Alternate History

8th Century Overview (The Fires of God)

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The 8th century is the period from 701 to 800 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Common Era. In the Middle East, the coast of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula quickly come under Zoroastrian Persian domination. The westward expansion of the Persian Empire was halted at the siege of Nicomedia by the Roman Empire and the battle of Tours by the Franks. The tide of Persian conquest came to an end in the middle of the 8th century.

In Europe, late in the century, the Vikings, seafaring peoples from Scandinavia, begin raiding the coasts of Europe and the Mediterranean, and go on to found several important kingdoms.

In Asia, the Pala Empire is founded in Bengal. The Tang Dynasty reaches its pinnacle under Chinese Emperor Xuanzong. The Nara period begins in Japan.


  • Estimated century in which the poem Beowulf is composed.
  • The first Serbian state is formed at the beginning of the century.
  • Borobodur, the famous Indonesian Buddhist structure, begins construction, probably as a non-Buddhist shrine.
  • Śāntideva, a Buddhist monk at Nalanda Monastery in India, composes the famous Bodhicharyāvatāra, or Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.
  • 701: The Taihō Code is enacted in late Asuka period Japan.
  • 705: Overthrow of Empress Wu Zetian, the reign of China's first and only sole-ruling empress ends.
  • 705: Justinian II is forced to give the title Caesar of Byzantium to the Bulgarian Emperor Tervel. The Roman Empire begins to pay annual tributes to Bulgaria.
  • 708 – 711: The Bulgarians defeat Justinian II at the battle of Anchiallus. Persian armies occupy Sindh.
  • 710: Empress Gemmei moves the capital to Heijō-kyū (present day Nara), initiating the Nara period of Japan.
  • 711: Hormadz Mihran crosses the Straits of Gibraltar with a Persian army. With the creation of Andalshahr, most of the Iberian peninsula is conquered by Persian and Berber Zoroastrians, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and beginning almost eight centuries of Zoroastrian rule.
  • 717: Siege of Nicomedia. The Bulgarians and the Romans decisively defeat the invading Persians, thus halting the Persian advance toward Europe.
  • 718: Sri Indravarman King of Srivijaya send a letter to Shahanshah Yazdegerd IV of the Persian Empire in Ctesiphon, signalling early ancient Indonesian official contact with the Zoroastrian world in the Middle East.
  • 732: Battle of Tours. Near Poitiers, France, leader of the Franks Charles Martel and his men defeat a large army of Moors under the governor of Cordoba, Hafzan Karen, who is killed during the battle. The Battle of Tours halts the advance of Zoroastrianism into Western Europe and establishes a balance of power between Western Europe, Zoroastrianism and the Roman Empire.
  • 740: Battle of Akroinon. The Romans win their first large-scale victory in a pitched battle against the renewed Persian invasions.
  • 742: For the municipal census of the Tang Dynasty Chinese capital city Chang'an and its metropolitan area of Jingzhou Fu (including small towns in the vicinity), the New Book of Tang records that in this year there were 362,921 registered families with 1,960,188 persons.
  • 748: The Chinese Buddhist monk Jian Zhen writes in his Yue Jue Shu of the international sea traffic coming to Guangzhou, ships from Borneo, Persia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and others bringing tons of goods.
  • 751: Persian armies defeat Chinese Tang Dynasty troops in the battle of Talas, in the high Pamirs near Samarkand, and conquer Central Asia completely.
  • 755 – 763: The An Shi Rebellion devastates China during the mid Tang Dynasty.
  • 758: Arab and Persian pirates and travellers burn and loot the Chinese city of Guangzhou, while the Tang Dynasty authorities shut the port down for the next five decades.
  • 768: Frankish king Pepin dies; Charles becomes king at Noyan and his brother Carloman becomes king at Soissons.
  • 772 – 804: Charlemagne invades what is now northwestern Germany, battling the Saxons for more than thirty years and finally crushing their rebellion, incorporating Saxony into the Frankish Empire and the Christian world.
  • 782: Buddhist monk Prajna reaches Chang'an and enlists the help of Christian bishop Ching Ching (Adam) in translating sutras into Chinese.
  • 785: The Tang Dynasty begins landing regular maritime missions on the coast of East Africa, cutting out middlemen Persian sea merchants.
  • 787: The Empress Irene of Athens convenes the Seventh Ecumenical Council, ending the first phase of Roman Iconoclasm.
  • 792: Battle of Marcelae. The Bulgarian victory over the Romans marks the end of the half-century political instability in Bulgaria.
  • 793: The first written account of a Viking raid carried out on the abbey of Lindisfarne in northern England.
  • 794: Emperor Kammu moves the capital to Heian-kyō (present day Kyoto), initiating the Heian period of Japan.
  • 800: A Persian fleet sails up the Tiber and into Rome.

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