8th century

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The 8th century began on January 1, 701 and ended on December 31, 800 . The world population in this century is estimated at 200 to 300 million people. In Europe, the Carolingians took over power in the Franconian Empire and at the end of the century ruled large parts of the continent. The Byzantine Empire remained stable despite numerous attacks. In the course of the Islamic expansion that began in the previous century , other areas, such as the Iberian Peninsula and large parts of Central Asia, fell under Muslim rule. In the middle of the century, the Abbasid dynasty , which ended the domination of the Arabs in the Muslim world, took over the office of caliph . China achieved great economic and cultural prosperity under the Tang until a period of upheaval began in the middle of the century.


In Europe, this century is part of the Early Middle Ages (approx. 500-1050).

Franconian Empire

The expansion of the Franconian Empire from 481 to 814

Political development

Typical equipment of a Carolingian armored rider of the 8th century.

Europe was shaped in the 8th century by the rise of the Frankish Empire and the Carolingians . Until 714, Pippin the Middle ruled the Franconian Empire as a house master. It was largely only formally subject to the Merovingian kings , who had lost a large part of their actual power. After his death, his son Karl Martell prevailed as his successor, who finally secured the leadership position for the Carolingians. In contrast to him, his son and successor, Pippin the Younger , strove for royal dignity. After the last Merovingian king was deposed, he had himself proclaimed king. Pippin's heir, Charlemagne , greatly expanded the borders of the Frankish Empire through regular military campaigns against the Lombards , the Avars and the Saxons , and finally dominated western and central Europe and a large part of the Italian peninsula.

At the beginning of the century, local rulers in the Franconian Empire had a high degree of independence. So dukes ruled over some parts of the empire with far-reaching powers. The Carolingians strove to reduce the power of the local rulers in their favor. To do this, they gradually disempowered all dukes. In addition, Charlemagne in particular established a local ruling structure geared towards him, known as the county constitution . Counts were appointed by the king and accountable to him. Partly they owned the land over which they had sovereign rights, partly they got it from the king. In the areas he conquered, Karl installed counts who were both aristocrats of the conquered peoples and aristocrats from the Franconian core areas. In addition to the secular nobles, bishops and abbots , on whose appointment the Carolingians had a significant influence, were also integrated into the system of the county constitution. These performed both spiritual and worldly tasks. Their secular tasks were similar in scope to those of the counts, which in the case of Charlemagne also included active participation in military campaigns. Karl traveled regularly through his kingdom ( travel kingship ) to check it . He also used royal messengers.

The appointment as king of the Carolingians was tied to the consent of the mighty people. Nevertheless, the idea of ​​hereditary kingship also played a major role. In order to justify the change of the royal dynasty from the Merovingian family to the Carolingian family, Pippin the Younger had the Pope obtain his approval for this step. The anointing of Pippin was a further step towards the legitimation of his royal dignity and was intended to give it a religious character. The Carolingians understood kingship as an office carried out on behalf of God. Your kingdom should therefore be a Christian kingdom. Karl Martell already promoted Christian proselytizing, which his successors continued against the background of the idea of ​​a Christian empire. The Carolingians relied on Anglo-Saxon missionaries who were closely associated with the Pope. While Karl Martell refused military support for the Pope, Pippin supported the Pope militarily after he had legitimized his kingship. From then on, the Frankish kings saw themselves as the protective power of the papacy, which the popes also saw. In the year 800, Charlemagne was crowned West Roman Emperor by the Pope. The imperial crown granted him a higher rank, but no increase in rights. The coronation established the (West) European empire of the Middle Ages. It saw itself as the ideal successor to the Empire of the Roman Empire and was thus a competitor of the Byzantine Empire. In the 9th century, the two emperors solved this double emperor problem by allowing each other to wear different emperor titles.

An institution of the Carolingians was the division of inheritance, whereby the inheritance was divided among the sons after the death of the king. So Pippin initially shared the rule with his brother Karlmann , who went to the monastery after a few years. Charlemagne initially shared the rule with his brother, also known as Karlmann , who died three years after taking power.

Society, Economy and Law

After the population decline in the past centuries, the population in Western and Central Europe rose again. Still, wars, famine and epidemics caused by storms still affected people's life expectancy, but the Justinian plague finally disappeared in the middle of the century. Child mortality was high and life expectancy after surviving childhood was 44 to 47 years. The people lived mainly on cereal products, as well as dairy products and vegetables.

The society was strongly influenced by agriculture. The vast majority of the people lived in small rural villages. Most of the cities that went back to Roman foundations were in western and southern Europe. In the course of the Franconian expansion, forerunners of urban settlements also developed east of the Rhine around the founding of monasteries and bishops' seats.

Society was divided into free and unfree, with the respective status being hereditary. The nobility, privileged by offices, rose from the free. Free people were legally independent, but owed military service to the king. The unfree were dependent on a master who had to grant them protection, but who could rule over them in many areas of life. The rights and duties of the unfree man and his master were very different in each individual case.

Wealth was essentially based on land ownership. Most of the land belonged to large landowners, such as kings, nobles, bishops or monasteries. They managed this themselves partly with the help of their unfree, other parts they leased to unfree and free tenants. If the free farmers only owed taxes to the landlord, the unfree tenants had to provide additional services for the lords, the forced labor.

Many military services and always expensive weapons and armor that they had to provide themselves were an increasing burden for the free. So many free people thought it was economically more advantageous to become unfree tenants of a landlord in order to be freed from the burdens of war. A decrease in the number of non-aristocratic free people can be observed in this century.

The king's economic sources were based on the property of the crown, which made up only part of the territory of the empire, and the royal treasure.

The Frankish empire comprised many different ethnic groups. For the members of many peoples, such as the Saxons, the Thuringians and the Alemanni, their own national law applied. Charlemagne had people's rights written down and partially adapted.

Charlemagne's coin reform served to standardize conditions in the Franconian Empire and to facilitate the exercise of power. While Pippin the Younger had already enforced the right to issue coins, the coin shelf , as the sole right of the king, Charles introduced the denarius as a uniform silver coin in the Frankish empire and stipulated how many coins could be minted from one pound of silver. Money was mainly used in long-distance trade, while bartering dominated at the local level.

Italian peninsula

In the previous centuries, the Lombards had conquered large parts of the Italian peninsula from the Byzantine Empire , which at the beginning of the century still ruled a strip of land across central Italy, including Rome, and areas in the south of the Italian peninsula. The Lombards were ruled by kings, with dukes ruling part of the kingdom under the king. In the course of the century, the kings also brought the independent Lombard duchy of Benevento under their control. With the expansion of the power of the Lombards, the popes, who exercised secular rule over Rome, felt even more harassed. Byzantium could not and would not give them any help, especially since religious differences had existed since the previous century. After further conquests of Byzantine territory by the Lombards in the middle of the century, the Pope called the Frankish King, Pippin the Younger, who saw himself as the protector of the papacy, for help. He recaptured essential areas and transferred them to the Pope. This Pippin donation made the Pope, who had already received a land allocation at the beginning of the century, finally the secular ruler of a larger state. This papal state comprised larger territories of central Italy until the 19th century. When the Pope saw his secular rule threatened again by the Lombards in the 770s, he called upon Charlemagne for help. Charles conquered the entire Longobard Empire and stood up as its king. Only the Lombard duchy of Benevento, south of Rome, remained independent.

Iberian Peninsula

At the beginning of the century, several Visigoth parties fought for power on the Iberian Peninsula. A request for help from one of the conflicting parties was used by the Berbers and Arabs to conquer a large part of the peninsula. The land they called Al-Andalus was conquered by relatively autonomous Muslim groups. In addition to military force, these groups also gained power through negotiations and alliances in which the conquerors assured the regional rulers or leading groups that many of their traditional legal positions would be preserved. However, the mountains in the north of the Iberian Peninsula remained free from Muslim rule. They served Gothic migrants as a retreat. In the second half of the century they were able to recapture larger areas in the north of the peninsula from the Muslim conquerors and found the Christian kingdom of Asturias there. This served as the starting point for the reconquest , known as the Reconquista , of the Muslim-ruled areas by the descendants of the Visigoths, which was completed in 1492. All areas that the Muslims conquered north of the Pyrenees , such as Septimania , were recaptured by the Franks in the same century. The Franks under Charles Martell won the first major military victory against the Muslim troops in the battle of Tours and Poitiers . Whether this was about the thwarting of an attempt at conquest or just about a raid is disputed.

Tensions and fighting broke out between the two groups of conquerors, the Berbers and the Arabs, after the conquest. In the middle of the century, Abd ar-Rahman I from the Umayyad dynasty conquered power in Al-Andalus and established a central rule. The Emirate of Cordoba he founded was the first Muslim empire to be formally politically independent from the Caliphate in Baghdad. In its capital, Córdoba, construction began on the Mosque of Córdoba on behalf of the emir .

Rest of Europe

The Avar Empire , located in the Carpathian Basin , came into armed conflict with the Frankish Empire from 788 onwards. The military successes of the Franks in the 790s led to the destabilization of the Avar Empire, which was followed by its downfall in the following century.

In south-eastern Europe, south of the Transylvanian Alps, lay the Bulgarian Empire , which stretched further along the Black Sea coast to the mouth of the Dnieper . At the beginning of the century it was allied with the Byzantine Empire , but in the period that followed it got into armed conflict with it. In the years 750 to 775, the Byzantines took advantage of the easing of the Arab attacks to conquer large parts of the Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgarians used the end of the Byzantine attacks after the death of the emperor to recapture essential parts of their empire. During the century a process began in which the Bulgarian ruling class assimilated to the Slav majority.

The Khazar Empire lay north of the Caucasus and stretched from the Crimea to the north of the Caspian Sea . The Khazarian Khanate , which was allied with Byzantium , waged numerous wars against the Caliphate with varying success. After the Abbasids took over the office of caliph , relations became peaceful. At the head of the empire stood a khagan and a bek , with the latter performing all military and administrative tasks. At least the elite adopted the Jewish religion in the 8th century . For the Khazars, who were at a geographically important point for world trade, this was of central economic importance.

Religion, Culture and Education in Europe

At the beginning of the 8th century, Christianity was established in Gaul, the Iberian and Italian peninsulas, as well as the Irish and British Isles. Supported by the Carolingians, Christianity spread through the Anglo-Saxon mission in the Franconian areas north and east of the Rhine. While the conversion was essentially based on voluntary action, numerous forced baptisms occurred during the Saxon Wars of Charlemagne as part of the establishment of the rule of the Franks. With the conversion of large groups of Lombards to the Catholic creed, it became the predominant creed in Europe. After the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the population living there was allowed to maintain their Christian faith, but large parts of the population in the south of the peninsula converted to Islam. The converts as well as the Christian part of the original population adopted Arabic customs and traditions. Nevertheless, the Christians remained a well-defined group.

In this century the Pope turned away from Byzantium as a protecting power and turned to the Frankish Empire as a protecting power. This and the imperial coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope led to a further alienation between the Roman Church and the Greek Orthodox Church . In the religious field, however, the dispute over the legitimacy of the worship of religious images could be settled again in the Second Council of Nicaea .

Oldest datable manuscript in Carolingian minuscule

The Franconian kings in particular established their kingship religiously. They increased the involvement of the church in their exercise of power. Bishops and abbots had both religious and secular functions, which under Charlemagne also included warfare. Against this background, they not only had a decisive influence on the appointment of church offices, but also on the decision-making of religious questions. Monasteries played a major role in both the political and religious spheres. Newly founded monasteries, such as the Fulda monastery , were the starting points for missionary work east of the Rhine. The Anglo-Saxon missionaries propagated the rule of the order of Benedict of Nursia , which over the course of the century increasingly became the basis for life in the monasteries.

The Franconian Empire was characterized by a low level of education among the population, including the elites, beyond the first half of the century. Charlemagne countered this at the end of the century with the Carolingian renaissance , also known as educational reform. Those involved in the reform were, on the one hand, important scholars whom he invited to the court, and on the other hand the monasteries. Under the motto "correctio", a revision and standardization of the political and religious rules in the Franconian Empire took place. So were liturgical texts and the Bible text editing. In addition, the Latin language was used as lingua franca introduced in the Frankish Empire and a uniform font , the Carolingian minuscule developed. Education and the transfer of knowledge were mainly given to monasteries but also to dioceses. Numerous ancient writings were copied and exchanged in the monasteries. Cathedral and monastery schools were established, where both future clerics and lay people were taught. The Carolingian educational reform promoted cultural exchange between the European regions. The Palatinate Chapel was started as an outstanding building project in the last years of the century and borrowed from Byzantine buildings in Italy.

In Britain and Ireland the development of a predominantly religious written culture continued at the beginning of the century. The main bearers were the monasteries, in which the gospels of island illumination were written and painted. Beda Venerabilis was a particularly well-known representative of monastic scholarship .

Byzantium and the Muslim world

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire in 717

After losing two-thirds of its territory in the 7th century, the Byzantine Empire extended into Asia Minor , parts of the Italian peninsula, parts of the southern foothills of the Balkans and several Mediterranean islands in that century . In the first half of the century, the Arabs attacked the empire through repeated attacks in Asia Minor. After successfully repelling their siege of Constantinople in 717/18, Byzantium was able to defend itself increasingly better. During the defensive battle of Constantinople, the Byzantines largely destroyed the Arab fleet, thereby breaking the Arab naval rule on the Mediterranean. The civil war for the caliphate made it possible for Byzantium to recapture large areas from 750 to 775 that it had lost to the Bulgarians in the previous century. Due to renewed attacks by the caliphate, it stopped the conquests and in the 790s lost part of the recaptured areas in the Balkans to the Bulgarians.

The society reflected the constant attacks and military campaigns by orienting itself mainly on military concerns. The expansion of the division of the empire into military districts, the topics in which the military leaders also performed civilian tasks, began in the 7th century . A significant number of the soldiers also owned land. From the 726 to the 780s, a religious dispute about the correct use and worship of religious icons dominated the Byzantine iconoclasm . The religious issue, which was also discussed in other parts of Christianity, became a domestic political dispute in Byzantium.

Islamic expansion and the caliphate

The Islamic Expansion:
  • Spread under the Prophet Mohammed, 622–632
  • Spread among the four “rightly guided caliphs”, 632–661
  • Spread among the Umayyads, 661–750
  • Since the middle of the 7th century, the caliphs of the Umayyad dynasty ruled the empire . The continuation of the Islamic expansion brought most of the Iberian Peninsula, Transoxania and the Indus region under their control. These conquests contributed to the fact that Caliph Hisham (724-742) ruled over the largest empire in terms of area that existed in the world until then. After the successes, the military defeats increased on several fronts. The caliphs countered the heavy burden on the treasury caused by these military activities with significant tax increases.

    Domestically, the Umayyads relied on changing majorities of Arab clans, but did not manage to counter the dissatisfaction that arose especially from the 740s on how the booty from the conquests and the tax revenue were distributed. The dissatisfied set up a predominantly Arab rebel army in 747, which overthrew the Umayyads in 750 . The rebellion was supported by numerous Muslims who questioned the legitimacy of the Umayyads because they were not descended from members of the family of Muhammad . Furthermore, Persian converts, Mawālī , who felt neglected by the rulers compared to the Arab Muslims, played a major role in the overthrow of the dynasty. At the head of the rebellion was the Arab Abbasid family , who, as the descendants of an uncle of Mohamed, had greater legitimacy according to the rebels. When the Abbasids came to power, Islamic expansion stopped. A victory in the Battle of the Talas against the Chinese in 751 secured Arab supremacy in Central Asia. In the following period, Islamic rule regionalized. This process was initiated by Abd al-Rahman I , one of the few Umayyads who survived the bloodbath that the Abbasids wrought under his dynasty. Shortly after they came to power, he withdrew the Iberian peninsula from the political control of the Abbasids and established the Emirate of Córdoba there . At the end of the century, the Abbasids lost control of the Maghreb to a local dynasty.

    Characteristic of the 8th century was an increasingly concrete form of Islamic rule. The process of Arabization and the Islamization of society increasingly unfolded their effects. At the beginning of the century, the conversion of non-Arab citizens of the caliphate to Islam led to a decline in income from property tax and poll tax, jizya , from which all Muslims were exempt. The caliphs countered this, at least in Iraq, by levying property tax regardless of religious affiliation. Since the converts, like all Muslims , had to pay a levy, zakāt , instead of the poll tax , the fiscal obstacles to increasing Islamization were removed. Islamization took place differently from region to region, so the Persian elite quickly converted to Islam, while in Egypt Islamization was very restrained. Overall, large parts of the population of the Caliphate Empire were non-Muslims in the 8th century. Arabization was not identical with Islamization. With its introduction as an administrative language at the end of the 7th century, the Arabic language became the common lingua franca in the Caliphate and the language of science. Arabic was initially the language of the educated elites, only in Persia could Arabic not establish itself permanently.

    Umayyad Mosque in Damascus

    Umayyad rule was based on changing Arab clans and groups. The highest posts were almost exclusively given to members of Arab descent. In order to maintain contact with the Arab Bedouin culture, the caliphs built desert castles in the Syrian desert. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the Arab emigrants lived in the cities of the empire. The Umayyads erected large structures here, such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, which were supposed to represent the new Islamic culture.

    With the change of power to the Abbasids, this “Arab empire” changed into an “Islamic empire”. This caliph dynasty sought equal treatment for Muslims of Arab and non-Arab origin. If Syria was the power base of the Umayyads, the power base of the Abbasids was mainly in the territory of the former Persian Sassanid Empire . First the new caliphs built a palace and a mosque near the town of Baghdad. The authorities and the army settled in a circle around the palace. Markets and suburbs quickly formed on the outskirts of the city, making Baghdad one of the largest cities in the world by the end of the century. With the Abbasids, the court ceremonial of the caliphs for the first time showed great similarities with that of the Persian kings. They placed the administration of the empire in the hands of a vizier , an office of great power which for a long time lay in the hands of the Persian family of the Barmarkids. Like this office, many offices in the centralized empire were held by Persians.

    A strong economic upswing followed. Aided by Arabic as the lingua franca, an extensive Muslim dealer network developed in the caliphate and beyond its borders. The caliphs also obtained knowledge from neighboring states through this dealer network, which they had collected. At the end of the century they began to have important Greek writings of antiquity translated into Arabic. The Greek scriptures and the knowledge gathered formed the basis for Islamic science and culture in the following centuries . A great polymath was Jabir ibn Hayyan , who wrote basic works on chemistry. In this century most of the schools of law that are important to this day for the interpretation of Islamic law, Sharia , were established . Furthermore, the life of Muhammad was recorded for the first time and a work on pre-Islamic cults in Arabia was written.


    In the Horn of Africa, central royal power in the Aksumite Empire collapsed. The Arabs achieved maritime domination in the Red Sea and conquered large areas of what is now Eritrea , Djiboutis and Somalia . With this they cut off Aksum's access to the sea. In the Ethiopian highlands, however, the Christian culture was preserved and independent of Islam. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church played an important role in protecting farmers over the next few centuries. She also took care of the preservation of the scriptures that were translated into the local language. The education of the aristocrats took place in monasteries. The church also maintained ties with the Christians of Egypt and Nubia.

    The unification of the Nubian empires Nobatia and Makuria , begun in the previous century, was completed. The empire now called Makuria enjoyed its independence due to a peace treaty with the Muslim-ruled Egypt. As a tribute, however, slaves had to be handed over to Egypt every year. At the end of the century, the Nubian empires Makuria and Alwa experienced an economic boom, which was reflected in the development of the cities.

    The East African coast was the target of Arab immigrants in this century and the following, who came to Zanzibar in that century . The Swahili trading cities, which were shaped by Islam, arose on the coast . Besides the immigrant Arabs, the cities were mainly inhabited by Africans of the Bantu ethnic group. The trade contacts of these cities reached across the entire Indian Ocean, but also into the African hinterland.


    Indian subcontinent in the 8th / 9th centuries century

    Indian subcontinent

    The Indian subcontinent was shared by several regional empires. From the middle of the century, the dynasties of the Pala in northeastern Bengal , the Pratihara in the northwest, and those of the Rashtrakuta on the Deccan Plateau in the west of the subcontinent built larger competing empires. In the centuries that followed, these fought wars with one another for supremacy in northern India. Through several battles, the Pratihara were able to thwart the expansion of the caliphate into the areas east of the Indus . The Rashtrakuta dynasty overtook the Chalukya dynasty as ruler of the Deccan Plateau through military victories . Even if the Pala kings promoted Buddhism in their rulership, it increasingly lost followers and importance in the rest of the subcontinent in favor of Hinduism . Most rulers used Hinduism to legitimize their rule. Society was divided into groups, the castes , with immigrants being flexibly classified into the caste system. Belonging to a caste acquired through birth, certain religious and social duties and rights. From the 8th century, larger areas outside the river valleys were opened up for intensive agricultural use through irrigation.


    China in 742

    Political development

    After Empress Wu Zhao was overthrown in 705, the Tang Dynasty , which established the Chinese emperors until 907, came back to power. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong from 712 to 756, China experienced a politically stable and peaceful period, economic prosperity and cultural prosperity, which is often also called the golden age . In contrast, the empire was involved in frequent military clashes on its borders. In the north and northeast, the Kitan and the Second Turkish Empire attacked regularly, in the southeast there were clashes with the Tibetans . In the northwest, China expanded along the Silk Road and gained influence in Central Asia. After the defeat in the Battle of Talas by the Muslim caliphate, China lost its influence in Central Asia again. To meet the military challenges, the army was converted from militiamen who tilled their own fields to an army made up of professional soldiers. The border troops were placed under military governors, the Jiedushi . Over time, they gained more and more power, creating tensions between them and the headquarters. These culminated in an uprising led by the military governor An Lushan in 755 . Although the emperor was able to suppress the uprising with the help of the neighboring Turkic tribes, the Uyghurs and the Tibetans, the civil war-like clashes caused considerable destruction in the capitals of Luoyang and Chang'an as well as in large parts of the country. The uprising of An Lushan weakened the power of the subsequent Tang emperors considerably in favor of the military governors, who ruled with a high degree of autonomy in their spheres of power. The neighboring empires also profited from the weakness of the emperors. The Tibetans plundered Chang'an several times in the following years and devastated large areas in China. In 791 they conquered the Tarim Basin and the sections of the Silk Road within it. As a result, China lost its direct access to Central Asia.

    Society, economy, state and culture

    At the beginning of the century, the population was concentrated along the fertile banks of the Yellow River , with a small portion living in cities far larger than those of Europe at the time. While the population was around 50 million in the first half of the century, the looting and destruction associated with the unrest in the middle of the century reduced the population. In addition, migration from northern China to the south began until the 12th century. Over the centuries there has been a massive expansion in the use of agricultural land and the economy of the south expanded.

    In the first half of the century, the economy flourished in all parts of China. Goods were imported and exported in large quantities from numerous areas in Asia. This was mainly done via the Silk Roads . Guangzhou , today's canton, was the country's most important port. Ships from Southeast Asia, Ceylon , India, Persia and Arabia docked here. Local merchants from these countries made the city multicultural. In the second half of the century, the Chinese trade routes to neighboring peoples were interrupted or severely disrupted by the conquests of the Tibetans and by unrest in China.

    At the beginning of the century, the land was relatively evenly distributed among the rural population due to the system of "even land distribution" introduced in the previous century. This leased the land from the imperial family. After the uprising of An Lushan, private property and large estates increasingly arose, on which dependent peasants worked, sometimes as debt slaves.

    The state was initially financed solely through a tax system. Before the An Lushan uprising, the state generated its income through a poll tax based on the system of equal land distribution. It was mostly done in kind and in services. After the uprising, the country was again very unevenly distributed. In 780, for example, a tax on property and land was introduced that had to be established in money. This promoted the expansion of the money economy in China.

    By the middle of the century, China was ruled strongly centralized, with the emperor at the head. This exercised his rule through hierarchically organized officials. In the 7th century and in the 8th century, it was predominantly people of privileged origin who were granted civil servant status, mostly without access tests based on recommendations. High official positions were held by nobles. Nevertheless, some of the old noble families lost their position during and after the rule of Wu Zhao . Increasingly, officials who were granted their status via entrance exams took up important positions at court. After the An Lushan uprising, the examination system continued to expand. Central educational institutions, such as academies and universities, professionalized the education system and gained influence.

    Court ladies of the Tang Imperial Court, copy of a picture by Zhang Xuan

    In the first half of the century, an extensive artistic life developed in the cities, which was promoted by the imperial family. Poets such as Li Bai , Du Fu, and Wang Wei , and painters such as Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang , created works that were recognized far beyond the epoch. They represent the lostness of the individual in the world. After the An Lushan uprising, the literary figures discussed more and more critically. You dealt critically with political economy and Confucianism. A rational worldview gained importance. Overall, a large number of literary works have been created in China in this century. In addition to religious pictures, the painters preferred to paint the ladies of the court.

    The Daoism and Buddhism of Chan -Schule were the predominant religions in China. Both were promoted by the emperors, but also regulated in order to limit their power. In addition to these, Confucianism was a leading model for society and the state. Although Confucianism was more of a philosophical and political doctrine, temples were built for Confucius and his disciples where they were ritually worshiped.

    Central, East and Southeast Asia


    In Japan , the Nara period began with the relocation of the capital to Heijō-kyō (now Nara ) . With a population of around 200,000, the capital was the most populous city in otherwise rural Japan. The ruling legal system Ritsuryō gave the Tennō central power, which he exercised with the help of officials who were dependent on him. In most areas, the upper class was based on the China of the Tang Dynasty . Urban planning, fashion, law and writing were based on the Chinese model. Nara was connected to the Silk Road at this time. Historical works emerged, numerous poems written in the past centuries were compiled in the Man'yōshū collection and the first forerunners of the manga emerged. In the middle of the century, the Tenno promoted the proselytizing of his subjects to Buddhism , which he combined with Shinto , the traditional religion of the peasant population. High tax burdens and absences for military service weakened the peasants, so that supplies to the capital by the middle of the century were at risk. The supply was improved by increasing the possibilities of purchasing land as private property. The increasing appropriation of land by the provincial nobles led to a weakening of the Tenno in the following centuries. Towards the end of the century the power of the Buddhist monasteries in Nara had become too great for the emperor and he moved to Heian-kyō , today's Kyoto , which was to remain the Japanese capital and seat of the imperial court until the 19th century.

    Remaining empires

    The second Turkish Empire , founded in the previous century, established itself in the steppes north of China . In the middle of the century, internal political disputes in this nomadic empire weakened it. The Uighurs took advantage of this , conquered the empire and established their empire north of Tibet and China.

    Largest expansion of the sphere of influence of the Kingdom of Tibet in the 780s and 790s

    The Kingdom of Tibet was a major regional power in the 8th century, rivaling China. Frequent military conflicts were the result. At the end of the century, it took advantage of China's weakness and gained control of the sections of the Silk Road in the Tarim Basin . Mid-century, the Indian came Mahayana and - Vajrayana - Buddhism to Tibet, and the Nyingma -School of Tibetan Buddhism originated. These directions of Buddhism had similarities with the Bo religion common in the Tibetan people. In this way, the monks of this school, supported by the Tibetan royal family, succeeded in establishing Buddhism, which had already become the predominant religion of the capital in the previous century, among the people. In the middle of the century, the kingdom of Nanzhao was established southeast of Tibet .

    The Balhae Empire stretched across southern Manchuria and the north of the Korean peninsula. The Silla empire claimed a substantial part of the peninsula . The society of this empire was divided into classes headed by a king whose office was hereditary. The administrative system was based on the Chinese model, with access to the official positions depending on the nobility rank, the so-called bone class . The kings continued their attempts, begun in the previous century, to weaken the power of the high nobility in favor of their power. After a series of conspiracies by the ancient noble clans, King Hyegong was killed in 780. King Sondok, who succeeded him, gave the nobles back the rights that had been taken from them since 689. The central religion in Korea was Buddhism. There was an intensive exchange of Buddhist teachings with China and Japan.

    In Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Srivijaya , which was shaped by Buddhism, continued its expansion that began in the 7th century. Through wars and trade, it expanded its sphere of influence to the south of the Malay Peninsula and parts of Java . The expansion went hand in hand with increasing sea power over the adjacent sea areas. This also included the Strait of Malacca , which was part of the Maritime Silk Road . In the second half of the century, however, significant parts of Java were ruled by the Sailendra dynasty, who had converted to Buddhism. It is estimated that at the end of the century they began to have the important Buddhist temple complex Borobudur built .


    In Central America, the Mayan Empire was in its late Classical era before its decline began in the 9th century. In western South America, the Tiahuanaco culture, a pre-Inca culture, was in full bloom. The Wari culture to the north of this also continued its rise. Elaborately manufactured textiles played a major role in both Andean cultures.



    Byzantium and the Muslim world


    • 751 : In the battle of Talas the Abbasid caliphate triumphed over an army of the Chinese Tang emperor. With that, the Chinese lost control of Central Asia in favor of Muslim rulers.
    • 755 : Military governor An Lushan led an uprising in China , which was followed by a period of civil unrest. The An Lushan revolt weakened the power of the subsequent Tang emperors considerably.
    • 782 : With the "Revolt of the Four Princes", four governors conspire and form semi-autonomous regions in northern China that have existed for about 150 years.



    Byzantium and the Muslim world



    Web links

    Commons : 8th century  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Goetz: Europe in the early Middle Ages 500-1050 . 2003, p. 25 .
    2. ^ Andreas Weigl: Population history of Europe . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-8252-3756-1 , p. 36 .
    3. ^ Goetz: Europe in the early Middle Ages 500-1050 . 2003, p. 161-165 .
    4. ^ Buttinger: The Middle Ages . 2012, p. 72-74 .
    5. ^ Buttinger: The Middle Ages . 2012, p. 99 .
    6. ^ The coin reform of Charlemagne ( Memento from December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), Rainer Leng on the website of the Institute for History of the University of Würzburg
    7. a b Gerhard Lubich : The Middle Ages (=  orientation history ). Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76582-6 , p. 66 .
    8. Ingrid Heidrich: Introduction to the History of the Middle Ages - 8th Century ( Memento from June 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
    9. ^ Alfred Schlicht: The Arabs and Europe . Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-019906-4 , pp. 32 .
    10. ^ Buttinger: The Middle Ages . 2012, p. 104 f .
    11. ^ Goetz: Europe in the early Middle Ages 500-1050 . 2003, p. 250-255 .
    12. ^ Website of the Aachen Cathedral
    13. Ralph-Johannes Lilie : Byzanz, History of the Eastern Roman Empire . 4th edition. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-41885-6 , p. 53 .
    14. Krämer: History of Islam . 2005, p. 56 .
    15. a b Halm: The Arabs . 2010, p. 34 f .
    16. Krämer: History of Islam . 2005, p. 63 .
    17. a b Warriors: History of Asia: An Introduction . 2003, p. 124 .
    18. ^ Alfred Schlicht: The Arabs and Europe . Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-019906-4 , pp. 53 .
    19. Ahmad Y. al-Hassan: The different aspects of Islamic culture - Science and technology in Islam - Part II . tape 4 . UNESCO Publishing, Paris 2001, ISBN 92-3103831-1 , pp. 45 (English).
    20. Halm: The Arabs . 2010, p. 39 .
    21. ^ Franz Ansprenger: History of Africa . 3. Edition. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-47989-2 , p. 40-41 .
    22. David Arnold: South Asia (=  New Fischer World History . Volume 11 ). S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-010841-8 , p. 177 .
    23. Warriors: History of Asia: An Introduction . 2003, p. 43 .
    24. Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer : The old China . 4th edition. Verlag CHBeck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-45115-2 , p. 84 .
    25. Warriors: History of Asia: An Introduction . 2003, p. 40 .
    26. ^ Vogelsang: History of China . 2013, p. 283 .
    27. ^ Vogelsang: History of China . 2013, p. 269 .
    28. ^ Vogelsang: History of China . 2013, p. 284 .
    29. Christine Liew : History of Japan . Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-8062-2542-6 , p. 26 to 31 .
    30. Jürgen Paul: Central Asia (=  New Fischer World History . Volume 10 ). S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-010840-1 , p. 82 .
    31. ^ Marion Eggert , Jörg Plassen: Small history of Korea . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-406-52841-5 , p. 35-41 .
    32. ^ Goetz: Europe in the early Middle Ages 500-1050 . 2003, p. 209 .