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 half "Austrasia".

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 name.

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 internal conflict.
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 Childeric III.
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 the Church.
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.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Wed Jan 5 15:53:01 2000