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Timeline 1000-1100:


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The Viking Biarni Heriulfsson sights North America after being blown off course.

Battle of Svolder--Sweyn kills Olaf of Norway and annexes Norway to Denmark.

King Aethelred II ("the Unready" or "Poorly Counseled") ravages Cumberland and southwestern Scotland.

c. 1000 The Anglo-Saxon Gospels written and Aelfric's Sermons.

c. 1000 Last possible date Beowulf Manuscript could have been produced (though actual story may be centuries older)

c. 1000-1025 The Exeter Book written--an Anglo-Saxon manuscript containing the much older Cynewulf poems

c. 1000-1100 The Vercelli Book written and carried to Italy--an Anglo-Saxon manuscript containing Andreas. Probableperiod of full development of Christmas and Easter cycles of plays in Western Europe.


1001 Approximate date the Chinese perfect gunpowder.

Leif Ericson, son of the Eric the Red, leads an expedition to the west, journeys down coast of North America, possibly as far south as Maryland.

Aethelred the Unready marries Emma, sister of Duke Richard of Normandy.

Massacre of St. Brice's Day--Aethelred orders the slaughter of all Danish settlers and mercenaries in southern England.

1003 In retaliation for the Massacre of St. Brice's Day, Sweyn leads an army of Norsemen to land in England and wreak a terrible vengeance.
1007 Aethelred the Unready pays Danegeld to gain two years peace. The cost of this bribe is 36,000 pounds in silver.
1010 The Danes attack East Anglia and sack Ipswich.
1012 The Danes sack Canterbury. Aethelred the Unready pays 48,000 pounds of silver in Danegeld.
1013 Sweyn Forkbeard lands in England and is proclaimed king. Aethelred the Unready flees to Normandy .
1014 Sweyn Forkbeard dies--dramatically struck dead while threatening to sack the town of St. Edmunds unless paid Danegeld. The English recall Aethelred to England as king. Sweyn's successor Canute flees to Denmark.
1015 Canute invades England; war between Danes and Saxons begins.

Aethelred II's son Edmund Ironside becomes King of England. He works out a treaty where he and Canute divide the kingdom. Edmund holds Wessex and King Canute holds the North.

Edmund assassinated. Canute becomes King of all England. He rules until 1035.

Olaf II becomes King of Norway. He rules until 1028.


King Canute divides England into four earldoms. He raised a "Danegeld" of 82,500 pounds in silver from the region, including 10,500 pounds in silver from London.

1018 Mahmud pillages the city of Muttra in India.
1019 Canute marries Emma of Normandy, widow of Aethelred II.
1020 Canute establishes a Benedictine monastery at Bury.
1024 The German king Conrad II declared Holy Roman Emperor. He will rule until 1039.
1027 Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil) becomes Duke of Normandy. He rules until 1035.

King Canute conquers Norway. He puts his son Sweyn on the Norwegian throne.

Zoë, Empress of the Byzantine Empire until 1050.

1030 Olaf leads rebellion in Norway. Sweyn's forces kill him at the battle of Stiklestad.
1031 Henry I ascends to throne of France. Rules until 1060.
1034 Duncan becomes King of Scots until 1040.
1035 Death of King Canute. Harold I, Harefoot, becomes King of England. Hardicanute becomes King of Denmark up to 1042.
1039 Henry III (the Black) ascends to throne of Holy Roman Empire in German.

Hardicanute, King of England rules until 1042.

Macbeth, Mormaer of Moray, kills Duncan in the battle at Elgin. Macbeth rules as King of Scots until 1057.


Hardicanute, king of England dies of alcohol poisoning, ending Danish rule of the island. Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelred II, becomes king of England. Edward is forced to flee to Normandy. Earl Godwin and his sons control England. From 1042-1066 the restored Saxon kings will rule England until the Norman Conquest.

Magnus the Good, son of Olaf II, becomes king of Denmark. He rules until 1047.

1046 Harold Hardraadi becomes king of Norway. He rules until 1066.
1047 Sweyn II, Canute's nephew, becomes king of Denmark. He rules until 1076.
1051 Earl Godwin exiled.

Earl Godwin returns from exile to England along with a fleet and army. He wins back his power.

Edward the Confessor founds Westminster Abbey.

1053 Death of Earl Godwin. His son Harold succeeds him in the Earldom of Wessex.

Abdallah ben Yassim begins the Muslim conquest of West Africa.

Final break between the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Church is now functionally independent under the Patriarch and the council of Constantinople.

1055 King Harold's brother (Tostig) set up as Earl of Northumbria.
1056 Queen Agnes rules the Holy Roman Empire as queen regent until 1065.
1057 Malcolm Canmore ("Big Head") defeats and kills Macbeth in the battle of Lumphanan. Lulach, the stepson of Macbeth, becomes king of the Scots and survives on the throne for one year.
1058 Malcolm Canmore kills Lulach in battle and rules Scotland until 1093.
1060 Philip I becomes king in France. He rules until 1108.
1061 Muslim Almoravid Dynasty in North Africa. Begins expansion toward Spain across the Gibraltar Straits.
1063 Marrakesh founded in Morocco
1064 Harold shipwrecked in Normandy. Duke William the Bastard of Normandy takes him into his fortress as a "guest." Under duress, Harold swears on relics of a saint to support Duke William's claim to the throne of England. (Apparently, Edward the Confessor had made a verbal agreement to let Duke William inherit the throne some years earlier while Edward was in exile from England).
1065 Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV takes the throne as an adult. His mother Agnes steps down. Henry rules the Empire until 1106.

Harold II (Harold Godwinson) is crowned king by the Anglo-Saxon nobles the day after Edward the Confessor dies.

Tostig and Harold Hardraadi of Norway invade the northern regions of England hoping to seize the country before Harold II can consolidate his power. Harold raises the Anglo-Saxon troops and defeats them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. He kills both Norwegian contenders for the throne.

Meanwhile, Duke William the Bastard gains papal support for his cause and hires mercenaries from Picardy and Normandy. He sails across the channel and lands at Dover in Kent. Harold II marches his army from the northern reaches of England all the way to the southeast corner to confront Duke William nineteen days later after the Battle of Stamford Bridge. At the Battle of Senlac (i.e., Hastings), the two sides meet. The Anglo-Saxon forces, having achieved a favorable position of high elevation, repel two Norman attacks. On the third attack, Duke William has his men pretend to retreat in terror. The Anglo-Saxon warriors, thinking that victory is theirs, break ranks to pursue the Normans onto level ground. At that point, Duke William signals his troops to turn and fight. In the melee, archers fire randomly into the Anglo-Saxon ranks. King Harold Godwinson is shot through his eye and instantly killed. Other arrows kill Harold's brothers, who are the commanding officers. In the following bloodbath, most of the Anglo-Saxon nobility is wiped out.

A month later, Duke William the Bastard of Normandy becomes King William I, the Conqueror. He is the first Norman king of England, ruling until 1087. He imports French-speaking Norman warriors into England to replace Anglo-Saxon chiefs and clergy. His reign marks the end of the Anglo-Saxon period and the beginning of Middle English.


The Tower of London is rebuilt by William on earlier Roman ruins.

Monte Cassino monastery in Italy rebuilt. (It was originally built by Saint Benedict in 529 AD as the principle monastery of the Benedictine order).


Shen Tsung, Emperor of China takes the Imperial Dragon Throne. Radical reforms are carried through by his minister Wan An-Shih.

William the Conqueror continues the Norman Conquest, expanding into new parts of England and violently putting down occasional rebellions among his own power-hungry followers.


Famine strikes Egypt, which does not recover until 1072.

William subdues the north of England in his famous "Harrying of the North." He lays the region to complete waste, and the area remains depopulated in comparison to southern England for centuries afterward, with abandoned fields and burned villages returning to wilderness.

1070 Hereward the Wake begins a Saxon revolt. He sets up secret fortresses in the Fens of eastern England, where the miserable weather and terrain prevent heavily-armored Norman knights from rooting out the rebels.
1071 The Seljuk Turks, lead by Alph Arslan, defeat Byzantine forces and seize control of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

Famine ends in Egypt.

William the Conqueror invades Scotland. He also accepts Hereward the Wake's surrender after a two-year stalemate.

The Normans begin a conquest of Sicily.

Alfonso VI becomes king of Castile.

1073 Gregory VII (Hildebrand of Soana) becomes Pope until 1085. He will be one of the most dynamic popes during the medieval period, and will make important precedents for establishing the supremacy of the papacy over secular rule.
1075 Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII engage in dispute concerning who can appoint bishops.

At the Synod of Worms, bishops loyal to Henry IV declare Pope Gregory deposed.

In response, Pope Gregory excommunicates Henry IV.


Henry IV's position has become untenable as his subjects abandon him or rebel against him. He goes to Pope Gregory at Canossa, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and stands for three days in the snow outside the pope's quarters as a sign of penitence. After Pope Gregory has successfully demonstrated his supremacy, he takes Henry back into the body of the Church and removes the penalty of excommunication. The damage to Henry's kingdom is already done, however, for civil war disrupts the Holy Roman Empire, triggered by Henry's excommunication.


Canute IV becomes king of Denmark.

Civil war in the Holy Roman Empire comes to an end, and Henry IV brings the last of his rebellious barons to heel. With his position solidified, he again asserts his power over the pope.

Pope Gregory again excommunicates Henry IV and declares him deposed.

1081 Alexius I Comnenus becomes Byzantine emperor. He will rule until 1118.
1083 Henry IV storms Rome.
1084 Duke Robert Guiscard of Paulia drives Henry IV back into Germany.
1085 Alfonso IV captures Toledo from the Moors.

The Domesday Book is completed in England--a vast, comprehensive survey of natural resources, properties, and agriculture. Its purpose is to provide William the Conqueror with an accurate census of his holdings so that he may more efficiently extract taxes from his conquered people.

King Canute IV of Denmark dies.

1087 William the Conqueror dies. William II (William Rufus) becomes king of England upon the death of King William the Conqueror. His younger brother Robert is Duke of Normandy. William II will focus on the centralization of his kingdom.
1088 The charismatic Urban II ascends the See as pope. He remains pope until 1099.

Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, first "Old Man of the Mountains," founds the Assassin sect in Persia (modern Iraq).

1091 Norman conquest of Sicily ends.
1093 Malcolm III, king of Scotland, dies in confrontation with William II's forces in England. Donalbain becomes king of Scots
1096 Pope Urban II preaches the First Crusade. Upwards of twenty-thousand individuals obey his summons and prepare to march on the Holy Land.
1097 Edgar, second son of Malcolm Canmore, becomes king of Scotland, ruling until 1107. He defeats Donalbain with aid from William Rufus.

Saint Robert founds the first Cistercian monastery in Citeaux.

Crusaders defeat the Muslim forces at Antioch.

1099 Crusaders capture Jerusalem. Godfrey of Bouillon is elected King of the city of Jerusalem.

Henry I, youngest son of William the Conqueror, becomes the new king of England. He rules until 1113 following the assassination of his older brother, William Rufus.

Crusaders claim fiefdoms in Holy Land. Baldwin of Bouillon becomes Count of Edessa in the new Holy Kingdom of Jerusalem. Raymond of Toulouse becomes Count of Tripoli. Bohemund of Otranto becomes Prince of Antioch.

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These timelines are intended as a rough guide for students seeking historical context rather than an authoritative research source. I consulted the following works while preparing this list. When sources differed on estimated dates, I used my best judgment to select an accurate date, but I will bow to the correction of professional historians.


  • Baugh, A. C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 3rd edition. NJ: Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1978. [Now superseded by a sixth edition]
  • Cooke, Jean et al. History's Timeline: A 40,000 Year Chronology of Civilization. Ed. Fay Franklin. NY: Barnes and Noble, 1981. Updated 1996.
  • Crow, Martin and Virginia E. Leland. "A Chronology of Chaucer's Life and Times." As condensed and reproduced in Larry Benson's The Canterbury Tales, Complete. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. xxiii-xxv.
  • Englebert, Omer. The Lives of the Saints. Trans. Christopher and Anne Fremantle. NY: Barnes and Noble, 1994.
  • Haywood, John. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings. London: Penguin Books, 1995.
  • Lau, D. C., ed. "Chronological Table." Tao Te Ching. London: Penguin Books, 1963.
  • McEvedy, Colin. The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History. London: Penguin Books, n. d.
  • Schafer, Edward H. Ancient China. Ed. Russelll Bourne, et al. Great Ages of Man Series. NY: Time-Life Books, 1967. Reprint 1976.
  • Urban, Linwood. A Short History of Christian Thought. Revised edition. NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.



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