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Timeline 800-900:


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Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor of the West.

Vikings attack Germany.

Feudal system develops among the Franks and spreads across Europe during the 800s.

Carolingian minuscule script invented by various scholars under the auspices of Saint Alcuin, the Anglo-Saxon abbot serving the Frankish Emperor, Charlemagne, in the abbey of Tours.

Music cultivated in monasteries during the 800s; development of "sequences" or elaborated passages in liturgical music.


Egbert becomes King of Wessex. He rules until 839.


Jewish merchants in Lombardy open the first bank/money repository.


Louis the Pious (Charlemagne's son) becomes Holy Roman Emperor and king of the Franks. He rules until 840.


c. 827-28, King Egbert of Wessex is recognized as overlord of the other Anglo-Saxon kings.


Louis the Pious divides his empire among his sons Lothair, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald, beginning a tradition of partible succession that will weaken the Frankish Empire.


Aethelwulf, son of Egbert, becomes King of Wessex.He rules until 858.




Kenneth MacAlpine, King of the Scots, conquers the Picts and founds a unified Scotland.




The Acropolis of Zimbabwe is built in Rhodesia (not to be confused with the Greek Acropolis).  

c. 850 Increasing number of Viking incursions in Britain.


Viking invaders take over Ireland. Viking rulers will remain in power untl 1014.


Louis II, son of Lothair, succeeds him Holy Roman Emperor. Lothair's lands are again subdivided under partible succession.

Annals of St. Neots (an 11th century source) states that King Edmund crowned at Bures.


Main tide of the Viking invasions in Britain occur between 856-875. For a longer list of Viking attacks, click here.


Aethelbald (eldest son of Aethelwulf) becomes King of Wessex. He rules until 860.




Aethelbert (second son of Aethelwulf) succeeds his brother and becomes King of Wessex. He rules until 865.


Vikings discover Iceland.


Rurik the Viking with the Viking tribe of Russ seizes power in northern Russia. They found Novgorod as a capital.

Constantine the Philosophoer (alias Saint Cyril) invents the 42-letter Slavonic alphabet as a tool for converting the Moravians to Christianity.


Aethelred I, third son of Aethelwulf, succeeds his brother and bcomes King of Wessex. He rules until 871.

Russian Vikings attack Constantinople.

Major Viking force invading Britain conquers Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. Anglo-Saxon Chronicles mention in passing that Vikings are winter-settling in East Anglia, and that the locals are making peace with the Vikings by offering them horses.

868 In China, Buddhist monks at Tun-Huang monastic caverns print a version of The Diamond Sutra. (Printing will not be independently invented in the west until Guttenberg in the 1400s.)


The Arabs conquer Malta.

Version A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mention that a Danish host rides across Mercia into East Anglia and winter-settle in Thetford. Death of King Edmund at Viking hands and destruction of many monasteries.


The Danes attack the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, but Aethelred's forces defeat them at Ashdown.

Alfred the Great (youngest son of Aethelwulf) succeeds his brother and becomes King of Wessex. He rules until 891. Alfred will eventually found the British navy and personally translate Pope Gregory's Pastoral Care, Boethius, Orosius, Bede.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles revised and continued through 892.

West Saxon Martyrology written.


First Viking settlements in Iceland after discovering the island in 861.


Charles the Bald becomes Holy Roman Emperor. He rules until 877.

c. 875-900 Probable beginnings of medieval drama, which may have begun as dramatization of liturgy. First known text of an Easter trope, Quem Quaeritis, from Swiss monastery of Saint Gall.



Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor, dies in 877. Anarchy breaks out after his death.


Alfred defeats the Danes stunningly at Edington. Vikings agree in Treaty of Wedmore to divide England between the Danelaw to the north and Wessex in the south. Partial evacuation of the Danes in the south to northeastern regions.
879 Gorgonzola Cheese invented by farmers in the Po Valley of Italy.


Emperor Basil of Byzantium recovers Italy from Muslim forces.


King Alfred the Great captures London from the Danes.

Monks under command of King Alfred the Great ordered to perfect the wax candle 24-hour measurement system for keeping track of time.



Technique of nailed-on horseshoes invented and spreads through Siberia, Byzantium, and Germany.

By 890, numismatic evidence in East Anglia (under Danish rule) shows that Edmund is already being recognized as a saint.


King Alfred the Great orders the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to be written, one of the first histories of England.




Charles the Simple becomes King of France. He rules until 929.

Asser writes The Life of Alfred the Great--the first life-record of a layman rather than a church figure among monkish biographers.



Edward the Elder, King of Wessex, rules until 924.


Alfonso III begins reconquest of Spain, slowly defeating Moorish overlords.

Bulgars convert from Paganism to the Eastern Orthodox religion.

First Chinese concave.

Curved iron mouldboard ploughs invented.

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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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