Nice Timeline of the Late Roman Empire

This is a really cool timeline that I happened upon that gives a brief history of the Late Roman Empire, with specific focus on Britain. I didn’t find it on the Internet, so there is no link. I really don’t understand a lot of what is in this timeline, as I’m just learning about the Dark Ages now, but you may wish to look it over with me.
My previous post on Orthodoxy versus Roman Catholicism needs some explication. The truth is that before the split between the Roman and Eastern Church, there was only one Catholic Church.
There was no Roman Catholic Church. There was no Orthodox (Catholic) Church. There was one and only one church, the Catholic Church. “Catholic” itself just meant something like for everyone, for everyman. The actual Roman Catholic Church and the actual Orthodox (Catholic) Church only begin formally with the split in 1054.
Sometimes the head of the Church was in Constantinople and at other times it was in Rome, and sometimes it seems to have been in both places at once.
Ancient British history is much more complicated than modern British history. We can summarize modern British history quite easily. We can generalize about what Britain did in World War 2, and what it has done in the past decade. We can’t do this was Dark Ages Britain, because there was no unified Britain.
There were kingdoms, mini-kingdoms and super-kingdoms scattered all over Britain and at any given time, there were, say 10-20 different important things going on in each small bit of territory.
A friend of mine is currently taking a course in British History and he says that this period is maddeningly complex. A study of early British history is practically the tutelage of a lifetime.
Rome, in a way, continues on even after the Fall. There are post-Roman or pseudo-Roman kings after the Fall in Britain. They had Roman names, Roman values and probably even spoke Latin.
The Dark Ages were a time of a great loss of knowledge. Only the monks could read and write; even the Kings typically could not read or write! The monasteries were where it was all happening, Daddy-O. All of the art, science, education, technology, the works.
You had lots of single men here who did not have wives and kids to keep up. Your ordinary working man slaved away all day and had no time left over for study, science, technology, learning, reading, writing, anything.
This sort of tradition continued up into the modern era when the rich, the leisure class, replaced the monks. Up until recent times, nearly all science, technology, scholarly work, literature, poetry, etc. was produced by wealthy men. The working class guy simply did not have enough time to do much other than work all day and support his wife and kids.
By the same token, women were excluded from most of these roles. It was wife and mother, or get thee to a nunnery. In one area, literature, women did start to produce in late modern era. It is interesting that many of the first and best female novelists from  the era were lesbians (Yes, it is true.)
There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, only an unmarried woman had the time to write novels. A wife and mother was too busy slaving all day to have time to write any book, much less a great novel. Furthermore, writing, even literature, was regarded as men’s work – only men were writers. This conceit survives today in the expression “man of letters.”
Writing was just not ladylike! It was downright dykey. Women were just not seen as writers. Their talents were ridiculed. If someone told you that a woman wrote a book, you might start laughing. “What about?” you might ask. “Cooking?” It was assumed that this was practically the only subject a woman could write sensibly about.
In the early days, monks did not have to be celibate, and incredibly, nuns and monks lived together in a single monastery. Some of the monks and nuns were not celibate, but most were. Those who were celibate were not so by directive but by choice. These were deeply religious people who really wanted to give up sex and leave the opposite sex alone, so enforcement of a celibacy rule was not much of a problem.
Also, there were very strict rules that they had to live under, even if celibacy was not one of them. Later, there were separate wings, one for women and another for men. At some later time, celibacy was enforced.
The horror of deflation, a terrifying spiral that is difficult to stop, is exemplified by Dark Ages economics. There simply was not much money, period, for anyone. Where there is little money anywhere, there is little money to be accumulated by would-be wealthy elites. Hence, even kingdoms, Duchys, etc. were quite weak.
The economy centered around the monasteries. This was where capital was being accumulated. You had lots of good workers who were for all intents and purposes slaves.
The monasteries produced all sorts of items and were almost the only source of industry during the Dark Ages. Where did the surplus profits produced by the monasteries go? Good question. Usually back to the Church – to the abbots, bishops and even back to Rome or Constantinople.
In those days, abbots did not have to be celibate either. An abbot was often a family man; he would just be some ordinary guy living in the area. The Church people would come up to him and say, “Hey, you’re the abbot.” It was a great job, so must assented.
There was little art produced in the Dark Ages. It was one more thing that fell by the wayside. It is little-known, but the Romans produced quite a bit of art. The painted all of their buildings in all sorts of gaudy colors. The problem was that they used inferior paints that decayed and did not last, so very little has survived. People were even making paintings in the Dark Ages, but they were using this lousy paint and, to make matters worse, they were painting on wood. Wood doesn’t last, so little of this art remains.
Much of the remaining art from the Dark Ages comes from the Byzantines. The Byzantines used tiles to make religious tile paintings. Tile, a ceramic, tends to last. Byzantine art looks strange to our eyes, almost always religious pictures of Jesus, Mary, etc., often with prominent halos. Canvas is obviously a much better choice for painting, and canvas is still used today. Canvas did not start to be used a lot until after the Dark Ages and heading up into the Late Middle Ages – probably around 1300 or so.
Timeline follows:
324 – Foundation of Constantinople (Byzantium) by Constantine.
368 – Count Theodosius routs barbarians in Britain and puts down rebellion of Valentinus.
382 – Magnus Maximus defeats Picts and Scots.
395 – Division of the Empire between the sons of Theodosius.
398 – Britain suffers from attacks by Saxons, Picts and Scots.
406-7 – Legions in Britain elect a series of usurpers – Marcus, Gratian, and finally Constantine III, who crosses to Gaul with Roman troops.
408 – Britain is devastated by Saxon incursions.
410 – Sack of Rome by the Visigoths; Rome formally renounces Britain.
429 – St Germanus visits Britain to combat Pelagian heresy.
439 – Vandals conquer Carthage and the African part of the Empire.
451 – Defeat of the Huns at Chalons.
455-485 – Ambrosius Aurelianus leads a series of victories over the Saxon invaders.
476 – End of the Roman Empire in the West (Fall of the Roman Empire.
490-526 – Theoderic the Ostrogoth rules Italy.
486-511 – Reign of Clovis, King of the Merovingian Franks.
506 – Franks convert to Catholic Christianity.
507 – Franks defeat Visigoths and annex Aquitaine.
527-565 – Justinian attempts reconquest of Italy and Roman Africa.
542-3 – Plague ravages the Empire, eventually reaching Britain in 549.
545 – St. David establishes St. David’s in Wales.
549 – Gildas writes De Excidio Britanniae.
563-65 – St. Columba establishes monastery of Iona and begins mission among the Picts.
573-594 – Gregory of Tours is bishop of Tours.
577 – Battle of Dyrham – British towns of Gloucester, Cirencester and Bath fall to the Saxons.
587 – Recared, King of the Visigoths, converts to Catholicism.
597 – Mission of Augustine to Britain. Establishes bishopric at Canterbury in the Kingdom of Kent.
600 – Invasion of Italy by the Lombards.
628 – Conversion of King Eadwine of Northumbria.
633 – Armies of Islam begin to attack Syrian province of Eastern Empire.

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3 thoughts on “Nice Timeline of the Late Roman Empire”

  1. The type of Catholic who literally believes in the doctrines of papal infallibility and more aptly, here, papal supremacy, as related to Orthodoxy, (and as apart from papal primacy) has no history to back he or she. There are communications which at times suggest the Bishop of Rome was deferring to an Eastern bishop for final decision on this or that
    doctrinal matter.

  2. There are communications which at times suggest the Bishop of Rome was deferring to an Eastern bishop for final decision on this or that
    doctrinal matter.

    Thx Ken. This is what I suspected. I go to a Catholic Church now. I’m not a Catholic, but I love the Mass. There’s a downside to the Church, but also a big upside. I grew up with US Protestants, and I just can’t stand them, either in the liberal love the gays etc skins or especially in their fundamentalist skins. In contrast, the upside of the Catholic Church is a beautiful thing.

  3. Your definition of Protestants omits a few stripes:
    Conservative Lutherans, Anglicans, Reformed Presbyterians, non-millenial Campbellites (Church of Christ) and amillenial conservative Baptists, to name a few.
    To say nothing of the interdenominational booming movement of Preterism which dynamically nullifies Christian Zionism.

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