551 The Franks finally subdue the Thuringians. Byzantine monks coming back from a voyage to China smuggle silkworms in Europe. Romancia (the soutwestern part of former Roman Rhaetia) overthrows local Frankish suzerainty with help from Totila. Additional troops from Byzantine Africa and Moorish/Berber mercenaries join Belisarius and Totila’s army in Italy.
551-552 The Ruanruans, overlords of Mongolia, are routed by Bumin’s Tu-jües (Turks) di Bumin and start migrating westwards, where together with other nomads absorbed along their way west will form the Avar power. Bumin, paramount ruler of the Turks, takes the title of Khagan founding the first Turkic empire in Mongolia.
552 Belisarius and Totila, reinforced by Hunnic and Slavic forces, trounce at Ostra (Marche) Narses’ Byzantines and Lombards, who had come from recentrly reconquered Dalmatia; afterwards they manage to starve Ravenna into surrender. Buddhism is introduced in Japan. The Wessex Saxons wrest Salisbury from the Brythons.
552-554 The Sabirs of Caucasia reject their old alliance with Persia in favor of Byzantium and invade Caucasian Albania/Azerbaigian, but their attack ends in defeat.
553-567 The Turkic Gök Turkiut Empire splits into an eastern (and a western confederation; it stretches from Manchuria to Central Asia.
554 Massive Frankish and Alamannic invasion of northern Italy; Verona is taken and destroyed. A new loyalist Byzantine army, after retaking Carthage and Sicily, is crushed at the Vesuvio near Naples. The Western Gökturks conquer Samarkand from the Wite Huns/Hephtalites.
554-558 The Sabirs gain a brief period of ascendancy over the Pontic steppes with Western Gökturk support, then are overwhelmed by the Avar break-in and come back to Caucasia/Daghestan.
555 The Eastern Gökturks annihilate the remnants of Ruanruan power in Mongolia and submit the Khitans and the Kirghizes. Pope Vigilius dies in Constantinople; after eleven years of exile of the Holy See, in a desolate and almost completely abandoned Rome Liberius II, supported by Totila and Belisarius, is appointed as the new Pope and excommunicates the Church of Constantinople over the Three Chapters affair.
555-560 Aquitaine goes as appannage to another scion of the ever-quarrelling Merovingians, Chramm, before reverting to the Frankish crown.
556 Belisarius and Totila trounce the Alamanni at Monza (Lombardy) and the Franks at Acqui (Piedmont). The western Wei of northern China change their dynastical title into “northern Zhou”. In Constantinople Justianian appoints Pelagius as anti-Tricapitoline antipope; the Catholic Church is in chaos because of the two rival popes in Rome and Constantinople and the Three Chapters schism, not to mention the Arian question still extant in Ostrogothic Italy and Visigothic Spain. A loyalist Byzantine army coming from Carthage is crushed by the pro-Belisarian African rebels at Siliana
557 The Chen replace the Liang dynasty on the southern Chinese throne at Nanking. Augustine, a North African, succeeds Liberius II as Peter’s successor in Rome. The Persians conquer Iberia/Georgia
559 The Avar invasion in the Ukrainian steppes pushes forward Zabergan Khan’s Kutrigurs and Slavs, who plunge on the Sklaviniai (*OTL Balkans) pillaging and destroying everything in sight. When news of the horde’s misdeeds reaches Italy, Belisarius marches south from Aquileia across Dalmatia, where he is hailed as a savior; then he enters the Sklavinian mountains and suddenly appears behind the Slavo-Kutrigurs vainly besieging Constantinople. The subsequent battle, coupled with a sortie of the Constantinopolitan garrison, sees the total extermination of Zabergan Khan’s horde; Belisarius enters Constantinople in triumph as is hailed as emperor (though many in the city still remember his role in crushing the Nika revolt) while Justinian retires to monastic life on the island of Proti; in Italy Totila remains the sole ruler of the Ostrogothic kingdom. The Anglian kingdom of Deira arises south of Eburacum/Ebrauc/York
560 Belisarius deposes the anti-Pope Pelagius, thus ending – for the moment being – the major quarrels about the Three Chapters affaire
560-561 Chlotarius reunifies for a while the Frankish kingdom upon Chramm’s death, then in turn quickly dies. The Frankish possessions are anew divided (according to the Salian customs) between Sigebert I, who in Reims founds the kingdom of Austrasia (north-eastern “Francia”), Gontran (Burgundy, with capital in Orléans), Chilperic I (the North, with his capital in Soissons) and Caribert (Paris and the southwest); needless to say, the four royal brothers hate each other passionately
561 After conquering Taurogotia (Taurida [*OTL Crimea]) and subduing the Hunno-Bulgars from the Caspian Sea to the Carpathians, the Avars create a powerful empire under their Khagan Bayan, bringing in Europa the stirrup, formerly unknown of. The Byzantines expel the Persians from Lazica (northwestern Georgia); afterwards a 50-years peace is brokered between Byzantium and Persia. The Persian cush a renewed Sabir invasion across the Caucasus. Belisarius recognizes Totila as the legitimate ruler of Italy (“patrikios”) ruling from Ravenna in exchange for control over Sicily and Sardinia; Byzantine public opinion prevents him from appointing the Arian and barbarian Totila as Western Roman Emperor and heir as he desired, having no sons; the stubborn Ostrogoths in turn prevent Totila from embracing Nicene Catholicism
562 A Monophysite insurrection in Syria and Egypt and urban turmoil in Constantinople itself on both religious (the Three Chapters) and political (the attempt to install Totila as heir) forces Belisarius to appoint as his heir and co-emperor Justin (II), Justinian’s nephew and anti-Tricapitoline candidate for the throne. The former emperor actually kept scheming from his monastic retirement, where he wrote notable works of literature and thelogy in both Latin and Greek. The Korean kingdom of Silla finally crushes the Kaya/Gaya Confederation by conquering Tae, its last stronghold; this marks the end of Japanese influence in Korea, of which Kaya/Gaya was expression. Totila routs a Bavarian invasion at Salorno (Tyrol) and chases the invaders beyond the Brenner Pass. The Mayan city-state of Calakmul, with help from her ally Caracol/Oxuitza, defeats and vassalizes Mutul/Tikal, wresting from her hegemony over the region between Yucatàn and Guatemala
563 The first diplomatic contacts are established between Byzantium and the Western Gökturk empire. Istemi Khan’s Western Gökturks and the Sassanian Persians trounce the White Huns at the battle of Bokhara. Justinian dies as a simple monk at Proti island; he’ll be later sanctified by the Orthodox Church.
565 Fall of the White Huns’ empire after their annihilation in the battle of Neseph at the hands of the Western Gökturks, who proceed to conquer most of Afghanistan
ca. 565 Brude mac Malcolm, king of the northern Picts, receives baptism from the Irish preacher St. Columba and defeats heavily the raiding Scots. Romancia (*centered on OTL Graubünden, Switzerland) occupies Valtellina (the extreme north of Lombardy)
566 Belisarius dies in Constantinople (allegedly poisoned); Justin II succeeds on the imperial throne restoring the Justinians
566-571 The Western Gökturks led by their Yaghbu (ruler) Istemi Khan gain suzerainty over the Pontic steppes and the region north of the Caucasus; the Utrigurs (eastern Hunno-Bulgars) are subdued by the Onogurs, who in turn had become Avar vassals. Justin II’s intrigues with Avars, Lombards and Franks to overthrow Totila and the Ostrogoths freezes Ostrogoth-Byzantine relations
567 Aiding the Avar onslaught through the Carpathians, Alboin’s Lombards destroy the Gepid kingdom in Transylvania; from the skull of the Gepid ruler Cunimond Alboin makes a cup in which he compels Cunimond’s daughter Rosamunda, forcibly taken as his “war bride”, to drink wine (“Drink, Rosamunda, in your father’s skull!”). Caribert of Paris dies, and his domains are happily carved up amongst his brothers; Chilperic’s domain, centered in Soissons and with Paris now included, becomes known as Neustria
568 The Avars, bribed by the Byzantines, instead of crossing the Carpathians invade scarcely-inhabited Poland and settle down there (at least for the moment), while the Lombards are acknowledged as rulers of Pannonia.
570 Totila, upset at discovering Justin II's treacherous plans by intercepting his letters to the Frankish kings, occupies Sardinia, Sicily and Dalmatia provoking a second Greco-Gothic conflict.
ca. 570 The Onogur Bulgars expel the Byzantines from the Taman peninsula on the Black Sea. Byzantium annexes Lazica (NW Georgia) undermining Persian power over Iberia/Georgia.
571 The Lombards, called for help by the ailing Justin II, soundly defat the Ostrogoths led by Widin at Salona (Dalmatia); a Byzantine force from Carthage retakes Sicily. The Saxons wrench the poor remains of Londinium (London) from the Brythonic Celts. Totila moves his capital from Ravenna to the less exposed Florence.
572 In Constantinople Justin II, who shows signs of schizophrenia, is de facto replaced by a regency under empress Sophia and general Tiberius Constantine. The Lombard king Alboin is murdered at Celeia/Celje by his wife Rosamunda, who tries to have his lover Elmichi enthroned as the new king, but both are killed and the Lombard army elects Cleph as king. The Franks try an invasion of Italy from the north in alliance with the Alamanni and the Bavarians, but are bottled in the Trentino and forced to withdraw; a Byzantine army crawls up the “boot” of Italy winning at Salerno and conquers Naples. A new Byzantine-Persian war erupts over the renewed enforcing of conversion to Mazdeism on the Armenians.
573 The Franks invade Piedmont and raze Turin and Eporedia/Ivrea to the ground. The Byzantine army, now led By Tiberius Constantine, mauls the Ostrogoth rearguard at Cassino, then enters Rome unopposed, deposes Pope Augustine and replaces him with John III, the anti-Tricapitoline candidate; meantime the Byzantine fleet starves Ravenna into surrender. The beleaguered Totila, after calling Slavs and Avars for help, throws the full weight of the Ostrogothic army against the Lombards in the battle of Cividale; but when victory seems secured, a stray arrow kills Totila and the tide of the battle turns, with the Lombards going berserk over the battlefield and slaying everyone in sight, including the teenage Theodoric (II) Belisarius, Totila’s only male heir. After the battle, the Lombards (partly Arian, partly still heathen) invade all of Veneto settling their capital at Opitergium/Oderzo; the Roman populations flee to the coastal lagoons, where a Byzantine duchy is created, the forerunner of Venice; even the Patriarch of Aquileia Paulinus I takes refuge in the island of Grado (Friuli). Cleph marries Amalaswentha, Totila’s daughter. The Avar migrate through the Tatras into the Pannonian basin, which becomes their new homeland an the center of a powerful Avaro-Slavic kingdom.
574 The Lombards led by Cleph crush the Burgundian Franks and the Alamanni at the battle of Lodi Vecchia (Lombardy), entering Milan and Papia/Ticinum; Honoratus, bishop of Milan, flees in terror in Byzantine-held Genoa. Meantime the Byzantine army terminates the last Ostrogothic resistance led by the aged Teia, killed in battle at Mons Lunae (Tuscany).
575 The Byzantines led by Maurice gain a brilliant victory over the Persians at Melitene (*OTL Malatya) (Cappadocia); Iberia/Georgia overthrows Sassanian yoke under Guaram I/Gurgen III. In Rome, a ghost city, Benedict I succeeds John III as Pope after a long and disputed election. Byzantium grants the Lombards the lands from the Po to the Danube and the Sava rivers (but Bavarians and Slavs think differently as for their part), except for the Venetic lagoons.
ca. 575 Pushed ahead by the Avar onslaught, the Slovenians settle Carniola. The Angles conquer Eburacum/Ebrauc, renaming it York. The Lazi (Abasgians/Abkhazians) of NW Iberia/Georgia, in the service of Byzantium, defeat on the Black Sea coast the Onogurs, which, deflected towards the interior, settle around the Terek river. Christianization of Nubia/Sudan, which will follow the Monophysite Coptic Church of Egypt. The remnants of the Ostrogoths migrate through the Alps to Noricum/Austria fleeing Lombard domination and founds there a new fragile kingdom under a Hilderic.
575-579 Several Lombard attempts to cross the Western Alps are thwarted by the Franks, who consolidate their hold over the Aosta valley. Groups of Bulgars, Gepids, and even Saxons fleeing the Avar scourge filter through Italy’s unguarded northeastern border and pour into the Padan plain, intermingling with the Lombards. The Kutrigurs in Moldavia and Wallachia are subdued by the Avars, whilst their cousins in the Ukrain submit to the Onogurs.
ca. 575-594 The tribal chieftain Hospiton leads his people’s resistance against the Byzantines in Sardinian Barbagia, still a heathen land, then, accepting defeat, converts to Catholic Christianity and allows missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the Great to preach in the area.
576 The Khazars, most loyal allies of the Western Western Gökturks, establish a semi-autonomous Khanate of theirs on the lower Volga river.
577 In Northern China the northern Qi state (the eastern kingdom) is conquered by the northern Zhou (the western one), thus reunifying the former Toba/Tabgach Wei empire. The Western Gökturks invade Taurida (*OTL Crimea).
577-578 A Slavic horde led by Davrit invades the Sklaviniai (*OTL Balkans) up to Greece before being crushed by the Avars on their way back. A Bavarian invasion of Tyrol is crushed by the Lombard duke of Trento, Evin.
578-582 Tiberius II Constantine reigns in Constantinople, adopting the brilliant general Maurice as heir.
579 The Byzantines plot the assassination of the Lombard king Cleph and cross the Po river to complete their reconquest of Italy, but Cleph’s son Authari (not a grandson of Totila, he was born from a previous marriage) quickly gains recognition as king by Lombard dukes and exacts terrible revenge by besieging and razing Mantua to the ground; the Byzantine army is routed at Cremona at withdraws to Ravenna while the Lombards occupy most of Emilia.
580 The Lombards invade and conquer Tuscany, but can’t advance further; the Byzantines stop them in Liguria and on the Rome-Ravenna rout. Authari sets the Lombard capital at Pavia (the former Papia/Ticinum). King Maurice I unifies southern Wales. The eastern region of Khakheti secedes from the kingdom of Iberia/Georgia.
ca. 580 Götland (SW Sweden) splits in a western and an eastern kingdom: the local Geats (Goths) are weakened while the Swedes from north-east and the Danes south emerge as growing powers.
581 The Byzantine general (and adopted heir to the throne) Maurice newly defeats the Persians at Constantia (Armenia). The Chinese general Yang Jian takes power in the northern Zhou capital at Chang’an/Xian and founds the Sui dynasty.
581-584 The Avars crush the weak Ostrogothic kingdom in Noricum/Austria and deport the Ostrogoths as slaves, deleting them from history.
582 Upon Tiberius II Constantine’s death, Maurice becomes emperor of Byzantium. The Avars oust the Byzantines from Pannonia, taking Singidunum and Sirmium. Massive Slavic invasion of the Sklaviniai (*OTL Balkans), which are almost completely emptied of the original peoples and Slavicized; the Slavs sack Athens, a pale shadow of its former glory. The Dal Riada Scots from Ireland conquer the Isle of Man. Final separation of the Western and Eastern Gökturk empires.
583 The Western Gökturks invade Bactria but the Persian stem them at Herat. A Byzantine counteroffensive in the Padan Plain ends in a solemn defeat at the battle of the Scoltenna (Panaro) river.
584-604 Direct Byzantine occupation of the Syrian Arab vassal kingdom of Ghassan, that from his capital, Damascus, supported Monophyisitism against Costantinople’s will.
585 Authari’s Lombards overrun Byzantine Liguria razing Genoa, Albingaunum/Albenga, Vada Sabatia/Vado Ligure, Lunae/Luni.
586 Leovigildus, king of the Spanish Visigoths, unifies the Iberian peninsula by conquering the Swabian kingdom of Lusitania and vassalizing the Galician Celts, whose king Alanus Maurician (Alan ap Meurig) is captured at the battle of the Narcea. The Bretons repel the Neustrian Franks in the battle of Dinan. The Slavs besiege Thessalonica. Emperor Maurice reacts to Lombard encroachments in Italy by crowning his son Belisarius emperor of the West in Rome as Belisarius II, 110 years after Romulus Augustus’ deposition at the hands of Odoacar; Maurice then proceeds to put the Byzantine West under the two Exarchates of Ravenna and Carthage.
587 The Slavs colonize inner Greece, including the Peloponnesus/Morea. The Soga clan becomes paramount in Japan, supporting the spreading of Buddhism in the country. The Lombards, with enthusiastic Avaro-Slavic support, desolate Byzantine Histria as a revenge for the arrest of the Patriarch of Aquileia, Severus, by the Exarch of Ravenna Smaragdus, on charges of not adhering to the official condemnation of the Three Chapters.
588 The Burgundian Franks invade Piedmont but are routed at Alba, their only gain being some land in the Maritime Alps; a Byzantine counterinvasion of Tuscany fails at Arezzo.
589 China is reunified by Yang Jian, founder of the Sui empire, who conquers Nanking liquidating the southern Chen kingdom. The Persian commander Bahram defeats Western Gökturks, Khazars and Onogur-Bulgars in the Caucasus, then is stemmed by the Byzantines on the Araks river; afterwards he rebels and deposes Hormizd IV replacing him with Hormizd’s son Khusraw II Parviz. The Byzantine army gains another victory over the Persians at Nisibis (Assyria). Arab tribes invade lower Mesopotamia. The Lombards raid deep into the whereabouts of Rome. A matrimonial alliance is sealed between Lombards and Bavarians with the wedding of king Authari with Theodolinda, Catholic daughter of the Bavarian duke, Garibald; it has an anti-Frankish meaning. With the Council of Toledo the Visigoths of Spain renounce Arianism and convert to Nicene Catholicism.
590 Belisarius II’s Western Byzantines retake Padua and Mutina/Modena from the Lombards, who in turn plunder the poor remains of once thriving Aquileia. Agilulf succeeds Authari on the Lombard throne by marrying her widow Theodolinda, and moves the Lombard capital from Pavia to Modicia/Monza. A Byzantine fleet conquers the seaports of Taurida (*OTL Crimea), whereas the interior of the peninsula is left to the Onoguro-Bulgars.
590-591 Short usurpation by Bahram VI in Persia; after Maurice's great victory over Bahram at Sebastea/Sivas (Armenia) Khusraw II is reinstalled in power with support from Byzantium, and thanks for help by ceding in a peace treaty Armenia and suzerainty over Iberia/Georgia; in the latter the pro-Byzantine Stephen I ascends the throne.
590-604 St. Gregory I the Great is Pope in Rome: a distinguished and learned defeder of Catholicism, scion of the noble Anicia gens.
591 The Slovenians invade Carantania/Carinthia.
592 The Sui Chinese try to subdue the noprthern Korean kingdom of Koguryo but end up repulsed.
592-595 Upon the death of its Merovingian Frankish ruler Gontran, Burgundy is briefly attached to Austrasia and then given as appanage to Theodoric I of the Austrasian line
593-602 The Byzantine emperor Maurice leads a great campaign in the Sklaviniai (*OTL Balkans) against Avars and Slavs
594 King Agilulf of the Lombards ravages Byzantine Pentapolis (Romagna and Marche), retakes and destroys Mutina/Modena and raids deep into central Italy, conquering Spoleto where a new Lombard Duchy is established; the Western Byzantines succesfully defend Perugia and the Rome-Ravenna route
595 The Angles of Bernicia overthrow the Celtic petty kingdoms in the Pennines
ca. 595 Macedonian Slavs begin piracy in the Aegean Sea and plunder Thasos and Samotrakia; they will go on marauding by sea up to the middle 9th century. A sizable part of the European Greek populations takes refuge in the Aegean island
596 The Lombards defeat Belisarius II’s Western Byzantines at the battle of Todi (Umbria) and defend the new Dchy of Spoleto
597 Augustine Christianizes the kingdom of Kent (England). The Bernician Angles rout at Catreath the Celts of Goutodin (Votadini from Lothian) and absorb the other Angle kingdom of Deira. Agilulf briefly besieges Rome but is defeated by Belisarius II at Blera (Lazio) and, after a meeting with Pope Gregory the Great, renounces any assault on Rome (also thanks to pressure from his Catholic wife Theodolinda, no doubt). Great Berber rebellion in Western Byzantine Africa (known as Ifrigia); Carthage is under siege.
599 The Slovenians plunder Histria, but are eventually expelled by Byzantine forces. The Sui Chinese rout the Eastern Gökturks in the Ordos region, extorting tribute from them. The Mayan kingdom of Calakmul heavily defeats B’aakal/Palenque, making it a vassal state. The Persians invade Yemen, destroy Ma’rib and the kingdom of Himyar; the Ethiopians are ousted from Yemen
6th cent. The Irish spread Catholicism in the West and among the barbarians. The Frisians impose themselves as trade masters in the North Sea. Nadir of the “dark ages” in Europe, with a total collapse of the ancient urban civilization. The post-Hephtalite Hunnish horde of the Nezaks dominates most of Afghanistan, ravaging from Seistan (Eastern Persia) to the north of India. Apogee of the Classic era of Mayan civilization, centered in the Petén region (Guatemala)
ca. 600 The Polynesians settle in Tahiti and Hawaii. The Slovenians, still heathen, settle down in Carantania/Carinthia and establish a Duchy of their own, occupying also Styria. The zero is “invented” by Indian mathematicians; the Mayans too grasp the concept. The first Chera kingdom in Kerala (SW India) arrives to an end. Ememrging of a “roman” (Catholic) and a “barbarian” (Arian) parties in the Lombard kingdom. Hephtalite/White Hun power in northern India comes to an end. The Avars enforce their ascendancy over the Slavs of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia. Romancia Romancia (*centered on OTL Graubünden, Switzerland) proclaims herself a Duchy, paying lip service to the Western Byzantine empire. The Nubian kingdom of Nobadia/Faras is absorbed by its southern neighbour, Dongola; the strong kingdom of Mukurra is thus born, while, further south, another Nubian kingdom arises, Soba/Alwa. The Onoguro-Bulgars free themselves from the patronage of the Avars, now pressed by Maurice’s campaigns, and behave friendly towards the Western Gökturks.
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