Women in the Medieval Church: The Christian History Timeline

Women in the Medieval Church

450–523: Brigid of Ireland founds Ireland’s first nunnery and spreads Christianity there

475—545: Clotilde, Queen of the Franks, converts her husband, King Clovis, who lays the foundation of the French nation

500–547: Theodora I, co-empress of Byzantine Empire, helps bring moral reform

518–587: Radegunde, Queen of the Franks, maintains her faith despite King Clothaire’s adulteries and his murder of her brother; later she founds a key monastery

614–680: Hilda of Whitby founds an English monastery that trains five bishops; she hosts significant Synod of Whitby in 663

700–780: Lioba helps Boniface to convert the Saxons; founds abbey in Germany; invited to court of Charlemagne

fl. 840: Dhouda of Septimania writes a manual on feudal and religious conduct, urging her son to practice charity and serve the king and the church

932–1002: Hrotsvit composes the first known dramas in church history

1046–93: Queen Margaret of Scotland vigorously reforms the church

c. 1083–c. 1150: Anna Comnena writes an important history of the Byzantine Church and Empire of her day

c. 1097–c. 1161: Christina of Markyate overcomes obstacles to live life of prayer and poverty; influences abbot of St. Albans toward holiness

1122–1204: Eleanor of Aquitaine rules one—third of France; later co-rules, with Henry II, half of France and all England; joins crusade to Holy Land; financially supports Fontrevault Abbey

1188–1252: Blanche of Castile, Queen of Louis VIII of France, wins dispute with French bishops; performs acts of charity

1194—1253: Clare of Assisi renounces wealth; founds Order of Poor Clares; gains from pope right to maintain absolute poverty; helps save Assisi from being sacked

1207–1231: Elizabeth of Hungary, a noblewoman, ministers to the poor and establishes hospital

c. 1210–c. 1280: Mechthild of Magdeburg criticizes church corruption and writes Flowing Light of the Godhead

c. 1248–1309: Angela of Foligno devotes herself to prayer and austerity in Franciscan Third Order; writes Experience of the Truly Faithful

1256–1302: Gertrud the Great, after conversion at age 25, leads life of contemplation; writes Messenger of Divine Kindness

1303–1373: Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden, widowed after 30 years of marriage and eight children, founds order, gives to poor, writes, and urges papal reform

1343–c. 1423: Julian of Norwich lives enclosed life of prayer; writes Revelations of Divine Love

1347–1380: Catherine of Siena devotes herself to prayer; helps lepers and prisoners; urges pope to return to Rome; writes Letters and Dialogue

1366–1394: Agnes of Bohemia, betrothed to Emperor Frederick II, founds monastery

1373–1439: Margery Kempe undertakes pilgrimages and writes first known autobiography in English

1412–1431: Joan of Arc, following supernatural “voices,” leads besieged French forces to victory; burned at stake on charges of heresy; later declared innocent

Church and World Events

455: Vandals sack Rome

476: Last Roman emperor in the West

529: Justinian codifies Roman law

540: Benedict writes monastic Rule

590–604: Pope Gregory I, the Great

596: Augustine sent to convert English

622: Mohammad’s hijra marks birth of Islam

711: Moslems cross into Spain

718: Boniface’s mission to the Saxons of Germany

731: Bede writes Ecclesiastical History of the English

732: Charles Martel limits Moslem expansion at Tours

800: Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor

843: Treaty of Verdun divides Charlemagne’s kingdom

863: Cyril and Methodius lead mission to Slavs

885: Vikings besiege Paris

910: Monastery at Cluny founded

911: Vikings given land for settlement; leads to foundation of Normandy

962: Otto I crowned Holy Roman Emperor

988: Vladimir, Grand Prince of Kiev, baptized

995–1030: Olav brings Christianity to Norway

1001–28: Stephen, King of Hungary, converts this people to Christianity

1054: East—West Schism

1066: Battle of Hastings; William of Normandy King of England

1071: Battle of Manzikert marks ascendancy of new group of Moslems

1073–85: Pope Gregory VII reforms church

1093: Anselm becomes Archbishop of Canterbury

1095: Pope Urban II calls for crusade

1115: Bernard of Clairvaux founds monastery

1122: Concordat of Worms, compromise in church—state feuds

c. 1141: Gratian’s Decretum, basis for medieval church law

1142: Abelard dies

c. 1150: Medieval universities begin

1152–90: Frederick Barbarossa rules Holy Roman Empire (Germany)

1170: Thomas á Becket assassinated

1204: Fourth Crusade; sack of Constantinople

1208: Francis of Assissi renounces wealth

1215: Magna Carta confirmed by King John 
Innocent III calls Fourth Lateran Council, which affirms transubstantiation, condemns Waldensians

1220: Dominic founds order

1271–1295: Marco Polo travels to China

1272: Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae

1291: Fall of last crusading territory in East

1302: Unam Sanctamproclaims no salvation outside the church

1309: Papacy “exiled” to Avignon

1321: Dante’s Divine Comedy

1337–1453: One Hundred Years’ War

1347: First wave of Black Death

1378: Great Papal Schism yields multiple popes

1380: Wyclif supervises English Bible translation

1414: Council of Constance ends Papal Schism; condemns Hus

1418: Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ

c. 1450: Gutenberg’s press

By Thomas O. Kay

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #30 in 1991]

Dr. Thomas O. Kay is Chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
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