7th Century

9th Century


St Boniface – Iconoclasm – Donation of Pepin – Alcuin, Bede


711 Islam has spread from India to North Africa. All of North Africa is under Islamic control
717 The Arabs attempt to conquer Constantinople for the second time. Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian, who reigns until 741 CE, counters the Arab attempt with “Greek Fire” (a liquid mixture of sulfur, naphtha and quicklime which is released from bronze tubes, situated on ships and on the walls of Constantinople) and great military strength. Leo defeats the Arab forces and reconquers most of Asia Minor. The territory of Asia Minor, together with Greece, becomes the seat of Byzantine civilization for several centuries.
719 St Boniface – Apostle of Germany –  “Boniface” (one who does good). He then went north across the Alps and embarked on 35 years of missionary work in various parts of Germany, which included a return visit to Frisia. In 722 he was consecrated by the pope as bishop of the whole of Germany east of the Rhine.
720 Muslims take Spain
726-787 Iconoclasm.  The iconoclastic controversy. Emperor Leo III attacked the use of images. John of Damascus defended the use of icons in worship by differentiating between veneration and worship. He also argued that the use of images is an affirmation of Christ’s humanity, because a real person can be depicted. The opposition responds that images of Christ are not valid depictions because they can only represent his humanity, but not his divinity.
731 The Venerable Bede writes “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” 
732 Battle of Tours, France – Spread of Islam into Europe stoppedFrance assume Catholic leadership in Europe stopping the advance of the Muslims (Battle of Tours, 732)

  • French kings protected Pope in Italy (see King Pepin)
  • Pepin create papal states in Italy that lasted until 1870
740 The 2nd wave of Iconoclasm
749d St John Damascus, the last of the Church Fathers, dies
750 The first great English epic poem, Beowulf, is written in Old English. The work is anonymous and untitled until 1805. It is a Christian poem that exemplifies early medieval society in England and shows roots in Old Testament Law.
751 St. Boniface anoints Pepin a divinely sanctioned king, and the Frankish monarchy is fused into the papal order. The western European empire, based on the alliance between the Frankish monarchy and the Latin Church, provides the image of Western cultural unity for Europeans
754 & 756 Donations of Pepin
768 Pepin’s son, Carolus Magnus (Charlemagne), succeeds his father and is one of the most important rulers of medieval history.   The beginning of the “Carolingian Renaissance.” Prior to this revival of learning, practically the entire realm (with the exception of Benedictine England) is illiterate due to the decay of the Roman Empire. The director of the “renaissance” is Anglo-Saxon Benedictine St  Alcuin, who receives his learning from a student of St Bede. St Alcuin sets up schools, sees to the copying of classical Latin texts and develops a new handwriting.  St Alcuin played key role in combating the heresy of Adoptism and developed the original “liberal arts” curriculum for Charlemagne
 787 Second Council of Nicea called by St Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople
 800 Pope St Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the West on Christmas Day.  This began the Carolingian Renaissance (Holy Roman Empire) that lasted almost 1000 years.

St Boniface


From the Orthodox Wiki

The first iconoclastic period: 730-787

Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717–741) banned the use of icons of JesusMary, and the saints and commanded the destruction of these images in 730. The Iconoclastic Controversy was fueled by the refusal of many Christian residents outside the Byzantine Empire, including many Christians living in the Islamic Caliphate, to accept the emperor’s theological arguments. St. John of Damascuswas one of the most prominent of these. Ironically, Christians living under Muslim rule at this time had more freedom to write in defense of icons than did those living in the Byzantine Empire. St. John of Damascus‘s teaching centered around his clarification and distinction of the terms worship and veneration, teaching that we worship God, depicted in the icon, and simply venerate the icon itself as an image of the Prototype. In his defense of icons he wrote, “I do not worship creation over the creator.”

Leo was able to promulgate his policy because of his personal popularity and military success—he was credited with saving Constantinople from an Arab siege in 717–718 and then sustaining the empire through annual warfare.

Leo III’s son, Constantine V (reigned 741–775), was once challenged by a general who used iconophilic (“icon-favoring”) propaganda, but his military success against this threat cemented his own position.

The first iconoclastic period came to an end when Leo IV (Constantine V’s son) died and his widow, Empress Irene, came into power. An iconophile, she initiated the Second Council of Nicea in 787, at which the veneration of icons was affirmed, although the worship of icons was expressly forbidden. Among the reasons were the doctrine of the Incarnation: because God the Son (Jesus Christ) took on flesh, having a physical appearance, it is now possible to use physical matter to depict God the Son and to depict the saints. Icon veneration lasted through the reign of Empress Irene’s successor, Nicephorus I (reigned 802-811), and the two brief reigns after his.

The second iconoclastic period: 813-843

Emperor Leo V (reigned 813–820) instituted a second period of iconoclasm in 813, which seems to have been less rigorously enforced, since there were fewermartyrdoms and public destructions of icons. Leo was succeeded by Michael II, who was succeeded by his son, Theophilus. Theophilus died, leaving his wife, Theodora the Iconodule, regent for his minor heir, Michael III. Like Irene 50 years before her, Theodora mobilized the iconodules and proclaimed the restoration of icons in 843. Since that time the first Sunday of Lent is celebrated as the feast of the “Triumph of Orthodoxy.”

Donation of Pepin

The lands were not yet in Pepin’s hands. They had therefore first to be conquered by Pepin, and his gift was conditioned by this event. In the summer of 754 Pepin with his army and the pope began their march into Italy, and forced King Aistulf, who had shut himself up in his capital, to sue for peace. The Lombardpromised to give up the cities of the exarchate and of the Pentapolis, which had been last conquered, to make no further attacks upon or to evacuate the Duchy of Rome and the districts of Venetia and Istria, and acknowledged the sovereignty of the Franks. For the cities in the exarchate and in the Pentapolis, which Aistulf promised to return, Pepin executed a separate deed for the pope. This is the firstactual “Donation of 754”. But Pepin had hardly recrossed the Alps on his return home, when Aistulf not only failed to make preparations for the return of the promised cities, but again advanced against Rome, which had to endure a severe siege. The pope sent a messenger by sea, summoning Pepin to fulfil anew his pledge of loyalty. In 756 Pepin again set out with an army against Aistulf and a second time hemmed him in at Pavia. Aistulf was again compelled to promise to deliver to the pope the cities granted him after the first war and, in addition, Commachio at the mouth of the Po. But this time the mere promise was not considered sufficient. Messengers of Pepin visited the various cities of the exarchate and of the Pentapolis, demanded and received the keys to them, and brought the highest magistrates and most distinguished magnates of these cities to Rome. Pepin executed a new deed of gift for the cities thus surrendered to the pope, which together with the keys of the cities were deposited on the grave of St. Peter (Second Donation of 756).

See States of the Church



Other references:

Spread if Islam in Africa