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14th Century, 1301 to 1400

1303  Church power is in decline. Concerned about kings taxing church property, Pope Boniface VIII has issued a papal decree, Unam Sanctam, to maintain Church authority over kings. King Philip IV of France (r. 1285-1314) fears that he will be excommunicated and sends men to seize Boniface from one of his palaces. Boniface is rescued but shaken, and he dies soon afterward. 

1303  Edward I of England invades Scotland again, aiming to subjugate it.

1304  A new pope, Benedict X, has enemies in Rome, the result of conflict over who should be pope. Benedict dies supposedly after eating poisoned figs.

1305  French influence in the College of Cardinals results in the selection of the Bishop of Bordeaux, who becomes Pope Clement V. People in Rome, opposed to a Frenchman as pope, riot.  

1305  William Wallace of Scotland  is captured, taken to London, convicted of treason, hanged and his corpse drawn and quartered.

1306  King Philip IV of France has been extorting money from Jews. He needs money to pursue empire. He seizes the belongings of some Jews and expels them from his realm.

1307  Muslims have driven "Crusaders" from the Middle East, including the order called the Templars. Templars have arrived in France. They are wealthy, and King Philip accuses them of magic and heresy – the only way he can lawfully seize Templar assets. For good measure the Templars are accused also of sodomy and of being in league with the Muslims. Philip has the Templars arrested on Friday the 13th (giving Friday the13th its reputation as a day of bad luck). Some Templars are tortured and executed.

1309  At the request of King Philip, Pope Clement V moves his court to Avignon, away from hostility in Rome.

1310  The Knights of St. John (a crusading order established in Jerusalem in 1113) have fled the Middle East and they conquer the island of  Rhodes. 

1311  The aggressive sultan of Delhi, Ala-ud-din, of the Khalji family dynasty, has ruled with vigor and control. He has defeated an invasion by the Mongols and he has conquered to the southern tip of India, putting the whole of India under his rule. 

1315  An Italian surgeon, Mondino de Luzzi, oversees dissection of a corpse. His manual on anatomy will be the first that is founded on practical dissection.

1315  A climate change has taken place, and this year in Europe rains are continuous, with people talking about the return of the flood described in Genesis. Crops are ruined and famine begins in some areas.

1315  King Louis X of France decrees that any slave setting foot on the French soil shall be free.

1316  Pope Clement V has died. After two years of disagreement among cardinals, he is succeeded at Avignon by Pope John XII, who was born in France. John XII is to reign eighteen years and to levy heavy taxes on Europe's Christians in an attempt to regain the Church's independence and prestige. 

1316  In India, the sultan of Delhi, Ala-ud-din, has died and is succeeded by his son, Qutub-ud-din Mubarak.  

1318  Four Franciscans are burned at the stake for maintaining absolute poverty.

1320  The production of paper begins in Germany.

1320  The Mexica (Aztecs) found the city of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City is one day to develop.

1320  Assassination brings an end to three years of rule by the sultan of Delhi, Mubarak. During his reign he executed prominent relatives, made the Delhi sultanate independent of the Baghdad caliphate and declared himself the head of the Muslim faith. Accused of the assassination is his prime minister (wazir), a convert to Islam by the name of Khusrau, who rules for four months. Then, Islamic nobles, led by Ghasi Malik, overthrow Khusrau and behead him. There is no male heir in Mubarak's family, and the nobles persuade Malik to rule as sultan under the name of Gias-ud-din Tughluq, which begins the Tughluq dynasty – to rule until 1413.   

1322  Pope John XXII declares as heresy the opinion among Franciscans that Christ and his apostles held no property.

1328  The English have been driven from Scotland by Robert the Bruce. The Treaty of Edinburgh-Northhampton recognizes Scotland's independence.

1325  A man who had saved his money and bought a lot of property begins to rule as lord of Moscow. He is called Ivan and is the first of a dynasty of Russian kings.  

1326  The Ottoman Turks are expanding from their base in the northwest of Asia Minor. They conquer to the city of Burs, about fifty miles south of Constantinople. And Ottoman warriors cross into Thrace (into Europe) to plunder. The Ottoman sultan, Orhan, allies himself with one of the Christian contenders for the throne in Constantinople, John Cantacuzemus, and marries his daughter, Theodora.

1328  The first sawmill appears in Europe. It is to encourage shipbuilding.

1328  The system of chapters for the New Testament is created by Cardinal Hugo de S. Caro. 

1328  In France, King Charles IV (r.1322-28) dies. He is succeeded by Philip of Valois, who takes the title Philip VI. It is the end of the Capet dynasty and beginning of the Valois dynasty.

1333  Stability provided by the Kamakura shoguns has been breaking down. Political unrest has been increasing. Emperor Daigo has been seeking to overcome his figurehead status, and he succeeds temporarily because he is joined by a number of warriors who are at odds with the family of the shogunate ruling from Kamakura – the Hōjō family. These warriors supporting the emperor are interested in redistributing feudal privileges and enlarging their land holdings. Emperor Daigo declares the end of the Hōjō shogunate, and the Hōjō shogun commits suicide. This marks the end of the Kamakura era – an era that began in the year 1185.

1336  Emperor Daigo has rewarded his warrior supporters with less than they had expected. Ashikaga Takauji leads the military men in turning against the emperor. They capture the imperial city, Kyoto, and establish an amenable emperor from the northern faction of the royal family – the royal family having divided into factions, with Daigo from the southern faction. Ashikaga Takauji names himself the new shogun. The Ashikaga family is now to dominate the shogunate and to rule Japan from Kyoto.  The Ashikaga family is to be superior in wealth but unable to dominate the whole of Japan without alliances – a source of future trouble. The Ashikaga family patronizes Zen more lavishly than did the Hōjō shoguns, turning Zen into an offical organ of the shogunate. 

1336  Near Samarkand, Timur, to be known also as Tamerlane, is born into a Muslim family.

1336  India suffers from drought and famine. The sultanate in Delhi is doing little to assist his subjects, and discontent has given rise to rebellion. Noticing successes among rebelling Muslims, some Hindus proclaim independence from Delhi rule. A new Hindu kingdom, dominated by Telugu-speaking aristocrats, arises – Vijāyanagar – named for its capital. 

1338  The Diet (assembly) in Frankfort, in the Holy Roman Empire, decrees that the empire's emperor may be chosen without papal participation.

1338  The new king of France, Philip VI (r. 1328-50), intervenes in a dispute in Flanders (on the channel coast north of Paris), where Edward III of England owns property and English influence has been dominant. Edward retaliates by declaring that he is King of France – by right of birth and family connections. Philip responds by declaring Edward's fiefs in France forfeited. The Hundred Years' War is in the making.

1339  Bengal has declared independence from Delhi. From fighting among Bengal's nobles, Malik Haji Ilyas has emerged victorious, and assumes the title of Sultan Shams-ud-din. By now the mass of Bengal's population has converted to Islam, and Sufism is popular with Bengal's lowest class. 

1340  Tatars are ravaged by the bubonic plague – the black death – and they pass the disease on to Genoese merchants returning from China.

1342  China and Korea have been opposed to trade with foreigners, and Japanese called Wakō have been engaged in illegal trade there as well as piracy and coastal plunder. Japan's shogun, Ashikaga Takauji, has been trying to control foreign trade. Commerce in Japan is increasing, and Ashikaga sends an official trading ship to China.  

1346  Edward III of England invades France, beginning in earnest the Hundred Years' War. His army of 10,000 men, using the longbow, crush France's cavalry at the Battle of Crécy (pronounced cressy).

1346  Mongol occupation ends in Transoxiana, after being driven out by an armed uprising. There, an emir (another word for warlord) takes power.

1347  A sailing ship returns to Genoa from a trip to the East. Its crew members are dead or dying from bubonic plague.

1348  The black death reaches France, Denmark, Norway and Britain, striking at a population weakened by nearly two generations of malnutrition. Around one-third of the people in affected areas are to die.  

1350  Some Europeans are blaming Jews for the plague. Some are blaming the rich and some the Catholic Church. The belief in witchcraft is revitalized. Believing that the end of the world is at hand, some groups engage in frenzied bacchanals and orgies. Those called Flagellants believe that the plague is the judgment of God on sinful mankind. Walking across countryside, men and women flog one another. They preach that anyone doing this for thirty-three days will be cleansed of all sin – one day for every year that Christ lived. The Church is on guard against creative, heretical theology and Pope Clement VI condemns the movement.

1350  At Tenochtitlan the Mexica (Aztecs) are building causeways with canals.

1351  The towns of Florence and Milan go to war as Milan attempts to extend its power southeasterly into Tuscany.

1351  An outdoor game called tennis is created in England. The plague reaches Russia.

1352  Rebellion by Chinese fed up with Mongol rule has erupted around the city of Guangzhou. 

1355  Scots, aided by the French, are again fighting the English.

1356  Rebellion against Mongol rule has spread through much of China, accompanied by anarchy. Rebels capture the city of Nanjing, which they make their capital. The warring is to last more than thirty years.

1356  In Korea, thirty-six years of chaos begin when the royal Koryo family launches a rebellion against Mongol rule.

1356  At the Battle of Poiters, the English capture and hold for ransom the French king and many French nobles. Warfare by armored knights with lances and swords on horseback is near its end.  

1358  Peasants in France are unhappy about the tax burden created by the Hundred Years' War. Near Paris, peasants called the Jacquerie move through the countryside, killing nobles. In their anger against authority they feel free to rape the wives and daughters of noblemen, to set fire to castle interiors and to destroy estates.

1360  The first phase of the Hundred Years' War ends in a tenuous treaty – the Peace of Bretigny. Out of work mercenary soldiers who had been hired by the English are living off plundering the French.

1361  The Black Death reappears in England and ravages Europe. The survivors of the first wave of Black Death are better able to resist the disease than were people in general during the first wave in 1348, and the second wave of plague is less severe than the first wave.

1361  In Samarkand the emir, Kazgan, has been assassinated, and the Mongols have reconquered Transoxiana. But soon they are to be driven out again by a local uprising consisting largely of armed Muslims.

1369  Nobles of Gascony (south of Bordeaux) complain to the French king, Charles V, about oppressive taxation by Edward III of England. Charles confiscates English holdings. Edward III reasserts his claim to the French throne, and the Hundred Years' War begins again.  

1370  The warrior Timur, at the age of thirty-four, has become the dominant power in Transoxiana. His army is modeled after the armies of Genghis Khan, but with more foot soldiers and his warriors were more from settled families than they were nomadic horsemen. It is an army whose loyalty is to its commander rather than to a nation, an army that finds glory in Timur's reputation as a great warrior. Timur has new walls built on the foundation of those destroyed by the Mongols – walls surrounded by a deep moat. He has the market place improved, and it will be said that he has great gardens created and palaces built. Samarkand's magnificence and prosperity will be said to have caused envy in Cairo and Baghdad.

1373  The Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar conquers the Muslim sultanate of Madura.

1373  The emperor of China sends two Buddhist monks to Japan as envoys to request an end to Japanese pirate (Wakō) activities.

1377  Pope Gregory XI takes the papacy from Avignon back to Rome, and there he dies.

1378  Roman mobs demand that the College of Cardinals elect a Roman pope, and under this pressure the cardinals elect Urban VI. Then this is rejected, and a second election selects as pope Clement VII, who takes his papacy back to Avignon. There are now two popes: Urban VI in Rome and Clement VII in Avignon. They are to excommunicate each other. France, Scotland and Spain will support the claims of Pope Clement. England, the Holy Roman Empire and most of Italy will support Urban VI.  Some in the Church want both popes to resign and a new election.  

1380  Seeing himself as the new Genghis Khan and needing to conquer to live up to Genghis Khan's image, Timur has gone eastward, ravaging countryside and making the people around Issyk-kul his subjects. He has won a major battle near Sauran, and in 1380 he occupies Kashgar (now Shufu in eastern-most China).

1381  Peasants in England revolt against taxes that had been raised to pay for the Hundred Years' War and against having to labor on Church lands.

1382  John Wyclif, a biblical scholar with a doctorate from Oxford University, has begun translating the Vulgate Bible from Latin into English. He is also vocal in criticism of the Catholic Church. Unwilling to modify his rhetoric, he is forced to leave Oxford, and his works are to be banned by the university.  

1387  The leader of the rebellion against Mongol rule has liberated all of China. He considers himself has having the Mandate of Heaven. He takes the title Hong-wu, and he founds a new dynasty – the Ming.

1389  The Battle of Kosovo takes place, Turks against a force of Serbs with at least a few Albanians, under Prince Lazar Herebeljanovic, a battle with no clear victors that, like many other historical events, was to be mythologized.  

1391  Timur has been waging war to the west of Samarkand, conquering Persia, punishing and making an example of the inhabitants of that city for their resistance. Timur believes that with an enhanced reputation for terror people will be more tractable in their negotiations with him. His strategy is to frighten people into obedience, saving his army from having to fight. Those who do not submit or those who rebel, his army massacres. They massacre men, women and children, and they burn what they cannot carry away. While Timur is busy in Persia, a Mongol force comes south from the forest region around Moscow, and, from the Caucusus region, Timur pushes them back toward Moscow. Late in the year, Timur's army is heavily laden with goods and in need of rest and reinforcements, and Timur and his army return to Samarkand.

1397  In Florence the Medici bank is founded.

1398  During his stay in Samarkand, Timur hears news from India. With the excuse that Muslim rulers in India are too tolerant toward Hindus, Timur leads his army there. He destroys the Islamic kingdom centered at the city of Delhi, creating carnage and devastation. He is pleased that he has penetrated India more deeply than did Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. He returns from India with Indian artists, craftsmen and booty, distributing goods to underlings who stayed behind but expect reward for their loyalty.

13th Century (1201 to 1300 CE) | 15th Century (1401 to 1500 CE)

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