Europe - From Byzantine Empire to AD 1000

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Time Line

450 Huns give way to Magyars in Hungary
527 Justinian becomes Byzantine emperor
541 First outbreak of bubonic plague in Europe
750 Vikings begin raids into Europe
768 Charlemagne becomes king of France
800 Charlemagne is crowned emperor of Rome
843 Treaty of Verdun divides France into three kingdoms
867 Basil I establishes Macedonian dynasty in Byzantine Empire
962 Holy Roman Empire is founded (as “Roman Empire”)
966 Mieszko of Poland converts to Christianity
988 Vladimir I of Kievan Rus converts to Christianity
997 Magyars convert to Christianity
1053 Permanent schism between Roman and Orthodox churches


Europe - From Byzantine Empire  to AD 1000

The fall of Rome ushered in the era of Europe. In the beginning, Europe truly was what the Romans called it—a barbarian region. The tribes who settled Europe—Huns, Franks, and so on—would not achieve anything resembling Classical civilization for some time to come. They clung to their origins in tribes of warriors whose idea of political supremacy was to be the most successful at plunder and pillage. This early era in European history is sometimes referred to as the “Dark Ages” to contrast it with the highly sophisticated civilizations of modern Europe.

The Byzantine Empire contrasted sharply with these early European societies. It was a settled civilization like those of the ancient world, with great cities, a fully articulated law code, a high degree of literacy, and even a university—one of the world’s very first. Although the Byzantines lost a great deal of territory during this era, the empire would remain a constant for another 450 years. The Byzantine Empire was a Christian state that sent out missionaries to Europe, successfully converting the Slavs and Russians to Christianity. In the late eighth century, Charlemagne of France also converted; thus, Europe was—to some extent at least—religiously unified.

The Dark Ages were an era of conflict, with the barbarian tribes continually struggling for supremacy. In the east, the Slavs became the dominant culture over a mix of Viking, Turkish, and Mongolian elements. In the west, the Germanic tribe of the Franks divided, with the West Franks eventually becoming the French and the East Franks eventually becoming the Germans. The West Franks dominated a mixed culture that included Roman Gauls, Bretons, Belges, Vikings, and a mix of others; the East Franks absorbed Slav elements into their culture.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at: 

Europe - From Byzantine Empire to AD 1000 Practice Test

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