Timeline of Church History

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The History of the Church is a vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. Orthodox Christians are defined significantly by their continuity with all those who have gone before, those who first received and preached the truth of Jesus Christ to the world, those who helped to formulate the expression and worship of our faith, and those who continue to move forward in the unchanging yet ever-dynamic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Contents

Apostolic era (33-100)

Ante-Nicene era (100-325)

Nicene era (325-451)

Byzantine era (451-843)

Late Byzantine era (843-1453)

  • 846 Muslim raid of Rome.
  • 852 St. Ansgar founds the churches at Hedeby and Ribe in Denmark.
  • 858 St. Photius the Great becomes patriarch of Constantinople.
  • 861 Ss. Cyril and Methodius depart from Constantinople to missionize the Slavs; council presided over by papal legates held in Constantinople which confirms St. Photius the Great as patriarch.
  • 862 Ratislav of Moravia converts to Christianity.
  • 863 First translations of Biblical and liturgical texts into Church Slavonic by Ss. Cyril and Methodius.
  • 863 The Venetians steal relics of St Mark from Alexandria.
  • 864 Prince Boris of Bulgaria is baptized.
  • 867 Council in Constantinople held, presided over by Photius, which anathematizes Pope Nicholas I of Rome for his attacks on the work of Greek missionaries in Bulgaria and the use by papal missionaries of the heretical Filioque; Pope Nicholas dies before hearing the news of his excommunication; Basil the Macedonian has Emperor Michael III murdered and usurps the Imperial throne, reinstating Ignatius as patriarch of Constantinople.
  • 869-870 The Robber Council of 869-870 is held, deposing St. Photius the Great from the Constantinopolitan see and putting the rival claimant Ignatius on the throne, declaring itself to be the "Eighth Ecumenical Council."
  • 870 Conversion of Serbia.
  • 877 Death of St. Ignatius I of Constantinople, who appoints St. Photius to succeed him.
  • 877 Arab Muslims conquer all of Sicily from Byzantium and make Palermo their capital.
  • 879-880 The Eighth Ecumenical Council is held in Constantinople, confirming Photius as Patriarch of Constantintople, anathematizing additions to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and declaring that the prerogatives and jurisdiction of the Roman pope and the Constantinopolitan patriarch are essentially equal; this council is reluctantly accepted by Pope John VIII of Rome.
  • 883 Muslims burn the monastery of Monte Cassino.
  • 885 Mount Athos gains political autonomy.
  • 885 Death of St Methodius, apostle to the Slavs.
  • 911 The Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary. On October 1st, 911, during an all night vigil at the Blachernae church of the Mother of God in Constantinople, at 4 o'clock in the morning, the most holy Mother of God appeared above the people with a veil spread over her outstretched hands, as though to protect them with this covering.
  • 911 Russian envoys visit Constantinople to ratify a treaty, sent by Oleg, Grand Prince of Rus'.
  • 912 Normans become Christian.
  • 944 City of Edessa is recovered by the Byzantine army, including Icon Not Made By Hands.
  • ca. 950 Monastery of Hosios Loukas is founded near ancient Stiris in Greece.
  • 957 St Olga is baptized in Constantinople.
  • 962 Denmark becomes a Christian nation with the baptism of King Harald Blaatand ("Bluetooth").
  • 963 St. Athanasius of Athos establishes the first major monastery on Mount Athos, the Great Lavra.
  • 968 Rila Monastery founded.
  • 973 Moravia assigned to the Diocese of Prague, putting the West Slavic tribes under jurisdiction of German church.
  • 978 Death of King Edward the Martyr.
  • 988 Baptism of Rus' begins with the conversion of St. Vladimir of Kiev.
  • 995 St. Olaf of Norway proclaims Norway to be a Christian kingdom.
  • 1000 Christianization of Greenland and Iceland.
  • 1008 Conversion of Sweden.
  • 1009 Patriarch Sergius II of Constantinople removes the name of Pope Sergius IV of Rome from the diptychs of the Church of Constantinople, because the pope had written a letter to the patriarch including the Filioque.
  • 1009 The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is completely destroyed on October 18, 1009, by the "mad" Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, sixth Fatimid Caliph in Egypt, founder of the Druze (1021).
  • 1014 Filioque used for the first time in Rome by Pope Benedict VIII at the coronation of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • 1015 Death of St Vladimir of Kiev, Prince of Rus', apostle of the Russians and Ruthenians.
  • 1017 Danish king Canute converts to Christianity.
  • 1022 Death of St Simeon the New Theologian.
  • 1027 The Frankish protectorate over Christian interests in Jerusalem is replaced by a Byzantine protectorate. Byzantine leaders begin the reconstruction of the Holy Sepulchre (see AD 800).
  • 1036 Byzantine Emperor Michael IV makes a truce with the Caliph of Egypt in 1036 to allow the rebuilding of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by Byzantine Masons. The Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperor (Eastern Vikings/Rus) were sent there to protect pilgrims, as the Knights Templar would at a later date. The Church was consecrated in 1048.
  • 1051 Monastery of the Kiev Caves founded.
  • 1054 Cardinal Humbert excommunicates Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, a major centerpoint in the formation of the Great Schism between East and West.
  • 1059 Errors of Berengar of Tours condemned in Rome. The term "transubstantiation" begins to come in to use, ascribed to Peter Damian (1007-1072).
  • 1066 Normans invade England flying the banner of the Pope of Rome, defeating King Harold of England at the Battle of Hastings, beginning the reformation of the church and society there to align with Latin continental ecclesiology and politics.
  • 1071 Seljuk Turks capture Jerusalem. Seljuk rule is not quite as tolerant as that of the Fatimids and Christian pilgrims begin returning to Europe with tales of persecution and oppression. The Seljuks then defeat the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert and begin the Islamification of Asia Minor.
  • 1071 Norman princes led by Robert Guiscard capture Bari, the last Byzantine stronghold in Italy, bringing to an end over five centuries of Byzantine rule in the south.
  • 1073 Hildebrand becomes Pope Gregory VII and launches the "Gregorian" reforms (celibacy of the clergy, primacy of the papacy over the empire, right of the Pope to depose emperors).
  • 1075 Dictatus Papae document advances Papal supremacy.
  • 1088 Founding of monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos.
  • 1095 Launching of the First Crusade.
  • 1096 Persecution of Jews by Crusaders.
  • 1098 Anselm of Canterbury completes his Cur Deus homo, marking a radical divergence of Western theology of the atonement from that of the East.
  • 1098 Crusaders capture Antioch.
  • 1099 Crusaders capture Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, founding the "Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem," and other crusader states known collectively as "Outremer," lasting from 1099-1291.
  • 1119 Order of Knights Templar founded.
  • 1144 Bernard of Clairvaux calls for a Second Crusade to rescue the besieged Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, and Louis VII of France and Konrad III of Germany join the Crusaders, but they are defeated by the Muslims. Muslims take Christian stronghold of Edessa.
  • 1149 Building on the work of Byzantine Constantine IX in 1048, the crusaders began to renovate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in a Romanesque style and added a bell tower.
  • 1180 Last formal, canonical acceptance of Latins to communion at an Eastern altar in Antioch.
  • 1187 Saladin retakes Jerusalem and destroys crusader army at the Battle of Hattin.
  • 1189 Third Crusade is led by King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, King Philip Augustus II of France, and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
  • 1191 Cyprus is taken from the Byzantines by English King Richard I "Lion Heart", and sold to Frankish crusaders in 1198.
  • 1204 Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade sack Constantinople, laying waste to the city and stealing many holy relics and other items; Great Schism generally regarded as having been completed by this act.
  • 1211 Venetian crusaders conquer Byzantine Crete, retaining it until ousted by the Ottoman Turks in 1669 over four centuries later.
  • 1235 Death of St Sava of Serbia.
  • 1237 Golden Horde (Mongols) begin subjugation of Russia.
  • 1240 Mongols sack Kiev. Prince Alexander Yaroslavich (Nevsky) defeats the Swedish army at the Battle of the Neva.
  • 1242 Prince Alexander Nevsky's Novgorodian force defeats the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Lake Peipus, a major defeat for the Catholic crusaders.
  • 1258 Michael VIII Palaiologos seizes the throne of the Nicaean Empire, founding the last Roman (Byzantine) dynasty. He begins the reconquest of the Greek peninusla from the Latins.
  • 1259 Byzantines defeat Latin Principality of Achaea at the Battle of Pelagonia in September of 1259, marking the beginning of the Byzantine recovery of Greece.
  • 1261 End of Latin occupation of Constantinople and restoration of Orthodox patriarchs.
  • 1261 Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos made the city of Mystras the seat of the new Despotate of Morea.
  • 1268 Egyptian Mamelukes capture Antioch.
  • 1275 Patriarch of Constantinople John XI Beccus (1275-1282), was elected to replace Patriarch Joseph I Galesiotes (1267-1275) who had abdicated early in 1275 due to his opposition to the Council of Lyon (1274). Patriarch Bekkos was a controversial figure and the chief Greek advocate of the reunion of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
  • 1291 Fall of Acre. End of crusading in the Holy Land.
  • 1302 Papal Bull Unam Sanctum issued on November 18, 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII proclaims Papal supremacy.
  • 1333 Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus Prayer.
  • 1336 Meteora in Greece is established as a center of Orthodox monasticism.
  • 1341-47 Byzantine civil war between John VI Cantacuzenus (1347–54) and John V Palaeologus (1341–91).
  • 1341-1351 Three sessions of the Ninth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople, affirming the hesychastic theology of St. Gregory Palamas and condemning the rationalistic philosophy of Barlaam of Calabria.
  • 1344 Death of Amda Syon, Emperor of Ethiopia.
  • 1346 *1349 Prince Stephen Dushan of Serbia assumes the title of Tsar (Caesar).
  • 1354 Ottoman Turks make first settlement in Europe, at Gallipoli.
  • 1359 Death of St Gregory Palamas, Athonite monk and Archbishop of Thessalonica.
  • 1379 Western Great Schism ensues, seeing the simultaneous reign of three Popes of Rome.
  • 1383 St. Stephen of Perm, missionary to the Zyrians, consecrated bishop.
  • 1389 Serbs are defeated by Ottoman Turks of Sultan Murad I at the battle of Kosovo Polje.
  • 1391-98 Ottoman Turks beseige Constantinople for the first time, unsuccessful seven-year seige.
  • 1396 First English Bible translated by John Wyclif.
  • 1417 End of Western "Great Schism" at the Council of Constance.
  • 1422 Second unsuccessful Ottoman siege of Constantinople.
  • 1439 Ecclesiastical reunion with the West is attempted at the Council of Florence, where only St. Mark of Ephesus refuses to capitulate to the demands of the delegates from Rome.
  • 1444 Donation of Constantine proved forgery.
  • 1448 Church of Russia declares its independence from the Church of Constantinople.
  • 1452 Unification of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches in Hagia Sophia on December 12, 1452 on the West's terms, when Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, under pressure from Rome allowed the union to be proclaimed.
  • 1453 Constantinople falls on Tuesday May 29,1453 to the invasion of the Ottoman Turks. End of the Roman Empire in the East. Hagia Sophia is turned into a mosque.

Post-Imperial era (1453-1821)

  • 1455 Gutenberg makes first printed Bible.
  • 1480 Spanish Inquisition.
  • 1492 Millennialist movements in Moscow, due to end of church calendar.
  • 1503 Possessor and Non-Possessor controversy.
  • 1517 Maximus the Greek invited to Russia to translate Greek service books and correct Russian ones; Martin Luther nails his Ninety-Five Theses to the door at Wittenburg, sparking Protestant Reformation; Ottomans conquer Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria.
  • 1526 Non-Possessors attack Tsar Vassily (Basil) III for divorcing his wife, and are driven underground.
  • 1534 King Henry VIII declares himself supreme head of the Church of England.
  • 1536 Publication of John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian religion".
  • 1540 Death of Emperor Lebna Dengel of Ethiopia; formal founding of the Jesuits.
  • 1541 Portuguese expeditionary force arrives in Ethiopia.
  • 1542 Ethiopians and Portuguese defeat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Gran of Adal, neutralizing Adal threat to Ethiopia.
  • 1547 Council of Trent held to answer the Protestant Reformation.
  • 1551 Council of the Hundred Chapters in Russia.
  • 1552 Death of St. Basil the Blessed, Fool for Christ, critic of Ivan IV Grozny, for whom St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square is named.
  • 1555 Archbishop Gurian missionary in Kazan (until 1564).
  • 1564 Jesuits arrive in Poland.
  • 1569 Martyrdom of St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, at the hands of Ivan IV Grozny.
  • 1575 Church of Constantinople grants autonomy to Church of Sinai.
  • 1581 Ostrozhsky Bible printed by Prince Kurbsky and Ivan Fedorov.
  • 1582 Institution of the Gregorian Calendar by Pope Gregory XIII.
  • 1589 Autocephaly of the Church of Russia recognized; the primate of the Church of Russia is styled as "patriarch."
  • 1596 At the Union of Brest-Litovsk, several million Ukrainian and Byelorussian Orthodox Christians, living under Polish rule, leave the Church of Russia and recognize the Pope of Rome, without giving up their Byzantine liturgy and customs, creating the Uniate church.
  • 1627 Pope Cyril Lukaris of Alexandria presented the famous Codex Alexandrinus to King Charles I of England for "safe keeping."
  • 1642 The Council of Jassy (Iaşi) revises Peter Mogila's confession to remove overtly Roman Catholic theology and confirms canonicity of certain deuterocanonical books.
  • 1647 Orthodox church erected in Tunisia.
  • 1652 School and hospital established in Old Cairo by Patr. Joannikios.
  • 1652-1658 Patr. Nikon of Moscow revises liturgical books to bring them into conformity with the Greek liturgical customs, leading to excommunication of dissenters, who become known as the Old Believers.
  • 1685 Orthodoxy introduced in Beijing, China by the Church of Russia.
  • 1715 Metropolitan Arsenios of Thebaid sent to England by Pope Samuel of Alexandria to negotiate with Non-Juror Anglican bishops.
  • 1721 Czar Peter I abolishes replaces Russian patriarchate with a ruling holy synod.
  • 1724 Melkite schism, many faithful from the Church of Antioch become Uniates.
  • 1767 A community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna, Florida; Ottoman Empire legally divides Church of the Holy Sepulchre among claimants.
  • 1768 Jews are massacred during riots in Russia-occupied Poland.
  • 1779 Death of St. Kosmas Aitolos.
  • 1782 First publication of the Philokalia; autonomy of Church of Sinai confirmed by Church of Constantinople.
  • 1794 Missionaries, including St. Herman of Alaska, arrive at Kodiak Island, bringing Orthodoxy to Russian Alaska; death of St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
  • 1800 5th edition of The Rudder published and printed in Athens.
  • 1809-10 Rotunda and edicule exterior of Church of the Holy Sepulchre rebuilt after fire in the then current Ottoman Baroque style.
  • 1811 Autocephaly of the Church of Georgia revoked by the Russian imperial state after Georgia's annexation, making it subject to the Church of Russia.

Modern era (1821-1917)

Communist era (1917-1991)

Post-Communist era (1991-Present)

Notes

  • Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
  • The division of Church History into separate eras as we do here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though we have tried to group periods according to major watershed events.
  • This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy.

See also

Published works

The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:

From an Orthodox perspective

From a Heterodox perspective

  • Boer, Harry R. A Short History of the Early Church. (ISBN 0802813399)
  • Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
  • Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. (ISBN 0140231994)
  • Collins, Michael, ed.; Price, Matthew Arlen. Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith. (ISBN 0789446057)
  • Eusebius Pamphilus; Cruse, C.F. (translator). Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. (ISBN 1565633717)
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 1: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon. (ISBN 0687171822)
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 2: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation. (ISBN 0687171830)
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century. (ISBN 0687171849)
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation. (ISBN 0060633158)
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 2: Reformation to the Present Day. (ISBN 0060633166)
  • Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. (ISBN 0802806295)
  • Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
  • Hussey, J. M. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire: Oxford History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0198264569)
  • Jones, Timothy P. Christian History Made Easy. (ISBN 1890947105)
  • Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. (ISBN 080106211X)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). (ISBN 0226653714)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). (ISBN 0226653730)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300). (ISBN 0226653749)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700). (ISBN 0226653773)
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700). (ISBN 0226653803)
  • Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
  • Wace, Henry; Piercy, William C., ed. A Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D. With an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies. (ISBN 1565630572)
  • Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. (ISBN 0310362814)

External links

  • History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
    • Part 1: Beginnings - Journey begins with the founding of the Church, the spread of Christianity to "nations" by the Apostles, the Gospel and the institution of Sacraments
    • Part 2: Byzantium - After the stabilization of the Church, the journey continues through the period of the Nicene Creed, Patristic Scriptures, Divine Liturgy and Icons. During this same period, however, the official division of East and West is witnessed and concludes with a gradual rift in matters of faith, dogma, church customs, politics and culture
    • Part 3: A Hidden Treasure - The Church becomes the only institution perceived by Greeks as the preserver of their national identity during 400 years of Turkish rule. By the end of the 19th century, a worldwide Orthodox community is born and the Church expands its influence to major social and philanthropic concerns
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