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5th Century, 401 to 500

407  The greatest invasion into the Roman Empire occurs in the winter of 406-07, across the frozen Rhine. Resistance is feeble. Germanic tribes overrun Gaul all the way to the Pyrenees.

408  Roman legions are withdrawn from Britain, and Picts, Scots and Saxons invade the Britons.

409  Among the Germans who overran Gaul are those called Vandals. They cross the Pyrenees mountains into Hispania (Spain).

410  Goths sack Rome. Pagans see it as the work of Rome's old gods and blame the Christians. Pagan members of Rome's senate are afraid of retaliation from the Christians if they speak out. The Christian scholar Jerome laments that in the ruins of Rome the whole world has perished.

413  In response to the charge that Christianity was to blame for the fall of Rome, Bishop Augustine overturns the theory of Rome that was devised by Bishop Eusebius. The Roman Empire, he claims, was influenced both by God and by demons. Rome, he writes, was a product of sin and based on self-love, robbery, violence and fraud. He describes the Romans as the most successful brigands in history.

414  Changra Gupta II dies. His empire extends to India's west coast. India is enjoying prosperity. Hinduism is tolerant and happy. Hinduism is absorbing aspects of Buddhism and Jainism, which, born amid suffering, are now losing their appeal.

415  Hypatia of Alexandria is hated by local Christians. She is a mathematician, teacher and devoted to neo-Platonist paganism. A Christian mob pulls her from her chariot and murders her.

420   In southern China, Liu Yu has forced the Jin emperor to abdicate in his favor. Liu Yu begins what is to be known as the Liu Song dynasty.

421  Under the Sassanid king, Bahram V, persecution of the Christians begins again. Many Christians flee into the eastern half of the Roman Empire.

421  According to legend, the city of Venice is founded by Romans fleeing from Germans.

429  An army of around 80,000, mostly Vandals, cross from Spain into North Africa.

430  The Vandals have conquered all the way to Augustine's city, Hippo. While the Vandals have Hippo surrounded, Augustine dies.

441  Anglo-Saxons, running from northern Europe and away from advancing Huns, are invading Britain.

445  In northern China, Buddhist monasteries have become economically powerful landowning enterprises with hereditary serfs. Buddhists have been creating enemies, and Taoists inspire a movement against Buddhism. The Xiongnu ruler issues an edict against the Buddhists. Orders go out for all Buddhist monks to be put to death and all Buddhist images and books to be destroyed.

446  Vortigern has been leading the Britons against the Picts (from Scotland) and Scots (from Wales). He is using Anglo-Saxon mercenaries.

450  People who speak Nahuati are settled in Mexico. Among them are those who have establish the city-state of Teotihuacan, and descendants of a branch of Nahuati speakers will be those called Mexica, or Aztecs.

450  The civilization at Teotihuacan (in central Mexico but not Aztec) extends through much of the Mesoamerican region. The city has a population of more than 150,000 people and perhaps as many as 250,000.

451  Attila the Hun crosses the Rhine into Gaul.

453 – 455  In southern China, Buddhism has been adopted by the Liu Song emperor, but Buddhism proves no deterrent to strife and chaos. The emperor is assassinated by his son, who takes power and is assassinated by his brother, who becomes the south's Emperor Xiao Wu.

458  Anglo-Saxons are sending the Celtic Britons fleeing westward toward and into Wales, to Ireland and across the English Channel into what is today called Brittany.

465  In southern China, Emperor Xiao Wu is succeeded by a sixteen-year-old who is assassinated six months later. The murdered boy is succeeded by his uncle, Emperor Ming (Mingdi), who is to have all of his brothers and nephews executed.

466  Northern China has a new Xiongnu ruler, Emperor Xian-wen. He declares himself a Buddhist. Buddhism is restored in the north. He guards against his own assassination by massacring other princes in his extended family.

475  Emperor Ming is succeeded by his ten-year-old son, Emperor Shun, and in his behalf more murders follow.

476  A German commander of Rome's army, Odoacer, seizes power in Rome.

477  The stirrup is now widely used across China.

477 – 479  Emperor Shun is assassinated. What is left of the royal Liu family is discredited. A state official deposes the Liu family and founds a new dynasty, called Chi, and the Chi family begins killing one another.

484   Hephthalites (Huns) kill the Sassanian king, Firuz, and his cavalry and much of the Sassanid nobility. They capture the king's family and treasury.

488  The emperor in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, Zeno, sends an army of Germans, led by Theodoric, across the Alps against Odoacer.

493  Theodoric's army defeats Odoacer's army. Theodoric assumes the title of King of Italy, and the Bishop of Rome befriends Theodoric.

496  The king of the Germanic Franks, Clovis, has extended his rule in northeastern Gaul, spilling much blood. His wife, Clotilda, is a Trinity believing Christian. Clovis accepts his wife's faith for himself and his subjects.

497  Persia has suffered drought and famine. Persians rebel against the Sassanid king, Kavad (son of Firuz). A Zoroastrian priest, Mazdak, proclaims that he has been sent by God to preach that all men are born equal and that no one has the right to possess more than another. He claims that he is reforming and purifying Zoroastrianism. The world, he says, has been turned from righteousness by five demons: Envy, Wrath, Vengeance, Need and Greed. His followers plunder the homes and harems of the rich.

500  Migrating Bantu speakers, on the move for more than a century, arrive in southern Africa. Camels have been established as a means of transportation in northern Africa.

500  Incompetent government has led to a failure by the Chinese to defend their northern border. A dynasty of Xiongnu kings, the Tuoba Wei, are dominating the whole of northern China, and culturally they are becoming more Chinese. In the south, meanwhile, a recent string of Chinese families had risen and fallen from power while engaging in rampages of murder as a way of settling disputes over who was to rule.

4th Century (301 to 400 CE) | 6th Century (501 to 600 CE)

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