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As a novice reader of Italian history, it was difficult keeping the "players” straight  (comparable to reading "War & Peace").   I found using a chronology assisted in explaining the interaction of those involved, along with the place, and date of event.  Although there was much more activity on the part of the early German rulers in what is now Europe, (read "The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians” by J. B. Bury)  I chose to list events primarily involving Italy.  

Chronology

Year

Event

311 Milvian Bridge- Coversion to paganism except for some of the upper class society.
324 Capital at Constantinople
325 Nicene Creed ---First Council of Nicaea
381 Revision by First Council of Constantinople of Nicene Creed
381 The First Council of Constantinople called to confirm the victory over ARIANISM, established the orthodox teaching of the Trinity and condemned the heresy of Apollinarianism.
400 Total conversion from paganism to Christianity.
405 Constantine III with Roman Troops left England adding  French Troops on the way
408 Alaric, King of the Goths, captured Rome.  Roman imperial authority collapsed
409 Alans, Vandals and Sueves crossed the frozen Rhine to enter Roman Empire via France
418 Visigoths take Southwestern France (Aquitane)
429 80,000 Vandals leave Spain and move to Africa and set-up the Arian Church
476-493 Odoacer, King of the Heruli, rules the peninsula
484-519

Acacian Schism -Rome and Constantinoble divided- Final separation of Rome and Eastern Empire

493-526 Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, beneficent genius,  rules peninsula
509  King Clovis, defeats King Alaric at Battle of Vouille adding South France to his kingdom
509 The Arian Visigoths left France to the Catholic Franks and settled  in Spain

527

Justinian

547

With approval of Byzantines, Lombards settle in Hungry and East Austria

553

Byzantine generals Belisarius and Narses overthrow the Ostrogoths

553

Second Ecumenical Council called and dominated by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I; condemning Nestorian writings and encouraging Monophysitism

553

Italy once again is part of Roman Empire

568

The German Langobardi (Lombards) invade north of Italy; Pavia is capital and later Spoleto and Benevento are incorporated

568

Papacy keeps Rome and Papal States

 

The Athanasian Creed no longer ascribed to St. Athanasius on the Trinity and the Incarnation

650

The Apostles Creed, which is similar to the Nicene Creed

680

Third Ecumenical Council condemned Monotheletism and a former pope, Honorius I (this is not accepted by the orthodox church)

711 Moors, nomadic people of N. Africa who became Muslims; went to Spain and overran the Visigoths.

750

Lombards, pagans and Arians drove the Byzantines out and ruled most of Italy

751

King Liutprand consolidated the kingdom and reduced Spoleto and Benevento to vassalage.  His successors took Ravenna

754

Pope Stephen II persuades King Pepin (Pepin the short) to save Rome from the Lombards.  Pepin saved Rome and took Pentapolis and Romagna and twenty-four cities and gave them to the Roman Church  (increasing Papal States)

754

Papal States included extensive lands in central Italy, including Ravenna

768-814

Charlemagne,  son of King Pepin becomes Carolingian King of the Franks

772

King Liutprand threatened Rome

772-804

Charlemagne subjugates and christianized the Saxons

774

Pope Adrian I persuades Charlemagne to suppress the Lombard kingdom which he in turn added to his own and to the papal possessions.

774

Charlemagne defeated the Lombards and is crowned King of the Lombards at Pavia.  Of the Lombard kingdom, only Benevento remained

787

Popes Adrian I, Gregory II and Empress Irene were opponents of Iconoclasm.

787

Iconoclasm was rejected at the Second Council of Nicaea.  The controversy led Byzantine artists toward spiritual expression rather than naturalism

795

Pope Adrian I died

800

Charlamagne restores Leo III to papacy. (He had been physically attacked by Adrian I's family and went to Charlemagne for support)

800

Charlamagne, Emperor of the West is crowned Western Emperor by Leo III, thereby initiating the Holy Roman Empire

  Charlemagne ruled through a highly efficient administrative system; codified the law in his various dominions and his court at AACHEN was center for intellectual and artistic renaissance
813 Charlamagne's son Louis I named co-emperor.
814 Charlamagne died; his last years were troubled with raids by the Norsemen
814 Louis I becomes Emperor
816 Pope Leo III died
816 The Lombard Duchies - Spoleto, Friuli and Benevento are invaded by the Saracens who had invaded Spain in 711 and lost it to Charlamagne in 778
848 Saracens advance from Corsica to Rome
869-70 The Fourth Ecumenical Council confirmed the condemnation of Photius.   (not accepted by Orthodox Church)
Conquest of the Visigoths, Goths and Vandals

Viking Routes  http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~atlas/europe/static/map16.html

interactive map of Rome & Barbarians  http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~atlas/europe/interactive/map21.html

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