Ars Magica 767: Historical Background
This is a timeline of Europe in the 8th and early 9th century, in
particular focussed on the Frankish kingdom. The Frankish kingdom is
culturally split between the Western half "Neustria" and the Eastern
Regarding the foundation of the Carolingian dynasty: the
Merovingian Kings have ruled from the mythic Clovis, and their name
carries great weight. However, as rulers they have been ineffective.
Unable to collect money from their subjects, they slowly went
bankrupt. Plus they tended to split the kingdom between the king's
sons, creating an increasingly fractured rule. The administrative
role was increasingly taken up by the "Mayor of the Palace", who was
chosen among the nobles, and eventually ruled the kingdom in all but
Note that this is pre-feudalism. The king will motivate nobles by
granting land, but once that land is given, he has no control over it.
Thus, his control over nobles is inherently limited by the amount of
land he has to parcel out. Once he has no more booty or land to
dispense, he has no carrot by which to control the lords.
- The Moor conquest of Spain begins as they are invited into an
- Pepin ("the Short") born to Charles Martel - Mayor of the Palace
for Austrasia, and Rotrude (Duchess of Austrasia).
- A fruitless siege of Constantinople by the Arabs.
- Charles Martel defeats the invading Moslim army under Abd
Ar-Rahman in the Battle of Tours and Poitiers.
- Charles Martel dies, dividing the kingdom between his sons Pepin
and Carloman, who rule under the name of the Merovingian King
- Birth of Charles the Great, son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada
the Big-Footed (Countess of Laon), in Ingelheim.
- Carloman removes to a monastery, leaving Pepin the sole ruler
of the Frankish kingdom.
- Islamic King Marwan II decisively defeated by the Abbasids,
marking the end of the Omayyad Dynasty. Only Abdurrahman escaped
the bloodbath, establishing (in 756) the Emirate of the Omayyads
at Cordoba while the Abbasids took the rest of the empire.
- Pepin the Short has a second son, named Carloman, born in Aachen.
(Pepin will have 7 more sons in future years.)
- Seizure of Ravenna by Aistulf, King of the Lombards in Italy:
termination of the Exarchate of Ravenna and thereby Byzantine
rule in central Italy.
- Pepin the Short writes to Pope Zacharias, and receives an
affirmative to his question: "Should a king in all but name
receive recognition as king?"
- The new Pope Stephen II travels to Paris to meet with Pepin and
secure his aid against the Lombards. He is met by the
12-year-old Charles, and crowns Pepin and his sons in the name of
- Pepin defeats the Lombards, holding true to his bargain.
- Pepin defeats the Lombards a second time, and donates the
conquered territories to the Pope, thus forming the Papal States.
Aistulf is succeeded by Desiderius, duke of Tuscany.
- Pepin drives the Saracens out of France completely with the
capture of Narbonne.
- Pepin begins his conquest of Aquitania.
- Pepin is one year from his death, while Charles is 25 and
Carloman is only 16. As is traditional, his kingdom will be
split between them.
- Michael Grant, _Dawn of the Middle Ages_ (1981)
"lucid account of Western Europe between 476 and 816"
- Edward James, _The Franks_ (1988)
"highly readable ... new light on the Franks from later Roman to
- D.A. Bullough, _The Age of Charlemagne_, 2nd ed. (1973)
"remains the best introduction to Charlemagne and his era."
- Rosamund McKitterick, _The Frankish Kingdoms under the
"Written in a dense style, this is nevertheless the best book on
- Joseph & Frances Gies, _Life in a Medieval Castle_
John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Wed Jan 5 15:53:01 2000