6th Century A.D. (The People's Chronology)
501 A.D.25 A.D.
501 A.D.: medicine
The Susruta medical book that will become a classic of medicine in India is compiled (date approximate).
Disease, war, famine, and natural disasters will take a heavy toll of the decayed Roman Empire in this century.
502 A.D.: political events
The Burgundian king Gundobad issues a new legal code at Lyons March 29 that makes Romans and Burgundians subject to the same laws.
The Bulgars ravage Thrace. A Mongolian people, they have absorbed the surviving Huns and meet no opposition from the forces of Anastasius I, who has refused to pay a share of the cost of defending the Caucasian Gates through which nomadic tribes have come for raids on Persia and the Eastern Empire. The Persians have attacked, they sack the town of Amida in northern Mesopotamia as they battle Byzantine troops, and hostilities will continue until 505.
China's Liang dynasty is founded by Xiao Yan, who marches on Jian-kang (later Nanjing) and forces the Qi rulers, his relatives, to yield their power.
505 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Anastasius I agrees to pay his share of defending the Caucasian Gates against invasions from east Asia and makes peace with Persia.
505 A.D.: religion
The imam (Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad) Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali (al-Shaf'i) dies at Tus outside Baghdad at age 55 (approximate), having written books on science while gaining a reputation for his skill as a debater and expert in religious doctrine and jurisprudence (see Islam, 606 A.D.).
505 A.D.: environment
Rome's Colosseum suffers damage from an earthquake as it did in 422 (see 80 A.D.; 851 A.D.).
506 A.D.: political events
The Visigoth king Alaric II issues the Lex Romana Visigothorum, or Breviary of Alaric. An abstract of Roman laws and imperial decrees compiled by a commission appointed to provide a law code for Alaric's Roman subjects, the Lex Romana will be the standard for justice in the Visigothic realm.
506 A.D.: religion
Alaric II eases up on his persecution of Catholics who oppose his Arian beliefs and authorizes a Catholic council at Agde.
507 A.D.: political events
A Frankish army under the command of Clovis defeats the Visigoths in the Battle of the Campus Vogladensis (Vouillé) in Poitu. Clovis and his Burgundian ally, Gundobad, kill Alaric II, and Clovis annexes the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse, but the Visigoths will remain in control of the Iberian Peninsula for the next 2 centuries, even though the native population of 6 million outnumbers them 30 to 1.
507 A.D.: religion
Clovis is converted to Christianity and baptized by his friend Remy, bishop of Reims. Clovis's wife, Clotilda, has persuaded him to renounce his idols and embrace Roman Catholicism.
508 A.D.: political events
The Frankish king Clovis fails in an effort to take the walled city of Carcassonne (see 485 A.D.); Theodoric's Ostrogoths drive the Franks out of Provence and recover Septimania (Languedoc) from the Visigoths. Theodoric serves as regent for his infant grandson Amalaric, the Visigoth king. Clovis establishes Paris (initially called Lutetia) as the Frankish capital; he has triumphed over the Visigoths and wants to be close to the lands he has conquered.
The Byzantine emperor Anastasius I formally recognizes Clovis I of the Salian Franks as ruler of Gaul, but Anastasius sends a fleet to ravage the Italian coast held by Theodoric's Ostrogoths.
508 A.D.: environment
Rome's Colosseum suffers further damage from an earthquake (see 442 A.D.; 851 A.D.).
510 A.D.: political events
Provence is overrun by the Italian Ostrogoths, who consolidate their gains in the region.
Roman philosopher Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, 35, is appointed consul by his friend Theodoric, who rules the Ostrogoths from his capital at Ravenna (see 522 A.D.).
511 A.D.: political events
Clovis I of the Salian Franks dies at Paris (Lutetia) November 27 at age 45 and is buried in the Church of the Apostles (later Saint-Geneviève). His Merovingian dynasty is continued by his four sonsheodoric, Clodomir, Childebert, and Clotaireho divide the Frankish kingdom and rule from capitals at Metz, Orléans, Paris (Lutetia), and Soissons, respectively. Both Paris and Soissons are in the newly established territory of Neustria, which heretofore has been been the western part of the kingdom of the Franks and will for more than a century be at odds with its neighboring territory of Austrasia in the northeast (the two will be united at times, but never for long).
512 A.D.: political events
The aged Byzantine emperor Anastasius I constructs a wall from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara in an effort to protect Constantinople from raiding Bulgarians and Slavs.
513 A.D.: environment
Mount Vesuvius erupts as it did in 79 A.D., burying Pompeii once more under lava, mud, and ashes (see science, 1763 A.D.; Herculaneum, 1709 A.D.).
514 A.D.: religion
Pope Symmachus dies at Rome after a 16-year reign and is succeeded July 20 by a Campania-born cleric who will reign until 523 as Hormisdas, reuniting the Eastern and Western churches (see 519 A.D.).
515 A.D.: political events
Byzantine troops put down a rebellion in Thrace led by the military commander Vitalianus, who opposes the Monophysite religious doctrine of the emperor Anastasius I. Vitalianus has led two previous rebellions but has withdrawn each time after being promised satisfaction.
516 A.D.: political events
The Burgundian king Gundobad dies. He is succeeded by his son Sigismund, who will reign until 524, converting his people from Arianism to Christianity.
517 A.D.: religion
Buddhism is introduced to central China by the emperor Wudi (Wu-ti). He has ruled since 502 and is converted to the Buddhist faith (see 260 B.C.).
518 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Anastasius I dies at Constantinople July 9 at age 88 after an outstanding 27-year reign in which he has abolished the sale of offices, reformed taxation, perfected the empire's monetary system, but antagonized some with his "heretical" Monophysite religious policies. He is succeeded by his uneducated Illyrian bodyguard, 70, who will reign until 527 as Justin I (Flavius Justinus) with counsel from his able nephew Justinian, 35.
518 A.D.: environment
An earthquake destroys the Illyrian (Macedonian) city of Scupi (later Skopje) in what once was the Roman province of Moesia Superior.
519 A.D.: religion
The Eastern and Western Catholic Churches reconcile their differences, ending the Acacian Schism that began in 484. Pope Hormisdas has negotiated with the Byazantine emperor Justin I and the patriarch John of Cappadocia to reunite Constantinople and Rome.
520 A.D.: political events
The Battle of Badon in what later will be called the British Isles pits the West Saxon (Wessex) forces of Cerdic against other tribesmen.
520 A.D.: communications, media
Institutionis Grammaticae by Latin grammarian Priscian (Priscianus Caesariensis) at Constantinople codifies Latin grammar in 18 volumes that will be widely used through the Middle Ages. Violating rules of grammar will be called "breaking Priscian's head."
522 A.D.: political events
Rome's consul Anicius Boethius is arrested on charges of having conspired against Theodoric the Great. An aristocrat, Boethius admits that he would like the integrity of the Roman Senate restored, but he insists that all hope for that is gone and that the letters from him addressed to the Byzantine emperor Justin I at Constantinople are forgeries. He is imprisoned at Pavia, in Luguria (see 524 A.D.).
523 A.D.: political events
The Frankish king Clotaire I marches into Burgundy and seizes the town of Autun. Now about 23, he is intent on expanding the territory he inherited from his late father, Clovis I, in 511 (see 524 A.D.).
523 A.D.: religion
Pope Hormisdas dies at Rome August 6 after a 9-year reign in which he has been instrumental in ending the 35-year-old Acacian Schism; he is succeeded by a Tuscan clergyman who will reign until 526 as John I.
524 A.D.: political events
The Roman consul Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius is executed without trial, probably at Pavia, at an age somewhere between 49 and 54 after a prison term during which he has written The Consolation of Philosophy. Boethius has defended the Roman senator Albinus against an accusation of treason, the Ostrogoth king Theodoric has charged Boethius himself with treason, and he also executes Boethius's close friend and father-in-law Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus, a former consul and patrician who has defended Boethius (his daughter Rusticiana survives as Boethius's widow).
The Burgundian king Sigismund is killed by the Frankish king Clodomir after an 8-year reign and is succeeded by Godomar (see Clotaire, 523 A.D.; 525 A.D.).
Constantinople and Persia renew hostilities to begin a war that will continue for 7 years.
524 A.D.: literature
Nonfiction: The Consolation of Philosophy (De Consolatione Philosophiae) by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius alternates between poetry and prose in an exposition of Neoplatonism and Stoicism that describes the pursuit of wisdom and love of God as the true sources of human happiness; "For in all adversity of fortune the worst sort of misery is to have been happy" (II, iv).
525 A.D.: political events
Frankish tribesmen under the command of their king Clotaire I ravage Burgundy (see 524 A.D.; Clodomir, 527 A.D.).
Ethiopian forces conquer the Yemen, giving the Eastern African country better ports on the Red Sea.
525 A.D.: exploration, colonization
Alexandrian explorer-geographer Cosmas Indicopleustes travels up the Nile. He will venture as far to the east as Ceylon, become a monk, and write Topographia Christiana to vindicate the biblical account of the world.
525 A.D.: religion
Theodoric the Great sends Pope John I to Constantinople to negotiate a withdrawal of the Byzantine emperor Justin I's edict against Arian Christianity (Theodoric is himself an Arian Christian, and Justin has taken harsh measures against what he considers an heretical sect) (see 526 A.D.).
525 A.D.: everyday life
Cyclus Paschalis (Easter Tables) by the Scythian theologian-mathematician Dionysius Exiguus, 25, at Rome inaugurates the practice of using A.D. (Anno Domini) for calendar dates after the birth of Jesus (who was actually born in 7 B.C. or slightly later). Dionysius uses the year 1 as the first year of Jesus's life (the concept of zero is unknown and will remain so until about 1000) and gives the birth date of Jesus incorrectly as December 2553 years after the founding of Rome; the error will be standardized in all Christian calendars (see Bede, 725 A.D.).
526 A.D.50 A.D.
526 A.D.: political events
The Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great dies of dysentery August 30; his daughter Amalasuntha takes power as regent for her 10-year-old son Atalaric. Equally fluent in Greek, Latin, and the language of her Gothic ancestors, Amalasuntha is a handsome, intelligent woman of great culture and strong will. She rules a kingdom that extends from its capital at Ravenna throughout the Italian peninsula, Sicily, Illyricum (Dalmatia), Corsica, and Sardinia. Amalasuntha makes her subjectsomans as well as Gothswear allegiance to young Atalaric and uses her power to rid her realm of dishonest government functionaries. She will curb the greed of corrupt landowners and effectively end the destructive incursions of barbarian tribesmen from the north.
Persian forces defeat a Byzantine army.
526 A.D.: religion
Pope John I returns to Ravenna from Constantinople early in the year (see 525 A.D.). Theodoric the Great finds that he has been only partly successful in persuading the Byzantine emperor Justin I to withdraw his edict against Arian Christianity, he throws the pope into prison, and John I dies there of starvation May 18 after a 3-year reign. Theodoric selects John's successor, who is elected July 12 and will reign until 530 as Felix IV (or III).
526 A.D.: architecture, real estate
A magnificent tomb is erected at Ravenna for the late Theodoric the Great.
526 A.D.: environment
An earthquake shatters Antioch, killing between 200,000 and 300,000 people.
527 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justin I takes his nephew Justinian as co-emperor April 1 as an incurable wound saps his strength. Justin dies at Constantinople August 1 at age 77, and Justinian (Flavius Anicius Justinianus, or Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus), now 44, will reign until 565. The new emperor determines to reunite the eastern and western empires, restoring the empire of Augustus with control of the entire Mediterranean basin, but he must contend with his Persian neighbors in the east (see 528 A.D.). Justinian's wife, Theodora, now 19, is the daughter of a circus bear-keeper, she has worked as a prostitute, and their marriage required a repeal of the law forbidding a patrician to wed an actress, but she will have a controlling influence on the emperor until her death in 545.
The Frankish king Clodomir of Orléans dies, and although he is survived by some young sons his realm is partitioned among his younger brothers Childebert, Thierry, and Clotaire I (see 534 A.D.).
528 A.D.: political events
The Battle of Daras ends in defeat for Persian forces at the hands of Byzantine forces led by the emperor Justinian's commander Belisarius, 23, who begins an outstanding military career.
529 A.D.: political events
The Ostrogothic regent Amalasuntha receives a delegation sent by a council of disgruntled nobles urging that she have her son Atalaric, now 13, taught not by elderly schoolmasters, as in the past, but by men who will teach him to "ride, fence, and to be toughened, not to be turned into a bookworm, because 'he who fears the tutor's strap will never look unblinking at sword or spear.'" She reluctantly accedes but will henceforth show little interest in the boy (see 534 A.D.).
The Byzantine emperor Justinian issues the Codex Vitus (Code of Civil Laws), reformulating Roman law in an effort to control his unruly people (see insurrection, 532 A.D.).
Ratisbon (Regensburg) is made the capital of Bavaria.
529 A.D.: religion
The Benedictine order of monks is established at Monte Cassino near Naples by Benedict of Nursia, 49, who founds a monastery on the mountaintop overlooking fertile valleys that are subject to frequent invasion as the Roman Empire crumbles. Benedict formulates strict rules in his Regula Monachorum. Benedict inaugurates monasticism in western Europe, and his monastery will become a great center of learning (see 1080 A.D.; Franciscans, 1209 A.D.).
529 A.D.: education
The Academy founded at Athens by Plato in about 387 B.C. closes down by order of the emperor Justinian on charges of un-Christian activity. Many of the school's professors emigrate to Persia and Syria, and the Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger continues the Platonic tradition at Alexandria.
530 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justinian's commander Belisarius gains another victory over the Persians, this time at Dara.
530 A.D.: religion
Pope Felix IV (or III) dies at Rome September 22 after a 4-year reign in which he has condemned Semi-Pelagianism and converted a pagan temple at Rome into the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Felix is succeeded by an archdeacon of German descent who has been picked by Felix and will reign until 532 as Boniface II, the first Germanic pontiff. A majority of the Roman clergy elects the deacon Dioscurus of Alexandria lest Ostrogoths dominate the papacy, but Dioscurus dies October 14 and thus ends the schism.
531 A.D.: political events
The Frankish king Clotaire I helps his older brother Thierry conquer the Thuringians (see 527 A.D.; 532 A.D.).
Persian forces defeat a Byzantine army under the command of Belisarius at at Callinicum (Sura), but the emperor Justinian negotiates an end to hostilities and Belisarius is hailed as a hero.
Persia's Sassanian king Kavadh I (Qobad I) dies September 15 after a 43-year reign that was interrupted from 496 to 498 or 499. He has drafted fiscal reforms that will win renown for his successor and a testament that will serve to place Chosroes (Khosrow) on the throne.
532 A.D.: political events
The Nika insurrection at Constantinople in January begins with a quarrel between supporters of different chariot teamshe Blues and the Greensn the Hippodrome. The quarrel escalates into violence, and the Byzantine emperor Justinian panics. But his wife, Theodora, says to him, "Reflect whether, once you have escaped, you would not prefer death to safety." Persuaded to remain, he orders the gates of the Hippodrome to be locked, and his general Belisarius comes to his rescue, putting at least 30,000 rebels to the sword. The mob destroys large areas of Constantinople as crowds shouting the charioteers' victory cry, "Nika!" (Victory!) set fires. Belisarius helps Justinian begin an era of absolutism, and the city will be rebuilt in even greater splendor.
The Frankish king Clotaire I and his brother Childebert I arrange to have their nephews murdered. Since the death of their elder brother Clodomir in 524 his sons have grown old enough to claim their father's lands.
532 A.D.: religion
Pope Boniface II dies at Rome October 17 after a 2-year reign.
533 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justinian signs a "Perpetual Peace" with Persia's young Sassanian king Chosroes I (Khosrow I) to free his armies for operations in the west. His general Belisarius invades North Africa with a relatively small force, having solidified his position at Constantinople by marrying the widow Antonina, an old friend of the empress Theodora who has influence at court. He scores two brilliant victories over the Vandals, shatters their kingdom, and regains the region as a Byzantine province for Justinian.
The Ostrogothic regent Amalasuntha sends a messenger to Justinian, asking for asylum at Constantinople (see 529 A.D.). She has lost her power to control the kingdom. Justinian quickly agrees to accept her, she ships the royal treasure by sea to the palace being prepared for her, and when she learns that her three chief enemies are plotting against her she has them murdered. Feeling more secure, she recalls the royal treasure ship, and when Justinian asks for an insignificant fortress in Sicily she puts him off with the suggestion that it would be "unfair in a great prince. . . to fasten a quarrel upon a boyish sovereign [Atalaric] unversed in public affairs" and an appeal that he "show kindness to an orphan boy." In secret, she negotiates to turn over her entire realm to Justinian (see 534 A.D.).
The Franks overrun the kingdom of Burgundy.
534 A.D.: political events
The Ostrogothic prince Atalaric dies of tuberculosis at age 18, having dissipated his youth in drink and debauchery (see 529 A.D.). His mother, Amalasuntha, proposes to her cousin Theodahad, the kingdom's largest landowner and her father's last male heir, that he share the throne with her but "swear an awful oath" that he will be king in name only. He readily accepts the offer, but she has forced Theodahad to return some land he appropriated, he hates her with a vengeance, and he has told Justinian's ambassador that he would be willing to turn over Tuscany in exchange for a large sum of money, the rank of senator, and permission to live at Constantinople (see 535 A.D.).
Malta becomes a Byzantine province.
Toledo becomes the capital of the Visigoth kingdom that controls the Iberian Peninsula and will remain the capital until 711.
535 A.D.: political events
The new Ostrogothic king Theodahad revenges himself upon his cousin Amalasuntha. He has her taken from Ravenna to a small island on Lake Bolsena, where she is strangled in her bath April 30. Her murder gives the emperor Justinian an excuse to invade Italy, and he sends his commander Belisarius on an expedition to Sicily, which quickly yields to superior Byzantine forces.
China's Northern Wei dynasty ends as its last emperor dies and his realm is divided up among his chief military leaders.
535 A.D.: human rights, social justice
The Lex Julia issued by the Byzantine emperor Justinian declares that a wife has no right to bring criminal charges of adultery against a husband, even though she may wish to complain that he has violated his marriage vow, but a husband has every right to bring such charges against a wife, and the Justinian Code makes adultery a capital offense. The Code revokes ancient penalties placed by Augustus against celibacy and childlessness, but it makes divorce almost impossible and emphasizes sexual self-denial above all else as the ethical way of life.
535 A.D.: religion
Pope John II dies at Rome after a 2-year reign and is succeeded by a cleric who will reign until next year as Agapetus.
Byzantine troops drive the extremist Monophysite party out of Alexandria in late May and establish the moderate Monophysite leader Theodosius as patriarch, although much of the population embraces the more extreme Monophysite view (see 536 A.D.).
535 A.D.: architecture, real estate
A Christian basilica is completed at Leptis Magna in North Africa.
536 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justinian I reorganizes the Byzantine-held parts of Armenia into four parts. He will Hellenize the country by suppressing the power of its nobles and relocating populations.
Rome falls to Belisarius December 9 as the emperor Justinian's Byzantine forces recover the peninsula from the Ostrogoths (but see 537 A.D.).
Provence becomes part of the Frankish kingdom.
536 A.D.: religion
Pope Agapetus dies at Rome after a brief reign and is succeeded by a cleric who will reign until 538 as Silverius.
The Byzantine emperor Justinian I summons the patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria to Constantinople in December and tries to persuade him to accept the orthodox position on Christlogy as expressed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Theodosius is unable to reconcile his moderate Monophysitism to the council's decree. Justinian does not force him to change his views, but the emperor will keep him from returning to Alexandria, detaining him and other Monophysites under imperial surveillance.
536 A.D.: environment
A "dry fog" covers the Mediterranean region throughout the year, ushering in the most severe winter in memory. Volcanic dust is the cause, possibly from an eruption in the East Indies.
537 A.D.: political events
The Ostrogoth "king" Witiges lays siege to Rome, but the Byzantine general Belisarius organizes the city's defenses (see 536 A.D.); Witiges will surround Rome for a year but will fail to force its surrender despite dissension within Belisarius's command.
537 A.D.: architecture, real estate
Constantinople's Church of St. Sophia (later the Hagia Sophia) is dedicated December 27 after just 5 years of construction. Designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Mieltus in double octagonal shape with the largest dome yet seen, mosaic portraits of Justinian and his wife, Theodora, lavish use of gold, and lacelike carving, it is the finest church in Christendom (see religion, 1874 A.D.).
538 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine general Belisarius drives Ostrogoth forces away from Rome after a 1-year siege and tries to organize a campaign to the north (see 537 A.D.; 539 A.D.).
538 A.D.: religion
Pope Silverius dies at Rome after a 2-year reign and is succeeded by a cleric who will reign until 555 as Vigilius.
Buddhism is introduced to the Japanese court of the emperor Senka, who receives a Korean delegation that includes some Buddhists (see 517 A.D.; 585 A.D.).
539 A.D.: political events
Ravenna falls to the Byzantine general Belisarius, who captures the Ostrogoth "king" Witiges (see 538 A.D.). But Belisarius is recalled to Constantinople. Milan is starved into submission by the Ostrogoths under their new chief Totila, 300,000 Milanese are put to the sword, and the Ostrogoths begin to reconquer the peninsula.
A Byzantine-Persian war begins that will last for 23 years.
The Japanese emperor Senka dies at age 72 and is succeeded by his 30-year-old half-brother Kinmei, who will reign until 571.
540 A.D.: political events
Persian forces invade Syria and take Antioch from the Byzantines.
Totila the Ostrogoth ends Byzantine rule in much of Italy (see Rome, 546 A.D.).
540 A.D.: religion
The monastery of Vivarium near Squillace is founded by the Roman statesman Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus, who retires from public life to devote himself to study and writing. He directs his fellow monastics in copying and translating Greek works.
541 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justinian contracts plague, and although he recovers after a few months with help from his wife, Theodora, he is obliged to abandon plans to invade Gaul and what later will be called the British Isles.
The Ostrogoth king Hildebad dies and is succeeded by his nephew Totila, who will rule until 552.
541 A.D.: medicine
The Great Plague of Justinian (bubonic plague) spreads from Egypt to Palestine and thence to Constantinople and throughout the Roman-Byzantine world. Carried by way of rats that have come on ships from Egypt and Syria, it brings agriculture to a standstill and causes widespread famine. As many as 5,000 to 10,000 die each day for a period in Constantinople, and the plague will continue with resulting famine for the next 60 to 70 years in Europe, the Near East, and Asia.
Image Pop-UpThe Great Plague of Justinian that killed hundreds of thousands in Europe and Asia was bubonic plague.
542 A.D.: medicine
The Great Plague of Justinian that came into Constantinople fans out through Europe.
542 A.D.: literature
Nonfiction: De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae by the British monk Gildas, 26, is a history of early Britain.
543 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine general Belisarius completes his reconquest of North Africa from the Vandals.
543 A.D.: environment
Disastrous earthquakes shake much of the world.
545 A.D.: political events
The Frankish queen mother Clotilda dies at Tours June 3, having persuaded her late husband, Clovis, to adopt Christianity and borne the four sons who have continued his Merovingian dynasty.
545 A.D.: religion
The Byzantine emperor Justinian attempts to impose the Roman date for Easter on Constantinople in place of the Alexandrian date. The people protest by refusing to patronize butcher shops.
546 A.D.: political events
Rome falls to Totila and his Ostrogoths after a decade of rule by the Byzantine forces of Belisarius. The city's aqueducts have been cut, its aristocracy has long since fled, its population has been reduced from 500,000 to little more than 500 civilians, and these few are starved into submission by Totila.
546 A.D.: religion
A monastery is founded at Beneventum by Cassiodorus (see 540 A.D.).
547 A.D.: political events
The Angle chief Ida establishes the kingdom of Bernicia, which will be the more northerly of the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. He builds Bamburgh Castle as a fortress that will become the seat of Saxon kings.
547 A.D.: medicine
The Great Plague of Justinian reaches what later will be called the British Isles.
547 A.D.: religion
Monasticism founder Benedict of Nursia dies on his mountaintop at Monte Cassino outside Naples at age 67 (year and age approximate).
547 A.D.: architecture, real estate
Ravenna's Church of St. Vitale is completed in double octagonal shape with mosaic portraits of Justinian and his wife, Theodora, who has introduced long white dresses, purple cloaks, gold embroidery, tiaras, and pointed shoes into Byzantine fashion.
548 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine empress Theodora dies of cancer at her native Constantinople June 28 at age 40, leaving a grief-stricken Justinian to rule alone (he will survive until 565).
548 A.D.: commerce
Topographia Christiana by the Alexandrian explorer-monk Cosmas Indicopleustes describes the importance of the spice trade (especially in cloves and sweet aloes) in Ceylon and the harvesting of pepper in the hills of India (see 525 A.D.).
549 A.D.: political events
Petra falls to the Persians, who will hold the eastern outpost of Byzantium for 2 years.
549 A.D.: architecture, real estate
The Church of St. Apollinare is completed outside Ravenna at Classe after 14 years of construction.
550 A.D.: political events
Totila the Ostrogoth captures Rome for the second time, but the city is little more than a shell of its former self (see 546 A.D.).
East Anglia and Northumbria are founded as new kingdoms in what later will be called the British Isles.
Toltec tribesmen overrun the Yucatán Peninsula in the Western Hemisphere and conquer the Teotihuacan civilization.
550 A.D.: religion
Wales is converted to Christianity by David (Dewi), who will be canonized in 1120 and become the patron saint of Wales.
550 A.D.: literature
Nonfiction: De Bellis by the Byzantine historian Procopius, 60, describes the Persian, Vandal, and Gothic wars. Procopius has served as private secretary to Belisarius.
Poetry: Hero and Leander by the Greek poet Musaeus Grammaticus.
550 A.D.: art
Mosaics installed in the new Church of St. Apollinare at Classe near Ravenna include a depiction of The Last Supper.
551 A.D.75 A.D.
551 A.D.: political events
A Byzantine fleet defeats the Ostrogoth navy.
552 A.D.: political events
The Battle of Taginae ends in victory for a Byzantine army under the eunuch general Narses, 74, who has replaced Belisarius, takes his 20,000-man mercenary barbarian forces overland to invade from the north and triumphs decisively over the Italian Ostrogoths in late June or early July. The Ostrogoth king Totila has ordered his men to use only spears, Narses employs archers, and Totila is fatally wounded in an Appenine village near the Flaminian Way, opening the way for Byzantine liberation of Rome (see 553 A.D.).
552 A.D.: technology
The European silk industry has its beginnings at Constantinople. The Byzantine emperor Justinian has sent agents disguised as monks to China and Ceylon, and they smuggle silkworms and mulberry leaves out of the Orient, carrying them in the hollows of their staffs (see 553 A.D.).
552 A.D.: religion
Buddhism reaches Japan in the form of sutras and images sent as gifts by the king of Paikche (part of Korea) (see 538 A.D.). The leader of the Soga clan urges their acceptance, the emperor grants permission to build a temple to house and worship the Buddhist image, but as soon as it is enshrined an epidemic sweeps the countryside. The image is removed from the Soga's hands and cast into the Naniwa canal (see 585 A.D.).
553 A.D.: political events
Ostrogoths regroup following the death last year of their king Totila and follow their new king Teïas through a valley near Mount Vesuvius, but the eunuch Byzantine general Narses forces them to retreat to a mountain in the St. Angelo range, and when they attack his forces he defeats them at the Battle of Mons Lactarius near Naples. Teïas is killed while changing shields, Narses allows the Ostrogoths to retire peacefully on condition that they never again invade the empire, and he annexes Rome and Naples to Byzantium (see 554 A.D.).
553 A.D.: commerce
Justinian makes the silk industry a Byzantine imperial monopoly (see 552 A.D.; 1147 A.D.).
553 A.D.: literature
Nonfiction: Anecdota by the Byzantine historian Procopius is full of scandalous gossip about the emperor Justinian, his general Belisarius, and the late empress Theodora, but later historians will challenge its veracity.
554 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine eunuch general Narses is made prefect (exarch) of Italy and completes his reconquest of the peninsula for Justinian (see 553 A.D.).
554 A.D.: commerce
Italian lands taken from the Ostrogoths are restored to their original owners by Justinian's Pragmatic Sanction, but the landowners have become serfs and the depopulated farmlands reverted to wilderness.
554 A.D.: religion
Armenians at the second Council of Dvin reject the dyosophite formula adopted by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, thereby separating themselves from the West as well as from the East.
555 A.D.: political events
The death of his nephew Thibaud (Théodebald) enables the Frankish king Clotaire I to expand his realm beyond Soissons (see 532 A.D.). Thibaud was the son of Clotaire's late brother Theodoric (see 558 A.D.).
555 A.D.: religion
Pope Vigilius dies after a reign of about 17 years and will not be replaced until next year.
556 A.D.: religion
The vacancy in the papal throne that has existed since the death last year of Pope Vigilius ends with the election of a cleric who will reign until 561 as Pelagius I.
558 A.D.: political events
The Frankish kingdom reunites under the leadership of Clotaire I, king of Soissons, who becomes king of all the Franks following the death of his brother Childebert, king of Paris.
558 A.D.: medicine
Plague takes a heavy toll throughout the Byzantine Empire.
559 A.D.: political events
An army of Huns and Slavs advances to the gates of Constantinople but is repelled by Belisarius, who comes out of retirement to drive off the barbarian invaders.
560 A.D.: political events
Clotaire I of the Franks crushes a revolt led by his son Chramne, who conspired with Clotaire's late brother Childebert and then joined forces with Breton revels. Defeated in battle, Chramne is put to death on his father's orders.
The Kentish king Eormenric dies and is succeeded by his son, who will reign until 616 as Ethelbert I.
The West Saxon (Wessex) king Cynric dies and is succeeded by his son Ceawlin.
560 A.D.: religion
The Abbey of Bangor is founded in Caernarvonshire, Wales, by Deniol.
561 A.D.: political events
The Frankish king Clotaire I dies at Compiegne in December at age 61 (approximate) after a 3-year reign as sole king of the Franks. His son Chilperic promptly seizes the royal treasury amassed in the royal town of Berny and enters Paris with a view to taking over the entire kingdom, but his three surviving brothers divide the kingdom once again. Sigibert will rule Austrasia until his assassination in 575, Charibert will rule Paris until 567, Guntram will rule Burgundy until 592, and Chilperic will rule Neustria from Soissons until 584.
561 A.D.: religion
Pope Pelagius dies at Rome after a 5-year reign and is succeeded by a Roman cleric who will reign until 574 as John III. The new pope persuades the Byzantine general Narses to defend Rome against a Lombard invasion, but the city's populace believe that Narses has been the cause of the Lombard invasion, they oppose his appointment, and Pope John will hide in the catacombs until Narses's death.
563 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine general Belisarius is cleared of false charges that he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the emperor Justinian. Having been imprisoned for a short time, he is restored to honor.
563 A.D.: religion
The Irish missionary Columba (Colum), 42, founds a monastery on the island of Iona in the Hebrides and begins to convert the Picts with 12 of his disciples.
565 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine general Belisarius dies in March at age 59, and the emperor Justinian himself dies at Constantinople November 14 at age 83 after a 38-year reign. Justinian's nephew succeeds to the throne and will reign until 578 as Justin II; he pays Justinian's debts and declares religious toleration, but he will be controlled by his unscrupulous wife, Sophia, a niece of the late empress Theodora.
Lombards in the north of Italy drive the Byzantines south but permit them to retain Ravenna.
566 A.D.: religion
The patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria dies at Constantinople in June after a 31-year reign in which he has led the Monophysites in Egypt and Syria, advancing the belief that Jesus Christ had only one nature rather than both divine and human natures. The new Byzantine emperor Justin II has given him permission to return to Alexandria after nearly 30 years in exile, but the patriarch dies before he can make the journey.
568 A.D.: political events
Lombard forces extend their conquests in Italy under the command of Alboin, who destroyed the Gepidae 2 years ago with help from the Avars, killed the Gepidae king Cunimund, and married his daughter Rosamund. The Lombard ruler Alboin lays siege to Pavia, ends enforcement of the Code of Justinian promulgated in 535, and establishes a kingdom that will rule northern and central Italy until 774. The Gothic warsccompanied by famine and diseaseave exhausted the Italian countryside.
The Merovingian king Chilperic I of Soissons (Neustria) murders his second wife, Galswintha (she is found strangled in her bed) and marries his concubine Fredegunda, a former serving-woman who has earlier persuaded him to reject his first wife, Audovera. Galswintha's sister Brunhilda is married to Chilperic's brother Sigibert of Austrasia (both women are daughters of the Visigoth king Athanagild) and urges Sigibert to take action against his brother Chilperic (see 573 A.D.).
571 A.D.: political events
The Japanese emperor Kinmei dies at age 62 after a 32-year reign. He is succeeded by his son Bintas, 33, who will reign until 585.
572 A.D.: political events
Pavia falls to the Lombard king Alboin, who takes over almost the entire Italian peninsula (see 568 A.D.), but when he tries to make his wife, Rosamund, follow Lombard custom and drink from the skull of her late father in a celebration at Verona June 28 she has Alboin assassinated.
A new Persian-Byzantine war begins; it will continue until 591.
573 A.D.: political events
Sigibert of Austrasia goes to war against his brother Chilperic of Neustria at the urging of his wife, Brunhilda (see 568 A.D.). Sigibert appeals to the Germans on the right bank of the Rhine for help, and they obligingly attack the environs of Paris and Chartres, committing atrocities of all sorts (see 575 A.D.).
574 A.D.: religion
Pope John III dies at Rome July 13 after a 13-year reign and is succeeded by a cleric who will not be consecrated until June of next year but will reign until 579 as Benedict I.
575 A.D.: political events
Sigibert of Austrasia pursues his brother Chilperic of Neustria as far as Tournai (see 573 A.D.). As the nobles of Neustria are raising Sigibert in triumph on the shield in the villa at Vitry near Arras, he is assassinated at age 40 by hirelings of Chilperic's third wife, Fredegunda, who will engineer the deaths of her stepsons (the offspring of Chilperic's first wife, Audovera), whom she will accuse of killing her own three sons (they will actually die of plague). Sigibert has had his brother at his mercy, but Chilperic seizes the opportunity to take Tours, Poitiers, and some places in Aquitaine from Austrasia; Sigibert is succeeded by his young son, who will reign as Childebert II with his mother, Brunhilda, as regent (see 584 A.D.).
Slovene Serbs move into the Balkans.
576 A.D.00 A.D.
577 A.D.: political events
English forces from Wessex defeat the Welsh at Deorham.
578 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Justin II dies after several periods of insanity. On the advice of his wife, Sophia, he has raised his general Tiberius to the rank of co-emperor, Tiberius has ruled jointly with Sophia since December 574, and he now begins a 4-year reign as Tiberius II Constantinus.
579 A.D.: political events
Lombard forces lay siege to Rome as the empire comes under pressure from all sides.
The Visigoth king Leovigild lays siege to the Byzantine-held city of Seville and gives his son Hemenegild a separate command, but Hemenegild marries Ingund, the zealously Catholic daughter of Austrasia's Sigebert I, and rebels against his father after being converted through the efforts of his new wife and the city's bishop, Leander. The Byzantines help the young man, but Leovigild bribes them to give up his son, who is captured and beheaded, either for going over to the enemy or for refusing to take communion from an Arian bishop.
Persia's Sassanian king Chosroes I (Khosrow I) dies after a 48-year reign that has extended his realm from the Oxus to the Red Sea. He is succeeded by his son, who will reign until 588 as Hormizd.
579 A.D.: religion
Heavy taxes levied by Neustria's Merovingian king Chilperic I produce a revolt at Limoges as he sells bishoprics to the highest bidder and annuls wills made in favor of bishoprics and abbeys. His aim is to impose a rationalistic conception of the Trinity.
Pope Benedict I dies at Rome July 30 during the Lombard siege of the city as he labors to solve the problems of famine. He has consecrated 21 bishops since being consecrated himself in 575. Benedict is succeeded by a cleric who will reign until 590 as Pelagius II.
580 A.D.: political events
Lombard warriors drive the last of Italy's Ostrogoths across the Alps. Few in number, the Lombards will never take Rome or Naples, are bitterly opposed by the natives, but will Italianize their names.
581 A.D.: political events
The Sui dynasty that will rule China until 618 is founded at Chang-an by Yang Jian, duke of Sui and chief minister of the northern Zhou, who have ruled since 557. A man of mixed Chinese and Turko-Mongol blood, Yang kills his ruler, the last of the Zhou, along with 58 royal relatives and proclaims himself the emperor Wendi (Wen-ti) (see 589 A.D.).
581 A.D.: religion
Longobards sack the abbey of Monte Cassino outside Naples. The Benedictine monks who survive flee to Rome, but they will return to the site, rebuild the monastery, and resume their peaceful ways (see 1799 A.D.).
582 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Tiberius II (Flavius Constantinus Tiberius) dies at Constantinople August 14 after a 4-year reign during which Thrace and Greece have been inundated by Slavs. He is succeeded by his son-in-law, 23, a former notary who has commanded his armies in the war with Persia, been married August 5 to Tiberius's daughter Constantina and proclaimed emperor, been crowned August 13, and will reign until 602 as Maurice (Mauricius Flavius Tiberius, or Maurikios).
582 A.D.: literature
Nonfiction: The Ostographia by Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus, who dies at age 92, leaving behind an account of Ostrogoth rule in Italy.
583 A.D.: medicine
Smallpox begins spreading from China to Japan and Korea (see 49 A.D.). It will not reach Europe until the final 3 centuries of this millennium (see 900 A.D.).
584 A.D.: political events
The Merovingian king Chilperic I of Neustria is stabbed to death while returning from a hunt near the town of Chelles after a 23-year reign over a territory extending from Aquitaine to the northern seacoast of what later will be France (see 575 A.D.); his wife, Fredegunda (or Fredegond), has paid for his assassination, seizes his wealth, flees to Paris with her remaining son, Lothair (or Clotaire), and persuades the nobles to accept him as legitimate heir while she serves as regent, continuing her power struggles with Guntrum of Burgundy and her sister Brunhilda, queen mother of Austrasia. Lothair (Clotaire) will reign until 628 as Clotaire II (see 597 A.D.).
Mercia is founded in what later will be called the British Isles and becomes a new Anglo-Saxon kingdom.
585 A.D.: political events
The Visigoth king Leovigild puts down a revolt by his son Hermenegild, who has married a Catholic princess and been converted from his father's Arian faith. Leovigild imprisons his son, has him killed, and proceeds to conquer the entire Iberian Peninsula.
The Japanese emperor Bintas dies at age 47 after a 14-year reign and is succeeded by his brother Yomei, 45, who will reign for 2 years.
585 A.D.: religion
The king of Paikche sends another Buddha figure to Japan along with a famous ascetic master of Buddhist meditation, a nun, a reciter of Buddhist magic spells, a temple architect, and a sculptor of Buddhist images (see 552 A.D.). Another temple is built, the new Soga chief converts three pubescent girls and makes them nuns, a new epidemic ensues, and Moriya Mononobe burns the Soga temple. He opposes imperial rule and the Buddhist faith that the Soga clan has adopted as a tool in its rivalry with the Mononobe family (see 586 A.D.).
586 A.D.: political events
The Visigoth king Leovigild dies and is succeeded by Recared, who will rule until 601.
586 A.D.: religion
Japanese Buddhism comes under attack as a "foreign" religion by Moriyo Mononobe and Okoshi Mononobe, who say it conflicts with the native Shintoism, but the new emperor Yomei and his grandfather Iname Soga support Buddhism. The agrarian-naturist Shinto religion will adopt Buddhist imagery to embody its gods with a Buddhist counterpart to every kami (deity) in the Shinto iconography.
587 A.D.: political events
The Japanese emperor Yomei dies at age 47 and is succeeded by a nephew of strongman Iname Soga. The new emperor Sushun, 66, will rule until 592.
587 A.D.: religion
Agents of Japan's new emperor Iname Soga kill the anti-Buddhist Morio Nomomobe. The first Japanese Buddhist monastery is founded.
The Visigoths ruled by Recared convert to Christianity.
588 A.D.: political events
The Sassanian Persian emperor Hormizd is deposed and assassinated after suffering military reverses at the hands of the Byzantines. Having ruled only since 580, he is succeeded by his son, who is helped by the Byzantine emperor Maurikios to gain the throne and begins a 39-year reign as Chosroes II (Khosrow II Parviz) that will see the Persian Empire reach its zenith and suffer its downfall.
Arab, Khazar, and Turkish forces invade Persia but are repelled.
588 A.D.: religion
The Lombards are converted to Roman Catholicism under their king and queen, Authari and Theodelinda.
589 A.D.: political events
The Chinese Empire reunites under the leadership of the Sui emperor Wendi (Wen-ti), who defeats Chen forces at Jian-kang (later Nanjing), ending the Chen dynasty that has ruled in the south since 557.
Persia's military deposes Chosroes II (Khosrow II), who flees to Constantinople (see 588 A.D.; 591 A.D.).
590 A.D.: political events
The Lombard king Authari dies after a 6-year reign and is succeeded by Turin's Thuringian duke, Agilulf, who marries the widow of the late king Alboin's grandson, founds a Roman Catholic Lombard state, and will reign until 615.
590 A.D.: religion
Pope Pelagius II dies after an 11-year reign and is succeeded by a 50-year-old cleric who will reign until 604 as Gregory I. The 64th pope is quickly credited with alleviating the effects of a plague that has struck Rome, allegedly after receiving a vision of the Destroying Angel sheathing his sword atop the mausoleum of Hadrian, which is renamed the Castel Sant' Angelo (see 139 A.D.). The first monk to be elected to the papacy, Gregory begins a reign of rigorous discipline during which Rome's aqueducts will be repaired, her courts reformed, and her people fed with doles of grain as they were under the old imperial rule. The new pontiff establishes claims to papal absolutism as he leads Italian opposition to Lombard rule.
591 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Maurice restores Persia's Chosroes II (Khosrow II) to his throne and receives territorial concessions for his help. Chosroes allows Maurice to extend Armenia's border eastward.
Lombard forces under Agilulf extend their advances in northern Italy (see 598 A.D.).
592 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Maurice sends troops against the Avars and Slavs, who have been threatening the Balkans and Constantinople.
The Japanese emperor Sushun is murdered after 5 years on the throne by agents of his uncle Umako Soga, who is jealous of the emperor's power. Sushun is succeeded by the widow of the late emperor Bintas; now 38, she will reign for 35 years beginning next year as the empress Suiko.
593 A.D.: political events
The Japanese empress Suiko begins a long reign during a pivotal period in which Buddhism will take firm root and Japanese culture will be Sinoized. Japan's first female ruler and the first to receive official recognition from China, Suiko has her 19-year-old son Shotoku as a regent; with strongman Umako Soga, Crown Prince Shotoku will hold power for nearly 30 years, creating the nation's first constitution, a 17-article document establishing rules for officials serving in the imperial court.
Image Pop-UpBuddhism spread in Japan through the efforts of her regent Prince Shotoku, rivaling Shinto as the state religion.
593 A.D.: religion
Japan's Shitenno-ji monastery is founded at Osaka by the crown prince Shotoku.
594 A.D.: religion
The Japanese empress Suiko announces that she will support Buddhism.
595 A.D.: religion
The patriarch of Constantinople John IV (the Faster) dies September 2 after a 13-year reign in which he has mediated disputes between the Orthodox and the Monophysites. Noted for his meager diet, he has appropriated the title ecumenical patriarch, which will be contested by future popes at Rome.
596 A.D.: religion
Pope Gregory sends the monk Augustine with 40 other monks to convert the Jutes in what later will be called the British Isles. Augustine lands in Thanet and is welcomed by Aethelbert of Kent, who accepts baptism along with the rest of his court at the behest of his Christian Frankish wife, Bertha. Aethelbert assigns Augustine and his 40 monks a residence at Canterbury, where they found a Benedictine monastery that will make the town a center of Christianity.
597 A.D.: political events
The Frankish queen mother Fredegunda of Neustria defeats her old rival Brunhilda of Austrasia, who supports the claims of her own son Childebert II to the Frankish throne against those of Fredegunda's son Clotaire (see 584 A.D.), but Fredegunda dies a few months later at Paris. Brunhilda seizes Neustria to unite the Merovingian domains, and Clotaire II continues the struggle (see 613 A.D.).
597 A.D.: human rights, social justice
England gets her first written code of laws from Aethelbert of Kent. On the subject of women's property rights it says, "If she [the wife] bear a live child, let her have half the property, if the husband die first. If she wish to go away with her children, let her have half the property. If the husband wish to have them, [let her portion be] as one child."
The Franks generally exclude women from the courts, bar them from inheriting certain ancestral lands, and even keep them out of family counsels. A woman must have the consent of her parents to marry (eventually she will become attached to her land, with both her person and title used to purchase military loyalty). Adultery in a wife is punishable by death, whereas no penalty attaches to an adulterous husband.
598 A.D.: political events
The Byzantine emperor Maurice makes peace with the Lombard king Agilulf, conceding northern Italy.
598 A.D.: education
The first English school is founded at Canterbury.