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13th Century, 1201 to 1300

1201  Around this time in the mountainous Andes region in South America, the Inca ruler, Manco Capac, oversees the construction of the city-state of Cuzco.

1201  King John of England grants the town of Cambridge a charter. 

1201  Maori islanders have settled in what someday will be called New Zealand. 

1202  Europeans are beginning to learn Arabic numerals – as opposed to Roman numerals – and the zero. 

1202  The Fourth Crusade is underway, Pope Innocent III responding to the failure of the Third Crusade to recover Jerusalem.  Crusaders have attacked the Christian city of Zara, on the Dalmatian coast, with the Venetians, on whom they are dependent for transportation. The Pope excommunicates those crusaders who have attacked Zara. 

1202  People called jesters begin to entertain in the courts of Europe's kings. They are impoverished or are of sub-normal intelligence. They are beginning an art form in Europe for people who enjoy watching people make fools of themselves.  

1203  In Western Africa, the empire of Ghana has lost control over the gold trade and has been in decline. One of Ghana's subject people, the Sosso, overrun Ghana's capital city, Kumbi. 

1204  Another crusade fails to work out as planned. Constantinople has revolted against the presence of the Crusaders, and the Crusaders have retaliated, seizing the city in a three-day orgy of rape and the plundering of palaces and Eastern Orthodox convents and churches. Fire has destroyed much of the city. Constantinople's emperor has fled. Helping the Crusaders are the Venetians with whom the Crusaders have made an agreement to share the booty. Pope Innocent III is delighted by the news of the fall of Constantinople to Roman Christianity. When he hears of the atrocities that have attended the victory he is shocked, but he continues to approve of the conquest. Soon in Constantinople, Latin (Roman) prelates will replace Greek (Eastern Orthodox) prelates. The schism between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity is complete. Jerusalem continues to be in the hands of Muslims. 

1204  On marshland at a dam on the Amstel River, people have started the village that will one day be Amsterdam. 

1205  A Japanese, Eisai (1141-1215), has returned from China. He is a reformer, a Zen Buddhist, and has been driven from the city of Kyoto to Kamakura (later Tokyo). At Kamakura he has gained the patronage of the military government. In 1205 he completes the first temple, Kenninji, dedicated solely to Zen Buddhism. Zen is to become the choice of the practitioners of warfare – the samurai. 

1206  Philip Augustus of France (Philip II) occupies the fiefs of Normandy and Anjou, expanding his family's territory from around Paris and Orléans (the Ile de France).

1206  Sedentary Turks, living in the Turfan depression (about 150 kilimeters southeast of what today is Urumqi, in China) are overrun by Mongols.

1212  Thousands of children with a few adults and clerics, fired up by preaching against heretics, start for Jerusalem to rescue the Holy Land from Muslims. They are deficient in money and organization but believe that as children they are favored by God and could work miracles that adults cannot. Before the year is over it ends in disaster. Many children die or are sold into slavery.  

1214  King John of England wanted his fiefs in Normandy and Anjou back. He allies himself with Emperor Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor. But Philip Augustus of France defeats them at the Battle of Bovines. 

1214  Genghis Khan and his army overrun Beijing. They ravage the countryside, gathering information and booty. Then they pull back to northern frontier passes.

1215  Frustrated by the growing power of the kings of England, English nobles join together and force King John to sign a document they hope will protect them from imprisonment or loss of property without a trial by a jury of their peers. 

1215  The Church's Fourth Lateran Council meets in Rome to enact legislation as to what is heresy and what is not. The Council decides that all Catholics are to confess their sins at least once a year, that clergy is to remain celibate, sober and to refrain from gambling, hunting, engaging in trade, going to taverns or wearing bright or ornate clothing. The Council decrees that marriage will be a Church affair and that Jews will wear a yellow label.

1217  The Fifth Crusade has begun. It was planned by Pope Innocent III, who died in 1226. Its purpose, to rescue Jerusalem from the Muslims. But it is not the popular movement that previous crusades were. It begins with small-scale military operations against powers that be in Syria. Muslim opposition to the new crusade is divided, giving the crusade a better chance of success.

1219  Genghis Khan wanted trade on his western frontier. Instead his envoys were killed. He is now moving his army westward and over-running prosperous cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand

1219  The Fifth Crusade ends without success.

1223  Genghis Khan has pushed into Persia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, defeating Christian knights and capturing a Genoese trading fortress in the Crimea. He has invaded Russia, and on his way back home in 1223 he routes a Slavic army at the battle of Kalka River. 

1223  Philip Augustus of France dies. He has greatly expanded his family's territory. The French monarchy has become a maritime and commercial power, and Paris has become a fortified city with a university that attracts students from various other lands.  

1225  The manufacture of cotton cloth has begun in Spain. 

1227  Genghis Khan, at the age of 65, falls off his horse while fighting against the Tangut in northwestern China. And he dies. (August 18).

1227  A Japanese who has been studying in China brings back to Japan the Chuan school of Buddhism, to be known as Zen.

1228  The Sixth Crusade begins, led by the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who is being ignored by Pope Gregory IX. Frederick wants control over Jerusalem, which he believes he has inherited through marriage. 

1229  Frederick signs a ten-year truce and an alliance with the Sultan of Egypt, al-Kamil, who is struggling against Muslim opponents. Al-Kamil recognizes Frederick as King of Jerusalem and cedes to him Bethlehem and Nazareth, but Frederick is not allowed to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, destroyed by Saladin in 1187.

1229  Fearing confused responses to reading the Bible, church leaders at Toulouse forbid common people to read it.

1231  The institution known as the Inquisition begins. Pope Gregory IX is taking responsibility for orthodoxy away from bishops and putting inquisitors under jurisdiction of the papacy.

1232  The son of Ghenghis Khan, Ogedei, has sent an army into Korea to police defiance of an agreement with them, and the Koreans start a rebellion against Mongol rule.

1233  Coal is mined for the first time at a place in England called Newcastle.

1234  Ogedei completes this conquest of northern China.

1235  Paradise eludes at least a part of Africa. In western Africa the Sosso ruler, Sumaguru Kante, has been raiding and conquering people. Sundjata Keita, who survived one of Sumaguru's raids a decade earlier, is leading a guerrilla war against Sumaguru and defeats him. Sumaguru is dead. Sundjata takes control of all the Soninke people recently conquered by the Sosso.

1238  Ogedei's army, without Odogei, has pushed into Russia and overruns the cities of Vladimir, Kolmna and Moscow. 

1240  Ogedei's army destroys Kiev, and deeper into Europe, at Liegnitz, although outnumbered, the Mongols destroy a German army of heavily armored knights.

1240  At the Neva River the prince of Novogrod defeats an invasion from Sweden. He acquires the name Alexander Nevsky (of the Neva). 

1240  Sundjata Keita annexes Ghana. He takes control of the gold trade routes and rules a new empire: Mali.

1241  Ogedei's army, without Ogedei, reaches Vienna. It withdraws because Ogedei has died and they need to participate in choosing a new leader.

1242  While withdrawing to their stronghold in Russia, in the Crimea the Mongols set up trade with sea-going Italian merchants, exchanging many of their European war-captives for manufactured goods. It is the beginning of routine business between the Mongols and the Italians – from Venice and Genoa – and their selling of slaves to the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, who has a slave army.  

1242  In Estonia, Alexander Nevsky defeats the Teutonic Knights, to be seen as stopping a Germanic drive into Russia.

1242  The city of Avignon is concerned about cleanliness. It is decreed that streets shall be widened, that people shall not discard into the street refuse, bath water, "dirt" and "human filth." It is decreed that Jews and whores are forbidden to touch bread or fruit for sale in market places.

1248  The Mexica people (Aztecs) settle onto an infertile hilly region named for grasshoppers today the Chapultapec region of Mexico City.

1250  A town on Africa's east coast, Mombasa, has become overwhelmingly Muslim, and a Muslim dynasty has been established at Kilwa, an offshore island. Kilwa controls trade, including at Sofala, a point of departure for gold, iron and slaves. 

1250  The Mexica people, to be known also as Aztecs, have moved from northern to central Mexico.

1250  Egypt has white slaves who have converted to Islam. They were guards for Sultan as-Salih. These are the Mamluks. The sultan has died and the Mamluks have taken power. Their move is legitimized as their leader, Aybak, marries the deceased sultan's wife.

1252  Mongke makes official the worship of his grandfather, Genghis Khan, while people continue to be free to worship as they please. Under Mongke, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity flourish.

1253  Jews in England are forbidden to live in towns that do not already have a Jewish comununity.

1255  A boy chasing a ball falls and drowns in a Jewish cesspool. His body is found twenty-six days later. Some Christians believe that the boy was killed in Jewish ritual. One hundred Jews are executed.

1256  The Mongols are on their way to Baghdad. At a mountain stronghold near the Caspian Sea the Mongols force the surrender of the Imam of a Shia Muslim community, the Nizari Ismailis, to be known by Europeans as the Assassins. The Assassins believe their Imam was chosen by God and therefore infallible. They had spread their rule through terror from a chain of mountainous safe havens. But in the Mongols they meet a force they cannot intimidate, and it is the beginning of their end. 

1258  An army that includes Christians and Shia, led by Mongke's brother, Hulegu, attacks Baghdad, the spiritual capital of the Sunni Muslims. The Abbasid caliphate there comes to an end.

1259  Hulegu's army enters Damascus, and Christians there greet the Mongol army with joy. Meanwhile, Mongke has led an army into China's Sichuan province, and there he dies in battle.

1260  A Mamluk army defeats the Mongols near Nazareth. Taking revenge on the Christian Crusaders for having allied themselves with the Mongols, the Mamluks destroy Crusader strongholds, leaving the Crusaders at Acre, Tyre and Tripoli.  

1260  Nicolo and his brother Maffeo, father and uncle of the now six-year-old Marco Polo, begin their first trip to the East, during which they will visit China.

1269  In the wars between the King of England and barons, Jews are considered instruments of the king's oppressions. Jewish communities are attacked and many inhabitants killed. The King of England has been borrowing money from Jews, but he has switched to Italian bankers, reducing his dependence on Jews. And now the king restricts Jews from holding land and Jewish children from inheriting their parents' money. When a Jew dies his money is to be confiscated by the royal government.

1273  Count Rudolf, a wealthy German noble, is elected by German princes to be Holy Roman Emperor. As Rudolf I, he gives a new prominence to the Habsburg family. They elect him because he doesn't appear ambitious or a threat. He is a mediocrity.  

1274  Another grandson of Genghis Khan, to be known as Kubilai Khan, is conquering in the Far East. He has sent a force from Korea to Japan, but a typhoon makes his stay there impossible. The Japanese believe that God is on their side and give credit to God's wind (Kami kaze).

1275  King Edward I of England forbids Jews to lend money on interest.

1276  Kubilai Khan completes a sixteen year drive to conquer China.

1277  The Archbishop of Paris declares as heresy the works of Thomas Aquinas, and this is repeated in England by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

1278  Tribes in Austria had been warring over the lands of the late Duke Friedrich, whose family, the Babenbergers, had controlled Austria for 300 years. Duke Friedrich had died childless. By 1278, Rudolf I, Holy Roman Emperor and Habsburg, gains control over what had been the Babenberger dynasty, beginning Habsburg control over Austria to the second decade of the 20th century.

1278  A number of Jews in England have been dragged to their death behind cart horses, and now many Jews are arrested and hanged for secretly lending money.

1281  The Mamluks defeat a Mongol advance into Syria.

1284  An Italian, Salvino D'Armate creates wearable eye glasses, but it will be a while before use of them will spread.  

1284  Peterhouse, the first college, is founded at Cambridge, England.

1290  King Edward I of England expels all Jews (between 4 and 16 thousand). Many go to France and Germany.

1291  The Crusaders give up the last of their territory in the Middle East, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, driven out by the Mamluks, who capture the city of Acre. Crusaders have been in the Middle East almost 200 years. Many of these years were peaceful and with amicable relations with Muslims. There was trade, and the crusaders learned from the Muslims. This, including a lot of death, is the sum of the results of an effort to save the Holy Land for Christianity. Added are those of mixed offspring the Crusaders leave behind, a legacy to appear in the blond hair and blue eyes of some in modern times in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.   

1291  The League of the Three Forest Cantons forms for mutual defense – a beginning of Switzerland.

1295  Marco Polo is back in Venice following his journey as far as China. People do not believe him when he describes the Chinese as using paper money.

1296  A conflict over power and wealth erupts between the king of France and the Pope. King Philip IV of France has continued to tax Church property, taxes that were originally intended to finance the last Crusade. Pope Boniface issues the bull Clericis laicos, which asserts the Church's authority and rights vis-à-vis secular heads of state. Philip threatens to prevent the Church from collecting taxes and tithes within France. Pope Boniface backs down. England's king, Edward I, wins a concession from the Pope similar to the one that the Pope makes for France.

1296  A succession of Islamic sultans have been ruling in Delhi. The latest is Jalal-ud-din, sultan since 1290 and now seventy-six and peace loving. Ala-ud-Khalji, his son in law, nephew and military leader kills him and makes himself sultan, continuing the Khalji family dynasty.

1297  William Wallace launches a series of attacks on English troops while fighting for self-determination for Scots. 

1299  The Mexica (Aztecs) have been driven from the Chapultepec area of what today is Mexico City, but they are allowed to settle in a barren area about 12 kilometers south of Chapultepec.

1300  Agriculture had been growing, but a Little Ice Age has begun, and is to last 400 years, bringing wetter weather and a shorter growing season in the northern climates. Farm expansion in Western Europe has come to an end. Cattle raising has declined, reducing the amount of protein in diets and reducing manure for fertilizer, contributing to a decline in crop yields. Herring, a major food source, is beginning to disappear.

12th Century (1101 to 1200 CE) | 14th Century (1301 to 1400 CE)

Copyright © 2004-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.