The 6th century is the period from 501 to 600 in line with the Julian calendar in the Common Era. In the West, the century marks the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The collapse of the Western Roman Empire late in the previous century left Europe fractured into many small Germanic kingdoms competing fiercely for land and wealth. From the upheaval the Franks rose to prominence and carved out a sizeable domain covering much of modern France and Germany. Meanwhile the surviving Eastern Roman Empire began to expand under Emperor Justinian, who recaptured North Africa from the Vandals and attempted fully to recover Italy as well, in the hope of reinstating Roman control over the lands once ruled by the Western Roman Empire.
In its second Golden Age, the Sassanid Empire reached the peak of its power under Khosrau I in the 6th century. The classical Gupta Empire of Northern India, largely overrun by the Huna, ended in the mid-6th century. In Japan, the Kofun period gave way to the Asuka period. After being divided for more than 150 years among the Southern and Northern Dynasties, China was reunited under the Sui Dynasty toward the end of the 6th century. The Three Kingdoms of Korea persisted throughout the century. The Göktürks became a major power in Central Asia after defeating the Rouran.
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Establishments – Disestablishments
The 6th century BC started the first day of 600 BC and ended the last day of 501 BC.
This century represents the peak of a period in human history popularly known as Axial Age. This period saw the emergence of five major thought streams springing from five great thinkers in different parts of the world: Buddha and Mahavira in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Pythagoras in Greece and Confucius in China.
Pāṇini, in India, composed a grammar for Sanskrit, in this century or slightly later. This is the oldest still known grammar of any language.
In Western Asia, the first half of this century was dominated by the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean empire, which had risen to power late in the previous century after successfully rebelling against Assyrian rule. The Kingdom of Judah came to an end in 586 BC when Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem, and removed most of its population to their own lands. Babylonian rule was ended in the 540s by Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire in its place. The Persian Empire continued to expand and grew into the greatest empire the world had known at the time.
In Iron Age Europe, the Celtic expansion was in progress. China was in the Spring and Autumn period.
Mediterranean: Beginning of Greek philosophy, flourishes during the 5th century BC
The late Hallstatt culture period in Eastern and Central Europe, the late Bronze Age in Northern Europe
East Asia: the Spring and Autumn period. Confucianism, Legalism and Moism flourish. Laozi founds Taoism
West Asia: During the Persian empire, Zoroaster, a.k.a. Zarathustra, founded Zoroastrianism, a dualistic philosophy. This was also the time of the Babylonian captivity of the ancient Jews.
Ancient India: the Buddha and Mahavira found Buddhism and Jainism
The decline of the Olmec civilization in Central AmericaAryabhata
Aryabhata, आर्यभट (IAST: Āryabhaṭa) or Aryabhata I (476–550 CE) was the first of the major mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy. His works include the Āryabhaṭīya (which mentions that in 3600 Kaliyuga, 499 CE, he was 23 years old) and the Arya-siddhanta.
For his explicit mention of the relativity of motion, he also qualifies as a major early physicist.Asita
Asita or Kaladevala was a hermit ascetic of ancient India in the 6th century BCE. He is best known for having predicted that prince Siddhartha of Kapilavastu would either become a great chakravartin or become a supreme religious leader; Siddhartha was later known as Gautama Buddha.Battle of Badon
The Battle of Badon (Latin: obsessio[nis] Badonici montis, "Blockade/siege of the Badonic Hill", Bellum in monte Badonis, "Battle on Badon Hill", Bellum Badonis, "Battle of Badon"; Old Welsh: Badon, Middle Welsh: Gweith Vadon, "Battle of Badon", Welsh: Brwydr Mynydd Baddon, "Battle of Badon Mount/Hill") was a battle thought to have occurred between Celtic Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th or early 6th century. It was credited as a major victory for the Britons, stopping the encroachment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms for a period.
It is chiefly known today for the supposed involvement of King Arthur, a tradition that first clearly appeared in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum. Because of the limited number of sources, there is no certainty about the date, location, or details of the fighting.Bernicia
Bernicia (Old English: Bernice, Bryneich, Beornice; Latin: Bernicia) was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England.
The Anglian territory of Bernicia was approximately equivalent to the modern English counties of Northumberland and Durham, and the Scottish counties of Berwickshire and East Lothian, stretching from the Forth to the Tees. In the early 7th century, it merged with its southern neighbour, Deira, to form the kingdom of Northumbria and its borders subsequently expanded considerably.Boethius
Saint Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius (; also Boetius ; c. 477–524 AD), was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a year after Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor and declared himself King of Italy. Boethius entered public service under Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and executed him in 524 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow him. While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues, which became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages. As the author of numerous handbooks and translator of Aristotle, he became the main intermediary between Classical antiquity and following centuries.Cambyses II
Cambyses II (Old Persian: 𐎣𐎲𐎢𐎪𐎡𐎹 Kambūjiya Aramaic: כנבוזי Kanbūzī; Ancient Greek: Καμβύσης Kambúsēs), son of Cyrus the Great (r. 559–530 BC), ruled the Achaemenid Empire from 530 until his death in 522 BC.
Cambyses' grandfather was Cambyses I, king of Anshan. Following Cyrus the Great's conquest of the Near East and Central Asia, Cambyses II further expanded the empire into Egypt during the Late Period by defeating the Egyptian Pharaoh Psamtik III during the battle of Pelusium in 525 BC. After the Egyptian campaign and the truce with Libya, Cambyses invaded the Kingdom of Kush (located in what is now the Sudan), but with little success.Cassiodorus
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman statesman, renowned scholar of antiquity, and writer serving in the administration of Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank. He also founded a monastery, Vivarium, where he spent the last years of his life.Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia (Old Persian: 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 Kūruš; Kourosh; New Persian: کوروش Kuruš; Hebrew: כורש, Modern: Kōréš, Tiberian: Kōréš; c. 600–530 BC), commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria-Paeonia and Thrace-Macedonia) and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called ‘King of Anshan’, but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is ‘King of Persia’. The coup therefore took place between these two events."The reign of Cyrus the Great lasted c. 30 years. Cyrus built his empire by first conquering the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire, and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He led an expedition into Central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that were described as having brought "into subjection every nation without exception". Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, and was alleged to have died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to conquer Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.
Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. This became a very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. In fact, the administration of the empire through satraps and the vital principle of forming a government at Pasargadae were the works of Cyrus. What is sometimes referred to as the Edict of Restoration (actually two edicts) described in the Bible as being made by Cyrus the Great left a lasting legacy on the Jewish religion. According to the Jewish Bible (Christian Old Testament) (Isaiah 45:1), God anointed Cyrus for this task, even referring to him as messiah (lit. "His anointed one") and he is the only non-Jewish figure in the Bible to be called so.Cyrus the Great is also well recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy, as well as his influence on both Eastern and Western civilizations. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. The Achaemenid influence in the ancient world eventually would extend as far as Athens, where upper-class Athenians adopted aspects of the culture of the ruling class of Achaemenid Persian as their own.In the 1970s, the last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi identified his famous proclamation inscribed onto the Cyrus Cylinder as the oldest known declaration of human rights, and the Cylinder has since been popularized as such. This view has been criticized by some historians as a misunderstanding of the Cylinder's generic nature as a traditional statement that new monarchs make at the beginning of their reign.Jordanes
Jordanes (), also written Jordanis or, uncommonly, Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat of Gothic extraction who turned his hand to history later in life.
Jordanes wrote Romana, about the history of Rome, but his best-known work is his Getica, which was written in Constantinople about AD 551. It is the only extant ancient work dealing with the early history of the Goths.
Jordanes was asked by a friend to write Getica as a summary of a multi-volume history of the Goths by the statesman Cassiodorus that had existed then but has since been lost. Jordanes was selected for his known interest in history, his ability to write succinctly and because of his own Gothic background. He had been a high-level notarius, or secretary, of a small client state on the Roman frontier in Scythia Minor, modern south-eastern Romania and north-eastern Bulgaria.Other writers, e.g. Procopius, wrote works which are extant on the later history of the Goths. As the only surviving work on Gothic origins, the Getica has been the object of much critical review. Jordanes wrote in Late Latin rather than the classical Ciceronian Latin. According to his own introduction, he had only three days to review what Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have relied on his own knowledge. Some of his statements are laconic.Mahavira
Mahavira, also known as Vardhamāna, was the twenty-fourth tirthankara (ford-maker) who revived Jainism. In the Jain tradition, it is believed that Mahavira was born in the early part of the 6th century BC into a royal kshatriya family in present-day Bihar, India. He abandoned all worldly possessions at the age of 30 and left home in pursuit of spiritual awakening, becoming an ascetic. Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe austerities for 12 years, after which he is believed to have attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience). He preached for 30 years and is believed by Jains to have attained moksha in the 6th century BC, although the year varies by sect. Scholars such as Karl Potter consider his biography uncertain; some suggest that he lived in the 5th century BC, contemporaneously with the Buddha. Mahavira attained nirvana at the age of 72, and his body was cremated.
After attaining Kevala Jnana, Mahavira taught that observance of the vows of ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity), and aparigraha (non-attachment) is necessary for spiritual liberation. He taught the principles of Anekantavada (many-sided reality): syadvada and nayavada. Mahavira's teachings were compiled by Indrabhuti Gautama (his chief disciple) as the Jain Agamas. The texts, transmitted orally by Jain monks, are believed to have been largely lost by about the 1st century (when they were first written down). The surviving versions of the Agamas taught by Mahavira are some of Jainism's foundation texts.
Mahavira is usually depicted in a sitting or standing meditative posture, with the symbol of a lion beneath him. His earliest iconography is from archaeological sites in the North Indian city of Mathura, and is dated from the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD. His birth is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti, and his nirvana is observed by Jains as Diwali.
Surviving early Jain and Buddhist literature uses several names (or epithets) for Mahavira, including Nayaputta, Muni, Samana, Niggantha, Bramhan, and Bhagavan. In early Buddhist suttas, he is referred to as Araha ("worthy") and Veyavi (derived from "Vedas", but meaning "wise" in this context; Mahavira did not recognize the Vedas as scripture). He is known as Sramana in the Kalpa Sūtra, "devoid of love and hate".According to later Jain texts, Mahavira's childhood name was Vardhamāna ("the one who grows") because of the kingdom's prosperity at the time of his birth. According to the Kalpasutras, he was called Mahavira ("the great hero") by the gods in the Kalpa Sūtra because he remained steadfast in the midst of dangers, fears, hardships and calamities. He is also known as a tirthankara.Medes
The Medes (, Old Persian Māda-, Ancient Greek: Μῆδοι, Hebrew: מָדַי Madai) were an ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media between western and northern Iran. Under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, late 9th to early 7th centuries BC, the region of Media was bounded by the Zagros Mountains to its west, to its south by the Garrin Mountain in Lorestan Province, to its northwest by the Qaflankuh Mountains in Zanjan Province, and to its east by the Dasht-e Kavir desert. Its neighbors were the kingdoms of Gizilbunda and Mannea in the northwest, and Ellipi and Elam in the south.In the 7th century BC, Media's tribes came together to form the Median Kingdom, which remained a Neo-Assyrian vassal. Between 616 and 609 BC, King Cyaxares (624–585 BC), allied with King Nabopolassar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire against the Neo-Assyrian Empire, after which the Median Empire stretched across the Iranian Plateau as far as Anatolia. Its precise geographical extent remains unknown.A few archaeological sites (discovered in the "Median triangle" in western Iran) and textual sources (from contemporary Assyrians and also ancient Greeks in later centuries) provide a brief documentation of the history and culture of the Median state. Apart from a few personal names, the language of the Medes is unknown. The Medes had an ancient Iranian religion (a form of pre-Zoroastrian Mazdaism or Mithra worshipping) with a priesthood named as "Magi". Later, during the reigns of the last Median kings, the reforms of Zoroaster spread into western Iran.Pope Agapetus I
Pope Agapetus I (died 22 April 536) was Pope from 13 May 535 to his death in 536. He is not to be confused with another Saint Agapetus, an Early Christian martyr with the feast day of 6 August.Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I (Latin: Gregorius I; c. 540 – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 3 September 590 to 12 March 604 AD. He is famous for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian Mission, to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England to Christianity. Gregory is also well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as Pope. The epithet Saint Gregory the Dialogist has been attached to him in Eastern Christianity because of his Dialogues. English translations of Eastern texts sometimes list him as Gregory "Dialogos", or the Anglo-Latinate equivalent "Dialogus".A Roman senator's son and himself the Prefect of Rome at 30, Gregory tried the monastery but soon returned to active public life, ending his life and the century as pope. Although he was the first pope from a monastic background, his prior political experiences may have helped him to be a talented administrator, who successfully established papal supremacy. During his papacy, he greatly surpassed with his administration the emperors in improving the welfare of the people of Rome, and he successfully challenged the theological views of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople before the emperor Tiberius II. Gregory regained papal authority in Spain and France and sent missionaries to England. The realignment of barbarian allegiance to Rome from their Arian Christian alliances shaped medieval Europe. Gregory saw Franks, Lombards, and Visigoths align with Rome in religion. He also combated against the Donatist heresy, popular particularly in North Africa at the time.Throughout the Middle Ages, he was known as "the Father of Christian Worship" because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day. His contributions to the development of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, still in use in the Byzantine Rite, were so significant that he is generally recognized as its de facto author.
Gregory is a Doctor of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and some Lutheran denominations. Immediately after his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim. The Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory greatly, and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good Pope. He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.Pope John I
Pope John I can also refer to Pope John (Talaia) I of Alexandria.
Pope John I can also refer to Pope John I (II) of Alexandria.Pope John I (Latin: Ioannes I; d. 18 May 526) was Pope from 13 August 523 to his death in 526. He was a native of Siena (or the "Castello di Serena", near Chiusdino), in Italy. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople by the Ostrogoth King Theoderic to negotiate better treatment for Arians. Although relatively successful, upon his return to Ravenna, Theoderic had the Pope imprisoned for allegedly conspiring with Constantinople. The frail pope died of neglect and ill-treatment.Saint David
Saint David (Welsh: Dewi Sant; Latin: Davidus; c. 500 – c. 589) was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw (now St Davids) during the 6th century. He is the patron saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales. A relatively large amount of information is known about his life. His birth date, however, is uncertain: suggestions range from 462 to 512. He is traditionally believed to be the son of Saint Non and the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, king of Ceredigion. The Welsh annals placed his death 569 years after the birth of Christ, but Phillimore's dating revised this to 601.Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephenus or Stephan of Byzantium (Latin: Stephanus Byzantinus; Greek: Στέφανος Βυζάντιος, Stéphanos Byzántios; fl. 6th century AD), was the author of an important geographical dictionary entitled Ethnica (Ἐθνικά). Of the dictionary itself only meagre fragments survive, but we possess an epitome compiled by one Hermolaus, not otherwise identified.Sui dynasty
The Sui dynasty (Chinese: 隋朝; pinyin: Suí cháo) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Chinese in the entirety of China proper, along with sinicization of former nomadic ethnic minorities (the Five Barbarians) within its territory. It was succeeded by the Tang dynasty, which largely inherited its foundation.
Founded by Emperor Wen of Sui, the Sui dynasty capital was Chang'an (which was renamed Daxing, 581–605) and later Luoyang (605–618). Emperors Wen and Yang undertook various centralized reforms, most notably the equal-field system, intended to reduce economic inequality and improve agricultural productivity; the institution of the Three Departments and Six Ministries system; and the standardization and re-unification of the coinage. They also spread and encouraged Buddhism throughout the empire. By the middle of the dynasty, the newly unified empire entered a golden age of prosperity with vast agricultural surplus that supported rapid population growth.
A lasting legacy of the Sui dynasty was the Grand Canal. With the eastern capital Luoyang at the center of the network, it linked the west-lying capital Chang'an to the economic and agricultural centers of the east towards Hangzhou, and to the northern border near modern Beijing. While the pressing initial motives were for shipment of grains to the capital, and for transporting troops and military logistics, the reliable inland shipment links would facilitate domestic trades, flow of people and cultural exchange for centuries. Along with the extension of the Great Wall, and the construction of the eastern capital city of Luoyang, these mega projects, led by an efficient centralized bureaucracy, would amass millions of conscripted workers from the large population base, at heavy cost of human lives.
After a series of costly and disastrous military campaigns against Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, ended in defeat by 614, the dynasty disintegrated under a series of popular revolts culminating in the assassination of Emperor Yang by his ministers in 618. The dynasty, which lasted only thirty-seven years, was undermined by ambitious wars and construction projects, which overstretched its resources. Particularly, under Emperor Yang, heavy taxation and compulsory labor duties would eventually induce widespread revolts and brief civil war following the fall of the dynasty.
The dynasty is often compared to the earlier Qin dynasty for unifying China after prolonged division. Wide-ranging reforms and construction projects were undertaken to consolidate the newly unified state, with long-lasting influences beyond their short dynastic reigns.Theoderic the Great
Theoderic the Great (454 – 30 August 526), often referred to as Theodoric (; Gothic: *𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, *Þiudareiks, Latin: Flāvius Theodericus, Italian: Teodorico, Greek: Θευδέριχος, Theuderikhos, Old English: Þēodrīc, Old Norse: Þjōðrēkr, German: Theoderich), was king of the Ostrogoths (475–526), ruler of Italy (493–526), regent of the Visigoths (511–526), and a patrician of the Roman Empire. As ruler of the combined Gothic realms, Theoderic controlled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea. He kept good relations between Ostrogoths and Romans, maintained a Roman legal administration and oversaw a flourishing scholarly culture and the largest building program in Italy in 100 years.Theoderic was born in Pannonia in 454 as the son of king Theodemir, a Germanic Amali nobleman, and his concubine Ereleuva. From 461 to 471, Theoderic grew up as a hostage in Constantinople, received a privileged education under imperial direction, and succeeded his father as leader of the Pannonian Ostrogoths in 473. Settling his people in lower Moesia, Theoderic came into conflict with Thracian Ostrogoths led by Theodoric Strabo, whom he eventually supplanted, uniting the peoples in 484. Emperor Zeno subsequently gave him the title of Patrician, Vir gloriosus, and the office of magister militum (master of the soldiers), and even appointed him as consul. Seeking further gains, Theoderic frequently ravaged the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire, eventually threatening Constantinople itself. In 488, Emperor Zeno ordered Theoderic to overthrow the Germanic foederatus and King of Italy, Odoacer. After a victorious four-year war, Theoderic killed Odoacer with his own hands while they shared a meal, settled his 200,000 to 250,000 people in Italy, and founded an Ostrogothic Kingdom based in Ravenna. Theoderic extended his hegemony over the Burgundian and Vandal Kingdoms through marriage alliances. In 511, the Visigothic Kingdom was brought under Theoderic's direct control, forming a Gothic empire that extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adriatic Sea.
Theoderic's achievements began to unravel in his later years. The Burgundians and Vandals threw off Ostrogothic hegemony by 523, and Theoderic's presumptive heir to both Gothic realms and son-in-law Eutharic died in 522, throwing his succession into doubt. Theoderic's good relations with the Roman Senate deteriorated due to a presumed senatorial conspiracy in 522, and, in 523, Theoderic had the philosopher and court official Boethius and Boethius' father-in-law Symmachus executed on charges of treason related to the alleged plot. Theoderic died in Ravenna on 30 August 526, and was succeeded by his grandson Athalaric, with Theoderic's daughter Amalasuntha serving as regent. The Visigothic Kingdom re-acquired its independence on Theoderic's death.
Seeking to restore the glory of ancient Rome, he ruled Italy in its most peaceful and prosperous period since Valentinian I. Memories of his reign made him a hero of German legends, as Dietrich von Bern.