8th Century, 701 to 800

702  Drawing from the Chinese and Confucianism, the Japanese have established new laws – the Taiho Code. The emperor is seen as having supreme moral authority and as a benevolent ruler. His ministers and bureaucrats are viewed as agents of morality. It is believed that without this moral authority the immorality of feuding local lords would reign. Local lords, it is believed, should submit to the emperor's rule for the sake of peace. Accompanying this centralized authority, a national tax system is devised.

705  Empress Wu has proclaimed a new dynasty of her own family line. She has lowered taxes for farmers, and agricultural production has risen. She has strengthened public works. But by 705 she is in her old age and has lost control at court. Officials at court force her to resign in favor of a member of the Tang family – the return of the Tang Dynasty.

708  In China, boiled water is safer to drink than untreated water, and tea becomes popular accompanied by the belief that tea has medicinal properties.

710  Japan's emperor moves the capital from Osaka to the city of Nara in order to avoid the pollution of his predecessor's death.

711  A Muslim army crosses the Strait of Gibraltar and begins a conquest of Spain. Jews welcome them as liberators. An Arab ship is plundered by pirates near the mouth of the Indus River, and the Arab governor in Mesopotamia retaliates, sending an expedition, said to include 6,000 horses and 6,000 camels, to conquer the rajas of Sind.

712  The new Tang emperor, Zhongzong, has died and his wife, Empress Wei, is suspected of having poisoned him. She has tried to rule as had Empress Wu. She has sold offices and Buddhist monkhoods. She has created enemies whom she has failed to exterminate, and they oust her from power.

717  Arabs have conquered eastward across land to the western border of China. They have conquered Lisbon and in the Caucasus, including Armenia. Caliph Omar II grants tax exemption to all believers. Wealth has been gathered from looting the wealthy during conquests and by taxing non-Muslims.

718  Constantinople, ably led by a general called Leo the Isaurian, has held off Muslim attacks by land and sea for more than a year. Leo is now Emperor Leo III. South-Central Europe is to remain Christian.

722  Emperor Leo III forces conversion of Constantinople's Jews.

726  Emperor Leo III issues an edict against the worship of icons, seeing it as the main reason Jews and Muslims cannot be won to Christ. The cross is to be maintained as the symbol for Christianity, but worship with other images, including those of Jesus, are not permitted.

731  English historian and theologian, Bede, writes his Ecclesiastical History. He beings numbering the years from the time of Christ rather than from the reign of kings – his numbering to be divided between BC and AD (or BCE and CE).

732  Muslims were making piratical raids from Spain northward across the Pyrenees into territory of the Franks. Charles Martel leads an army that defeats a Muslim army led by Abd-er-Rahman – who was not on a mission to conquer all of Christendom.

737  For two years Japan has been suffering from a small pox epidemic. Perhaps as much as one-third of the population has perished.

745  China has accomplishments in poetry, painting, printing and is a vast empire, but its monarchical system tends toward failure. The Tang emperor since 712, Xuanzong, has fallen under the spell of his son's wife, Yang Guifei, a Taoist priestess. Emperor Xuanzong is ignoring the economy and China is again declining.

750  Sometime around this year Mexico's great city of Teotihuacan (Teotihuacán) is among those cities destroyed and left in ruins, its great palaces burned to the ground. The city's population is reduced to a few people living in hovels in a few sections of the city.

750  The Umayyad caliphs have lost people willing to fight for them. They have been overthrown by an army of mixed nationalities from Khurasan (east of Persia). The last Umayyad, Marwan II, is beheaded and his relatives are murdered. The new caliph is Abu-Abbas al-Sarah. Rule by the Abbasid caliphs has begun. The Abbasids begin ruling with a show of Islamic piety, and they talk of reforms. They give prominence in state affairs to Islamic theologians and experts in Islamic law.

750  Arabian mathematicians begin using numbers that originated in India, are an advance of Roman numerals and that Muslims will pass to Europeans. 

751  An Islamic army in Central Asia defeats the Chinese (at the Battle of Atlakh). Muslims replace the Chinese as the dominant influence along the Silk Road.

751  The last Merovingian king of the Franks, Childeric III, is deposed. The Merovingians had ruled as they pleased, including enforcing what they thought was their right to deflower a commoner's bride before he was allowed to consummate his marriage. A new dynasty, the Carolingians, is begun by Pepin the Short, the son of Charles Martel.

755  Alliances and trade between Mayan city-states have begun to break down. Malnutrition is on the rise. A diminishing food supply might be creating social upheaval and war.

756  Abd Ar-Rahman, an Umayyad prince, has escaped slaughter by the Abbasids and establishes himself as emir at Cordoba, Spain.

763  Mansur moves the Abbasid capital to Baghdad.

767  In Persia, Muqanna leads thousands against the Abbasids, robbing caravans and destroying Mosques.

768  Charles, eldest son of Pepin III (Pepin the Short), inherits half of his father's Frankish empire.

770  The Fujiwara family removes Empress Shotoku from power. She had fallen in love with a Buddhist monk, Kokyo, whom she had promoted as her chief minister. Nara Society was shocked. Henceforth women are exempted from imperial succession.

771  Charles becomes king of all of his father's empire. He is a devout Christian and to have four wives and children by five mistresses.

772  Charles, eventually to be known as Charles the Great (Charlemagne in French), begins thirty years of conquest and rebuilding the empire of the Franks, with an infantry carrying axes, spears and shields of wood and leather.

774  Charlemagne overruns the Lombards in northern Italy. He divides Lombard territory with the Pope, creating the Papal States.

775  Charlemagne begins his war against the Saxons in Germany, with slaughter and forced conversions to Christianity.

780  At Constantinople, Byzantium's Emperor Leo IV dies, and his wife, Irene, becomes regent for his son, who is ten. Leo's brothers, called Caesars, begin to plot for power, but Irene has them whipped, their heads shaved and banished.

784  The Japanese begin a war against the Ainu – in the north on the main island of Honshu. The new emperor, Kammu, wishes to be free of influence from the Buddhist monasteries around Nara, and he moves his court thirty-five miles from Nara, to Nagaoka,

787  Empress Irene convenes the 7th Ecumenical Council, which refutes the iconoclasm begun by Constantinople's Emperor Leo III in 726. Among the masses and many clerics the worship of relics has persisted. The torturing, blinding and banishment of relic worshippers has ended. It is widely believed that the previously outlawed images work miraculous cures.

787  Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is learning to read, and he reproaches ecclesiastics for their uncouth language and "unlettered tongues." In hope of creating an educated clergy he orders every cathedral and monastery to establish a school where clergy and laity can learn to read. His rule includes land for nobles who provide him with military service. He depends on the allegiance of distant counts, dukes and bishops within his realm, men with some independence because of the distance and slowness of communications.

788  Indian philosopher Shankara develops a philosophical system that equates soul with God.

789  A Shia kingdom is established in Morocco independent of the caliph in Baghdad.

791  Buddhism becomes Tiber's official religion.

793  By boat, Scandinavians reach the island of Lindisfarne, Scotland. They kill monks and loot the monastery there. It is the first recorded raid by those to be called Vikings.

794  In Japan, disease and death of an heir to the throne are perceived as bad omens. They royal family believes that the spirit of the dead needs to be placated. The emperor, Kammu, moves his family from a palace considered contaminated to a new capital, Heian-kyo, to be renamed Kyoto.

797  At Constantinople, the Mother Empress, Irene (now between 42 and 47), and her emperor son, Constantine IV (now 27), have been competing for power. Irene has won. She has her son blinded and exiled.

800  In central Mexico around this time, give or take a couple of decades or so, at Teotihuacan, structures belonging to the elites of the city are burned to the ground.

800  Charlemagne is crowned by Pope Leo III, who hails him as "Augustus, crowned of God …emperor of the Romans."

7th Century (601 to 700 CE) | 9th Century (801 to 900 CE)

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