Arab siege in 717-718. Leo III strengthened the city's fortifications, prepared the navy, and stored extra food in anticipation of the Arab invasion. He also implemented legal reforms, such as the promulgation of the Ecloga in 726, a law code of modest length. Additionally, he maintained peaceful relations with the Bulgarians to the north, which allowed him to focus his military efforts against the Arab threat to Asia Minor .Leo III achieved a major victory over the Arabs at Akroïnos (Afyonkarahisar) in 740, which freed Asia Minor from any immediate serious threat of Arab conquest and enabled the forceful counteroffensive and reconquest of some lost territory during the subsequent reign of his son, Constantine V (741–775). Lastly, he initiated the controversial Iconoclastic movement, which banned the use of religious images (icons) and engendered a century of conflict within the empire. Leo III's reign marked a period of stability and military success for the Byzantine Empire, as he managed to defend the empire against external threats and implement important legal reforms. However, his Iconoclastic policies led to internal divisions that persisted for a century after his death.

717-718 - Siege of Constantinople

The second Arab siege of Constantinople was a combined land and sea offensive in 717-718 by the Muslim Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate against the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. The campaign marked the culmination of twenty years of attacks and progressive Arab occupation of the Byzantine borderlands, while Byzantine strength was sapped by prolonged internal turmoil. The Arab forces were in place before the walls of Constantinople by the year 717, and the army would lay siege to the city by land on its western front while the fleet would blockade its eastern approaches via the sea in the Hellespont. The defenses on the landward side of Constantinople were legendary, consisting of the famed triple-layered Theodosian Walls built by their namesake, Theodosius II, in the fifth century. The Arab army was remarkably short on siege equipment and seemed to rely solely on the tactic of starving out the city by means of a joint land and sea blockade. The year 718 marked the final Arab attempt to take the city of Constantinople, such an outcome due in no small part to the actions of the Imperial Navy and their horrific Greek Fire. The outcome of the siege was of considerable macrohistorical importance. The Byzantine capital's survival preserved the Empire as a bulwark against Islamic expansion into Europe until the 15th century, when it fell to the Ottoman Turks.

725 - Leo III begins iconoclast campaign

Leo III, the Byzantine Emperor, began the iconoclast campaign in 725. He ordered the destruction of the image of Christ above the imperial gate, marking the start of the Iconoclasm. The opposition to religious images, known as Iconoclasm, had its roots in concerns about the legitimacy of veneration of icons and fears of idolatry.

740 - Death of Leo III

Leo III the Isaurian died on June 18, 741, at the age of 55-56, due to dropsy. He was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. Leo III's son, Constantine V, later banned the making of icons in 754, solidifying the official policy. The prohibition was lifted from 787 to 815 but reinstated thereafter. During the Iconoclasm, figurative religious images were replaced with plain crosses or geometric and foliate designs. The controversy surrounding the use of icons continued until it ended in 843. It is worth noting that there are different periods of Iconoclasm in Byzantine history. The "First Iconoclasm" occurred between about 730 and 787, during the Isaurian Dynasty, with Leo III as its founder. The "Second Iconoclasm" took place between 814 CE and 842, during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian.

750 - Fall of Umayyads

In 750, the Umayyad dynasty in Syria fell to the Abbasids. The last Umayyad, Marwān II, was defeated at the Battle of the Great Zab River. Members of the Umayyad house were hunted down and killed. However, one surviving member, Abd al-Rahman I, escaped to Spain and established autonomous rule there. He rebuilt Cordoba, the capital city, to reflect his Syrian heritage and the Byzantine roots of the Umayyad capital of Damascus. The Umayyads continued to rule in Spain until civil wars led to their end. Under the Umayyads, Islamic art, science, and literature prospered, and masterpieces of Islamic architecture, such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, were built.

756-65 - Bulgarian Campaigns

Between 756 and 775, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V led nine campaigns against Bulgaria to establish a Byzantine border on the Danube. The Byzantine-Bulgarian wars continued until 1018 when the Byzantines won the Battle of Kleidion and completely conquered Bulgaria. The First Bulgarian Empire existed between 681 and 1018. The Bulgarian monarchs ruled Bulgaria during the medieval First and Second Bulgarian empires, as well as during the modern era.

763 - Baghdad becomes capital city

Baghdad became the capital city during the reign of Caliph al-Mansur, the second caliph of the Abbasid dynasty. Al-Mansur established the capital city at Baghdad in 762-763. He believed that Baghdad was the perfect city to be the capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. The official name of the city during Abbasid times was the City of Peace, or Madīnat as-Salām in Arabic. The Round City of Baghdad, built by al-Mansur, served as the official residence of the Abbasid court. It was an enormous palace complex that combined the residence of the caliph with the administrative agencies of the government. Baghdad was strategically located on the Tigris River, about 32 kilometers from Ctesiphon, the Sassanid and Parthian capital, and 100 kilometers from the ruins of Babylon. The city was designed as a "round city," with the royal family, the court, and administration in the center, while bazaars, markets, and craftsmen were located on the fringes. Under the Abbasid caliphs, Baghdad grew into a great city, nearly three kilometers in diameter, surrounded by three concentric walls. The caliph's green-domed palace was at the center, surrounded by his court and administration buildings.

775-802 - Regency of Empress Irene

Empress Irene of Athens was a Byzantine empress consort to Emperor Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent during the childhood of their son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, co-ruler from 792 until 797, and finally empress regnant and sole ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire from 797 to 802. She was the first woman to rule the Byzantine Empire in her own right.

786-809 - Harun-al-Rashid

Harun al-Rashid was the most famous of the Abbasid Caliphs and a contemporary of Charlemagne. He is considered one of the greatest rulers of the Arab world and oversaw the Golden Age of Islamic culture. Some key facts about Harun al-Rashid include, establishing a unified Muslim law for the entire Muslim world, ruled with grandeur and required courtiers to kiss the ground in his presence, was known as the "Shadow of God on Earth" and had the power of life and death. He was the fifth Abbasid caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate. Lastly, Harun al-Rashid is famous for his court in Baghdad, which was portrayed as a place of wealth and splendor in The Arabian Nights.

797 - Murder of Constantine VI

The murder of Constantine VI, known as Constantine "the Blinded," occurred in 797 during the Byzantine Empire's time. He served as the emperor from 780 to 797. For much of his reign, his mother, Irene of Athens, held the reins of power as regent. Constantine's unpopularity led to tensions and power struggles between him and Irene. Although the army declared him sole emperor in 790, he couldn't amass enough support to overshadow his mother. In 797, Irene plotted against her son, having him blinded in the royal palace. This act was meant to end his life, and he likely succumbed to these injuries. Following his death, Irene remained in power as Empress Regent until 802.

802-11 - Nicephorus I Emperor

Nicephorus I reigned as the Byzantine Emperor from 802 to 811. Nicephorus I came to power after overthrowing Empress Irene. Unlike many of his predecessors, he had a background in the civil service rather than the military. During his rule, he is most noted for his financial and administrative reforms, which aimed to strengthen the imperial treasury. Nicephorus faced challenges both internally and externally. Domestically, his fiscal policies, while beneficial to the empire’s coffers, were unpopular among many segments of society, leading to some unrest. Externally, he faced threats from the Bulgars under Khan Krum. The two powers clashed repeatedly during his reign. Unfortunately for Nicephorus, his reign ended in disaster during a campaign against the Bulgars in 811. In the Battle of Pliska, the Byzantine army was defeated, and Nicephorus I was killed. He was the first Byzantine emperor to die in battle against a foreign enemy. After his death, he was succeeded by his son Staurakios, who ruled for a brief period before being succeeded by Michael I Rangabe.

809 - Bulgarian Invasions

The 809 Bulgarian invasions were a series of conflicts between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria. In 807, the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I marched against Bulgaria but was soon forced to return to Constantinople due to a mutiny of his troops at Adrianople. The following year, the Bulgarians defeated the Byzantines and captured their baggage. In the spring of 809, the Bulgarians laid siege to Serdica (modern Sofia), which was annexed to the Bulgarian State and remained so until the fall of the First Bulgarian Empire. The key figures in the conflict were Khan Krum of Bulgaria and an unknown Byzantine commander. The casualties and losses on both sides are unknown. The invasions were part of the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars, a series of conflicts fought between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria, which began after the Bulgars conquered parts of Thrace, including Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv), in 705. The wars continued until the fall of the First Bulgarian Empire in 1018.

814 - Death of Krum, Bulgarian ruler

Krum, also known as Krum the Fearsome, was the Khan of Bulgaria from sometime between 796 and 803 until his death in 814. He played a significant role in expanding the Bulgarian territory, doubling its size during his reign. Krum's rule brought law and order to Bulgaria and developed the rudiments of state organization. He was known as a strict but fair ruler who implemented laws and provided protection for the poor and elderly. In 813, Krum besieged Constantinople (Istanbul) and devastated the surrounding countryside. However, he died during a second siege of the imperial capital in 814. His sudden death prevented the launch of a campaign to capture Constantinople. Krum's legacy includes his contributions to the growth and organization of the Bulgarian state. He is remembered as a powerful ruler who expanded the Bulgarian Empire and brought stability to the region. His reign marked a significant period of growth and influence for Bulgaria.



  • Djukic, Ljudmila, ed. The Byzantine Empire. A Historical Encyclopedia [2 Volumes]. Empires of the World Ser., 2019.

  • Holmes, William Gordon. The Age of Justinian and Theodora. A History of the Sixth Century A. D... . - Primary Source Edition, 2013.

  • Margoliouth, David S. Mohammed and the Rise of Islam. Cosimo Classics, 2010.

  • Runciman, Steven. A History of the First Bulgarian Empire. London, 1930.

  • St Moss, H. B. The Birth of the Middle Ages 395-814. Oxford University Press, 1964.

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