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Back to Europe: A.D. 701 to 800

As this century opened, and particularly in A.D. 814, the year of the death of Charlemagne, Europe and Asia were recovering from the previous waves of barbarian invasions and a series of powerful empires extended in unbroken sequence from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The northern ones of Europe, however, - Frankish and Bulgarian - were really conquests of war bands and had very little stability. (Ref. 8 )

Southern europe

Eastern mediterranean islands

The copper mines of Cyprus continued to be exploited. Over a period of some 3,000 years about 200,000 tons of that metal has been produced on Cyprus. The smelting requires charcoal in the amount that would be the equivalent of 150,000 square kilometers (58,000 square miles) of forest. Since all Cyprus totals only 9,300 square kilometers, the forests of the island must have been destroyed at least 16 times. (Ref. 281 ) The Turks took Crete from the Byzantine controlled Venetians and in 825 built a base with a surrounding moat, where Moslem pirates dominated until the middle of the next century. Malta was taken by the Moslems in 869. (Ref. 38 , 222 )


The greater part of Greece was a part of Byzantium and, as such, shared in its temporary renaissance. Bulgaria took over part of northern Greece as a part of their expansion early in the century. Demonstrating the geological instability of the region, an earthquake of 856 killed 45,000 Corinthians. (Ref. 222 )

Upper balkans

The Avars were conquered by Charlemagne in 805 and as the remnants were pushed out of Hungary into the upper Balkans, they were absorbed by the Bulgars and Slavs. In 811 the still pagan Bulgars, under Prince Drum, defeated and destroyed the Byzantine armies of Emperor Nicephorus and then they took over a large part of the peninsula, even including some of Greece. Their territory then stretched from the Danube to the Theiss and from the Carpathians to the Dniester. Originally a Turkish people, the Bulgars became, by repeated admixture, almost entirely Slavonic in race and language. The Bulgar Khanate, under Czars Malamir and Boris , continued to expand rapidly and their empire even included a great part of Hungary until about 893, when the Magyars overcame the light hold of the Bulgarians in that region. (Ref. 137 , 8 )

Bulgaria and Serbia were won for the eastern Christian Church in 870 and 879, respectively, through the efforts of Cyril and Methodius, Macedonian Brothers, who helped Khan Boris to evolve a Slavonic or Cyrillic alphabet, thus allowing the development of a national written language and culture. Faced with Slavonic sounds which did not exist in Greek, they stretched the Greek alphabet as far as it would go, then drafted one or two Hebrew characters and invented others. The Eastern Church (Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian and Bulgarian) still uses this Cyrillic alphabet. (Ref. 168 , 222 ) Farther for Western Christianity in 879, after they had made themselves independent of the German Empire in 869. (Ref. 137 )


We noted in the last chapter that Charlemagne had seized the Lombard Kingdom in 774 and this remained under his control until his death in 814. Italy, as a whole was under divided rule. By the Treaty of Verdun of 843, the Frankish heir, Lothar, got a long central strip of Europe along with northern Italy and down to the frontier of the Duchy of Benevento in southern Italy and he retained the title of emperor. A weak papacy, leagued with France, ruled a central area; the Venetians had their own kingdom; and various dukes ruled scattered provinces. Part of Sicily was conquered by the Aghlabids from Tunisia in 827 and by 840 they held most of that island and the heel of Italy. They were finally expelled by the Byzantines at the end of the century. During the period of the Moslem raids, even Rome had been attacked. (Ref. 8 , 137 )

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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