The 10th Century: A Time of Innovation

A Look at the 10th Century

The 10th century was a tumultuous era spanning 901 (CMI) through 1000 (M) in line with the Julian calendar, marking the end of the 1st millennium. Among the most powerful and influential states of the age were the Byzantine Empire, Song China, and the Holy Roman Empire. The Song dynasty emerged as the unifying force in China following the fall of the Tang dynasty and subsequent periods of fragmentation. Meanwhile, the Muslim world flourished, particularly in al-Andalus under the Caliphate of Córdoba and in the Samanid Empire under Ismail Samani. Despite reduced central authority, the Abbasid Caliphate persisted. Notably, this period witnessed cultural and territorial resurgence for the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire, as well as the Holy Roman Empire’s Ottonian Renaissance. Some historians describe it as a bleak and barren era. Lynn White referred to it as the “darkest of the Dark Ages,” while Caesar Baronius dubbed it the Iron Century for its harshness and lack of benevolence, and Lorenzo Valla called it the “Age of Lead and Iron.”

Timeline

909
Monastic reform begun at Cluny
A general view of Cluny

A general view of Cluny

The Monastic reform movement that began at Cluny Abbey in 909 was a significant event in medieval Europe. The movement aimed to reform the monastic orders, which had become corrupt and lacked discipline. The Cluniac monks sought to return to the original principles of monasticism, which included simplicity, poverty, and devotion to prayer. The Cluniac reforms spread rapidly throughout Europe, and by the 12th century, there were over a thousand Cluniac monasteries across the continent. The Cluniac order was also influential in the Papacy, with several popes being former Cluniac monks. The reform movement marked a turning point in the history of monasticism and contributed to the spiritual and cultural renewal of medieval Europe.

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911
The Viking Rollo granted County of Rouen by France
Rollo as depicted in the 13th century

Rollo as depicted in the 13th century

In 911, the Viking chieftain Rollo was granted the County of Rouen by the French king, Charles the Simple, in exchange for Rollo's promise to end his raids on France and defend the area against future Viking attacks. This agreement, known as the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, marked the beginning of the Viking Age in France and the establishment of the Duchy of Normandy. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy and his descendants, known as the Normans, went on to conquer England in 1066 under the leadership of William the Conqueror. The granting of the County of Rouen to Rollo was a significant event in the history of France and Europe, and the legacy of the Normans can still be felt in the region to this day.

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917
Bulgarians destroyed the Byzantine army in the Battle of Anchialus
Bulgarians defeat the Byzantines at Anchialos

Bulgarians defeat the Byzantines at Anchialos

The Battle of Anchialus, fought in 917 AD, was a significant military encounter between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Led by their ruler, Tsar Simeon I, the Bulgarians decisively defeated the Byzantine army, killing thousands of soldiers and capturing the Byzantine Emperor's brother, among other high-ranking officials. This victory was a turning point in the ongoing conflict between the two empires, and it enabled the Bulgarians to expand their territory and influence in the Balkans. The battle was also notable for its use of new tactics and weapons, including the deployment of cavalry and the use of the recurve bow. The Battle of Anchialus was a significant event in medieval history and marked a major victory for the Bulgarian Empire over its Byzantine rival.

925
The medieval Croatian state becomes a unified kingdom under King Tomislav

The medieval Croatian state experienced significant political and social changes during its early history. In the late 10th century, under the rule of King Tomislav, the various Croatian territories were united into a single kingdom, establishing a centralized monarchy. The coronation of Tomislav as the first King of Croatia in 925 CE marked a significant milestone in the country's history, and his reign saw the expansion of the kingdom's borders and the consolidation of its power. King Tomislav is considered a national hero in Croatia and is remembered for his military victories and his role in establishing the country's independence and identity. His legacy continues to be celebrated in Croatia today.

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927
Kingdom of England becomes a unified state
Æthelstan presenting a book to St Cuthbert, an illustration in a manuscript of Bede's Life of Saint Cuthber

Æthelstan presenting a book to St Cuthbert, an illustration in a manuscript of Bede's Life of Saint Cuthber

The Kingdom of England became a unified state in the 10th century under the rule of King Æthelstan. Through a series of battles and alliances, Æthelstan succeeded in uniting the disparate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a single political entity. He established a centralized system of government, creating a network of administrative centers and a standing army to maintain law and order. He also introduced a single system of coinage and established uniform weights and measures throughout the kingdom. This period of political consolidation laid the foundation for the emergence of England as a major power in Europe in the centuries to come.

936
Alan II, with support from Æthelstan, commences the reconquest of Brittany
Statue of Alan Twistedbeard, work of Amédée Ménard, in the courtyard of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes

Statue of Alan Twistedbeard, work of Amédée Ménard, in the courtyard of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes

Alan II, also known as Alan Twistedbeard, was a Breton nobleman who became the Duke of Brittany in the late 10th century. With the support of the English king, Æthelstan, Alan II led a successful campaign to reconquer his homeland from Viking invaders. He regained control of the Nantes region and established his power over the Breton nobility. He also worked to strengthen ties with England, forming a strong alliance that would prove valuable in future conflicts. Alan II's efforts marked the beginning of the Breton Reconquista, a centuries-long struggle to maintain Breton independence and autonomy.

955
The Battle of Lechfeld
The Battle of Lechfeld, from a 1457 illustration in Sigmund Meisterlin's codex of Nuremberg history

The Battle of Lechfeld, from a 1457 illustration in Sigmund Meisterlin's codex of Nuremberg history

The Battle of Lechfeld was a significant conflict fought on August 10, 955 between the forces of the Holy Roman Empire, led by Emperor Otto I, and the Hungarian forces, who had been raiding and pillaging across Europe for years. The battle took place near the Lech River in present-day Germany and resulted in a decisive victory for the Holy Roman Empire, marking the end of the Hungarian invasions and securing the future of the empire. The battle was a turning point in European history and had lasting effects on the political and social landscape of the continent. It also cemented the power and influence of Emperor Otto I, who would go on to be one of the most successful and influential rulers of the medieval period.

968
Battle of Silistra
Battle of Silistra

Battle of Silistra

The Battle of Silistra was a significant military conflict that occurred in 968 CE between Kievan Rus and the Bulgars. The Rus, led by their ruler Sviatoslav I, were expanding their territory into the Balkans, which brought them into conflict with the Bulgarian Empire. The two armies clashed near the Danube River, and the Bulgars were able to defeat the Rus thanks to their superior military tactics and use of the terrain. Sviatoslav's son was killed in the battle, and the Rus suffered heavy casualties. Although the Rus continued to expand their territory in the following years, the Battle of Silistra marked a turning point in their Balkan campaign and slowed their progress in the region. The battle also demonstrated the military prowess of the Bulgars and their ability to defend their empire from foreign invaders.

985
The Norseman Erik the Red begins the colonisation of Greenland
Erik the Red from Arngrímur Jónsson's Grönlandia

Erik the Red from Arngrímur Jónsson's Grönlandia

Erik the Red, a Viking explorer and warrior, is credited with beginning the colonization of Greenland in the 10th century. After being exiled from Iceland for murder, Erik sailed west and discovered a previously unknown landmass. He named it Greenland to attract settlers, despite the fact that much of the land was covered in ice and snow. Erik returned to Iceland and convinced many people to join him on his new venture. The colonists faced many challenges, including harsh winters and conflicts with the native Inuit people. Nonetheless, they managed to establish a thriving settlement that lasted for several centuries. Erik's legacy endures to this day, and he is celebrated as a key figure in the history of Viking exploration and expansion.

Source

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, April 26). 10th century. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10th_century

  • 10th century. (2023). Oxford Reference. https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/acref/9780191735530.timeline.0001;jsessionid=16A1046C98C356E478B32F734B37F20E

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, May 2). Rollo. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, March 27). Battle of Achelous (917). Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Achelous_(917)

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, May 4). Æthelstan. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelstan‌

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, January 26). Alan II, Duke of Brittany. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_II,_Duke_of_Brittany

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, March 27). Battle of Lechfeld. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lechfeld

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2022, September 12). Battle of Silistra. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Silistra

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, April 23). Erik the Red. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_the_Red

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