2013 is out and 2014 has arrived. The New Year is full of important anniversaries of note in ancient history. Major battles in Ireland and Scotland occurred, science advanced, and world shaping individuals died. Indeed, Augustus (d. 14 A.D.) and Charlemagne (d. 814 A.D.) represent two of the most important people in European, western, and world history. The following are a few of the important events to commemorate in 2014.
500 years ago: The church hired Nicolaus Copernicus to determine the date of Easter. In the process, he developed the heliocentric theory of the universe. Before, people believed the Earth was the center of the universe. Copernicus postulated that the sun was the true center. He recorded his theory in “Commentariolus", which was likely written prior to 1514. However, the theory emerged to confront church doctrine in that year. The book did not receive widespread circulation or publication until after his death in 1543.
700 years ago: Robert the Bruce defeated England’s King Edward II at the Battle Bannockburn in 1314. The victory ended English domination of Scotland and led to eventual recognition of independence. Despite this, the fighting continued between the neighboring kingdoms for years. Centuries later, Scottish nobles sold out the country, which became absorbed into Great Britain.
750 years ago: Kublai Khan defeated his brother, Ariq Boke, to become Khan of Khans in 1264. Kublai Khan seemingly assumed undisputed control of the Mongol Empire while his brother landed in prison. However, the civil war really accentuated the fractures within the empire and it began to splinter. Boke died under mysterious circumstances a year later.
1000 years ago: Irish High King Brian Boru defeated his rival Mael Morda mac Murchada at the Battle of Clontarf. The King of Leister buffered his forces arrayed against Boru with Viking warriors. Boru’s forces leveled a decisive defeat upon the King of Leister and his allies, but died when fleeing Vikings stumbled upon his tent. The victory was celebrated as a great blow against foreign invaders. The local Vikings centered in Dublin had their power broken. In the end, Ireland remained fractured, but an eventual peace ensued.
1200 years ago: Charlemagne was the “Father of Europe.” He united the western portion of the continent under his rule through Christianity and guile. The Vatican recognized Charlemagne’s importance and legitimized his position at the head of Christian Europe on Christmas Day 800 when the Pope crowned Charlemagne the Holy Roman Emperor. Fourteen years later, the emperor passed away. The empire he held together through force of will did not survive long thereafter.
1400 years ago: The Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D. and the Islamic empires had not yet emerged. The Byzantine and Persian Empires represented the regional superpowers of the seventh century. The Byzantines eventually destroyed the Persian Empire at great cost. However, in 614, the Persians sacked Jerusalem and murder thousands of residents. The death toll might have been as high as 60,000.
2000 years ago: The first Roman Emperor Augustus died in 14 A.D. Augustus united Rome after a century of political and military strife consumed the republic. He assumed Caesar’s mantle after being named his heir and defeated his uncle’s assassins. Then, Augustus upset Mark Anthony and Cleopatra in another civil war. Augustus became the first emperor and created the Roman Empire, He brought forth the Pax Romana, prosperity, and an imperial system that lasted centuries.