Detailed Timeline of
Deeper Into the Dark Ages (840
Fragmentation of Frankish Empire, Age
of Feudalism in Europe
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Vikings Gain Control of Netherlands
Note: Raids Become Conquered
continue to raid and plunder coastal areas across the North Sea,
including northern France/Germany and Britain. In addition, they also
begin to accumulate territorial possessions in which they establish
permanent, independent settlements.
(Timeline Continued Below)
Division of Frankish Empire
(843): The Frankish
consolidated under Charles Martel
in 718, enabling the Franks to bring
much of Europe under consolidated rule. The empire remained unified
until the death of Louis I in 843. As was Frankish custom, the empire
was divided among his three sons, into the Western Realm (blue), the
Central Realm (shaded) and the Eastern Realm (yellow). The break down of
centralization and cohesion would result in a constant power struggle
among nobility, plunging Europe deeper into the Dark Ages. Results in a
western realm (West Francia – Blue), central realm (Netherlands,
Belgium, Switzerland, Italy), and eastern realm (East Francia, roughly
modern Germany). Serves as another step toward the formation of the
nation of Germany.
Note: Evolving Concept of “Germany”
and “France”. The
partition of the Frankish Empire was based on the natural distinction
that existed between those in the eastern portion who considered
themselves “Germans”, and those in the western portion who considered
themselves “Frankish”. The separation into the Eastern and Western
Realms in 843 further cemented the concept of “Germany” and “France”.
Germans were descendants from the large confederation of Germanic tribes
that had maintained a distinct German language and culture since
migrating from Scandinavia to mainland Europe. The Franks were largely
the descendants of the Romano-Celtic peoples that made up the Roman
province of Gaul. Even though they became subject to Frankish rule after
the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, and even took
upon themselves the Frankish name, they retained the Latin language, the
basis for the French language.
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Kievan Rus Established by the Swedes
(860): A Swedish Viking tribe migrated
south into modern Kiev (Ukraine), subduing the Slavs in the area (the
loosely organized Rus Khaganate), forming the Kievan Rus’ state, the
predecessor to three modern Eastern Slav states: Belarus, Russia and
Ukraine. It becomes the premiere Eastern European power, dominating
trade routes from the Baltic Sea in the north, to the Black Sea in the
south, and from the Khazar Kingdom in the east, to the Germanic states
in the west. The vikings were assimilated into the vastly more numerous
Slavs by the 10th century, evolving Kievan Rus into a purely Slav state,
as opposed to a Slav state with a Swedish ruling class. It was based out
of Kiev, the current capital of Ukraine.
Bulgarians’ Conversion to Christianity
(865): As the First Bulgarian Empire is
in decline, they are invaded by Byzantines, who force a peace settlement
upon them. The only Byzantine condition is that the Bulgarians become
Christianized (they were still pagan). This marks the beginning of the
Christianization of the Bulgarians. In addition to appeasing the
Byzantines, Christianity legitimizes Bulgarians in the eyes of other
Christian nations, improving their geopolitical standing.
Viking Settlements in England
(865): Vikings (Norse & Danes) begin to
settle along coastal regions of modern England, especially northern part
of England coast. Today, there is still a major Scandinavian component
to the genetic composition of people in this area. The Viking-ruled
territory serves another step in the evolution of England, a “nation”
distinct from the rest of Britain, and more powerful as well.
Note: Norse-Viking Relationship.
Vikings are a collection of Norse, Danish & Swedish pirates, who raid
and plunder vulnerable settlements and cities for sustenance and wealth.
The Norse Kings demanded tribute from the Vikings’ booty, but it was
common for groups of Vikings to operate independently from the king,
especially as they began to settle their own conquered lands. For
example, those Vikings that settle the northern coasts of France
(Normandy) become a sovereign nation for centuries.
Territory Gained by East Francia from
the Central Realm (870): King Lothiar
of Central Realm dies, causing this kingdom to be split between West
Francia and East Francia (Germany). East Francia gains additional
territories along its western border.
Territory Gained by West Francia from
Central Realm (870): King Lothiar of
the Central Realm dies, causing this kingdom to be split between West
Francia and East Francia (Germany). West Francia gains additional
territories along its eastern border (light blue area).
Kingdom of Italy
(870): Louis I, King of the Central Realm dies. West/East
Francia splits thin strip of territory along their shared border
(shaded), while Louis II (son of Louis I) retains Kingdom of Italy
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First unified Norse Kingdom
First Norse settlement on Iceland
Instability, Lack of Clear Leadership
in Italy (875-962): Louis II dies. East
Francia King Charles the Fat gains loose control over Italy. Upon his
death in 888, several nobles attempted to lay claim to the Kingdom of
Italy, leading to constant instability & lawlessness, as no suitor was
able to exert control.
Decentralization of East Francia
(888): East Francia broke down into a
collection of loosely-affiliated petty kingdoms.
Decentralization of West Francia
(888): West Francia had fallen under
the rule of East Francia King Charles the Fat in 884. Upon his death in
888, West Francia devolved into a loose affiliation of several petty
kingdoms. Charles the Fat’s nephew Charles the Simple would gain
recognition as King of West Francia in 893, but the “kingdom” would
remain decentralized. King Charles would wield little real power.
Semi-Unified East Francia
(893): East Francia had formed into a
unified kingdom, divided into 4 semi-autonomous duchies.
Magyars Enter Current Homeland –
Hungary (895): Magyars migrate into the
Carpathian Basin, in modern Hungary, reaching the territory where they
would establish a nation (Hungary). Significant populations of Magyars
remained east in modern Romania, where there is still a significant
Hungarian/Magyar population today. A small population of Slavs were
found in their new homeland, who were either pushed out, or assimilated
into the Hungarians. The Magyars would carry out raids against neighbors
(Eastern Franks/Germans, Balkans to the south) until converting to
Christianity in 1001.
Break-Up of Great Moravia
(907): The independent Slav empire is
broken up primarily due to Magyar invasions from the east. The western
portion becomes the Duchy of Bohemia, the predecessor to the modern
state of the Czech Republic, developing close relations with the German
states (later known as the Holy Roman Empire). Moravians in the center
form the independent petty kingdom of Moravia. The eastern half (the
“Slovaks” predecessors to modern Slovakia) was conquered by the Kingdom
of Hungary in the 11th century. Bohemians maintain Czech as their
primary language, which has survived to this day. Slovaks also maintain
their Slovakian language, which has also survived to the present day.
Beginning of Normandy
(911): King Charles the Simple (France)
cedes area of northern France to Norse invaders (“Normans”) who had been
raiding area since about 800. Becomes known as Normandy.
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Forerunner to England
(918): Alfred the Great, of Viking
descent, is the first to rule over most of what is now England,
predecessor to the future Kingdom of England.
(919): East Francia throne overtaken by Duke of Saxony, who
is typically considered the first King of Germany. Would expand German
control to the east, subduing Slav peoples to create buffer against
Germans Gain Control of Netherlands
(920): Vikings are expelled by the
Germans in the Low Counties (modern Netherlands).
Birth of England
(925): Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, gains English
Viking territory through marriage, which consists of a collection of
small coastal petty kingdoms. This territory comprises most of modern
England. Wales, to the east, is made a tributary state. Athelstan is
considered first King of England, giving birth to what will become one
of the most prominent nations in the history of humankind.
Kingdom of Croatia Formed
(925): The Slav tribe of the Croats
form the Kingdom of Croatia (shaded). The Croats would maintain their
distinct identity throughout history, even while under long periods of
foreign rule. Upon the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, they once again
became a sovereign nation.
Serbs Break Away From Bulgaria
(927): Slavs in the western extremities
of the empire break free of Bulgarian control, forming the Serbian
Empire. It becomes the predecessor to modern Serbia, introducing the
concept of “Serbs” as a nation.
Icelandic Free State
(930): Norse settlers on Iceland
establish Icelandic Free State, which remains independent until 1262.
German Kingdom Annexes/Conquers Italy
(953-62): Otto I becomes King of
Germany. First official Holy Roman Emperor. Guarantees independence &
protection of Papal States. Also adds the Kingdom of Italy to the
Kingdom of Germany in 962, conquering it after it descended into
political chaos and infighting among potential heirs to the throne.
Byzantine recaptures Crete
Byzantine recaptures Cyprus
Land Regained by Byzantine from
Muslims: Byzantine reclaims lands to the east from the Muslims,
weakened by internal divisions.
Land Regained by Byzantine from
Bulgaria: Byzantine reconquers lands in SW Balkan peninsula from
weakening Bulgarian Empire.
(Timeline Continued Below)
Baptism of Polish King
(966): Polish king baptized to
Christianity, first recorded event in Polish history. The Poles were now
recognized politically by the Pope, which would lead to the
establishment of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025.
Note: Christianity Impact on Poland.
Christianity unifies the Poles, empowering them to absorb other Slav
tribes in the area. They are then able to extend to Kievan Rus to the
East, to Balt territory in the North, Hungary to the South, and Germany
to the West. Thus, they succeed in carving out an area roughly
equivalent to modern Poland (foundation of Poland).
Hispania Christian Kingdoms: The
Christian kingdoms in northern Hispania make substantial progress in
reconquering lands from the Muslims, a process known as “reconquista”.
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Feudalism Plunges Europe Deeper
into the Dark Ages
The pre-843 consolidated Frankish Empire unified much of West & Central
Europe. The subdivision of the empire in 843 among the three sons of
Louis I drove Europe into greater backwardness, as strong, centralized
rule devolved into a multitude of petty kingdoms throughout the
continent. Fragmentation discouraged unification and urbanization, as
the rule of law and the economy become entirely land-based (feudalism).
Feudalism is a military/economic/social order where a monarch grants
feudal lords large parcels of land in exchange for military service when
needed, and taxes, in exchange for unified military protection. Knights
and peasants within the Lord’s realm were given smaller pieces of land
and protection in exchange for their loyalty and military service when
needed. The feudal lords (counts, nobles, etc.) would essentially rule
the people on a piecemeal basis, even holding their own courts, and
dealing justice as they saw fit. Peasants were essentially the property
of the feudal lords, in a system within feudalism known as serfdom, a
form of slavery which pervaded western and central Europe (former
Frankish territories) in some form until the French Revolution (late
High Middle Ages (967 – 1050)
Previous: Early Dark Ages III (755 – 840)
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