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|Centuries:||6th century – 7th century – 8th century|
|Decades:||610s 620s 630s – 640s – 650s 660s 670s|
|Years:||640 641 642 643 644 645 646 647 648 649|
|Categories:||Births – Deaths – Architecture
Establishments – Disestablishments
This is a list of events occurring in the 640s, ordered by year.
- February 27 – Pepin the Elder, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, dies and is succeeded by his son Grimoald. He becomes the head of the Frankish household and the most powerful man in the Frankish Kingdom (approximate date).
- King Chintila dies of natural causes after a 3-year reign, he permits the bishops wide authority in Hispania, Septimania and Galicia. He is succeeded by his son Tulga who becomes ruler of the Visigothic Kingdom (approximate date).
- At request of Porga of Croatia, one of the first dukes or princes (Croatian: knez) of Dalmatian Croatia, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius sends Christian missionaries to the Croatian Provinces (approximate date).
- The French city of Lille (according to the legend) is founded by Lydéric. He kills Phinaert in a duel to avenges his parents' deaths (approximate date).
- King Eadbald of Kent dies after a 24-year reign. He is succeeded by his sons, Eorcenberht and Eormenred who jointly rule the Kingdom of Kent (now South East England).
- Hartlepool Abbey in Northumbria (Northern England) is founded. Wooden huts surrounding a church are built in Saxon style.
- May – Siege of Babylon Fortress: The Rashidun army lay siege to Babylon Fortress in the Nile Delta (near Cairo). The next two months fighting remain inconclusive, the Byzantines having the upper hand by repulsing every Muslim assault.
- July 6 – Battle of Heliopolis: The Muslim Arab army (15,000 men) under 'Amr ibn al-'As defeat the Byzantine forces near Heliopolis (Egypt). Amr divides his troops into three parts, surrounding the Byzantines.
- December 21 – Muslim Arabs capture Babylon after a seven-month siege, during a night assault Arab warriors open the city gates. The Thebaid region (Upper Egypt) is annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate.
- Emperor Tai Zong of the Tang Dynasty begins a campaign against the Xiyu states (Western Regions) in the Tarim Basin. General Hou Junji captures the kingdom of Gaochang to solidify Chinese rule in Central Asia.
- Nestorian missionaries built the Daqin Pagoda in Chang'an (Shaanxi). Daqin is the name for the Roman Empire or the Near East.
- Disibod, Irish monk and hermit, arrives as a missionary in Francia. He begins his religious work in the Vosges and Ardennes.
- May 28 – Pope Severinus succeeds Honorius I as the 71st pope. He dies at Rome only two months after being consecrated.
- December 24 – Pope John IV succeeds Severinus as the 72nd pope. His election is accepted by the Exarchate of Ravenna.
- February 11 – Emperor Heraclius, age 65, dies of dropsy at Constantinople after a 31-year reign. He has reorganized the imperial administration but lost Armenia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and much of Mesopotamia to the Muslim Arabs. Heraclius is succeeded by his sons Constantine III and Heraklonas.
- May – Constantine III, age 29, dies of tuberculosis after a four-month reign, leaving his half-brother Heraklonas sole emperor. Rumors spread that Constantine has been poisoned by Heraclius's second wife (and niece) Martina.
- September – The Byzantine Senate turn against Martina and her son Heraklonas, who are both multilated and exiled to Rhodes. Supported by general Valentinus, Constantine's son Constans II, age 10, succeeds to the throne.
- Constans II establishes a new civil-military defensive organisation based upon geographical military district. Byzantine forces maintain the frontier along the line of the Taurus Mountains (Southern Turkey).
- Aega, mayor of the palace and regent, alongside of queen mother Nanthild of Neustria and Burgundy, dies during the reign of king Clovis II. He is replaced by Erchinoald, a relative of Dagobert I's mother.
- The Lombards under king Rothari conquer Genoa (Liguria) and all remaining Byzantine territories in the lower Po Valley, including Oderzo (Opitergium).
- Arechis I, duke of Benevento (northeast of Naples), dies after a 50-year reign and is succeeded by his son Aiulf I.
- Prince Oswiu of Bernicia conquers Gododdin or "The Old North" as far north as Manau (modern Scotland), on behalf of his half-brother, king Oswald (approximate date).
- King Bridei II dies after a 5-year reign and is succeeded by his brother Talorc III as ruler of the Picts.
- November 8 – Siege of Alexandria: Muslim Arabs under 'Amr ibn al-'As capture Alexandria after a fourteen-month siege. Byzantine officials formally capitulate to Amr, turning the city over to Arab hands.
- The city of Fustat (later Cairo) is founded in Egypt. It becomes the first capital of Egypt under muslim rule.
- Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty (China) instigates a civil war in the Western Turkic Khaganate by supporting Isbara Yabghu Qaghan.
- November 17 – Emperor Jomei of Japan, age 48, dies after a 12-year reign.
- Emperor Constans II marries Fausta, daughter of Valentinus, a general of Armenian origin. He proclaims her Augusta and appoints his father-in-law to commander-in-chief of the Byzantine army. Valentinus is allowed to wear the imperial purple and becomes the most powerful man in the Byzantine Empire.
- April 30 – Chindasuinth, a Gothic warlord (already 79 years old), commences a rebellion and deposes king Tulga in Toledo (Spain). He is proclaimed king by the Visigothic nobility and anointed by the bishops. Tulga is tonsured and sent out to live his days in a monastery.
- Radulf, a Frankish aristocrat, revolts against king Sigebert III of Austrasia and defeats his army, taking the title of rex or king of Thuringia.
- August 5 – Battle of Maserfield: King Penda of Mercia defeats and kills king Oswald of Northumbria, age 38, at Oswestry (West Midlands). He commands a united British and Mercian force which includes the Welsh army of kings Cadafael Cadomedd of Gwynedd and Cynddylan of Pengwern. The Mercians become dominant in English Midlands.
- Oswiu succeeds his half-brother Oswald as king of Bernicia. He strengthens his position by marryring Eanflæd, daughter of king Edwin of Northumbria, then in exile in the Kingdom of Kent.This marriage takes place between 642 and 644.
- Battle of Nahāvand: The Rashidun army (30,000 men) under Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas defeat the Persians at Nahāvand (modern Iran). Persian cavalry, full of confidence mount an ill-prepared attack. The bedouins retreat to a safe area where they outmanoeuvre and destroy the Persians in a narrow mountain valley.
- Battle of Dongola: 'Amr ibn al-'As sends an Arab expedition of 20,000 horsemen under his cousin Uqba ibn Nafi to Makuria (Southern Egypt). The Nubians strike hard against the Muslims near Dongola with hit-and-run attacks. The Arab incursions into Nubia are temporarily halted.
- Caliph Umar I orders the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, the entire collection of books (except for the works of Aristotle) stored at the library are removed and used as fuel to heat water for the city's public baths.
- Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty issues a decree throughout China that increases the punishment for men who deliberately inflict injuries upon themselves (most commonly breaking their own legs) in order to avoid military conscription. This decree is an effort to eradicate this practice that has grown as a trend since the time of the rebellion against the Sui Dynasty.
- Taizong supports a revolt by Turkic tribes against the rebellious Tu-lu Qaghan of the Western Turkic Khaganate.
- Empress Kōgyoku ascends to the throne of Japan after her husband (and uncle) emperor Jomei has died in 641.
- Winter – Yeon Gaesomun seizes power over Goguryeo (Korea) and places king Bojang on the throne.
Arts and sciences
- The earliest surviving dated Arabic papyrus (PERF 558), found in Heracleopolis (Egypt), and the earliest known Arabic text with diacritical marks is written.
- Arabs begin construction of the Mosque of Amr at Cairo, the first mosque built in Egypt and in all of Africa.
- October 12 – Pope John IV dies after a 2-year reign. He is succeeded by a Jerusalem-born cleric of Greek descent, Theodore I, as the 73rd pope of Rome.
- A monastic settlement is founded in Hampshire (England) which later becomes Winchester Cathedral.
- Emperor Constans II recognises Theodore Rshtuni as ruler of Armenia after his successful campaign against the Muslims. He names him commander (nakharar) of the Armenian army.
- Maurikios names himself dux of Rome and revolts against exarch Isaac (Exarchate of Ravenna). He declares Rome's independence from the Exarchate and from the Byzantine Empire.
- King Rothari of the Lombards issues the Edictum Rothari which is the first codification of Lombard law (written in Latin). The edict guarantees rights only for Lombard subjects.
- Duke Leuthari II has Otto, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, murdered. He is succeeded by Grimoald the Elder, the eldest son of Pepin of Landen.
- King Cynegils of Wessex dies after a 32-year reign and is succeeded by his son Cenwalh—who is still pagan—marries the sister of king Penda of Mercia (approximate date).
- Peroz III, son of Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanid king of Persia, flees to territory under the control of the Tang Dynasty in China (approximate date).
- Arab–Byzantine War: Arab armies continue their military expansion into North Africa and lay siege to Tripoli. The city is captured after one month.
- 'Amr ibn al-'As sends a detachment to Sabratha (modern Libya). The city puts up feeble resistance, but soon surrenders and agrees to pay Jizya.
- Chinese prefectural government officials travel to the capital of Chang'an to give the annual report of the affairs in their districts. Emperor Taizong discovers that many have no proper quarters to rest in, and are renting rooms with merchants. Therefore, Taizong orders the government agencies in charge of municipal construction to build every visiting official his own private mansion in the capital.
- A Chinese embassy is sent to the North Indian Empire. They are invited by emperor Harsha who holds a Buddhist convocation at the capital Kannauj which is attended by 20 kings and thousands of pilgrims.
- Taizong commissions artist Yan Liben to paint in the Lingyan Pavilion the life-size portraits of 24 government officials to commemorate their service and contributions to the founding of the Tang Dynasty.
- Æbbe establishes a monastery at Ebchester, known as Kirk Hill at St Abb's Head near Coldingham (Scotland).
- Valentinus, Byzantine general, attempts to usurp the throne of his son-in-law Constans II. He appears at the gates of Constantinople with a contingent of Byzantine troops and demands to be crowned emperor. His claim is rejected and Valentinus is lynched by the populace.
- Oswine, son of the late king Osric of Deira, manages despite armed objections from king Oswiu of Bernicia, to establish himself as king of Deira (Northern England). His succession, probably the choice of the people of Deira, splits the Kingdom of Northumbria.
- November 6 – Caliph Umar, age 65, dies of wounds inflicted on November 3 by the Persian slave Piruz Nahavandi at Medina after a 10-year reign. On his death bed he appoints a committee to determine his successor. They select Uthman ibn Affan who becomes caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate.
- Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty sends a Chinese expeditionary force to invade and annex the Tarim Basin kingdom of Karasahr in Xinjiang, a vassal of the Western Turkic Khaganate. The oasis state is conquered and Western Turks to assist Karasahr are defeated by the Tang forces.
- Alexandria revolts from Arab rule at the appearance of a Byzantine fleet (300 ships) and Byzantine forces recapture the city. Abdullah ibn Sa'ad, Arab governor of Egypt, mounts an assault and retakes it. He begins building an Muslim fleet.
- Plato, exarch (imperial governor) of Ravenna, invades the southern Po Valley. The Lombards under king Rothari defeat him on the banks of the Panaro River (near Modena); 8,000 imperial troops are killed.
- King Cenwalh of Wessex (according to Bede) is driven from his kingdom by his brother-in-law, king Penda of Mercia. He flees to the court of king Anna of East Anglia, and is baptised while in exile. Penda overruns Wessex.
- Gwynedd and much of Wales is in the grasp of famine. Would be king Cadwaladr Fendigaid flees to Brittany. Civil war continues in his kingdom (approximate date).
- July 10 – Isshi Incident: Prince Naka-no-Ōe and Fujiwara no Kamatari assassinate Soga no Iruka during a coup d'état at the imperial palace.
- Empress Kōgyoku is forced to abdicate the throne in favor of her younger brother Kōtoku, age 49, who becomes the 36th emperor of Japan.
- Naka-no-Ōe becomes crown prince and prime minister. Supporters of the semi-legendary regent prince Shōtoku gain supremacy in Japan.
- Emperor Kōtoku establishes the Taika Reform; a land reform based on Confucian ideas and philosophies from China (approximate date).
- Kōtoku creates a new city at Naniwa, and moves the capital from Yamato Province. The capital has a sea port, establishing foreign trade and diplomatic relations.
- Goguryeo–Tang War: A Chinese expeditionary army under emperor Taizong cross the Liao River into Goguryeo (The one of Three kingdoms of Korea).
- July 18 – Tang forces under Li Shiji heading southeast, toward the Yalu River, put the strategic fortress city of Ansi (Liaoning) under siege.
- September – Taizong is unable to capture Ansi fortress defended by Korean general Yang Manchun. Food supplies running low, he withdraws his forces.
- Xuanzang, Chinese Buddhist monk, returns to China after a 16-year pilgrimage to India. He is greeted with much honor by emperor Taizong.
- Giant Wild Goose Pagoda at Ci'en Temple, Xi'an (Shanxi) is first erected during the Tang Dynasty (approximate date).
- Arab-Byzantine War: Alexandria is recaptured by the Muslim Arabs after a Byzantine attempt (see 645) to retake Egypt fails, ending nearly 1,000 year of Greco-Roman civilization.
- Gregory the Patrician, Byzantine exarch of Africa, begins a rebellion against Constans II and proclaims himself emperor. The revolt has found broad support among the populace.
- Caliph Uthman ibn Affan founds the city of Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) on the coast of the Red Sea. He establishes a port for Muslim pilgrims making the required Hajj to Mecca.
- Battle of Nikiou: The Rashidun army (15,000 men) under Amr ibn al-'As defeat a smaller Byzantine force near the fortified town of Nikiou (Egypt).
- Amr ibn al-'As builds fortifications in Alexandria and quarters in the vicinity a strong garrison, which twice a year is relieved from Upper Egypt.
- Summer – Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty destroys the Xueyantuo state during the campaign against the Xueyantuo (Central Asia).
- Emperor Kōtoku makes a decree about the policies of building tombs. He discontinues the old customs of sacrificing people in honor of a dead man. He forbids ill-considered rituals about purgation.
- A Great Reform edict changes Japan's political order. It will lead to the establishment of a centralized government with Kōtoku ruling from his palace, Naniwa Nagara-Toyosaki Palace, in Osaka.
- Xuanzang completes his book Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, which becomes later one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India.
- Arab–Byzantine War: An Arab army (20,000 men) under Abdullah ibn Sa'ad invade the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. They conquer Tripolitania and the city of Sufetula, 150 miles (240 km) south of Carthage.
- Self-proclaimed emperor Gregory the Patrician is killed during the Arab invasion at Sufetula. Africa returns to imperial allegiance after his death, but the foundations of Byzantine rule is fatally undermined.
- Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty sends a Chinese mission to study Indian techniques of sugar manufacturing at Bihar in the Ganges Valley.
- Taizong establishes a Chinese military government to pacify the former territory of Xueyantuo, which extends to the Altai Mountains in the west.
- Emperor Harsha who rules northern India dies after a 41-year reign. His kingdom disintegrate into smaller states.
Astronomy and science
- A stone tower astronomical observatory (named Cheomseongdae) at Gyeongju is constructed in Silla (South Korea) around this time.
- Hilda of Whitby, age 33, is persuaded by Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne, to enter the monastic life at Hartlepool Abbey (Northumbria).
- Emperor Constans II, to quiet the intense controversy caused by the Monothelete doctrine, issues an imperial edict forbidding the subject to be discussed. This edict, distributed by patriarch Paul II in Constans' name, is known as the Typos.
- King Sigebert II of Austrasia is advised by Remaclus to establish a double-monastery at Stavelot and Malmedy. As a missionary bishop he founds an abbey on the River Amblève (modern Belgium).
- King Cenwalh of Wessex returns from a 3-year exile in East Anglia to reclaim his kingdom. He gives 3,000 hides of land around Ashdown to his nephew, Cuthred, possibly sub-king of Berkshire (England).
- Cenwahl invites bishop Birinus to establish under his direction the Old Minster in Winchester. Together they have a small stone church built.
- Tang general Ashina She'er re-established Tang control of Karasahr and leads a military campaign against the Tarim Basin kingdom of Kucha in Xinjiang, a vassal of the Western Turkic Khaganate.
- The Book of Jin is compiled in China during the Tang Dynasty. Its chief editor is the chancellor Fang Xuanling, who dies in this year as well.
- Arab–Byzantine War: Arab naval forces under Abdullah ibn Sa'ad conquer Cyprus, sacking the capital Constantia after a short siege and pillaging the rest of the island. The Cypriots agree to pay the same revenue as they have done to emperor Constans II.
- Constans II orders Olympius, exarch of the Exarchate of Ravenna, to arrest pope Martin I on the grounds that he has condemned Monothelitism. Olympius attempts to gain support of the citizens of Rome and the bishops. Ordering the assassination of Martin.
- January 20 – King Chindasuinth, at the urging of bishop Braulio of Zaragoza, crowns his son Recceswinth as co-ruler of the Visigothic Kingdom.
- Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, governor of Syria, develops an Arab navy in the Levant and uses it to confront the Byzantine Empire in the Aegean Sea. It is manned by Monophysitise Christian, Coptic and Syrian Christian sailors.
- January 19 – The Tang campaign against Kucha ends after the forces of Kucha surrender following a 40-day siege led by general Ashina She'er, establishing Chinese control over the northern Tarim Basin (Xinjiang).
- July 10 – Emperor Tai Zong dies after a 23-year reign in which he has restored the civil administration in the Chinese Empire. He is succeeded by his son Gao Zong, age 20, who becomes ruler of the Tang Dynasty.
- Emperor Kōtoku has Soga no Kurayamada accused of treason. He strangles himself at the temple of Yamada-dera. Other relatives of the Soga clan are captured and executed.
- May 14 – Pope Theodore I dies after a 7-year reign in which he has shown generosity to the poor. He is succeeded by Martin I as the 74th pope.
- The Lateran Council, convoked by Martin I, strongly condemns Monothelitism and the Typosn order by Constans II.
- Butler, Alfred, "The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty years of Roman Dominion", p. 222
- Al Farooq, Umar by Muhammad Husayn Haykal, chapter nr. 21
- Hill, John E. (2003). "The Kingdom of Da Quin". The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu (2nd ed.). Retrieved 2008-11-30
- Reuter, p. 55
- Bede, "Ecclesiastical History", Book III, Chapter 15
- Watters, Thomas. "On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India". Two volumes. 1904–1905, Royal Asiatic Society, London. One volume reprint: Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1973, pp. 343–344
- Winkelmann et al. 2001, p. 71
- Parker, Anselm. "St. Oswin". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 28 Mar. 2013
- Wechsler 1979, p. 226.
- The Caliphate Its Rise, Decline and Fall. Conquest of Egypt, Chapter XXII (p. 166)
- Graff, David A. (2002). "Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300–900". London: Routledge, p. 197. ISBN 9780415239554
- Lee, Kenneth B. (1997). Korea and East Asia: "The story of a phoenix". Westport: Praeger. p. 16. ISBN 9780275958237.
- The Caliphate Its Rise, Decline and Fall by William Muir. Conquest of Egypt, Chapter XXII (p. 166)
- Kieschnick, John (2003). "The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture". Princeton University Press, p. 258. ISBN 0-691-09676-7
- Kirby, 2000, p. 45
- The Caliphate Its Rise, Decline and Fall by William Muir. Chapter XXVIII, Caliphate of Othman, p. 205