5th Century, 401 to 500
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.
Roman legions are withdrawn from Britain, and Picts, Scots and Saxons
invade the Britons.
Among the Germans who overran Gaul are those called Vandals. They cross
the Pyrenees mountains into Hispania (Spain).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Under the Sassanid king, Bahram V, persecution of the Christians begins
again. Many Christians flee into the eastern half of the Roman Empire.
According to legend, the city of Venice is founded by Romans fleeing
An army of around 80,000, mostly Vandals, cross from Spain into North
The Vandals have conquered all the way to Augustine's city, Hippo.
While the Vandals have Hippo surrounded, Augustine dies.
Anglo-Saxons, running from northern Europe and away from advancing
Huns, are invading Britain.
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.
Vortigern has been leading the Britons against the Picts (from
Scotland) and Scots (from Wales). He is using Anglo-Saxon mercenaries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Emperor Ming is succeeded by his ten-year-old son, Emperor Shun, and in
his behalf more murders follow.
A German commander of Rome's army, Odoacer, seizes power in Rome.
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.
Hephthalites (Huns) kill the Sassanian king, Firuz, and his cavalry and
much of the Sassanid nobility. They capture the king's family and
The emperor in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, Zeno, sends an
army of Germans, led by Theodoric, across the Alps against Odoacer.
Theodoric's army defeats Odoacer's army. Theodoric assumes the title of
King of Italy, and the Bishop of Rome befriends Theodoric.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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