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9th century

Related subjects: General history

Background Information

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Millennium: 1st millennium
Decades: 800s 810s 820s 830s 840s
850s 860s 870s 880s 890s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

The 9th century is the period from 801 to 900 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Common Era.

West Africa

A bronze ceremonial vessel made around the 9th century, one of the bronzes found at Igbo-Ukwu.

Southeastern Nigeria

Around the 9th century the Igbo people of what is now southeastern Nigeria developed bronze casts of humans, animals, and mythical creatures. These bronzes, which were used as vessels, amulets, pendants, and sacrificial tools, are among the earliest made bronzes ever found in Nigeria. Most items were part of a burial of a nobleman of the Nri-Igbo culture in the northern part of Igboland. Long distance trading was also discovered through the thousands of glass beads found at the sites. The discovery of the bronzes was made by locals from Igbo Ukwu, and they mark the start of the development of the Nri Kingdom.

Western Europe


Britain experienced a great influx of Viking peoples in the 9th century as the Viking Age continued from the previous century. The kingdoms of the Heptarchy were gradually conquered by the Danes, who set up Anglo-Saxon puppet rulers in each kingdom. This invasion was achieved by a huge military force known as the Great Heathen Army, which was supposedly led by Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan Ragnarsson, and Guthrum. This Danish army first arrived in Britain in 865 in East Anglia. After conquering that kingdom, the army proceeded to capture the city of York (Jorvik) and establish the kingdom of Jorvik. The Danes went on to subjugate the kingdom of Northumbria and to take all but the western portion of Mercia. The remaining kingdom of Wessex was the only kingdom of the Heptarchy left. Alfred the Great managed to maintain his kingdom of Wessex and push back the Viking incursions, relieving the neighbouring kingdoms from the threat of the Danes following his famous victory over them at the Battle of Ethandun in 878. Alfred re-established Anglo-Saxon rule over the western half of Mercia, and the Danelaw was established which separated Mercia into halves, the eastern half remaining under the control of the Danes.

Europe in 814

Ireland was also affected by the Viking expansion across the North Sea. Extensive raids were carried out all along the coast and eventually permanent settlements were established, such as that of Dublin in 841. Particular targets for these raids were the monasteries on the western coast of Ireland, as they provided a rich source for loot. On such raids the Vikings set up impermanent camps, which were called longphorts by the Irish -- this period of Viking raids on the coasts of Ireland has been named the longphort phase after these types of settlements. Ireland in the 9th century was organised into an amalgam of small kingdoms, called tuatha. These kingdoms were sometimes grouped together and ruled by a single, provincial ruler. If such a ruler could establish and maintain authority over a portion of these tuatha, he was sometimes granted the title of High King.

Scotland also experienced significant Viking incursions during the 9th century. The Vikings established themselves in coastal regions, usually in northern Scotland, and in the northern islands such as Orkney and Shetland. The Viking invasion and settlement in Scotland provided a contributing factor in the collapse of the kingdoms of the Picts, who inhabited most of Scotland at the time. Not only were the Pictish realms either destroyed or severely weakened, the Viking invasion and settlement may have been the reason for the movement of Kenneth MacAlpin, the king of Dál Riata at that time. The kingdom of Dál Riata was located on the western coast of Scotland, and Viking incursions destroyed it after the death of its previous king, Áed mac Boanta in 839, according to the Annals of Ulster. This may have caused the new king, MacAlpin, to move to the east, and conquer the remnants of the Pictish realms. MacAlpin became king of the Picts in 843 and later kings would be titled as the King of Alba or King of Scots.

Art of the 9th century

Art in the 9th century was primarily dedicated to the Church and employed as basic tools of the Roman Catholic mass. Thousands of golden art objects were made: Sacred cups, vessels, reliqueries, crucifixes, rosaries, altar pieces, and statues of the Virgin and Child or Saints all kept the flame of art from dying out. Architecture began to revive to some extent by the 9th century, taking the form of Church facilities of all kinds, and the first castle fortifications since Roman times began to take form in simple "moat and baily" castles, or simple "strong point" tower structures, with little refinement.


Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 9th century.
Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 9th century.
  • An unknown event causes the decline of the Maya Classical Era.
  • Beowulf might have been written down in this century, though it could also have been in the 8th century.
  • Reign of Charlemagne, and concurrent (and controversially labeled) Carolingian Renaissance in Western Europe.
  • Large-scale Viking attacks on Europe begin, devastating countless numbers of people.
  • Oseberg ship burial.
  • The Magyars begin their conquest of Pannonia (roughly modern day Hungary, a process that will take several decades to be completed.
  • The Tukolor settle in the Senegal river valley.
  • Muslim traders settle in the northwest and southeast of Madagascar.
  • 800: Charlemagne is crowned emperor of Rome by Pope Leo III.
  • 800: Arab fleet sails up the Tiber.
  • 800 – 909: Rule of Aghlabids as an independent Muslim dynasty in North Africa, with their capital at Tunis.
  • 802: Jayavarman II of the Khmer people in Cambodia founds the Khmer empire and establishes the Angkorian dynasty.
  • 803: Construction on the Leshan Giant Buddha in Tang Dynasty China is complete, after 90 years of rock-carving on a massive cliff-side.
  • 805 - 820: Tang Dynasty was under the rule of Emperor Xianzong of Tang.
  • 809 – 815: War between the Byzantine empire and Bulgaria.
  • 811: Battle of Pliska fought between a Byzantine force led by emperor Nicephorus I and a Bulgarian army commanded by Khan Krum. Byzantines are defeated in a series of engagements, culminating with the death of Nicephorus I.
  • 813: In Battle of Versinikia the Byzantines are heavily defeated by the Bulgarians.
  • 813: China was reunited.
  • c. 813 – c. 915: Period of serious Arab naval raids on shores of Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas.
  • 814: Charlemagne dies at Aachen.
  • 815: The 30-year Treaty of 815 between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire end the hostilities between the two countries.
  • 824: Han Yu died.
  • 827 – 902: Aghlabid dynasty colonises emirates in Sicily and subsequently raids Southern Italy.
  • 830: The House of Wisdom, a library and translation institute established in Baghdad by al-Ma'mun, Abbasid caliph, to transfer the knowledge of Greeks, Persians, Indians, etc. to Muslim world. The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, a book of algebra, is also written there by Al-Khwarizmi.
  • 835: Ganlu Incident.
  • 840: Death of Louis the Pious.
  • 841: Dublin is founded on the east coast of Ireland by the Vikings.
  • 843: The three sons of Louis the Pious reach an agreement known as the Treaty of Verdun and split the Carolingian empire into three divisions; East Francia was given to Louis the German, West Francia to Charles the Bald and Middle Francia to Lothair I.
  • 845: Buddhism is persecuted and banned in China.
  • 846 - 859: Emperor Xuānzong of Tang reigned; He was considered the last capable emperor of Tang Dynasty.
  • 846 - 11,000 Saracen Arab squadrons from Africa, with 500 horses, desecrate Christian shrines in Rome, including the tombs and basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul.
  • 848 – 852: The west bank of the Tiber is annexed into the city of Rome. A defensive wall, commissioned by Pope Leo IV, is built around what came to be called the Leonine City as a defensive response to the Saracen desecration of Rome in 846.
  • 850 – 875: The first Norse settlers arrive on Iceland.
  • 851: The Arab merchant Suleiman al-Tajir visits the Chinese seaport at Guangzhou in southern China, and observes the manufacturing of porcelain, the Islamic mosque built at Guangzhou, the granary system of the city, and how its municipal administration functioned.
  • 859: Muslims establish the University of Al Karaouine as a madrasa in Fez, Morocco.
  • 862: The beginning the Rurik Dynasty in Russia
  • 863: The Chinese author Duan Chengshi describes the slave trade, ivory trade, and ambergris trade of Somalia in East Africa.
  • 862: The Bagratuni Dynasty of Medieval Armenia begins with Ashot I
  • 863 – 879: Period of schism between eastern and western churches.
  • 864: Christianization of Bulgaria under Boris I
  • 867: Onward Revival of the Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian dynasty.
  • 868: Ahmad ibn Tulun breaks away from the Abbasid Caliphate and establishes the independent Tulunid dynasty.
  • 869: An earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's Sanriku coast, killing 1,000 people.
  • 870: Prague Castle founded.
  • 871 – 899: Reign of Alfred the Great.
  • 875 – 884: Huang Chao leads an unsuccessful rebellion against the Tang Dynasty in China.
  • 878: Battle of Ethandun results in the victory of Alfred the Great over the Danish warlord Guthrum.
  • 885: Arrival of the disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav in Bulgaria. Development of the Cyrillic Alphabet.
  • 893: Council of Preslav - Vladimir-Rasate is dethroned and succeeded as Prince of Bulgaria by Simeon I; the capital is moved from Pliska to Preslav; the Byzantine clergy is expelled and replaced by Bulgarian; Old Bulgarian becomes the official language of the country.
  • 895/ 896: The year of the Magyars arrival in Pannonia. This year is widely accepted as the beginning of the Hungarian "Landtaking"* Late 9th century: Bulgaria stretches from the mouth of the Danube to Epirus and Bosnia.
  • In Italy, some cities became free republics: for instance Forlì, in 889.
  • The Christian Nubian kingdom reaches its peak of prosperity and military power. ( Early history of Sudan).
  • Harald Fairhair was victorious at the battle of Hafrsfjord, and Norway was unified into one kingdom.
  • Chess reaches Japan.
  • The Medieval Warm Period begins.
  • The Coptic period, at its most broad definition, ends.
  • Page from Koran (Surah II:286 and title Surah III) in kufic script, from Syria, is made. It is now kept at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Late 9th century – Pallava dynasty ends in Southern India.
  • Late 9th century - Womb World mandala, To-ji, Kyoto, is made. Heian period.
  • 9th – 10th century – Bowl with kufic border, from Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is made. It is now kept at Musée du Louvre, Paris.
  • Laguna Copperplate Inscription, Kavi script, inscribed in Luzon, Philippines, dated Saka year 822 ( 900)

Significant people

Charlemagne (left) and Pippin the Hunchback. 10th-century copy of a lost original from about 830.
Saint Clement of Ohrid
  • Adi Sankara
  • Alfonso III of Asturias, king of Asturias, Galicia and León.
  • Al-Jahiz
  • Alfred the Great
  • Arnulf of Carinthia
  • Árpád, Grand Prince of the Magyars
  • Basil I the Macedonian (Βασίλειος Α') ( 811– 886), ruled ( 867)–( 886)
  • Boris I of Bulgaria
  • Empress Irene of Athens
  • Charlemagne
  • Clement of Ohrid
  • Han Yu
  • Harald I of Norway
  • Huang Chao
  • Harun al-Rashid
  • Krum, Khan of Bulgaria
  • Kenneth I of Scotland
  • Li Deyu
  • Louis the Pious
  • Naum of Preslav
  • Niu Sengru
  • Ordoño I of Asturias, King of Asturias
  • Pope Johanna
  • Rurik
  • Simeon I of Bulgaria
  • Saints Cyril and Methodius
  • Taizu of Later Liang
  • Wang Kon
  • Wang Xianzhi
  • Emperor Xianzong of Tang
  • Emperor Xuānzong of Tang

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

  • List of 9th-10th centuries inventions
  • First image of a rotary grindstone in a European source—illustration shows crank, first known use of a crank in the West ( Utrecht Psalter, 843)
  • First known printed book, the Diamond Sutra, printed in China using woodblock printing in 868 AD.
  • Invention of gunpowder by Chinese Taoist Alchemists.
  • Vulgar Latin begins to develop into various Romance languages.
  • Two syllabaries or kana are developed from simplified Chinese characters in Japan.
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