A Look at the 9th Century AD

A Look at the 9th Century

The period from 801 (DCCCI) through 900 (CM) according to the Julian calendar is known as the 9th century. Notably, during this time, there were significant events such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Viking raids. In Abbasid Baghdad, the House of Wisdom was established, which attracted numerous scholars. The Muslim polymath al-Khwarizmi founded the field of algebra. Additionally, the well-known Islamic scholar Ahmad ibn Hanbal was tortured and imprisoned by Abbasid official Ahmad ibn Abi Du’ad during the reign of Abbasid caliph al-Mu’tasim and caliph al-Wathiq. In Southeast Asia, the Mataram Kingdom reached its height, and the major kingdom of Pagan was established in Burma. Emperor Xianzong effectively ruled Tang China at the start of the century, while the Huang Chao rebellions marked the century’s end. The central Maya region experienced political collapse, leading to internecine warfare, the abandonment of cities, and a northward shift of population.


War between the Byzantine empire and Bulgaria

The Byzantine-Bulgarian war of 809-815 had lasting effects on both sides. It began when Emperor Nikephoros I refused to pay tribute to Bulgarian Khan Krum, leading to battles and losses for the Byzantines. The Byzantines won a major victory at the Battle of Pliska in 811, killing Khan Krum, but the war continued for several years. Ultimately, the Byzantines maintained their dominance, but at a high cost, while the Bulgarians would go on to establish their own empire and become a significant player in European affairs.

Battle of Pliska fought between a Byzantine force and a Bulgarian army
The Battle of Pliska, depicted in the 12th century Manasses Chronicle.

The Battle of Pliska, depicted in the 12th century Manasses Chronicle.

The Battle of Pliska was a significant conflict between the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria in 811. Led by Emperor Nicephorus I, the Byzantine force faced a Bulgarian army commanded by Khan Krum. Despite initial losses, the Byzantines achieved a major victory, killing Khan Krum and turning the tide of the war in their favor. The battle had a lasting impact on both sides, with the Byzantines depleted of resources and weakened military strength, and the Bulgarians continuing to resist Byzantine rule.

Charlemagne dies in the city of Aachen
The Bust of Charlemagne is a reliquary from around 1350 which is said to contain the top part of Charlemagne's skull

The Bust of Charlemagne is a reliquary from around 1350 which is said to contain the top part of Charlemagne's skull

Charlemagne, the legendary king of the Franks, died on January 28, 814, in the city of Aachen. He had ruled over an enormous empire for more than four decades and was known for his military conquests, religious reforms, and cultural achievements. Charlemagne's death was a significant event in European history, marking the end of an era and setting the stage for a period of political turmoil and instability.

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A 30-year peace agreement is signed between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire

In 815, a 30-year peace agreement was signed between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire, putting an end to their long-standing conflict. The treaty brought a period of stability and prosperity to the region, allowing both sides to focus on their internal affairs and develop their economies.

Battle of Ellandun: King Egbert of Wessex defeats Mercia and establishes the kingdom of Wessex as the supreme Kingdom in England
The Battle of Ellandun (825), from 'Story of the British Nations' by Walter Hutchinson

The Battle of Ellandun (825), from 'Story of the British Nations' by Walter Hutchinson

The Battle of Ellandun in 825 AD was a significant conflict between the Kingdom of Wessex and the Kingdom of Mercia. King Egbert of Wessex emerged victorious, defeating Mercia and establishing Wessex as the dominant kingdom in England.

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Aghlabids established emirate (province) in Sicily and subsequently raids Southern Italy

The Aghlabids, a Muslim dynasty based in Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia), established an emirate in Sicily in the 9th century. From there, they launched raids on the Italian mainland, particularly targeting the wealthy cities of Southern Italy. These raids were successful in amassing wealth and goods for the Aghlabids, and they also had a significant impact on the culture and economy of the region

Death of Louis the Pious
Charlemagne and his son, Louis the Pious

Charlemagne and his son, Louis the Pious

The Death of Louis the Pious in 840 marked the end of an era in Frankish history. Louis, the son of Charlemagne, had ruled as Emperor of the Franks for over two decades, but his reign was marked by conflict and division among his sons. Upon his death, a power struggle ensued between his surviving heirs, leading to a period of instability and war known as the Carolingian Civil War.

Dublin is founded on the east coast of Ireland by the Vikings

Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, was founded by the Vikings on the east coast of the island in the 9th century. Originally a small settlement, the city grew to become an important center of trade and commerce in the region. The Vikings established a network of trade routes that connected Dublin to other parts of Ireland, as well as to England, Scandinavia, and the Baltic region. Today, Dublin is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving economy.

The Carolingian Empire is at its height in territory and area
Emperor Louis I (right) blessing the division of the Frankish Empire in 843 into West Francia, Middle Francia, and East Francia; from the Grandes Chroniques de France, 15th century

Louis the Pious (right) blessing the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843 into West Francia, Lotharingia, and East Francia; from the Chroniques des rois de France, fifteenth century

At its peak, the Carolingian Empire was a vast realm covering much of western and central Europe. However, after the death of Louis the Pious, his three sons divided the empire into three parts through the Treaty of Verdun. This agreement granted East Francia to Louis the German, West Francia to Charles the Bald, and Middle Francia to Lothair I.

The first Viking raid in Iberia

The first recorded Viking raid in Iberia occurred in 844, when a fleet of Viking ships attacked the northwestern region of Galicia in modern-day Spain. The Vikings, led by a chieftain named Turgesius, sacked and burned the town of Porto, causing significant damage and terrorizing the local population. This raid marked the beginning of a period of Viking incursions in the Iberian Peninsula that would last for several decades and leave a lasting impact on the region's history.

Saracen Arab squadrons desecrate Christian shrines in Rome

In 846 AD, a force of 11,000 Saracen Arab squadrons from Africa, including 500 horses, invaded Rome and desecrated many Christian shrines. Among the sites targeted were the tombs and basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul. The attack was a significant blow to the Christian community and sparked outrage throughout Europe. The event is still remembered today as a dark moment in the history of both Christianity and Islam.

The first Norse settlers arrive on Iceland

The first Norse settlers arrived on Iceland in the late 9th century, led by Ingólfur Arnarson. According to legend, he threw two pillars overboard his ship and vowed to settle where they washed ashore. They landed in what is now Reykjavik, and Ingólfur established a farmstead there. Over the next several decades, more Norse settlers arrived, and they established farms and communities across the island. Despite the harsh living conditions, including volcanic eruptions and severe weather, the settlers managed to adapt and thrive, and their descendants would go on to form the Icelandic nation.

The beginning of the Rurik Dynasty in Rus
Image of Rurik in the "Tsar's titularnik"

Image of Rurik in the "Tsar's titularnik"

The Rurik Dynasty in Rus began in the late 9th century with the arrival of Rurik, a Varangian prince, who was invited by the local Slavic tribes to rule over them. Rurik established his capital in Novgorod, and his descendants would go on to rule over the Kievan Rus, a loose federation of East Slavic tribes, for over 700 years. The Rurikids played a crucial role in the development of the Russian state, introducing Christianity and building the foundations of a centralized government.

Period of schism between Eastern and Western churches

The period of the schism between the Eastern and Western churches was a result of theological, cultural, and political differences that had developed between the two branches of Christianity over time. The split led to the formation of the Roman Catholic Church in the West and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the East. Despite occasional attempts at reconciliation, the schism remained in place until the late 20th century, when both churches made efforts to repair their relationship and restore unity.

Reign of Alfred the Great, the first king of the English
Portrait of Alfred the Great by Samuel Woodforde

Portrait of Alfred the Great by Samuel Woodforde

The reign of Alfred the Great, who ruled from 871 to 899, marked a significant period in English history. He was the first king to unify the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and his military successes against the Viking invasions helped establish England as a unified nation. In addition to his military prowess, Alfred was also known for his cultural achievements, promoting education and commissioning translations of important Latin works into Old English. His reign is widely regarded as a turning point in English history, laying the foundation for the country's future success.

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The Siege of Paris by Vikings
Count Odo defends Paris against the Norsemen, romantic painting by Jean-Victor Schnetz (1837), Galerie des Batailles

Count Odo defends Paris against the Norsemen, romantic painting by Jean-Victor Schnetz (1837), Galerie des Batailles

The Siege of Paris by Vikings occurred in 885-886 AD and was a significant event in medieval European history. The Vikings, led by their chief Rollo, arrived in Paris and laid siege to the city for over a year. The defenders of Paris, led by Count Odo, managed to hold off the Vikings through a combination of military strategy and diplomacy. Ultimately, the Vikings were forced to withdraw from Paris after receiving a large ransom in exchange for their departure. The Siege of Paris was one of the many Viking raids that occurred during the Viking Age and demonstrated the Vikings' military prowess and their willingness to take on some of the most powerful forces of the time.

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King Alfred the Great of Wessex dies

King Alfred the Great, who is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in English history, died in 899 AD. He ruled the kingdom of Wessex from 871 until his death.

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  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, February 10). 9th century. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9th_century

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, March 26). Carolingian Empire. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolingian_Empire

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, February 17). Photian schism. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photian_schism

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