Europe in the late 700s?

So what was going on in Europe in the late 700s? I'm thinking around 780 in particular. I know much of Northern and Eastern Europe was not that well developed at this time. Western & Southern Europe was broken between Byzantium, various Muslim Caliphates, and the rise of the Frankish Kingdom. The viking raids started in the 790s. Other than that, my sense of the time period is quite poor. Any good material or broad summaries of the time?

Well, for starters, you could hit up the year 780 in Wikipedia. Like I've done for you:

You could go through whatever links they have contained in that article and read up on the events and people, such as Charlemagne founding the city of Osnabruck or how the King of Silla was killed in a revolt. You will also be able to pull up the calendar for that year (which, by the way, was a leap year according to the Gregorian calendar).

You can do this for any year you need, actually. Beyond this, I don't know of any other references. Maybe look up individual places and look up their history?

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Ooooooh neato. I didn't know that could be done, thanks for sharing.

Try this for a start

I love that site, it shows maps for every 100 years... and it does a good job of showing how fuzzy borders could be at the time, and the difference between centralized nations and tribes united only by a common culture.

Basically the two superpowers are the Byzantine Empire and the Frankish Kingdom(s) (they kept dividing it and reuniting it, but it was mostly united during the period). Spain starts under the Visigothic kingdom and ends mostly Muslim, with small Christian kingdoms hanging on the the Northeast, England is full of small kingdoms, Italy is part Byzantine, part Frankish, part independent pieces.
Central Europe is mostly dominated by the Avar and Bulgarians, relatively recent conquerors from the steppes who keep trying to attack the Byzantine Empire and mostly get thrown back.
Eastern Europe is full of little tribes who haven't formed real kingdoms yet. Northern Europe, the vikings. And Northern Africa and the Middle East are under Muslim rule.

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I will note that this is precisely the time period during which the story of Beowulf was probably written down. The poem itself discusses events centuries previous in another country, but the scribe who wrote it down, and the audience he wrote it for, is alive in Northern Britain within your window.

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It is also a period where the posh people in Barcelona were speaking Arabic. From 711 to around 800 it is the period of the maximum expansion of the caliphs of Cordoba in the Iberian peninsula. The count (duke? would need to check) of Toulouse is kicking them along with the count of Carcassone and some other people (the franks of aquitania are going round the other extreme of the Pyrenees) and pushing them back, but it will take quite a few time. So the upper part of Iberia is in a permanent state of warfare. The franks and the olv visigothic families that were already in place are allied.


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The count of Toulouse is created at the end of 8th century. The title didn't exist before ~780.

Btw tthere is a wealth of details that make this part of history shady. For instance, did you know that the duke Eudes of Aquitaine was feuding with Charles Martel, while at the same time trying to repel the arabic invasion ? He married his daughter to a berber warlord, but eventually crumbled under the assault of the arabs in 732, having also been attacked by Martel in 731. Eventually, he was forced to ask for the help of Charles Martel and to accept him as a liege.

This could make great stories : Did Charles knowingly attack Eudes in 731 to weaken him towards his southern neighbours ? Did he wait until Aquitaine was thoroughly pillaged before intercepting the arabs ? Did he plan it this way to intercept them after a tiresome campaign or to collect their loot ?
Was Eudes punished for an impish alliance with heathen muslims, even giving them his daughter ? How did he get to contact the warlord ? Did the emir make it happen in hopes to get rid of a troublesome ally ?

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Toulouse was the seat of the Duke of Aquitaine during the Arab invasions. And by the way, they actually took the Languedoc region of Southern France for a while from Eudes d'Aquitaine, until Charles Martel expelled them after his victory at Poitiers in 732 (as had been mentioned, folding Aquitaine into the kingdom of Neustrie at the same time). Charles Martel, by the way, was mayor of the palace, not king, but he held de facto power; he is the founder of the Carolingien dynasty of the Kings of France. His son finally took the crown, and his grandson was Charlemagne.

As for the feud, Aquitaine was one of the Frankish states created during the numerous split of the kingdom (all the sons of a dead king got one share). Eudes of Aquitaine (also named Odo the Great) was apparently not in the line of descent though, but then kingship under the Franks was technically elective, so non-Merovingian kings did get elected from time to time (or flat out usurped power). Reuniting the kingdoms by force was pretty much the standard motus operandi for the Merovingians.

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And, just to add something a bit mythic, this was also a suitable time period for the 12 Peers of Charlemagne (the Paladins; Roland, Bishop Turpin, magic swords, divinely inspired knights, etc) to feature in a saga...

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In a lot of ways, the religious landscape is also different. For Christianity, the scholastic revolution has not yet occurred, and the authorities of the thirteenth century might never be born. A similar situation holds for Judaism, in that the Talmud has only recently been completed, sort of, and the commentators who will make this work comprehensible are centuries in the future; Europe is also an extreme backwater (in terms of scholarship and authority though not necessarily in terms of population), which is not the case in the thirteenth century.I am less comfortable talking about Islam, though I suspect the situation is less extreme but still present, given the religious and philosophical figures yet to be born.

I suspect that this provides an opportunity not only for character development, but even for alternative development of religious practice and doctrine.



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To continue some of the ideas that Overwa just mentioned, the earlier editions of AM made an important distinction between the Celtic Church and the Roman Church in this time period. The Celtic Church did not have a divine aura which penalised magic.

Basically, the Pope is trying to gain control over the entire church (mostly riding on the back of Charlemagne's Empire), rather than merely being 'another bishop'.

I ran it (see the thread on pre-schism war sagas) so that the Pope's Church had the standard Dominion Aura but all other ones had auras that added to magic, like faerie does. Additionally, the only power/effect that priests of the Dominion could cause was to stop/prevent magic working near them. Whereas the celtic priests could produce 'miracles' of many types. This also appears to be backed up by the scanty reading I did, where as soon as events were properly documented (which coincided with the Pope gaining control) miracles stopped happening but were recorded as having happened up to that point.

This led to the players deciding that Charlemagne was not a friend and therefore maintained the separation of Hermetic from mundane societies.

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