Christianity and Historical Events Timeline

Year Historical Events Christian Events
30 C.E.

Roman Empire: Age of Augustus

Palestine governed by king Herod and then by the Roman governor Pilate

Death of Jesus in Palestine
50- 60 C.E. Increasing tensions between Jewish inhabitants and the Romans in Palestine

Groups of followers begin to gather in Jesus's name and proclaim his resurrection from the dead: Jesus's original disciples plus Paul

Paul's letters are written to the new churches he has formed

66-70 C.E. The Jewish Revolt against Rome; destruction of the Temple

The gospel of Mark is written

Christians separate from the synagogues

70-150 C.E. Christians become recognizable as a distinct group within the Empire; their status is questionable

Most of the New Testament is written

Marcion argues for a severely restricted New Testament and omission of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

Bishops Clement's (96) and Polycarp's letters show that a church hierarchy of bishops, presbyters and deacons has taken shape: doctrine of apostolic succession

Rabbinic Judaism begins to take shape

The Didache, an early Christian worship service, is written

The Eucharist and Baptism are recognized Christian rituals

Persecution of Christians becomes more widespread in the Empire

Irenaeus inveighs against heresies in 180


200-300 C.E. Roman Empire becomes increasingly unwieldy and fragmented

Large variety of Christian groups: Jewish, gnostic, "orthodox"

Martyrdom of Perpetua 203

The apostle's Creed is written

325 - 392

Constantine converts to Christianity; Edict of Toleration promulgated 325

392 Christianity sole legal religion of the empire

Nicene Creed

Formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity settles the Arian controversty

Beginnings of monasticism: Life of St. Anthony

Three-fold method of interpreting scripture

Hostile attitude towards Judaism

400-500 Sack of Rome

Augustine writes The City of God



Pope Leo I (440-461) promotes the doctrine of Papal Primacy


In the West, the Empire fragments into small principalities; cities and towns shrink; loss of central governments everywhere

In the East the Byzantine Empire remains unified

Rise of Islam 600-700; Islam is stopped at the borders of what is now southern France by the Franks

Reign of Charlemagne, who unites the areas that are now Germany and France. Charlemagne is crowned Emperor by the Pope

Collapse of Charlemagne's empire under pressure of outside invasions

Pope Gregory I (540-604) sends Augustine of Canterbury to convert the English

Benedictine monasticism becomes dominant in the West.

Irish and English monks carry Roman Christianity to the fragmented areas of western Europe, 500-700

The Irish develop the system of Penance that will later become a sacrament throughout the Church

First debates over the nature of the Eucharist in 844

Dhuoda's Letter to her son


Western Europe recovers from earlier collapse; towns and trade begin to grow again; governments slowly become more centralized


First Crusade: 1092

Second Crusade: 1150's

Creation of a new crusading order: the Templars

The kingdoms of France and England begin to look more like they do today

Magna Carta checks the power of the English king in 1215

The Albigensian Crusades of the 1220's brings southern France into the kingdom of France

Germany and Italy are fragmented into small principalities

Spain is still under Muslim control

The Papacy tries to get out from under the heel of centralized governments and assert itself as moral leader

Pope Gregory VII excommunicates Emperor Henry over the issue of lay investiture of bishops, 1079

The First Crusade called by Pope Urban II, 1099

The first heretics are executed by burning around 1100

Anselm writes his proofs for the existence of God

Beginnings of Universities: Peter Abelard writes about theories of the atonement

Hildegard of Bingen, 1141

Rise of Cathar dualism the the south of France : Albigensian Crusade launched against them in 1228

The Inquisition is formed to root out heresy in southern France in the 1220's

Franciscan and Dominican Orders established

Thomas Aquinas writes the Summa Theologiae 1265-1273

The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 standardizes many areas of Christian belief and practice, such as:

--celibacy of priests

--the doctrine of transubstantiation of the Eucharist

--authorizes the order of St. Francis and bans future monastic orders

--decrees that all Catholics should receive the sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist at least once a year

Development of popular devotion:

--Virgin Mary

--Voluntary poverty and simplicity

--Devotion to the humanity of Christ

--Popular devotional manuals in vernacular languages

--Revelations of "holy women"

--Belief in purgatory becomes established