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Sixth Century History

500 Scriptures have now been translated into more than 500 languages.

507 Clovis, King of the Franks, defeats the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouille.

508 Paris (now called Lutetia) established by Clovis as the capital of the Kingdom of the Franks

511 Clovis, King of the Franks, dies. The Merovingian Dynasty is continued by his sons.

521 Boëthius introduces Greek musical letter notation to the West.

525 Dionysius Exiguus (Dionysis the Little), a Roman monk and astronomer, records in his Easter Tables Jesus of Nazareth’s birthday as December 25, 753 years after Rome was founded. The error, an incorrect year and date, is repeated in all Christian calendars. Dionysius also left out counting the year 0. See When was Jesus born?

529 Codification of Roman Law, Justinian’s Code, in a series of books called Corpus Juris Civilis, by the Emperor of Byzantine. Many legal maxims would be based on this code, which included the clause, “The things which are common to all (and not capable of being owned) are: the air, running water, the sea and the seashores.” The spelling of the word justice originates from Justinian’s Code.

531 Khosru I, of the Sassanian dynasty, comes to power in Persia.

533 Believing that he is getting the world ready for the Second Coming of Christ, Emperor Justinian reconquers parts of the Roman Empire.

534 Queen Hu of China is assassinated. Northern China divides between western and eastern halves of the Wei dynasty.

537 Saint Benedict of Nursia, the father of Western monasticism, outlines the step for leading a devout life in what is known as the Rule of St Benedict. The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) is dedicated in Constantinople.

542 The plague of Europe, known as the Great Plague of Justinian (a bubonic plague) ravages Europe. It would last until 593, killing half the population of Europe.

543 Byzantine general Belisarius defeat the Vandals in North Africa.

547 The famous church of St. Vitale in Ravenna, known for its octagonal shape and mosaics of the Byzantine Emperor and empress, Justinian and Theodora, is completed.

552 Emperor Justinian initiates Europe’s silk industry by sending missionaries to smuggle silkworms out of China and Ceylon. Historian Procopius writes Anecdota, littered with scandalous gossip about Justinian and Theodora and their commander, Belisarius.

556 First written account of the Loch Ness monster.

560 The Hephthalites of Samarkand are defeated by a Persian-Turkish alliance and vanish as an identifiable people.

563 Irish missionary Columba establishes a center of learning on the island of Iona.

565 Emperor Justinian dies.

568 The Lombards invade Italy, reaching Milan.

587 First Japanese Buddhist monastery established.

589 Emperor Wen of northern China gains control of the sound ending 271 years of division.

590 Pope Gregory I (the Great) begins the papacy which will reform Europe. He sends monk Augustine to the British Isles. Augustine will lead the conversion of England and found a monastery in Kent town (later known as Canterbury), one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon settlements, dating from the mid-400’s.

592 Emperor Sujun of Japan is murdered by Umako who places his daughter, Suiko, on the throne and makes her nephew, Shotoku, regent.

594 Shotoku converts Empress Suiko to Buddhism, which becomes the state religion of Japan.

597 St Augustine of Canterbury introduces Christianity to Britain.

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