As the old year ends, and a new one begins, it is time to look forward and backward once more. The new year provides many anniversaries to commemorate. Interestingly, many of them involve Islam. The following are some anniversaries worth noting in 2013.
800 years ago: Genghis Khan led the Mongols into China in 1211. Two years later, the Mongols laid siege to Beijing. The city refused to fall despite the Khan’s efforts and two attempted coups. The Mongol assault dramatically weakened Jin China and the Dynasty fell in 1234.
900 years ago: Peter Abelard moved to Paris in his teens. He rose to fame and emerged a leading Christian teacher. In 1113, he established his own school at Montagne Sainte-Genevieve. Afterward, Abelard turned to theology and grew immensely famous. Students travelled from all over Europe to study under him.
1200 years ago: Charlemagne crowned his son, Louis the Pious, co-Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of the Franks in 813. Louis became sole ruler upon his father’s death the next year. His reign proved uneven and was ripped apart by civil wars. He managed to restore order and stabilized the empire upon his death in 840.
1300 years ago: Islam expanded dramatically in the eighth century. Rome’s collapse left a power vacuum, which the Muslims sought to fill through conquest. In 713, Seville and Merida fell to the Islamic wave. Spain finally expelled the invaders in the fifteenth century.
1400 years ago: In 610, Muhammad reported a visitation and revelation from God. Three years later, he began preaching his revelations to the public. Muhammad claimed to be a prophet and advised people to submit to the one God. The Meccan tribes found Muhammad impudent and annoying. He immigrated to Medina in 622 to escape possible death.
1600 years ago: Barbarians sacked Rome in 410. Christians and Romans wondered how this could happen. On one level, people could not wrap their minds around Rome falling. On another, Christians wondered where God was during the attack. Pagans blamed Christians for the event. In 413, St. Augustine began writing The City of God. In the work, Augustine guarantees heaven would triumph even when Earthly cities fall. Additionally, he argued Christianity should focus on the mystical as opposed to politics. In the end, he describes a conflict between the City of Man and the City of God.
1700 years ago: At the beginning of the fourth century, Diocletian launched the Great Persecution against Christians. His successor, Constantine, converted to Christianity and legalized the religion. In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which ended Diocletian’s persecution. Later, Constantine provided incentives to Christians and the Church.
1900 years ago: Roman emperors liked to broadcast their triumphs through architecture. In 113, workers completed construction on Trajan’s Column. The column celebrated Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. Trajan's reign marked the empire's zenith.