The 6th Century Timeline – Start of the Medieval Age

The Beginning of the Early Middle Ages

The 6th century spans the years 501–600 based on the Julian calendar. This century marks the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages in the Western world. Late in the previous century, the fall of the Western Roman Empire fragmented Europe into numerous small Germanic kingdoms that competed fiercely for land and wealth.

As a result of the upheaval, the Franks rose to prominence and carved out a vast domain encompassing a significant portion of modern France and Germany. In the meantime, the surviving Eastern Roman Empire expanded under Emperor Justinian, who recaptured North Africa from the Vandals and attempted to recover all of Italy in the hopes of reestablishing Roman control over the lands formerly ruled by the Western Roman Empire.

In the sixth century, under Khosrau I, the Sassanid Empire reached its zenith of power during its second Golden Age.

The classical Gupta Empire of Northern India collapsed around the middle of the sixth century, when it was largely conquered by the Huna. The Kofun period in Japan was succeeded by the Asuka period.

China was reunited under the Sui dynasty at the end of the sixth century, following more than 150 years of division between the Southern and Northern dynasties.

The Three Korean Kingdoms endured throughout the century. After defeating the Rouran, the Goktürks rose to prominence in Central Asia.

Teotihuacan began to decline in the sixth century after reaching its peak between 150 and 450 AD in the Americas. Classic Period of the Central American Maya civilization.

Timeline

476
End of Western Roman Empire

Odoacer was a Roman general who deposed the child emperor Romulus Augustulus and became Rex/Dux (476–493). Odoacer's overthrow is traditionally seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire, as well as Ancient Rome.

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493
March 15
Theodoric the Great killed Odoacer
Mausoleum of Theoderic

Mausoleum of Theoderic

Theodoric the Great killed Odoacer at a banquet after the Siege of Ravenna (490-493). The Ostrogothic Kingdom ruled Italy from 493 to 553.

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496
Clovis' Conversion to Catholicism

Clovis I was a historical figure who lived in the 5th century AD and is considered the first king of the Franks, a Germanic people who lived in what is now modern-day France. 

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c. 500
Battle of Mons Badonicus
Arthur Leading the Charge at Mount Badon

Arthur Leading the Charge at Mount Badon

The West Saxon advance is halted by Britons in England. Chiefly known today for the supposed involvement of King Arthur but because of the limited number of sources, there is no certainty about the date, location, or details of the fighting.

 

507
Battle of Vouillé

The Franks under Clovis defeat the Visigoths in the Battle of Vouillé. The Visigoths retreated into Spain.

 

527
August 1, 527
Justinian I becomes Eastern Roman Emperor
Mosaic of Justinian I, also known as Justinian the Great

Mosaic of Justinian I, also known as Justinian the Great -
(Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Justinian I (; Latin: Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus) was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire".

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529-534
Justinian I publishes the Code of Civil Law

This compiled centuries of legal writings and imperial pronouncements into three parts of one body of law.

 

529
Benedict of Nursia founds monastery at Monte Cassino
Life and legacy of Benedict of Nursia

Benedict of Nursia

The first of twelve monasteries founded by Saint Benedict, beginning the Order of Saint Benedict.

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532
January 1, 532
Nika riots in Constantinople

Nearly half the city being burned or destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.

 

533
December 15, 533
Byzantines, under Belisarius, retake North Africa from the Vandals
Belisarius mosaic, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

Belisarius mosaic, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

Vandal kingdom ends and the Reconquest of North Africa is completed.

 

535-554
December 15, 533
Gothic War in Italy as a part of Justinian's Reconquest

Byzantines retook Italy but crippled the Byzantine economy and left Italy unable to cope against the oncoming Lombards.

 

563
Saint Columba founds mission in Iona
Columba banging on the gate of Bridei, son of Maelchon, King of Fortriu

Columba banging on the gate of Bridei, son of Maelchon, King of Fortriu

Constructed an abbey which helped convert the Picts to Christianity until it was destroyed and raided by the Vikings in 794.

 

568
The Kingdom of the Lombards is founded in Italy

The Lombard Kingdom was an early medieval state established by the Lombards, a Germanic people, on the Italian Peninsula in the latter part of the 6th century. Later became the Kingdom of Lombard Italy (Latin: Regnum Langobardorum; Italian:Regno dei Longobardi).

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c. 570
Muhammad is born

Muhammad (Arabic: Mujtah) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was aprophet divinely inspired to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets.

 

577
Battle of Deorham
the south western escarpment of Hinton Hill, Dyrham, S. Gloucs.

the south western escarpment of Hinton Hill, Dyrham, S. Gloucs.

The West Saxons continue their advance at the Battle of Deorham. Led to the permanent separation of Cornwall, England from Wales.

 

590
Gregory the Great becomes Pope
Saint Gregory the Great

Saint Gregory the Great

The missionary work reached new levels during his pontificate, revolutionized the way of worship for the Catholic Church, liturgy, etc., and was soon canonized after his death.

 

597
Augustine arrives in Kent

Christianization of England (Anglo-Saxons) begins.

 

Source

  • The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History” by Peter Heather (2005)
  • Theodoric the Great” by J.B. Bury in The Cambridge Medieval History, Volume III (1922)
  • “The History of the Kings of Britain” by Geoffrey of Monmouth
  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2022, December 27). Timeline of post-classical history. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_post-classical_history
  • The Franks Under Clovis: From the History of the Franks” by Gregory of Tours
  • Friel, Ian. “Justinian.” The History Encyclopedia. https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/justinian
  • Pope Gregory I” (Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Gregory-I)

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