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King Reccared of Visigothic Spain converts to Catholic Christianity. The Lombards in Italy are now the only major European power still adhering to Arian Christianity.
May, 589 - Authari of the Lombards marries princess Theodelinda of Bavaria
, the Catholic daughter of the king of Bavaria. Under Theodelinda's influence, the Lombards will gradually begin to convert from Arian to Catholic Christianity. She will set up her palatial court in Monza
(near Milan), a Catholic island in an Arian sea.Synod of Aquileia
convened. Patriarch Severus of Aquileia and the Istrian bishops repudiate their forced profession at Ravenna over the Three Chapters, break their communion with Rome and return once again to schism.
His conduct in the bishops' affair and mental stability suspect, Exarch Smargadus is recalled and replaced with a new Exarch Romanus
. A belligerent character, he immediately tries to lull the (Austrasian) Frankish king Childebert II out of his truce with the Lombards.590
Febuary, 590, Death of Pelagius II. Election of Pope Gregory I ("the Great")
. Of high noble background, he had a good career in lay Roman politics before disavowing it all and becoming a Benedictine monk. But he was now back in the saddle, and ready to put his political background to good use in the chaos of Italy. Gregory will forge a fruitful diplomatic relationship with Queen Theudelinda.Gregory the Great
(dispatching missionaries to convert the Anglo-Saxons).
590 Byzantine-Frankish offensive
renewed. While the Franks lay siege to Pavia, Byzantine forces under new Exarch Romanus break out of Ravenna and recover Mantua, Parma, Reggio, Piacenza and Modena, thus clearing the Po valley as far as Pavia and separating the northern Lombard duchies from the southern ones.
- Death of Authari (possibly poisoned). Theudelinda becomes regent.591
Organization of the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa
, covering North Africa, southern Spain, the Balearics and Sardinia.
May, 591 - Lombard regent Theudelinda marries the Duke of Turin, an Arian lord, who becomes King Agilulf of the Lombards
- Agilulf, Duke of Turin, King of the LombardsEngraved chief of Agilulf's helmet
- in detail, King AgilulfMarriage of Agilulf & Theudelinda
(19th C. print)Revolt of Lombard Dukes
Agilulf's ascension is greeted with a revolt
by the Lombard dukes against the centralizing tendency of the new monarch - this in the midst of the Frankish-Byzantine advance. Agilulf reacts quickly, subjugates the rebel dukes and installs close allies in their place, notably Arechis of Benevento
and Ariulf of Spoleto
- Arechis of Benevento, Agilulf's right hand man in the south.Arechis of Benevento
- Agilulf's man in the south.
591 - Persian Peace
Emperor Maurice helps Chorsoes II of Persia recover the throne from usurpers. After 20 years of war, a peace is finally concluded. Maurice doesn't gain much land in the settlement, but it frees his troops to deal with the incursions of the Avars and Slavs in the Balkans and the Lombards in Italy.592
592 Death of Guntram, Frankish king of Burgundy. His domains are inherited by Childebert II of the Austrasian Franks. The peacemaker among the Merovingians, the death of Guntram is the beginning of the end of Frankish intervention in Italy, as the squabbling, jealous Frankish kings return to old form and take to fighting each other.
Spring, 592 Lombard Counter-offensive
Having subjugated his dukes and secured a peace with the Franks (he pays them off), Agilulf prepares a counter-offensive against the Byzantines in Emilia. On his orders, Duke Ariulf of Spoleto invades Rome, while Arechis of Benevento invades Naples.
Pope Gregory I appeals to the Exarch Romanus of Ravenna for protection, but he can't budge from Emilia, so the Pope takes it upon himself to organize the defense of Rome and Naples himself. Curiously, the Pope appoints new civil and military officers on his own authority - the first recorded time a Pope has exercised secular imperial power.
Knowing it can't survive without Byzantine support, the (exiled) Archbishop of Milan submits
to Rome on the matter of the Three Chapters.
July, 592 Papal Peace
Incommunicado with Ravenna, Pope Gregory I decides to negotiate a peace with the Lombards himself (another usurpation of imperial power). In return for a substantial sum of money, Agiilulf agrees not to molest the duchy of Rome. The Duke of Spoleto proceeds against Umbria instead and captures Perugia.
The Papal peace and the fall of Perugia stirs the Exarch Romanus to come rushing down to central Italy. The Byzantines recover Perugia by bribing the Lombard garrison commander. 593
Spring, 593 Agilulf of the Lombards advance in Emilia proceeds apace, recovering Parma and Piacenza, but deporting much of the population as slaves. He installs his own son-in-law as Duke Godelscalco of Parma.
May, 593 Agilulf marches down to central Italy, recovers Perugia and puts the treasonous garrison commander to death. He proceeds against Rome. But the Lombard army is suddenly struck by a malarial outbreak. Again, on his own account, the Pope manages to negotiate the Lombards out of there.594
Byzantines go on the offensive and capture Perugia again. To and fro continues for a while, the action now mostly in Tuscany and the Pentapoli, and mostly in the Lombards favor.595
With war raging on and the Exarch Romanus refusing to make peace, Pope Gregory I dispatches his own embassy to Constantinople to appeal to Emperor Maurice to order negotiations. Maurice refuses to second-guess his Exarch and chides Gregory for threatening to make a separate peace.596
Death of Exarch Romanus. Emperor Maurice appoints a new Exarch Callincus
of Ravenna. More conciliatory than his predecessor, Callincus is willing to listen to Pope Gregory's offer of mediation.598
- Truce in Italy
through the mediation of Pope Gregory, between Lombards and Byzantines. Lombard gains in the north, including Piacenza
, are recognized. Byzantines retain Perugia for now.599
- Truce renewed for two years. For the first time, Byzantines formally recognize Lombard sovereignty over the conquered lands.602
With the truce on the verge of expiration, the Exarch Callincus seizes Parma and kidnaps Agilulf's daughter
and her husband Duke Gadescalco, in the hope of acquiring leverage to negotiate a more favorable treaty. Agilulf hits the roof. Bolstered by Avar and Slav auxiliaries, the Lombards go on an a furious offensive. Padua falls
to the Lombards. The city is razed and Paduans flee en masse to Malamocco on Lido island in the Venetian lagoon. Monselice also falls. The loss of Padua cuts off the remaining Po valley citadels, Cremona and Mantua, from the rest of Byzantine territory.
November, 602 The Byzantine army in the Balkans, underpaid and exhausted, are refused winter rest and ordered to initiate a new campaign against the Avars. The army mutinies and acclaims their commander Phocas as emperor. Maurice tries to crack down on the ringleaders, but is toppled by an uprising in Constantinople and killed. Ascension of Emperor Phocas
- Byzantine Emperor Phocas603
Phocas inherits a whilrwind. A new Byzantine-Persian War
is launched by Chorsoes II of Persia to avenge the murder of his former benefactor, Maurice. Simultaneously, with the Balkans evacuated of Byzantine garrisons, the Avars and Slavs pour forward, meeting little resistance. And the Visigoths take the opportunity to launch their invasion of the Byzantine coast of southern Spain. With Byzantines facing attacks on so many fronts, the frontiers of the empire begins to permenantly buckle, the gains of Justinian wasted away.
April, 603 At the continuous insistence of his wife Theudelinda, Agilulf assents to the Catholic Christian baptism
for himself and his son and heir, Adaloald. Agilulf, however, will remain of Arian faith.
- Cross of Agilulf, given by Pope Gregory on his Catholic baptism (Monza treasury)
Exarch Callincus dies. Phocas appoints Smargadus again
as Exarch of Italy. But Smargadus refuses to yield up Agilulf's daughter. The war continues.
July, 603 After a quarter century of resistance, Lombards finally capture the fortified citadels of Mantua
. The Po is cleared up to the delta. 604
March, 604 Death of Pope Gregory I 'the Great'. Election of Pope Sabinian
September, 604 - Unable to sustain more losses, the Exarch Smargadus surrenders Agilulf's daughter and a one-year truce
in Italy is called.605
The truce expired, Agilulf goes on the offensive and captures Orvieto. A new one-year truce called. It will be repeatedly renewed hereafter. Phocas confirms Agilulf's sovereignty over his domains.
605 Avar invasion of Dalmatia
. The Avars break out of their Pannonian basin and invade the Roman province of Dalmatia, The Roman populations flee towards the coasts.
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February, 606 - Death of Pope Sabinian. Election of the apostolic nuncio to Constantinople as Pope Boniface III
. He uses his close relationship with Emperor Phocas to obtain an imperial decree asserting that only the Bishop of Rome is allowed to use the title of 'ecumenical bishop' (thus foiling the ambitions of the Patriarch Cyriacus of Constantinople)
606 - Two Patriarchs of Aquileia
- Death of the stubborn schismatic Severus of Aquileia. On Exarch Smargardus's instructions, Byzantine agents install a conciliatory Patriarch Candidian of Aquileia (in Grado), who promises to recant on the Three Chapters schism and reconcile Aquileia with Rome. But the Lombard bishops balk. Agilulf rebuilds the old ruined city of Aquileia and install a schismatic cleric as the new Patriarch John I of Aquileia there. The Patriarchs of Grado and old-Aquileia declare each other usurpers and excommunicate each other.607
November, 607 Death of Pope Boniface III. After nearly a year's delay, he is succeeded by Pope Boniface IV
- As if there wasn't enough trouble already, the Exarch Heraclius of Africa and his son (also named Heraclius) go into revolt against Emperor Phocas. The revolt fans a wider civil war, through Egypt and Palestine.609
609 - With Emperor Phocas's permission, the Pantheon
in Rome, the great pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter, Venus, Mars and other gods, the only remaining structure with its Roman-era dome intact, is turned into a Christian Church by Pope Boniface IV. Pantheon 610
610 The younger African rebel Heraclius arrives by ship in chaotic Constantinople and is welcomed by the Byzantine nobility and acclaimed as Emperor Heraclius
. Phocas is deposed and killed.
- Byzantine Emperor Heraclius611Avars raid Friuli
and slay the Lombard duke Gisulf II of Friuli. Legend has it that Gisulf's four sons are captured by the Avars, but eventually escape, two of them - Radoald and Grimoald - taking refuge with Arechis of Benevento, where they will later play an important role.
Death of the controversial Exarch Smargadus of Ravenna. He is replaced by Exarch John I Legimus
of Ravenna. With little interest in war, he seeks out accomodation with the Lombards.614
Pressing on, the Dalmatian capital of Salona falls to the Avars. A mass exodus proceeds to the relative safety of the Adriatic islands
as all the coastal towns (except Zara) are sacked and destroyed by the Avars.Bobbio Abbey
- Foundation of the Abbey of St. Columban of Bobbio
by the Irish missionary, St. Columban, to further the conversion of the Lombards to Catholic Christianity.St. Columban en voyageBobbio abbey
Although Columban's welcome is facilitated by Theudelinda, Agilulf also finds him politically useful - pressing the Irish monk to address letters accusing the Pope of error and heresy over the Three Chapters schism.615
615 Exarch John I Legimus is killed in an uprising. Replaced by the eunuch Eleutherius
as Exarch of Ravenna.
May, 615 Death of Boniface IV. Election of Pope Adeodatus I
(a.k.a. Deusdedit I). First pope to use lead seals ('bulls') for his documents.616
616 - Death of Agilulf. His young Catholic son ascends as King Adaloald of the Lombards
, under the regency of his mother, queen Theodelinda.
616 - Persian armies advance triumphantly, seizing Byzantine Syria and Palestine and start pressing into Egypt and Anatolia. In the meantime, the Avars run rampant in the Balkans, as far south as Greece.618
November, 618 Death of Adeodatus I. Election of a Neapolitan cleric as Pope Boniface V
(his consecration will be delayed a year).619
Avars break through and reach Constantinople. Byzantine Emperor Heraclius has little choice but to buy the Avars off with tribute and treaty. Egypt, in meantime, has fallen to the Persians. Temporarily freed of the Avar threat, Heraclius throws his armies at the Persians coming up through Anatolia.
- Chosroes II of Persia vs. Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (Louvre).
Thinking the eastern empire is on the ropes, the Exarch Eleutherius of Italy takes the opportunity to declare himself Emperor, intending to re-establish the capital of the empire in Rome. The new Pope Boniface V is not keen on the idea.620
For his imperial pretensions, the Exarch Eleutherius is murdered by his own troops. Succession unclear. He is replaced either by a certain Eleuserius or by Exarch Isaac ('the Armenian')
The last Byzantine city in Spain, Cartegena falls
to the Visigoths. The Byzantines are permanently expelled from the Iberian peninsula.622Birth of Islam
- The Prophet Muhammad and his followers flee from Mecca to Medina (the 'Hejira'), forming the nucleus of the Muslim community ('ummah').
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Soon after achieving majority, Lombard dukes declare the young Catholic king Adaloald insane and depose him (he will die within a year). Ascension of his brother-in-law, the Arian Duke of Turin as King Arioald of the Lombards
. An Arian chauvinist, his reign will be marred by incessant feuds between Arian and Catholic Lombards. The Catholic dowager-queen Theudolinda is sent into exile in Bavaria, along with her brother, the Duke Gundobald of Asti.
October, 625 Death of Pope Boniface V. Election ofa Roman nobleman as Pope Honorius I
- Pope Honorius I.626
June, 626 - Siege of Constantinople
A powerful army of Avars, bolstered by Slavs and Bulgars, thrust deep into Byzantine lands and lay siege to Constantinople. Simultaneously, the Persians reach the coast on the Anatolian side. But the Byzantine navy fights overtime to prevent their junction.
626 Emperor Heraclius invites a Slavic tribe, the Croatians
(then in southern Poland) to settle in the old Avar domains in Pannonia and Dalmatia.
August, 626 The Avars launch an unsuccessful five-day-long assault on Constantinople. Wary of the Croatians seizing their homelands behind them, the Avar Khans are forced to quit their siege to deal with them. The Persians linger on, until they too finally retire.
The Croats slow down the Avar counter-strike by fomenting an uprisng among their Slavic subjects. Fighting and chaos will continue for several years, with the Croatians basically succeeding to keep their hold of the lands and forcing the Avars back above the Danube. Croats reach the Adriatic Sea627
Emperor Heraclius defeats the Persians at the Battle of Nineveh
. The tide of war is turned. The Byzantines will continue advancing, recovering their lands and provoking a coup in Ctesiphon. 628Persian-Byzantine Peace
finally secured, lands restored at old borders. Persia descends into chaos of infighting among the Sassanid ruling clan.
Patriarch Fortunatus of Aquileia-in-Grado, a schismatic cleric who had taken the patriarchate back to schism over the Three Chapters, is forced to flee to the mainland. He takes half of the Aquilean treasury. Emperor Heraclius grants a new treasury and installs a conciliatory new Patriarch Primogenius of Aquiliea
-in-Grado. Pope Honorius I confirms his honotrary title of 'Patriarch' and his supremacy. Aquileia-in-Grado will remain in communion with Rome thereafter.
Bobbio Abbey under pressure from the Bishop of Tortona. Pope Honorius I intervenes and issues bull placing Bobbio under his direct supervision, thereby securing its continued independence.632
Heraclius orders the forced baptism of Jews. Revolts break out in Palestine.632-34
- Islamic Conquest
- The Muslims, under the leadership of their Caliphs Abu Bakr and Omar, recover from the death of the Prophet Muhammad and explode out of the Arabian peninsula. Under their energetic generals, the Muslims will crash on the Persian Empire and invade the Byzantine Empire. In a few short years, all of Persia will fall in their hands and Byzantium will lose its all-important provinces of Syria, Palestine, Egypt and, eventually, North Africa.
- Muslim conquest
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- Death of Arioald of the Lombards. The Arian Duke of Brescia, marries Gundiperga, the widow of Arioald, and ascends as King Rothari of the Lombards
. Seeing an opportunity of the Byzantine dissarray, he goes on the offensive in Italy.
- Rothari, Duke of Brescia, King of the Lombards638
October, 638. Death of Pope Honorius I. Election of Pope Severinus
. Legates are dispatched to Constantinople to obtain confirmation.
December, 638 Monothelite Edict
Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, wary of the apparent willingness of the overwhelmingly monophysite Egypt and Palestine to place themselves under the conquering Muslims, had toyed with a new christological doctrine, known as 'monoenergism' ('single energy'), later adjusted to 'monothelitism" ('single will') which would be hopefully conciliatiary. The monothelite doctrine suggested that Christ may have had "two natures" (as per Catholic dogma), but "one will" (a concession to the Monophysites). Sergius consulted Pope Honorius I, who's reply was warm to the idea.
On Honorius's reply, Sergius published the new doctrine, which was issued as an official edict, the Ekthesis
, by Emperor Heraclius, in December 638, after Honorius and Sergius had both died.
The Ekthesis is embraced by the new Patriarch Pyrrhus of Constantinople, but the new Pope Severinus refuses to sign it. Heraclius withholds confirmation of the new pope until he does so, ordering the Exarch Isaac to seize the Lateran Palace in the interim. The monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria also refuses.639
Death of King Dagobert I of the Franks. Since the 5th C., the Franks had drawn their kings almost exclusively from the Merovingian dynasty. With the death of Dagobert, the Frankish kingship is subsequently divided and weakened, and real power falls into the hands of the high Frankish aristocracy, notably the 'mayors" of the various Frankish 'palaces' (royal courts). Merovingian kings become mere figureheads.
King Rothari of the Lombards invades the remainder of the Veneto mainland, captures Oderzo
, the last Byzantine citadel on the mainland. The population moves en masse to the Venetian town of Heraclea
(Cittanova), which is immediately catapulted as the premiere imperial town in the Venetian confederation.
639 With Syria and Palestine conquered, the Muslims proceed to invade Egypt
. Welcomed by the Monophysite population, Alexandria falls to the Muslims within a few months. Three of the five Christian patriarchates - Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch - are now in Muslim hands.640
May, 640 After being banished from Rome by the Exarch Isaac for nearly two years, Pope Severinus finally obtains imperial confirmation and is allowed to enter the Lateran Palace. But he immediately rejects the monothelite doctrine.
It is around this time that Heraclius himself disowns
the monothelite Ekthesis
, blaming it on the late Patriarch Sergius.
August, 640 Death of Pope Severinus. Election of Dalmatian-born archdeacon of Rome as Pope John IV
. His relatively quick ascension suggests the Exarch of Ravenna, rather than the emperor, fulfilled the duties of imperial confirmation. John IV turns his attentions to the Croatians who have conquered his homeland.641
February, 641 Death of Emperor Heraclius I, followed by acute succession problems as a result of the co-rule of his sons, Constantine III and Heraclius II under the regency of their hated mother, Empress Martina. Chaos ensues after Constantine III is killed. Before the end of the year, the Constantinople Senate deposes Heraclius II and Martina, and installs Constantine III's young son, as Emperor Constans II
, under the regency of the new monothelite Patriarch Paul II of Constantinople
(Pyrrhus having been run out of town in the crisis). At Paul's direction, Constans II maintains the monothelite Ekthesis
- Byzantine Emperor Constans II
Pope John IV appoints John of Ravenna as Archbishop of Spalato (Split) and charges him with the conversion of the Croatians
. After successfully converting their high king Porga, many Croats follows. The Croats are allowed to maintain a Slavic liturgy and Latin ritual.
641 - Death of Arechis I of Benevento. His invalid son ascends as Duke Aiulf of Benevento
, under the regency of his adoptive brothers Radoald and Grimoald (sons of Gisulf II of Friuli, that had been adopted by Arechis back in 611),
641 Lombard Conquest of Liguria
Rothari goes on the offensive and defeats the army of the Exarch at the Battle of Panaro
in Emilia. He proceeds to capture and sack Genoa
, then annexes the rest of the Ligurian coast into the Lombard kingdom. The Archbishop of Milan returns
to the city of Milan after over a half-century of exile in Genoa.642
Muslim Arabs complete their conquest of the Persian Empire.
On offensive in the south, Rothari captures Siponto (the "anklebone" of the Italian boot) and Salerno (on the edge of Naples). Byzantine-Lombard frontiers stabilized for a while.
October, 642 Death of Pope John IV. Election of a Palestinian-born Greek as Pope Theodore I
- Pope Theodore I643 Edict of Rothari
- the first compilation of Lombard law, clearly a Germanic conqueror's legal code - clannish, hierarchical, overtly military. Explicates the elective nature of the Lombard monarchy, the division between feudal & royal property and the rights & duties of the dukes & royal officials (gastaldi), divides free men from unfree, and defines further hierarchies within each. Surprisingly written in really bad Latin & with very little trace of any Roman influence.
643 - Death of Isaac the Armenian (could be earlier). He is succeeded by Theodore I 'Calliopas'
as Exarch of Ravenna.645
Fall of Ascalon prompts a new round of fighting between the Byzantines and Arabs.
July, 645 Disputation of Carthage
organized by the African Exarch Gregory between the exiled monothelite Patriarch Pyrrhus of Constantinople, and orthodox Maximus the Confessor. Persuaded, Pyrrhus renounces monothelitism and accompanies Maximus to Rome to submit himself to Pope Theodore I.
Pope Theodore I demands that Emperor Constans II rescind the ekthesis, depose the monothelite Paul II and restore the now-repentant Pyrrhus as Patriarch of Constantinople. When that fails to work, Pyrrhus gradually slides back to monothelitism.
645 For unknown reasons, Exarch Theodore I Calliopas is recalled and replaced by Exarch Plato of Ravenna
, an ardent monothelite. 646African Rebellion
- With the backing of orthodox African bishops, Exarch Gregory of Africa rebels against Emperor Constans II and proclaims himself the new Emperor.
Death of Aiulf of Benevento, on campaign against Slavic raiders near Siponto. He is succeeded by his adoptive brother (son of Gisulf II of Friuli), who ascends as Duke Radoald of Benevento648
Late 648 Typos Edict
In an attempt to resolve the religious crisis, Patriarch Paul II of Constantinople persuades Emperor Constans II to issue the Typos
edict, repealing the Ekthesis
and forbidding all further discussion of the will or energy of Christ. It is not an endorsement of either orthodoxy or monothelitism, just a general prohibition of doctrinal discussion of the matter.
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649 Death (?) of Exarch Plato. He is succeeded by a former imperial chamberlain, who becomes Exarch Olympius of Ravenna
May, 649 Death of Pope Theodore I. Election of Pope Martin I
. He is consecrated without even seeking imperial confirmation.
- Pope Martin I
October, First Lateran Council
convened by Pope Martin I. Monothelitism is declared heresy, both the Ekthesis and Typos edicts are condemned, as are the Constantiniople Patriarchs Sergius, Pyrrhus and Paul II (but not Pope Honorius I, who got the ball rolling). The infuriated Emperor Constans II orders the Exarch Olympius to stop the Council, arrest the Pope and force the assembled bishops to sign the Typos.Olympian Rebellion
After several failed attempts to carry out the arrest of the Pope, the Exarch Olympius of Ravenna is persuaded to change sides. With Pope Martin I's encouragement, Olympius declares himself the new Emperor.652
652 Arab fleet under the command of the Syrian general Mua'wiya ibn Hudaij, conduct the first Arab raid on Sicily
, sticking around the coasts for a few months. Trying to profit from the aftermath, anti-Emperor Olympius invades Sicily
, but he is killed by a mysterious disease that plagues his army.
652 Death of Rothari of the Lombards. He is succeeded by his son, who ascends as King Rodoald of the Lombards653
653 The dissolute Rodoald of the Lombards is killed by the husband of one of his lovers. The Catholic party finds a successor in Aripert, son of the Gundobald of Asti (brother of Theudelinda), who had gone into exile in Bavaria in 625. With the support of a Bavarian force, Aripert returns to Italy and is acclaimed as King Aripert of the Lombards
June, 653 Former Exarch Theodore I Calliopas returns
as Exarch of Italy. He immediately arrests Pope Martin I
by order of Emperor Constans II. Martin is dispatched to Constantinople to face charges of aiding and abetting Olympius's rebellion. 654
September, 654 Trial of Martin
. After a prolonged imprisonment, Pope Martin I is found guilty of treason and condemned to death, but has his sentence commuted to exile in the Crimea (where he will die a few months later). His Greek comrade, Maximus the Confessor, will be arrested, mutilated and exiled. 655
655 Mu'awiya's fledgling Arab navy destroys the Byzantine fleet led by Emperor Consstans II at the Battle of Attaleie
('Battle of the Masts'), near Phoenix, off the coast of Licia. This first (of many) major Arab naval victories will momentously change the relationship between Greece and Italy. With their navy sunk or bottled up defensively in harbor, Byzantine projection overseas is sharply curtailed. The Byzantine Emperor's attempts to impose his will on the Pope and Italy are rendered toothless, and he is forced to take up a more conciliatory approach with his Italian subjects.
August, 655 On hearing the news of the exiled Pope Martin's death, Romans elect a conciliatory candidate as Pope Eugenius I
. The legates sent to obtain imperial confirmation, return with a provocative letter from the new Patriarch Peter, implying a monothelite position. At a Synod, the Roman bishops force Pope Eugenius to reject the letter. Constantinople threatens to deal with Eugene as it did Martin, but the Arab naval victories have rendered that threat null.656Islamic civil war
breaks out between the Shi'ites (supporters of Caliph Ali) and the Umayyad clan. Arab advance ceases and a quick truce with Byzantium is negotiated. Byzantines use the break to turn their attention to the Slavs.657
June 2, 657 Death of Pope Eugene I. Election of Pope Vitalian
- Pope Vitalian
Vitalian seeks conciliation with the Emperor, avoiding all mention of the condemnation of the Typos, but his efforts are marred by the competing efforts of the Archbishop Maurus of Ravenna
. As the bishop sitting in the Byzantine capital in Italy since 648, Maurus feels that the Bishop of Ravenna, not the Bishop of Rome, should be the primate of Italy - or at least that Ravennna ought not come under Rome's spiritual jurisdiction. He lobbies the Emperor to switch Ravenna's obedience from Rome to Constantinople or, alternatively, to make the See of Ravenna autocephalus ('self-governing', under no patriarch's spiritual jurisdiction, like the Cypriot church). 661
Death of Aripert I of the Lombards. The Lombards acclaim the joint rule of his two sons, the Catholic Perctarit
(at Milan) and the Arian Gundibert
(at Pavia). But the arrangement won't last long. War between the two brothers breaks out almost immediately.
661 Mu'awiya victorious over the Shi'ites in Islamic civil war. Umayyad Caliphate established. Resumption of Arab raids on Byzantium.
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Lombard Italy662 Grimoald's Coup
- Arian Duke Grimoald of Benevento, called upon by King Gundibert for assistance against his brother Perctarit, seizes power instead, kills Gundibert, marries his sister and has himself declared King Grimoald of the Lombards
. Grimoald's son is invested as Duke Romuald of Benevento and left in charge of the south. In the meantime, co-king Pectarit flees to the palace of Erboin, mayor of the Neustrian Franks, and tries to secure Frankish assistance to recover the throne. Grimoald seizes Pectarit's family and sends them to captivity in Benevento.
Scene from Rodelinda, regina de' Langobardi
, an 18th C. opera by G.F. Handel based on Grimoald's seizure of power from Pectarit. (synopsis of Rodelinda
)Emperor in Italy
Badly-handled family affairs alienates the populace of Constantinople from Emperor Constans II. Feeling compelled to leave Constantinople, decides to move to Italy, initially intending to relocate to Rome, but ends up settling in Syracuse, Sicily.
Shortly after arriving in Sicily, the squabble among the Lombards persuades Constans II to launch a fanciful invasion of the mainland. He lands an expeditionary force in Taranto, destroys Lucera and proceeds to lay siege to Benevento
Grimoald defeats a Frankish intervention army dispatched by Erboin on Perctarit's behalf at the Battle of Asti
. Having taken care of the Franks, Grimoald rushes down to relieve his son, Romuald, besieged in Benevento by Emperor Constans II. He leaves Duke Lupus of Friuli in charge of the north.
May, 663 The Emperor's Byzantines are crushed by Grimoald's Lombards at the Battle of Forina
. The Emperor himself narrowly escaped on time by retreating into Naples, leaving the bulk of his troops at the mercy of the Lombards.
Grimoald proceeds to invade Apulia
, capturing Brindisi, Taranto, etc., leaving the Byzantines only with the very tip of the Italian heel (Otranto). In reward for his services, Grimoald installs a certain Thrasamund as Duke of Spoleto.
663 Duchy of Naples
Hoping to create a bulwark against the Lombards of Benevento (and the Pope in Rome) and seeking the support of its fleet, Emperor Constans II effectively creates the near-independent maritime state known as the Duchy of Naples. He invests a local noble as Duke Basil of Naples, with civil and military authority, dependent solely on the Patrician of Sicily.
July, 663 While the Lombards conquer his southern Italian dominions, Emperor Constans II proceeds from Naples to pay a two-week visit to Rome
, the first by an emperor in two centuries. Pope Vitalian puts on great pomp and circumstance to welcome the Emperor. But instead of encouraging the fidelity of his Roman subjects, the Emperor ransacks their treasuries for himself, orders artifacts and precious metals stripped from Roman churches to be hauled back to Constantinople and, to crown it all, directly insults Pope Honorius I, by demanding the Pope recognize the spiritual independence of the rebellious Archbishop Maurus of Ravenna.
Hie deed in Rome done, the Emperor proceeds to plundering the churches of Corsica, Sardinia and Calabria, before returning to Sicily.
While Grimoald ravages the south, the Lombard Duke Lupo of Friuli revolts
. Lupo sacks Grado and takes much of its ecclesiastical treasure back up to Aquileia. Grimoald calls on the Avars (among whom he had lived in his youth), who invade Friuli and defeat and kill Lupo. The Avars proceed to sack Friuli in a devastating campaign requiring Grimoald's intervention before they finally leave in 664. Lupo's son Arnefid flees among the Slavic Carinthians. Grimoald appoints a certain Vettari as new Duke of Friuli.
In punishment for assistence to Lupus of Friuli, Grimoald undertakes a series of police actions, capturing Forli
(in Romagna), razing Oderzo and sacking Treviso. 664 Synod of Whitby
convened by King Oswy of Northumbria, trying to reconcile certain points of difference (notably the dating of Easter) between the Roman and Celtic Christian churches in Britain. The Synod embraces the Roman position almost completely. Celtic Christianity folds its tent.666
Second Arab raid on Sicily, this time led by the Arab general Abdallah Ibn-Qais of Alexandria, on the orders of Maghrebi ruler Mu'awiya Ibn Hudaij. Syracuse - where the Emperor Constans II himself is staying - is sacked and the raiders return home with plenty of booty. Ravenna Schism
- the duel between the Pope Vitalian of Rome and the ambitious Archbishop Maurus of Ravenna breaks into open schism. Emperor Constans II issues an edict recognizing the autocephalus status of the Bishop of Ravenna, removing it from the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Rome and granting it the imperial pallium. Pope Vitalian excommunicates Bishop Maurus, whom, in turn, excommunicates the Pope right back.
Byzantine Exarch Theodore I Calliopes is replaced by a new Exarch Gregory of Ravenna
With the assistance of the Carinthian Slavs, Arnefid of Friuli
(son of the late rebel Lupus) invades and recovers Friuli. But Grimoald defeats and kills him at the Battle of Nimis. 668
September, 668 - Assassination of Emperor Constans II, murdered by his own chamberlain in his bath in Sicily. His son and co-emperor ascends as Emperor Constantine IV
of Byzantium. But he has to contend with his brothers (who were also co-emperors) Heraclius and Tiberius.
- Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV
One of the conspirators in the murder, the Armenian general Mezizios
(Count of Opsikion) is acclaimed by the army in Sicily as anti-Emperor, but the rebellion is swiftly put down by an expeditionary force led by Exarch Gregory of Ravenna, with the support of Pope Vitalian.
668 Third Byzantine-Arab War
(668-679) begins in earnest with a concerted push by Umayyad forces north into Anatolia, all the way to Chalcedon. 669
669 Muslim forces, pushing through Asia Minor, cross into Europe and lay their first siege of Constantinople
. The land-based Muslim attack on Constantinople is repelled by the use of "Greek fire" (for the first time) from the city walls. The Arabs are forced to withdraw.670Muslim invasion of Africa
led by Oqba ibn Nafi'i al-Fihri, Oqba founds Qairouan
as an advance base for further raids against the Exarchate to the north and the Berber chieftans of the Aures confederation to the west.
c.670 Migration of the Bulgars
. A mixed confederation of tribes, probably of Hunnish-Turkish origin, the Bulgars had resided on the northern shore ("Great Bulgaria") of the Black Sea from the time of Hunnish collapse. From around 670 on, the Bulgars were themselves being pressed by the rising Turkic Khazars from Caucasia. One group of Bulgars moves up the Volga river, while another group, under the chjieftan Asparuch begins moving into the Balkans, settling initially around Bessarabia (Moldova), but then pressing further into the region of Dobrudja, on the Danubian borderlands of Byzantium.Map of Bulgar migrations671
Death of Grimoald of the Lombards. His young son (through his second wife, the daughter of Aripert) ascends as king Garibald of the Lombards
, but under the regency of Perctarit, the former Catholic Lombard king who is allowed to return by treaty.
Death of Maurus, schismatic bishop of Ravenna. His successor, Archbsihop Reparatus of Ravenna
is elected by the Ravenna clergy, and, adhering to the autocephalous edict, receives the imperial pallium and does not submit to the Pope for confirmation.672
January, 672 Death of Pope Vitalian. Ascension of a Benedictine monk as Pope Adeodatus II
(or Deusdedit II).
Arab fleet, roaming freely, raid Rhodes and Crete, capture Smyrna and other enclaves on the western Anatolian coast. They are repelled from Constantinople by Greek Fire.673
The eastern coast of Marmara captured, the Arab fleet initates a blockade and naval siege of Constantinople
. It will remain in place for several years. 674
Availing themselves of the Arab blockade of Constantinople, Slavs invade Thessaly.
Regent (and former king) Perctarit of the Lombards
(son of Aripert) gets rid of young King Garibald of the Lombards (son of Grimoald) and takes the crown back for himself.676
In an act of reconciliation with the Papacy, Emperor Constantine IV rescinds the autocephalous edict and orders Archbishop Reparatus of Ravenna to submit himself to the Pope in Rome. He also begins making plans to submit the monothelite controversy to a general council of the Church.
April, 676 - Death of Pope Donus. Election of the elderly Sicilian Pope Agatho
. Immediately sets about organizing synods throughout western Europe to gauge the stance of Latin bishops re. monothelitism.677
Arab fleet returns to Constantinople. Entering the Sea of Marmara, the Arab fleet is defeated by Byzantine ships equipped with Greek fire at the Battle of Syllaeum
. The remainder of the fleeing ships are decimated by a tempest. With the sea cleared, Constantinople is given a respite.
- Greek fire at Syllaeum.
Bolstered by their victory, the Byzantines go on the offensive and begin pushing the Arabs away from Anatolian coasts.
677 - Exarch Gregory, a supporter of the Ravenna schism, is replaced by Exarch Theodore II of Ravenna
Post by Khalid ibn Walid on Nov 15, 2006 11:19:52 GMT -5
- To ensure his succession, Perctarit of the Lombards associates his son Cunincpert as co-king of the Lombards.679 Arab-Byzantine Peace
signed between Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV and Umayyad Caliph Mu'awiya I. The Arabs withdraw and agree to pay a tribute of 3,000 pieces of gold, men and horses. They also agree to withdraw the Arab garrison from Cyprus, although the Byzantines will not attempt to install their own there for a while. Irregular raids, of course, will continue. Byzantium can now concentrate on the rising threat of the arriving Bulgars.680
680 Death of Umayyad Caliph Mu'awiya I. A succession crisis ensues and the Shi'ite rebellion
is raised (ends with massacre at Karbala). A multi-faceted civil war envelops the Caliphate for the next few years.Third Council of Constantinople
(Sixth Ecumenical Council, last one was at Constantinople back in 553) convened by Constantine IV to reconsider monothelitism. With monophysite regions of Africa and Asia now firmly in Muslim hands, participants feel little need for compromise anymore.
Summer, 680 Battle of Ongala
With the Arab threat out of the way, Emperor Constantine IV dispatches his army and navy to dislodge the Bulgars from the Danubian delta. The Bulgars refuse to give battle and elude the bulk of Constantine's forces. But when the Byzantines withdraw, the Bulgars attack, turning an orderly withdrawal into a rout. 681
January, 681. Death of Pope Agatho. Ascension of Pope Leo II
(although he won't be consecrated until over a year later, in September, 682)
681 Khanate of Bulgaria
After a couple more defeats Constantine IV signs a humiliating treaty with Asparuch Khan of the Bulgars, allowing the Turkic-Hunnish Bulgars to set up their own state in Moesia and Dacia, with capital at Pliska. Map of First Bulgar KhanateAsparuch Khan
Constantine IV proceeds to form the Theme of Thrace and populate iit with refugees from the Avar Khanate, to serve as a bulwark against the Bulgars.
September, 681 Council of Constantinople wrapped up. The monothelite compromise doctrine is repudiated and the orthodox Christian doctrines of the 451 Council of Chalcedon confirmed, thereby reconciling Rome with Constantinople. Strikingly, Pope Honorius I (who started the monothelite business back in 638) is anathemized. The business of Ravenna's schism, however, remains unresolved for the moment. Pope Leo II confirms the decrees.
681 - Peace in Italy
After a century of stalemate and to-and-fro, the first formal peace between Lombards and Byzantines is made, basically just ratifying the current state on the ground. Also a peace is made on the religious front, with all the old imperial 'innovations' repudiated once and for all, and Catholicism reaffirmed as official Church doctrine.
681 - Farfa Abbey
- The Abbey of St. Thomas of Farfa
in the Sabine hills east of Rome is founded (or rather, resurrected) by Burgundian monks under the leadership of St. Thomas of Maurienne. A Benedectine monastery, Farfa will be doted upon by the Lombard duke of Spoleto and later on the Frankish monarchs, and acquire much territory in the Sabina region.Abbazia di Farfa
August, 682 After much negotiation, at long last, Reparatus's successor, Archbishop Theodorua of Ravenna submits to Rome
, thereby ending the Ravenna schism. Pope Leo II is finally consecrated at around this time too.683
July, 683 Death of Pope Leo II. Election of Pope Benedict II
. Again, a long interval awaiting imperial confirmation. One of the results of such delays is Emperor Constantine IV's new edict confirming the right of clerics and people of Rome to elect the Pope and transferring the right of imperial confirmation to the Exarch of Ravenna.684Synod of Toledo
confirms the decrees of the Council of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Toledo as Primate of Spain. 685
Death of Pope Benedict II. Ascension of invalid Pope John V
September, 685 Death of Emperor Constantine IV from dysentry. His seventeen-year-old son and co-emperor ascends as Emperor Justinian II
- Justinian II
Availing himself of the civil chaos in the Caliphate, Justinian dispatches an army to the borderlands and 'persuades' the new Caliph Abd al-Malik to renew the peace treaty on more favorable terms. 686
August, 686 - Death of Pope John V. Quarrel between the military and clerical branches of the Roman nobility as to his successor. A compromise candidate, a pious Thracian cleric of military origin, ascends as Pope Conon
. Begins a long era of Greek Popes
687 Carolingian Mayors
At the invitation of Neustrian-Burgundian nobles, Pepin II of Heristal, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, invades and defeats the army of his Neustrian rivals. He forces the Merovingian king to appoint him mayor of the palace for all of the Frankish kingdoms. Henceforth, the Carolingian dynasty will become hereditary mayors of all Francia.
687 Exarch Theodore II replaced by Exarch John II Platinus of Ravenna
September, 687. Death of Pope Conon (possibly poisoned). The archpriest Theodore is put forward by the majority, but his rival, archdeacon Paschal, offers the new Exarch John II 100 pounds of gold to deliver him the papacy. John II proceeds with his army to Rome. Deadlocked, the Romans proceed to elect a Sicilian of Syrian origin as a compromise candidate as Pope Sergius I
. The Exarch agrees, but demands the 100 pounds from him. The Pope refuses, but the Roman populace, not wishing a conflict, pays up.
- Pope Sergius I688
Assassination of Perictarit of the Lombards. His son and co-ruler since 678 ascends as King Cunincpert of the Lombards
Cunincpert, King of the Lombards
(first Lombard king who's image appears on a coin)689
Byzantines reconquer Macedonia from the Slavs, thereby reconnecting the two largest cities of the eastern empire, Constantinople and Thessalonica. Slavs are deported en masse
to Anatolia, ostensibly to form a "soldier-farm" for wars against the Arabs.