Timeline of Church History (Post-Imperial Era (1453-1821))
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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.
Post-Imperial era (1453-1821)
- 1455 Gutenberg makes first printed Bible.
- 1455-56 Confession of Faith by Patr. Gennadius of Constantinople.
- 1456-1587 Byzantine Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos became the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
- 1461 Death of Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow; commemoration of the Apparition of the Pillar with the Robe of the Lord under it at Mtskheta in Georgia, October 1; the Trebizond Empire, last pocket of the Byzantine Empire, falls to the Ottoman Turks.
- 1462 Wonderworking icon of Archangel Michael of Mantamados created.
- 1463 Greek scholar and pro-unionist Basilios Bessarion, formerly an Orthodox Metropolitan, later becoming a Roman Catholic Cardinal, is given the purely ceremonial title of Latin Patriarch of Constantinople by Pope Pius II; Bosnia becomes province of Ottoman Empire, with an estimated 36,000 families voluntarily accepting Islam, followed by a sustained process of assimilation to Islam.
- 1472 Ivan III Grand Duke of Moscow marries Sophia Palaiologina, niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, beginning Russia's claims to be the "Third Rome"; through Sophia Palaiologina's influence the ceremonious etiquette of Constantinople along with the imperial Double-headed eagle and all that it implied was adopted by the court of Moscow.
- 1478 Spanish Inquisition.
- 1480 Meeting of the Theotokos of Vladimir icon in memory of saving Moscow from the invasion of Khan Ahmed.
- 1484 Synod of Constantinople with all four Patriarchs in attendance, calling itself "ecumenical", officially repudiated the union of the Greek and Latin churches discussed at Florence in 1439, and determined that Latin converts to Orthodoxy should be received into the Church by Chrismation.
- 1486 Emergence of the philosophy of Christian Humanism in the Renaissance, as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola writes his Oration on the Dignity of Man, which stressed that Men had the free will to travel up and down a moral scale, with God and angels being at the top, and Satan being at the bottom.
- 1492 Millennialist movements in Moscow, due to end of church calendar (year 7,000, according to the Byzantine Date of Creation).
- 1497 Martyrdom of Macarius, Metropolitan of Kiev, by invading Tatars.
- ca.1500-1505 the Eton Choirbook is compiled, showing the development of early Renaissance polyphony in England, and being one of the very few collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the Reformation.
- 1503 Possessor and Non-Possessor controversy.
- 1508 Death of Patr. Nephon II of Constantinople.
- 1510 Russian monk Philotheus of Pskov proclaims in a panegyric letter to the Grand Prince of Moscow that "Two Romes have fallen, The third stands, And there will be no fourth,", identifying the Third Rome with Russia.
- 1512 First Christian church erected in Americas in Santo Domingo by Spanish.
- 1516 Desiderius Erasmus publishes "Textus Receptus" of New Testament on the basis of six late manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type.
- 1517 Maximus the Greek invited to Russia to translate Greek service books and correct Russian ones; Martin Luther nails Ninety-Five Theses to door at Wittenburg, sparking Protestant Reformation; Ottomans conquer Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria.
- 1522 Martin Luther translates New Testament into German and Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura becomes formalized.
- 1526 Non-Possessors attack Tsar Vassily III for divorcing his wife and are driven underground.
- 1529 First Ottoman Siege of Vienna, marking Ottoman Empire's apex and end of Ottoman expansion in central Europe.
- 1534 King Henry VIII declares himself supreme head of the Church of England.
- 1536 Publication of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.
- 1536-41 Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland.
- 1537-41 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the city walls of Jerusalem (the current walls of the Old City of Jerusalem), including sealing off the Golden Gate in 1541 to prevent the Messiah's entrance.
- 1540 Death of Emperor Lebna Dengel of Ethiopia; formal founding of Jesuits.
- 1541 Portuguese expeditionary force arrives in Ethiopia.
- 1542 Ethiopians and Portuguese defeat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Gran of Adal, neutralizing Adal threat to Ethiopia.
- 1545-63 Council of Trent held to answer the Protestant Reformation.
- 1551 Council of the Hundred Chapters in Russia.
- 1555 Abp. Gurian begins mission to Kazan.
- 1557 Death of Basil the Blessed.
- 1563 Anglican Church's Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion published.
- 1564 Jesuits arrive in Poland.
- 1568 Pope Pius V recognizes four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius.
- 1569 Martyrdom of Philip of Moscow, at the hands of Ivan IV Grozny.
- 1569 Union of Lublin unites Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania into a single state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, placing the Ruthenian Orthodox lands of Belarus, and modern Ukraine under direct Roman Catholic rule.
- 1571 Restoration of Church of Cyprus to Orthodox rule, as Cyprus is conquered by the Ottoman Empire; Ottomans are defeated at the Battle of Lepanto, preventing them from advancing further into Europe.
- 1573 Pope Gregory XIII establishes Congregation for the Greeks, a committee of cardinals who addressed issues relating to the Greeks in southern Italy and Sicily in the hope of resolving tensions between Greeks and Latins.
- 1573-81 Correspondence of Patr. Jeremias II of Constantinople with Lutherans.
- 1575 Church of Constantinople grants autonomy to Church of Sinai.
- 1576 Pope Gregory XIII establishes Pontifical Greek College of St. Athanasius (popularly known as the 'Greek College') in Rome, which he charged with educating Italo-Byzantine clerics.
- 1579 Death of Gerasimus the New, ascetic of Cephalonia; discovery of Our Lady of Kazan, holiest Russian icon; on Holy Saturday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the Armenian patriarch prayed day and night in order to obtain the Holy Fire, but the Fire miraculously struck a column near the entrance of the church, and lit a candle held by the Orthodox patriarch standing nearby.
- 1581 Ostrozhsky Bible printed by Prince Kurbsky and Ivan Fedorov.
- 1582 Institution of the Gregorian Calendar by Pope Gregory XIII; death of Teresa of Ávila, prominent Spanish mystic.
- 1583 Sigillion of 1583 issued against Gregorian Calendar by council convened in Constantinople.
- 1587-Present. The relatively modest Church of St George in the Phanar district of Istanbul becomes the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
- 1589 Autocephaly and canonical territory of Church of Russia recognized, as Patr. Jeremias II of Constantinople raises Metr. Job of Moscow to the rank of Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russia.
- 1593 Council of Constantinople held, where the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem confirmed the appointment of Patr. Job of Moscow and the erection of the Russian patriarchate, placing it fifth in the hierarchy of patriarchates.
- 1596 Union of Brest-Litovsk, several million Ukrainian and Byelorussian Orthodox Christians, living under Polish rule, leave the Church of Constantinople and recognize the Pope of Rome, without giving up their Byzantine liturgy and customs, creating the Uniate church.
- ca. 1600-1700 Conversion of Albania to Islam mainly through discriminatory tax system, the Djize.
- 1604 Death of Juliana of Lazarevo.
- 1607 Death of Patr. Job of Moscow.
- 1609-10 Douay-Rheims Bible printed, first complete English Roman Catholic Bible, translated from Vulgate.
- 1611 Authorized King James Version of the Bible printed; Gallican French theologian Edmund Richer (1559-1631) held the view that ecclesiastical councils, not the papacy, was the method by which doctrinal truth was established, but his work was censured at the Council of Aix-en-Provence in 1612.
- 1612 Martyrdom of Patr. Hermogenes of Moscow; Our Lady of Kazan icon commemorates the deliverance from Poles.
- 1620 Council of Moscow presided over by Patr. Philaret of Moscow insisted that only Orthodox Baptism by triple immersion was valid, and that all (Latin) converts had to be rebaptized.
- 1625 Confession of Faith by Metrophanes Kritopoulos written.
- 1627 Pope Cyril Lucaris of Alexandria presents Codex Alexandrinus to King Charles I of England for safe keeping.
- 1633 Ethiopian emperor Fasilides expels Jesuits and other Roman Catholic missionaries from Ethiopia.
- 1642 Council of Jassy (Iaşi) revises Peter Mogila's confession to remove overtly Roman Catholic theology and confirms canonicity of certain deuterocanonical books.
- 1645-69 Cretan War between the Ottoman Empire and Venice.
- 1646 Union of Uzhhorod joins 63 Ruthenian Orthodox priests from the Carpathian Mountains to Roman Catholic Church on terms similar to Union of Brest.
- 1647 Orthodox church erected in Tunisia.
- 1649 Martyrdom of Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk by the Latins.
- 1650-1700 Ottoman Constantinople is largest city in the world by population.
- 1652 School and hospital established in Old Cairo by Patr. Joannikios.
- 1652-1658 Patriarch Nikon of Moscow revises liturgical books to bring them into conformity with the Greek liturgical customs, leading to mass excommunication and schism of dissenters, who become known as Old Believers.
- 1654 Appearance of icon of Theotokos of the Kievan Brotherhood.
- 1656 Voskresensky Monastery founded by Patr. Nikon at Istra near Moscow, intended to represent the Heavenly Jerusalem.
- 1665 Greek Jewish kabbalist Sabbatai Sevi hailed by Jews of Palestine as the Messiah, but then converts to Islam before the Ottoman Sultan to save his life.
- 1666-1667 Council of Moscow.
- 1667 Annexation of most of Kievan Rus' by Tsar of Muscovite Kingdom.
- 1669 Greek island of Crete taken by Ottoman Empire from Venetians.
- 1672 Synod of Jerusalem convened by Patr. Dositheos Notaras, refuting article by article the Calvinistic confession of Cyril Lucaris, defining Orthodoxy relative to Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, and defining the Orthodox Biblical canon; acts of this council are later signed by all five patriarchates (including Russia).
- 1675 Appearance of icon of Theotokos of Pochaiv.
- 1682 The Sabaite Typikon was published in its final form in Russia; from 1682 to 1888 the Greek and Russian Churches shared this common Typikon.
- 1683 Second Ottoman Siege of Vienna, capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
- 1685 Orthodoxy introduced in Beijing by Church of Russia.
- 1686 The Ottomans, acting on the behalf of the regent of Russia Sophia Alekseyevna, pressured the Patr. of Constantinople into transferring the Orthodox Church of Kiev and all Rus' (Church of Ukraine) from the jurisdiction of Constantinople to the Patr. of Moscow, established a century prior to that.
- 1688 Appearance of Joy of All Who Sorrow icon.
- 1689 Great Serb Migrations of hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees from Kosovo and Serbia proper, leaving a vacuum filled by flood of Albanian immigrants.
- 1698 Consecration of the first Orthodox Church in China, in the name of Sophia (Divine Wisdom), when Emperor Kangxi ordered a Buddhist temple to be cleared for Russian inhabitants in Beijing.
- 1700 The Creation Era calendar in Russia, in use since AD 988 was changed to the Julian Calendar by Peter the Great; Peter the Great published an Ukase on June 18th that made a resounding appeal for the propagation of the faith in Siberia and China.
- 1700-02 Submission of the dioceses of Lemberg (Lviv) and Luzk (Lutsk) in the Galician area of Ukraine to Roman Catholic Church completes Union of Brest-Litovsk, so that two-thirds of the Orthodox in western Ukraine had become Greek Catholic.
- 1707-20 Grabbe's edition of the Septuagint published at Oxford, reproducing (imperfectly) the Codex Alexandrinus of London.
- 1709 Death of Dimitri of Rostov.
- 1710 Spectacular miracle occurred at the Holy Mount of Grabarka, the holiest location in Poland for Orthodox Christians, where a deadly outbreak of cholera in the region ended almost instantly.
- 1715 Metr. Arsenios of Thebaid sent to England by Pope Samuel of Alexandria to negotiate with Non-Juror Anglican bishops.
- 1715-1956 Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China.
- 1716-25 Correspondence of Ecumenical Patriarch and Russian Czar with English Non-Jurors.
- 1721 Czar Peter I of Russia replaces Russian patriarchate with a ruling holy synod.
- 1723 Schism in the Roman Catholic Church, as the Church of Holland, (or Church of Utrecht) broke with Rome under its own archbishop and hierarchy, becoming the mother church of the Old Catholic Churches.
- 1724 Melkite schism, in which many faithful from the Church of Antioch become Uniates.
- 1728 The Ecumenical Patriarchate formally replaced the Creation Era (AM) calendar with the Christian Era (AD).
- 1731 Death of Innocent of Irkutsk.
- 1741 Synodal reform initiated, when Metr. Gerasimos of Heraclia obtains a Firman (decree) from Ottoman officials, regulating and subordinating the election of the Patriarch of Constantinople to the five Metropolitans of Heraclia, Kyzikos, Nicomedia, Nicaea, and Chalcedon, creating the so-called System of the Elders (Γεροντισμος), established gradually, in place until the late 19th century.
- 1754 Hesychast Renaissance begins with the Kollyvades Movement; discovery of the holy relics of the Four Martyrs of Megara: Polyeuctos, George, Adrianos and Platon, the "Newly-Revealed".
- 1755 Synod of Constantinople (1755) declares Roman Catholic baptism invalid and ordered baptism of converts from Roman Catholicism.
- 1756 Sigillion of 1756 issued against the Gregorian Calendar by Patr. Cyril V of Constantinople;
- 1756 After Tsar Peter the Great had ordered in 1712 the printed Slavonic text of the Bible to be carefully compared with the Greek of the Septuagint and to be made in every respect conformable to it, the second edition of the Queen "Elizabeth" Slavonic Bible (QEB), (LXX) is issued in 1756; all later reprints of the Russian Church Bible are based upon this second edition, which is the authorized version of the Russian Orthodox Church.
- 1760 Holy Trinity St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent founded in Russia.
- 1763 The Jansenist Provincial Council of Utrecht, seed of the future Old Catholic movements, affirmed every Roman Catholic dogma and pronounced the Orthodox Faith to be schismatic and false, signalling not so much a rapprochement with Orthodoxy, but rather a refusal to drift yet further from her, as much of the Roman fold was doing.
- 1767 Community of Orthodox Greeks establishes itself in New Smyrna, Florida; Ottoman Empire legally divides Church of the Holy Sepulchre among claimants.
- 1767-1815 Suppression of the Jesuits in Roman Catholic countries, subsequently finding refuge in Orthodox nations, particularly in Russia.
- 1768 Jews are massacred during riots in Russia-occupied Poland.
- ca. 1770 About 1,200 Kiev region Uniate churches return to Orthodoxy under political pressure from Russia.
- 1774 Russia and Ottoman Empire sign treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji, bringing Russia for the first time into the Mediterranean as the acknowledged protector of Orthodox Christians.
- 1779 Death of Kosmas Aitolos.
- 1782 First publication of Philokalia; autonomy of Church of Sinai confirmed by Church of Constantinople.
- 1789 The French Revolution of 1789 catapulted atheistic thought into political notability, and opened the way for the 19th century movements of Rationalism, Freethought, and Liberalism in the West.
- 1793-95 Over 2,300 Uniate churches became Orthodox under Tsarina Catherine the Great.
- 1794 Missionaries, including Herman of Alaska, arrive at Kodiak Island, bringing Orthodoxy to Russian Alaska; death of Paisius Velichkovsky of Moldova and Mt. Athos.
- 1796 Nicodemus the Hagiorite publishes Unseen Warfare in Venice.
- 1798 Patriarch Anthimus of Jerusalem contended that the Ottoman Empire was part of the Divine Dispensation granted by God to protect Orthodoxy from the taint of Roman Catholicism and of Western secularism and irreligion.
- 1800 The Rudder published and printed in Athens.
- 1803 Death of Xenia of St. Petersburg.
- 1804 British and Foreign Bible Society founded.
- 1805 Death of Makarios of Corinth, a central figure in the Kollyvades movement.
- 1808 Death of Hieromartyr Nikita the Slav, of Mount Athos.
- 1809-10 Rotunda and edicule exterior of Church of the Holy Sepulchre rebuilt after fire in 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.
- 1814 Martyrdom of Euthymius and Ignatius of Mount Athos.
- 1815 Peter the Aleut tortured and martyred in San Francisco, California.
- 1816 American Bible Society founded; martyrdom of Acacius of Athos.
- 1819 Council at Constantinople endorses views of Kollyvades fathers.
- 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 done here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though it was attempted 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 or purely political events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy or for reference.
The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:
From an Orthodox perspective
- Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church: New Edition. (ISBN 0140146563)
From a Heterodox perspective
- Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
- Collins, Michael, ed.; Price, Matthew Arlen. Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith. (ISBN 0789446057)
- 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 2: Reformation to the Present Day. (ISBN 0060633166)
- Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
- 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 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). (ISBN 0226653730)
- 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)
- Peri, Oded (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Islamic Law and Christian Holy Sites: Jerusalem and Its Vicinity in Early Ottoman Times. Islamic Law and Society. Vol.6, No.1. 1999. pp.97-111.
- Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
- History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
- Timeline of Patriarchal History. Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Pop-up Video Presentation, in Sections)