Islam and Europe Timeline (355-1291 A.D.)
325: After removing a Roman temple from the site (possibly the Temple of Aphrodite built by Hadrian), Constantine I has the Church of the Holy Sepulcher constructed in Jerusalem. Built around the excavated hill of the Crucifixion, legend has it that Constantine’s mother Helena discovered the True Cross here.
570: Muhammad was born in Mecca.
590 – 604: Pope Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604) begans his liturgical reforms and changes in church administration.
594: Muhammad became the manager of the business of Lady Khadija.
595: Muhammad married Hadrat Khadija.
610: Muhammad had a religious experience on Mount Hira that changed his life.
613: Persians capture Damascus and Antioch.
614: Persians sack Jerusalem, damaging the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the process.
615: Muhammad orders the Hashimites to adopt Islam.
615: “Persecution” of Muslims by the Quaraish in Mecca intensified and a group of Muslims leave for Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) after a string of brutal nighttime Muslim raids in Mecca.
621: Abu Jahl became leader of a mounting opposition to Muslims in Mecca and organized a boycott of merchants in Mohammad’s clan, the Hashim.
622: About 75 converts from Medina took the two Pledges of al-Aqaba, professing to Islam and to protect Muhammad from all danger.
622: The Hijra: emigration of Muhammad and his followers to Yathrib (now: Madinat al-Nabi, “the city of the Prophet,” or simply, al-Madina). Foundation of the first Islamic community; social and economic reforms. Starting point of the Islamic calendar.
624: Muhammad broke with his Jewish supporters because they refused to recognize him as a prophet and adopt Isalm. He chose now to emphasize the Arabness of the new religion and has his followers face Mecca when praying instead of Jerusalem. In the end, all the Jews were either banished or executed.
March 15, 624: At the Battle of Abdr, Muhammad and his followers defeated an army from Mecca. Muhammad’s chief rival in Mecca, Abu Jahl, was executed.
627: Meccan leader Abu Sufyan (c. 567 – c. 655) laid siege to Muhammad’s forces in Medina during the battle of the Trench. Even with 10,000 men he was unsuccessful for the 15 days he was there. Muhammad suspected the Banu Quraiza Jews of helping the Meccans and had all the men killed.
627: A confederation was created between Muhammad’s followers in Mecca and the eight Arab clains in Medina with the Constitution of Medina.
628: Muhammad led about 1,600 men on a pilgrimage to Mecca where their passage was blocked by citizens of Mecca. Fortunately they agreed to negotiate with Muhammad and then later agreed to the Pact of Hudaibiya, ending hostilities and allowing for Muslim pilgrimages.
629: After a group of Muslims was attacked, Muhammad dissolved the Pact of Hudaibiya and prepared to attack Mecca.
630: An army of 30,000 Muslims marched on Mecca which surrendered with little resistance. Muhammad took control of the city and made it the spiritual center of Islam.
632: Death of Muhammad. His father-in-law, Abu-Bakr, and Umar devised a system to allow Islam to sustain religious and political stability. Accepting the name of caliph (“deputy of the Prophet”), Abu-Bakr begins a military exhibition to enforce the caliph’s authority over Arabian followers of Muhammad. Abu-Bakr then moved northward, defeating Byzantine and Persian forces. Abu-Bakr died two years later and Umar succeeded him as the second caliph, launching a new campaign against the neighboring empires.
632-34: Widespread tribal rebellion on the death of Muhammad. Abu Bakr, the first caliph (khalifa) reimposes the authority of the Islamic government throughout Arabia and sends Arab armies of conquest against Mesopotamia and Syria.
633: Muslims conquer Syria and Iraq.
634: Victory against the Byzantines in Palestine (Ajnadayn).
634-644: Umar (c. 591-644) reigns as the second caliph. The Muslims subjugate Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia. Garrisons established in the conquered lands, and the Muslim rulers begin to take control of financial organisation.
635: Muslims begin the conquest of Persia and Syria.
635: Arab Muslims capture the city of Damascus from the Byzantines.
August 20, 636: Battle of Yarmuk (also: Yarmuq, Hieromyax): Following the Muslim capture of Damascus and Edessa, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius organizes a large army which manages to take back control of those cities. However, Byzantine commander, Baänes is soundly defeated by Muslim forces under Khalid ibn Walid in a battle in the valley of the Yarmuk River outside Damascus. This leaves all of Syria open to Arab domination.
636 (?): The Arabs under Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas defeat a Sasanian army in the battle of Qadisiyya (near Hira), gaining Iraq west of the Tigris. A second victory follows at Jalula, near Ctesiphon.
637: The Arabs occupy the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By 651, the entire Persian realm would come under the rule of Islam and continued its westward expansion.
637: Syria is conquered by Muslim forces.
637: Jerusalem falls to invading Muslim forces.
638: Caliph Umar I enters Jerusalem.
639-42: Conquest of Egypt (642 taking of Alexandria) by ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. Muslims capture the sea port of Caesarea in Palestine, marking end of the Byzantine presence in Syria.
641: Islam spreads into Egypt. The Catholic Archbishop invites Muslims to help free Egypt from Roman oppressors.
641: Under the leadership of Abd-al-Rahman, Muslims conquer southern areas of Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Georgia, and Armenia.
641/2: Under the leadership of Amr ibn al-As, Muslims conquer the Byzantine city of Alexandria in Egypt. Amr forbids the looting of the city and proclaims freedom of worship for all. According to some accounts, he also has what was left of the Great Library burned the following year. Al-As creates the first Muslim city in Egypt, al-Fustat, and builds there the first mosque in Egypt.
644: Muslim leader Umar dies and is succeeded by Caliph Uthman, a member of the Umayyad family that had rejected Muhammad’s prophesies. Rallies arise to support Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, as caliph. Uthman launches invasions to the west into North Africa.
649: Muawiya I, a member of the Umayyad family, leads a raid against Cyprus, sacking the capital Salamis-Constantia after a short siege and pillaging the rest of the island.
652: Sicily is attacked by Muslims coming out of Tunisia (named Ifriqiya by the Muslims, a name later given to the entire continent of Africa).
653: Muawiya I leads a raid against Rhodes, taking the remaining pieces of the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world) and shipping it back to Syria to be sold as scrap metal.
654: Muawiya I conquers Cyprus and stations a large garrison there. The island would remain in Muslim hands until 0966.
655: Battle of the Masts: In one of the few Muslim naval victories in the entire history of Islam, Muslim forces under the command of Uthman bin Affan defeat Byzantine forces under Emperor Constant II. The battle takes place off the coast of Lycia and is an important stage in the decline of Byzantine power.
661-680: Mu’awiya, founder of the Umayyad dynasty, becomes the caliph and moves the capital from Mecca to Damascus. The Umayyad family rules Islam until 750. Ali’s followers form a religious party called Shiites and insist that only descendants of Ali deserve the title of caliph or deserve any authority over Muslims. The opposing party, the Sunnites, insist on the customs of the historical evolution of the caliphate rather than a hereditary descent of spiritual authority.
662: Egypt fell to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 868 A.D. A year prior, the Fertile Crescent and Persia yielded to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, whose rule lasted until 1258 and 820, respectively.
667: The Arabs occupy Chalcedon, threatening Constantinope. Sicily is attacked by Muslims sailing from Tunisia.
668: First Siege of Constantinople: This attack lasts off and on for seven years, with the Muslim forces generally spending the winters on the island of Cyzicus, a few miles south of Constantinople, and only sailing against the city during the spring and summer months. The Greeks are able to fend off repeated attacks with a weapon desperately feared by the Arabs: Greek Fire. It burned through ships, shields, and flesh and it could not be put out once it started. Muawiyah has to send emissaries to Byzantine Emperor Constans to beg him to let the survivors return home unimpeded, a request that is granted in exchange for a yearly tribute of 3,000 pieces of gold, fifty slaves, and fifty Arab horses.
669: The Muslim conquest reaches to Morocco in North Africa. The region would be open to the rule of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates until 800.
672: Muslims under Mauwiya I capture the island of Rhodes.
672: Beginning of the ‘seven year’ Arab siege of Constantinople.
674: Arab conquest reaches the Indus River.
August 23, 676: Birth of Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) in Herstal, Wallonia, Belgium, as the illegitimate son of Pippin II. Serving as Mayor of the Palace of the kingdom of the Franks, Charles would lead a force of Christians that turn back a Muslim raiding party near Poitiers (or Tours) which, according to many historians, would effectively halt the advance of Islam against Christianity in the West.
677: Muslims send a large fleet against Constantinople in an effort to finally break the city, but they are defeated so badly through the Byzantine use of Greek Fire that they are forced to pay an indemnity to the Emperor.
680: Birth of Leo III the Isaurian, Byzantine Emperor, along the Turkish-Syrian border in the Syrian province of Commagene. Leo’s tactical skills would be responsible for turning back the second Arab Muslim siege of Constantinople in 0717, shortly after he is elected emperor.
688: Emperor Justinian II and Caliph al-Malik sign a peace treaty making Cyprus neutral territory. For the next 300 years, Cyprus is ruled jointly by both the Byzantines and the Arabs despite the continuing warfare between them elsewhere.
691: Birth of Hisham, 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It is under Hisham that Muslim forces would make their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.
698: Muslims capture Carthage in North Africa.
700: Muslims from Pamntelleria raid the island of Sicily.
711: With the further conquest of Egypt, Spain and North Africa, Islam included all of the Persian empire and most of the old Roman world under Islamic rule. Muslims began the conquest of Sindh in Afghanistan.
April 711: Tariq ibn Malik, a Berber officer, crosses the strait separating Africa and Europe with a group of Muslims and enters Spain (al-Andalus, as the Muslims called it, a word is etymologically linked to “Vandals”). The first stop in the Muslim conquest of Spain is at the foot of a mountain that comes to be called Jabel Tarik, the Mountain of Tarik. Today it is known as Gibraltar. At one time the Berbers had been Christians but they recently converted in large numbers to Islam after the Arab conquest of North Africa.
July 19, 711: Battle of Guadalete: Tariq ibn Ziyad kills King Rodrigo (or Roderic), Visigoth ruler of Spain, at the Guadalete River in the south of the Iberian peninsula. Tariq ibn Ziyad had landed at Gibraltar with 7,000 Muslims at the invitation of heirs of the late Visigoth King Witica (Witiza) who wanted to get rid of Rodrigo (this group includes Oppas, the bishop of Toledo and primate of all Spain, who happens to be the brother of the late king Witica). Ziyad, however, refuses to turn control of the region back over to the heirs of Witica. Almost the entire Iberian peninsula would come under Islamic control by 718.
712: Muslim governor of Northern Africa Musa ibn Nusayr follows Tariq ibn Ziyad with an army of 18,000 as reinforcements for the conquest of Andalusia. Musa’s father had been a Catholic Yemenite studying to be a priest in Iraq when he was captured in Iraq by Khalid, the “Sword of Islam,” and forced to choose between conversion or death. This invasion of Iraq had been one of the last military orders given by Muhammed before his death.
714: Birth of Pippin III (Pippin the Short) in Jupille (Belgium). Son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne, in 0759 Pippin would capture Narbonne, the last Muslim stronghold in France, and thereby drive Islam out of France.
715: By this year just about all of Spain is in Muslim hands. The Muslim conquest of Spain only took around three years but the Christian reconquest would require around 460 years (it might have gone faster had the various Christian kingdoms not been at each other’ throats much of the time). Musa’s son, Abd el-Aziz, is left in charge and makes his capital the city of Seville, where he married Egilona, widow of king Rodrigo. Caliph Suleiman, a paranoid ruler, would have el-Aziz assassinated and sends Musa into exile in his native Yemen village to live out his days as a beggar.
716: Lisbon is captured by Muslims.
717: Cordova (Qurtuba) becomes the capital of Muslim holdings in Andalusia (Spain).
717: Leo the Isaurian, born along the Turkish-Syrian border in the Syrian province of Commagene, revolts against the usurper Theodosius III and assumes the throne of the Byzantine Empire.
August 15, 717: Second Siege of Constantinople: Taking advantage of the civil unrest in the Byzantine Empire, Caliph Sulieman sends 120,000 Muslims under the command of his brother, Moslemah, to launch the second siege of Constantinople. Another force of around 100,000 Muslims with 1,800 galleys soon arrives from Syria and Egypt to assist. Most of these reinforcements are quickly destroyed with Greek Fire. Eventually the Muslims outside Constantinople begin to starve and, in the winter, they also begin to freeze to death. Even the Bulgarians, usually hostile to the Byzantines, send a force to destroy Muslim reinforcements marching from Adrianopolis.
August 15, 718: Muslims abandon their second siege of Constantinople. Their failure here leads to the weakening of the Umayyad government, in part because of the heavy losses. It is estimated that of the 200,000 soldiers who besieged Constantinople, only around 30,000 made it home. Although the Byzantine Empire also sustains heavily casualties and loses most its territory south of the Taurus Mountains, by holding the line here they prevent a disorganized and militarily inferior Europe from having to confront a Muslim invasion along the shortest possible route. Instead, the Arabic invasion of Europe must proceed along the longer path across northern Africa and into Spain, a route which prevents quick reinforcement and ultimately proves ineffective.
719: Muslims attack Septimania in southern France (so named because it was the base of operations for Rome’s Seventh Legion) and become established in the region known as Languedoc, made famous several hundred years later as the center of the Cathar heresy.
July 09, 721: A Muslim army under the command of Al-Semah and that had crossed the Pyrenees is defeated by the Franks near Toulouse. Al-Semah is killed and his remaining forces, which had previously conquered Narbonne, are forced back across the Pyrenees into Spain.
722: Battle of Covadonga: Pelayo, (690-737) Visigoth noble who had been elected the first King of Asturias (718-0737), defeats a Muslim army at Alcama near Covadonga. This is generally regarded as the first real Christian victory over the Muslims in the Reconquista.
724: Hisham becomes the 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It is under Hisham that Muslim forces make their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.
724: Under the command of Ambissa, Emir of Andalusia, Muslim forces raid southern France and capture the cities of Carcassone and Nimes. Primary targets in these and other raids are churches and monasteries where the Muslims take away holy objects and enslave or kill all the clerics.
725: Muslim forces occupied Nimes, France.
730: Muslim forces occupy the French cities of Narbonne and Avignon.
October 10, 732: Battle of Tours: With perhaps 1,500 soldiers, Charles Martel halts a Muslim force of around 40,000 to 60,000 cavalry under Abd el-Rahman Al Ghafiqi from moving farther into Europe. Many regard this battle as being decisive in that it saved Europe from Muslim control. Gibbon wrote: “A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Muhammed.” Others, though, argue that the battle’s importance has been exaggerated. The names of Tours, Poitiers, and Charles Martel do not appear in the Arab histories. They list the battle under the name Balat al-Shuhada, the Highway of Martyrs, and is treated as a minor engagement.
735: Muslim invaders capture the city of Arles.
737: Charles Martel sends his brother, Childebrand, to lay siege to Avignon and drive out the Muslim occupiers. Childebrand is successful and, according to records, has all the Muslims in the city killed.
739: Already having retaken Narbonne, Beziers, Montpellier, and Nimes during the previous couple of years, Childebrand captures Marseille, one of the largest French cities still in Muslim hands.
June 08, 741: Death of Leo III the Isaurian, Byzantine Emperor. Leo’s tactical skills were responsible for turning back the second Arab Muslim siege of Constantinople in 0717, shortly after he was elected emperor.
October 22, 741: Death of Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) in at Quierzy (today the Aisne county in the Picardy region of France). As Mayor of the Palace of the kingdom of the Franks, Charles had led a force of Christians that turned back a Muslim raiding party near Poitiers (or Tours) which, according to many historians, effectively halted the advance of Islam against Christianity in the West.
April 04, 742: Birth of Charlemagne, founder of the Frankish Empire.
743: Death of Hisham, 10th caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty. It was under Hisham that Muslim forces made their deepest incursions into Western Europe before being stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Poitiers in 0732.
750: The Arabian Nights, a compilation of stories written under the reign of the Abbasids, became representative of the lifestyle and administration of this Persian influenced government.
750 – 850: The Four Orthodox Schools of Islamic Law were established.
750: The Abbasids assume control of the Islamic world (except Spain, which falls under the control of a descendant of the Umayyad family) and moved the capital to Baghdad in Iraq. The Abbasid Caliphate would last until 1258.
September 755: Abd al-Rahman of the Umayyad dynasty flees to Spain to escape the Abbasids and would be responsible for creating the “Golden Caliphate” in Spain.
756: The Emirate of Cordova is established by Umayyad refugee Abd al-Rahman I in order to revive the defeated Umayyad caliphate which had been destroyed in 0750 by the Abbasids. Cordova would become independent of the Abbasid Empire and represents the first major political division within Islam. The political and geographic isolation of the Cordova Caliphate would make it easier for Christians to decisively conquer it despite their failures elsewhere, although this would not be completed until 1492.
759: Arabs lose the city of Narbonne, France, their furthest and last conquest into Frankish territory. In capturing this city Pippin III (Pippin the Short) ends the Muslim incursions in France.
768: Pepin’s son, Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne), succeeded his father and became one of the most important European rulers of medieval history.
September 24, 768: Death of Pippin III (Pippin the Short) at Saint Denis. Son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne, in 759 Pippin captured Narbonne, the last Muslim stronghold in France, and thereby drove Islam out of France.
778: Charlemagne, King of the Franks and soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor, is invited by a group of Arab leaders in northeastern Spain to attack Abd al-Rahman I, ruler of the Emirate of Cordova. Charlemagne obliges them, but is forced to retreat after only getting as far as Saragossa. It is during his march back through the Pyrenees that his forces are set upon by Basques. Among the many who die is the war leader Roland from Breton, killed in Roncevalles, whose memory has been preserved in the “Chanson de Roland,” an important epic poem during the Middle Ages.
785: The Great Mosque in Cordoba, in Muslim controlled Spain, was built.
787: Danes invade England for the first time.
788: Death of Abd al-Rahman I, founder of the Umayyad Emirate of Cordova. His successor is Hisham I.
792: Hisham I, emir of Cordova, calls for a Jihad against the infidels in Andalusia and France. Tens of thousands from as far away as Syria heed his call and cross the Pyrennes to subjugate France. Cities like Narbonne are destroyed, but the invasion is ultimately hated at Carcassone.
796: Death of Hisham I, emir of Cordova. His successor is his son, al-Hakam, who would keep up the jihad against the Christians but would also be forced to contend with rebellion at home.
799: The Basques rise in revolt and kill the local Muslim governor of Pamplona.
800: North Africa falls under the rule of the Aghlabi dynasty of Tunis, which would last until 909.
800 – 1200: Jews experience a “golden age” of creativity and toleration in Spain under Moorish (Muslim) rule.
800: Ambassadors of Caliph Harunu r-Rashid give keys to the Holy Sepulcher to the Frankish king, thus acknowledging some Frankish control over the interests of Christians in Jerusalem.
801: Vikings begin selling slaves to Muslims.
806: Hien Tsung becomes the Emperor of China. During his reign a shortage of copper leads to the introduction of paper money.
813: Muslims attack the Civi Vecchia near Rome.
April 04, 814: Death of Charlemagne, founder of the Frankish Empire.
816: With the support of Moors, the Basques revolt against the Franks in Glascony.
822: Death of Al-Hakam, emir of Cordova. He is succeeded by Abd al-Rahman II.
June 827: Sicily is invaded by Muslims who, this time, are looking to take control of the island rather than simply taking away booty. They are initially aided by Euphemius, a Byzantine naval commander who is rebelling against the Emperor. Conquest of the island would require 75 years of hard fighting.
831: Muslim invaders capture the Sicilian city of Palermo and make it their capital.
835: Birth of Ahmad Ibn Tultun, founder of the Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt. Originally sent there as a deputy by the Abbasid Caliphate, Tultun will establish himself as an independent power in the region, extending his control as far north as Syria. It is under Tultun that the Great Mosque of Cairo is built.
838: Muslim raiders sack Marseille.
841: Muslim forces capture Bari, principle Byzantine base in southeastern Italy.
846: Muslim raiders sail a fleet of ships from Africa up the Tiber river and attack outlying areas around Ostia and Rome. Some manage to enter Rome and damage the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. Not until Pope Leo IV promises a yearly tribute of 25,000 silver coins do the raiders leave. The Leonine Wall is built in order to fend off further attacks such as this.
849: Battle of Ostia: Aghlabid monarch Muhammad sends a fleet of ships from Sardinia to attack Rome. As the fleet prepares to land troops, the combination of a large storm and an alliance of Christian forces were able to destroy the Muslims ships.
850: The Acropolis of Zimbabwe was built in Rhodesia.
850: Perfectus, a Christian priest in Muslim Cordova, is executed after he refuses to retract numerous insults he made about the Prophet Muhammed. Numerous other priests, monks, and laity would follow as Christians became caught up in a zest for martyrdom.
851: Abd al-Rahman II has eleven young Christians executed in the city of Cordova after they deliberately seek out martyrdom by insulting the Prophet Muhammed.
852: Death of Abd al-Rahman II, emir of Cordova.
858: Muslim raiders attack Constantinople.
859: Muslim invaders capture the Sicilian city of Castrogiovanni (Enna), slaughtering several thousand inhabitants.
863: Under Cyril (0826 – 0869) and Methodius (c. 0815 – 0885) the conversion of Moravia begins. The two brothers were sent by the patriarch of Constantinople to Moravia, where the ruler, Rostilav, decreed in 863 that any preaching done had to be in the language of the people. As a result, Cyril and Methodius developed the first usable alphabet for the Slavic tongue – thus, the Cyrillic alphabet.
866: Emperor Louis II travels from Germany to southern Italy to battle the Muslim raiders causing trouble there.
868: The Sattarid dynasty, whose rule would continue until 930, extended Muslim control throughout most of Persia. In Egypt, the Abbasid and Umayyad caliphates ended and the Egyptian-based Tulunid dynasty took over (lasting until 904).
869: Arabs capture the island of Malta.
870: After a month-long siege, the Sicilian city of Syracuse is captured by Muslim invaders.
871: King Alfred the Great of England created a system of government and education which allowed for the unification of smaller Anglo-Saxon states in the ninth and tenth centuries.
874: Iceland is colonized by Vikings from Norway.
876: Muslims pillage Campagna in Italy.
879: The Seljuk Empire unites Mesopotamia and a large portion of Persia.
880: Under Emperor Basil, the Byzantines recapture lands occupied by Arabs in Italy.
884: Death of Ahmad Ibn Tultun, founder of the Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt. Originally sent there as a deputy by the Abbasid Caliphate, Tultun established himself as an independent power in the region, extending his control as far north as Syria. It is under Tultun that the Great Mosque of Cairo is built.
884: Muslims invading Italy burn the monastery of Monte Cassino to the ground.
898: Birth of Abd al-Rahman III, generally regarded as the greatest of the Umayyad caliphs in Andalusia. Under his rule, Cordova would become one of the most powerful centers of Islamic learning and power.
900: The Fatimids of Egypt conquered north Africa and included the territory as an extension of Egypt until 972.
902: The Muslim conquest of Sicily is completed when the last Christian stronghold, the city of Taorminia, is captured. Muslim rule of Sicily would last for 264 years.
905: The Tulunid Dynasty in Egypt is destroyed by an Abbasid army sent to reestablish control over the region of Egypt and Syria.
909: Sicily came under the control of the Fatimids’ rule of North Africa and Egypt until 1071. From 878 until 909, their rule of Sicily was uncertain.
909: The Fatimid Dynasty assumes control of Egypt. Claiming descent from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammed, and Ali bin Abi Talib, the Fatimids would rule Egypt until being overthrown by the Auyybids and Saladin in 1171.
911: Muslims control all the passes in the Alps between France and Italy, cutting off passage between the two countries.
912: Abd al-Rahman III becomes the Umayyad Caliph in Andalusia.
916: A combined force of Greek and German emperors and Italian city-states defeat Muslim invaders at Garigliano, putting Muslim raids in Italy to an end.
920: Muslim forces cross the Pyrenees, enter Gascony, and reach as far as the gates of Toulouse.
929: Abd al-Rahman III transforms the Emirate of Cordova into and independent caliphate no longer under even theoretical control from Baghdad.
935 – 969: The rule of Egypt was under the Ikhidid dynasty.
936: The Althing, the oldest body of representative government in Europe, is established in Iceland by the Vikings.
939: Madrid is recaptured from Muslim forces.
940: Hugh, count of Provence, gives his protection to Moors in St. Tropez if they agree to keep the Alpine passes closed to his rival, Berenger.
953: Emperor Otto I sends representatives to Cordova to ask Caliph Abd al-Rahman III to call off some Muslim raiders who had set themselves up in Alpine passes and are attacking merchant caravans going in and out of Italy.
961: Death of Abd al-Rahman III, generally regarded as the greatest of the Umayyad caliphs in Andalusia. Under his rule, Cordova became one of the most powerful centers of Islamic learning and power. He is succeeded by Abdallah, a caliph who would kill many of his rivals (even family members) and has captured Christians decapitated if they refuse to convert to Islam.
961: Under the command of general Nicephorus Phokas, the Byzantines recapture Crete from Muslim rebels who had earlier fled Cordova.
965: Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phokas reconquers Cyprus from the Muslims.
965: Grenoble is recaptured from the Muslims.
969: The Fatimid dynasty (Shi’ite) takes Egypt from the Ikshidids and assumes the title of caliphate in Egypt until 1171.
969: Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas reconquers Antioch (modern Antakya, capital of the province Hatay) from the Arabs.
972: The Fatimids of Egypt conquer north Africa.
972: The Muslims in the Sisteron district of France surrender to Christian forces and their leader asks to be baptized.
981: Ramiro III, king of Leon, is defeated by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (Almanzor) at Rueda and is forced to begin paying tribute to the Caliph of Cordova.
985: Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir sacks Barcelona
994: The monastery of Monte Cassino is destroyed a second time by Arabs.
July 03, 997: Under the leadership of Almanzor, Muslim forces march out of the city of Cordova and head north to capture Christian lands.
August 11, 997: Muslim forces under Almanzor arrive at the city of Compostela. The city had been evacuated and Almanzor burns it to the ground.
998: Venice conquers the Adriatic port of Zara.
c. 1000: Chinese perfect the production and use of gunpowder.
1000: The Seljuk Turkish Empire is founded by an Oghuz Turkish bey (chieftain) named Seljuk. Originally from the steppe country around the Caspian Sea, the Seljuks are the ancestors of the Western Turks, present-day inhabitants of Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
August 08, 1002: Death of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, ruler of Al-Andalus, on the way back from raiding the Rioja region.
1004: Arab raiders sack the Italian city of Pisa.
1007: Birth of Isaac I Comnenus, Byzantine emperor. Founder of the dynasty of the Comneni, Isaac’s government reforms may have helped the Byzantine Empire last longer.
1009: Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, founder of the Druze sect and sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, orders the Holy Sepulcher and all Christian buildings in Jerusalem be destroyed. In Europe a rumor develops that a “Prince of Babylon” had ordered the destruction of the Holy Sepulcher at the instigation of the Jews. Attacks on Jewish communities in cities like Rouen, Orelans, and Mainz ensue and this rumor helps lay the basis for massacres of Jewish communities by Crusaders marching to the Holy Land.
1009: Sulaimann, grandson of Abd al-Rahman III, returns over 200 captured fortresses to the Castilians in return for massive shipments of food for his army.
1012: Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, founder of the Druze sect and sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, orders the destruction of all Christian and Jewish houses of worship in his lands.
1012: Berber forces capture Cordova and order that half the population be executed.
1013: Jews are expelled from the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordova, then ruled by Sulaimann.
1015: Arab Muslim forces conquer Sardinia.
1016: The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is partially destroyed by earthquakes.
1020: Merchants from Amalfi and Salerno are granted permission by the Egyptian Caliph to build a hospice in Jerusalem. Out of this would eventually grow The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as: Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and most commonly as Knights Hospitaller).
1021: Caliph al-Hakim proclaimed himself to be divine and founded the Druze sect.
1022: Several Cathar heretics are discovered in Toulouse and put to death.
1023: Muslims expel the Berber rulers from Cordova and install Abd er-Rahman V as caliph.
1025: The power of the Byzantine Empire begins to decline.
1026: Richard II of Normandy leads a group of several hundred armed men on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the belief that the Day of Judgment had arrived. Turkish control of the region hampers their goals, however.
1027: The Frankish protectorate over Christian interests in Jerusalem is replaced by a Byzantine protectorate. Byzantine leaders begin the reconstruction of the Holy Sepulcher.
1029: Alp Arslan, “The Lion Hero,” is born. Arslan is the son of Togrul Beg, conqueror of Baghdad who made himself ruler of the Caliphate, and great-grandson of Seljuk, founder of the Seljuk Turkish empire.
1031: The Moorish Caliphate of Córdoba falls.
1031: The emir of Aleppo has the Krak des Chevaliers contructed.
1033: Castile is retaken from the Arabs.
1035: The Byzantines make a landing in Sicily, but don’t try to recapture the island from the Muslims.
1038: The Seljuk Turks become established in Persia.
1042: The rise of the Seljuk Turks begins.
1045 – 1099: Life of Ruy Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid (Arabic for “lord”), national hero of Spain. El Cid would become famous for his efforts to drive the Moors out of Spain.
May 18, 1048: Persian poet Umar Khayyam is born. His poem The Rubaiyat became popular in the West because of its use by Victorian Edward Fitzgerald.
1050 – 1200: The first agricultural revolution of Medieval Europe begins in 1050 with a shift to the northern lands for cultivation, a period of improved climate from 700 to 1200 in western Europe, and the widespread use and perfection of new farming devices. Technological innovations include the use of the heavy plow, the three-field system of crop rotation, the use of mills for processing cloth, brewing beer, crushing pulp for paper manufacture, and the widespread use of iron and horses. With an increase in agricultural advancements, Western towns and trade grow exponentially and Western Europe returns to a money economy.
1050: Duke Bohemond I (Bohemond Of Taranto, French Bohémond De Tarente), prince of Otranto (10891111) is born. One of the leaders of the First Crusade, Bohemond would be largely responsible for the capture of Antioch and he secures the title Prince of Antioch (1098 – 1101, 1103 – 04).
1050: Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos restores the complex of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
1054: A famine in Egypt forces al Mustansir, 8th Fatimid caliph, to seek food and other commercial assistance from Italy and the Byzantine Empire.
July 16, 1054: Great Schism: The Western Christian Church, in an effort to further enhance its power, had tried to impose Latin rites on Greek churches in southern Italy in 1052; as a consequence, Latin churches in Constantinople were closed. In the end, this leads to the excommunication of Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople (who in turn excommunicates Pope Leo IX). Although generally regarded as a minor event at the time, today it is treated as the final event that sealed the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity.
1055: Seljuk Turks capture Baghdad.
1056: The Almoravid (al-Murabitun) Dynasty begins its rise to power. Taking the name “those who line up in defense of the faith,” this is a group of fanatical Berber Muslims who would rule North Africa and Spain until 1147.
1061: Roger Guiscard lands at Sicily with a large Norman force and captures the city of Masara. The Norman reconquest of Sicily would require another 30 years.
1063: Alp Arslan succeeds his father, Togrul Beg, as ruler of the Baghdad Caliphate and the Seljuk Turks.
1064-1091: The Normans recapture Sicily from the Muslims.
1064: The Seljuk Turks conquer Christian Armenia.
September 29, 1066: William the Conqueror invades England and claims the English throne at the Battle of Hastings. Because William is both the King of England and the Duke of Normandy, The Norman Conquest fuses French and English cultures. The language of England evolves into Middle English with an English syntax and grammar and a heavily French vocabulary.
1067: Romanus IV Diogenes becomes the Byzantine Emperor.
1068: Alp Arslan invades the Byzantine Empire and is repulsed by Romanus IV Diogenes over the course of three campaigns. Not until 1070, though, would the Turks be driven back across the Euphrates river.
1070: Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem from the Fatimids. Seljuk rule is not quite as tolerant as that of the Fatimids and Christian pilgrims begin returning to Europe with tales of persecution and oppression.
1070: Brother Gerard, a leader of the Benedictine monks and nuns who run the hospices in Jerusalem. beings to organize The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as: Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and most commonly as Knights Hospitaller) as a more military force for the active protection of Christian pilgrims.
1071: Normans conquer the last Byzantine holdings in Italy.
1071-1085: Seljuk Turks conquer most of Syria and Palestine.
August 19, 1071: Battle of Manzikert: Alp Arslan leads an army of Seljuk Turks against the Byzantine Empire near Lake Van. Numbering perhaps as many as 100,000 men, the Turks take the fortresses of Akhlat and Manzikert before Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes can respond. Although Diogenes is able to recapture Akhlat, the siege of Manzikert fails when a Turkish relief force arrives and Andronicus Ducas, an enemy of Romanus Diogenes, refuses to obey orders to fight. Diogenes himself is captured and released, but he would be murdered after his return to Constantinople. Partly because of the defeat at Manzikert and partly due to the civil wars following the murder of Digoenes, Asia Minor would be left open to Turkish invasion.
1072: Palermo falls to the Norman adventurers Roger I and Robert Guiscard. Guiscard allows to the inhabitants the right to practice their religion and a certain autonomy.
December 15, 1072: Malik Shah I, son of Alp Arslan, succeeds his father as Seljuk Sultan.
1073: Seljuk Turks conquer Ankara.
July 1074: El Cid marries Jimena, niece of Alfonso IV of Castile and daughter of the Count of Oviedo.
1078: Seljuk Turks capture Nicaea. It would change hands three more times, finally coming under control of the Turks again in 1086.
1079: Battle of Cabra: El Cid led his troops to a rout of Emir Abd Allah of Granada.
1080: Order of the Hospital of St. John is founded in Italy. This special order of knights was dedicated to guarding a pilgrim hospital, or hostel, in Jerusalem.
1080: An Armenian state is founded in Cilicia, a district on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), north of Cyprus, by refugees feeling the Seljuk invasion of their Armenian homeland. A Christian kingdom located in the midst of hostile Muslim states and lacking good relations with the Byzantine Empire, “Armenia Minor” would provide important assistance to Crusaders from Europe.
1081 – 1118: Alexius I Comnenus is Byzantine emperor.
1081: El Cid, now a mercenary because he had been exiled by Alfonso IV of Castile, enters the service of the Moorish king of the northeast Spanish city of Zaragosa, al-Mu’tamin, and would remain there for his successor, al-Mu’tamin II.
1082: Ibn Tumart, founder of the Amohad Dynasty, is born in the Atlas mountains.
1084: Seljuk Turks conquer Antioch, a strategically important city.
October 25, 1085: The Moors are expelled from Toledo, Spain, by Alfonso VI.
October 23, 1086: Battle of Zallaca (Sagrajas): Spanish forces under Alfonso VI of Castile are defeated by the Moors and their allies, the Almorivids (Berbers from Morocco and Algeria, led by Yusef I ibn Tashufin), thus preserving Muslim rule in al-Andalus. The slaughter of Spaniards was great and Yusef refused to abide by his agreement to leave Andalusia in the hands of the Moors. His intention was actually to make Andalusia an African colony ruled by the Almorivids in Morocco.
1087: After his crushing defeat at Zallaqa, Alfonso VI swallows his pride and recalls El Cid from exile.
September 13, 1087: Birth of John II Comnenus, Byzantine emperor.
1088: Patzinak Turks begin forming settlements between the Danube and the Balkans.
March 12, 1088: Urban II is elected pope. An active supporter of the Gregorian reforms, Urban would become responsible for launching the First Crusade.
1089: Byzantine forces conquer the island of Crete.
1090: Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, King of the Almoravids, captures Granada.
1091: The last Arabic fortress in Sicily falls to the Normans.
1091: Cordova (Qurtuba) is captured by the Almoravids.
1092: After the death of Seljuk Sultan (al-sultan , “the power”) Malik Shah I, the capital of the Seljuks is moved from Iconjium to Smyrna and the empire itself dissolves into several smaller states.
May 1094: El Cid captures Valencia from the Moors, carving out his own kingdom along the Mediterranean that is only nominally subservient to Alfonso VI of Castile. Valencia would be both Christian and Muslim, with adherents of both religions serving in his army.
August 1094: The Almoravids from Morocco land near Cuarte and lay siege to Valencia with 50,000 men. El Cid, however, breaks the siege and forces the Amoravids to flee – the first Christian victory against the hard-fighting Africans.
November 18, 1095: Pope Urban II opens the Council of Clermont where ambassadors from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus, asking help against the Muslims, were warmly received.
FIRST CRUSADE (1096-99)
Spring, 1096: Peasants’ (or PeopleÕs) Crusade sets out from Europe. Three armies don’t make it past Hungary.
Spring-Summer 1096: Massacres against German Jews occur on the way to the Holy Land.Ê Crusaders believe that the battle against Christ’s enemies ought to begin at home.
August, 1096: Emperor Alexius of Constantinople shipped the Peasants’ Crusade over the Bosporus.
Late Summer, 1096: First Crusade leaders depart Europe.
October 1096: Peasants’ Crusade annihilated in Anatolia by the Turks.
Spring, 1097: First Crusade contingents assembling in Constantinople.
End of April 1097: First Crusade began the march in Anatolia to Nicaea.
May 14ÐJune 19 1097: Siege of Nicaea.
July 1, 1097: Battle of Dorylaeum (Eskisehir).
October 21, 1097 Ð June 3, 1098: Crusader siege of Antioch.
December 31, 1097: First Battle of Harenc. Turkish prisoners were dragged within sight of the walls of Antioch and beheaded.
February 9, 1098: Second Battle of Harenc.
February, 1098: Emperor Alexius’ general Tacitius abandons the siege of Antioch.
Mar 10, 1098: Citizens of Edessa give Baldwin control of the city.
Jun 1, 1098: Stephen of Blois and a large group of French crusaders flee the siege of Antioch with news of the arrival of Emir Kerboga of Mosul and his army of 75,000.
Jun 3, 1098: Antioch falls to Bohemond and the remaining crusaders.
Jun 5-9, 1098: KerbogaÕs army arrives before Antioch, forcing Bohemond to assume the role of the beseiged.
Jun 14, 1098: Peter Bartholomew discovers the supposed Holy Lance (the weapon which had stabbed Jesus during his crucifixion.)Ê Crusader morale skyrockets.
Jun 28, 1098: Battle of Orontes. Crusader victory forces Kerboga to lift the siege of Antioch.
Nov 27-Dec 11, 1098: Crusaders capture M’arrat-an-Numan.
Jan 13, 1099: Raymond of Toulouse, after disagreeing with Bohemund about the future crusader course of action, leads the majority of crusaders away from Antioch and toward Jerusalem.
Feb 14, 1099: Raymond begins the disorganized siege of Arqah, near Tripoli.
Late Mar, 1099: Godfrey and Robert of Flanders join the siege of Arqah.
April 20, 1099: Peter Bartholomew dies after attempting an ordeal by fire to prove the authenticity of the Hold Lance.
Mid-May, 1099: Raymond lifts the siege of Argah and pushes to Jerusalem.
Jun 7, 1099: Crusaders reach the walls of Jerusalem.
Jun 13, 1099: Crusaders fail to take Jerusalem by storm.
Jul 15, 1099: In the only fully coordinated operation of the First Crusade, Godfrey’s forces succeed in scaling the walls of Jerusalem (near Herod’s Gate) through the effective use of a massive siege tower and ladders.ÊÊ Once in the city, the Crusaders massacre the garrison of Fatimid Moslems and a large percentage of the Moslem and Jewish population.Ê Godfrey was elected Guardian of Jerusalem.
Aug 12, 1099: Battle of Ascalon. According to most accounts (both crusader and Muslim), the Fatimids were caught unprepared and the battle was short. Al-Afdal left behind his camp and its treasures, which were captured by Robert and Tancred. Crusader losses are unknown, but the Egyptians lost about 10-12 000 men. After the battle, almost all of the remaining crusaders returned to their homes in Europe, their vows of pilgrimage having been fulfilled. There were perhaps only a few hundred knights left in Jerusalem by the end of the year, but they were gradually reinforced by new crusaders, inspired by the success of the original crusade. Ascalon itself remained under Fatimid control and was soon re-garrisoned. It became the base of operations for invasions of the Kingdom of Jerusalem every year afterwards, and numerous battles were fought there in the following years, until it was finally captured by the crusaders in 1153.
1100: Baldwin, count of Edessa, escapes an ambush near Beirut and proclaims himself king of Jerusalem.
1104: Muslim victory at Harran, which checks the Crusaders’ eastward advance.
1108: Two coalitions made up of Crusaders and Muslims confront one another near Tel Bashir.
1109: Fall of Tripoli after a 2000-day siege.
1110: Fall of Beirut and Saida.
1111: Ibn al-Khashab, the qadi of Aleppo, organizes a riot against the caliph of Baghdad to demand intervention against the Frankish occupation.
1112: Victorious resistance at Tyre.
1115: Alliance of Muslim and Frankish princes of Syria against an army dispatched by the sultan.
1119: Ilghazi, ruler of Aleppo, crushes the Crusaders at Sarmada.
1124: The Crusaders take Tyre. They now occupy the entire coast, except for Ascalon.
1125: Ibn al-Khashab is murdered by the Assassins sect.
1128: Failure of Crusaders thrust at Damscus. Zangi the ruler of Aleppo.
1135: Zangi fails to take Damascus.
1137: Zangi captures Fulk, king of Jerusalem, then releases him.
1140: Alliance of Damascus and Jerusalem against Zangi.
THE SECOND CRUSADE (1144-1155)
1144: Zangi takes Edessa, destroying the first of the four Frankish states of the Orient.
1146: Murder of Zangi. His son Nur al-Din replaces him in Aleppo.
1148: Debacle at Damascus for a new Frankish expedition led by Conrad, emperor of Germany, and Louis VII, king of France.
1154: Nur al-Din takes control of Damascus, unifying Muslim Syria under his authority.
1163-1169: The struggle for Egypt. Shirkuh, lieutenant of Nur al-Din, finally wins. Proclaimed vizier, he dies two months later. He is succeeded by his nephew Saladin (Salahuddin).
1171: Saladin proclaims the overthrow of the Fatimid caliphate. Sole master of Egypt, he finds himself in conflict with Nur al-Din.
1174: Death of Nur al-Din. Saladin takes Damascus.
1183: Saladin takes Aleppo. Egypt and Syria now reunited under his aegis.
THE THIRD CRUSADE (1187-1192)
1187: The year of Islamic victory.Ê Saladin crushes the Crusaders armies at Hittin, near Lake Tiberias. He reconquers Jerusalem and the greater part of the Crusaders territories. The Crusaders now hold only Tyre, Tripoli and Antioch.
1190-92: Setback for Saladin at Acre. Intervention of Richard the Lionheart, king of England, enables the Crusaders to recover several cities from the sultan, but not Jerusalem.
1193: Saladin dies in Damascus at the age of 55. After several years of civil war, his empire is reunited under the authority of his brother al-Adil.
THE FOURTH AND FIFTH CRUSADES (1194-1201)
1204: The Crusaders take Constantinople. Sack of the city.
THE SIXTH CRUSADE (1216-1218)
1218-21: Invasion of Egypt by the Crusaders. They take Damietta and head for Cairo, but the sultan al-Kamil, son of al-Adil, finally repels them.
THE SEVENTH CRUSADE (1227-1229)
1229: Al-Kamil delivers Jerusalem to the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, arousing a storm of indignation in the Arab world.
1244: The Crusaders lose Jerusalem for the last time.
THE EIGHTH CRUSADE (1245-1247)
1248-50: Invasion of Egypt by Louis IX, King of France, who is defeated and captured. Fall of the Ayyubid dynasty; replaced by the rule of the Mamluks.
1258: The Mongol chief Hulegu, grandson of Genghis Khan, sacks Baghdad, massacring the population and killing the last Abbasid caliph.
1260: The Mongol army, after occupying first Aleppo and then damascus, is defeated at the battle of Ayn Jalut in palestine. Baybars at the head of the Mamluk sultanate.
1268: Baybars takes Antioch, which had been allied with the Mongols.
1270: Louis IX dies near Tunis in the course of a failed invasion.
1289: The mamluk sultan Qalawun takes Tripoli.
1291: The sultan Khalil, son of Qalawun, takes Acre, putting an end to two centuries of Crusader presence in the Orient.