14th Century, 1301 to 1400
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.
Edward I of England invades Scotland again, aiming to subjugate it.
A new pope, Benedict X, has enemies in Rome, the result of conflict
over who should be pope. Benedict dies supposedly after eating poisoned
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.
William Wallace of Scotland is captured, taken to London,
convicted of treason, hanged and his corpse drawn and quartered.
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.
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.
At the request of King Philip, Pope Clement V moves his court to
Avignon, away from hostility in Rome.
The Knights of St. John (a crusading order established in Jerusalem in
1113) have fled the Middle East and they conquer the island
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.
An Italian surgeon, Mondino de Luzzi, oversees dissection of a corpse.
His manual on anatomy will be the first that is founded on practical
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.
King Louis X of France decrees that any slave setting foot on the
French soil shall be free.
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
In India, the sultan of Delhi, Ala-ud-din, has died and is succeeded by
his son, Qutub-ud-din Mubarak.
Four Franciscans are burned at the stake for maintaining absolute
The production of paper begins in Germany.
The Mexica (Aztecs) found the city of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City
is one day to develop.
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
Pope John XXII declares as heresy the opinion among Franciscans that
Christ and his apostles held no property.
The English have been driven from Scotland by Robert the Bruce. The
Treaty of Edinburgh-Northhampton recognizes Scotland's independence.
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.
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.
The first sawmill appears in Europe. It is to encourage shipbuilding.
The system of chapters for the New Testament is created by Cardinal
Hugo de S. Caro.
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.
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
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
Near Samarkand, Timur, to be known also as Tamerlane, is born into a
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
The Diet (assembly) in Frankfort, in the Holy Roman Empire, decrees
that the empire's emperor may be chosen without papal participation.
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.
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
Tatars are ravaged by the bubonic plague - the black death - and they
pass the disease on to Genoese merchants returning from China.
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.
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).
Mongol occupation ends in Transoxiana, after being driven out by an
armed uprising. There, an emir (another word for warlord) takes power.
A sailing ship returns to Genoa from a trip to the East. Its crew
members are dead or dying from bubonic plague.
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.
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.
At Tenochtitlan the Mexica (Aztecs) are building causeways with canals.
The towns of Florence and Milan go to war as Milan attempts to extend
its power southeasterly into Tuscany.
An outdoor game called tennis is created in England. The plague reaches
Rebellion by Chinese fed up with Mongol rule has erupted around the
city of Guangzhou.
Scots, aided by the French, are again fighting the English.
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.
In Korea, thirty-six years of chaos begin when the royal Koryo family
launches a rebellion against Mongol rule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar conquers the Muslim sultanate of
The emperor of China sends two Buddhist monks to Japan as envoys to
request an end to Japanese pirate (Wakō) activities.
Pope Gregory XI takes the papacy from Avignon back to Rome, and there
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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