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Antipope John XXIII

The Antipope John XXIII was elected to replace the deceased Antipope Alexander V in 1410. He was the second “pope” to be elected in the city of Pisa. He reigned for five years until the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund forced him to gather a council in the city of Constance. John XXIII’s reign was hounded with corruption, and he was deposed in the Council of Constance in 1415. The council ended the Great Western Schism (1378-1417) when all three popes were removed from their positions. The new pope, Martin V, was elected in 1417. John XXIII was imprisoned, but he was set free with the help of the powerful Medici family. He died in 1418.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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Early Life and Career

Baldassare Cossa was born around 1360 in the Neapolitan island of Ischia or Procida. He was the son of Giovanni Cossa, and rumors that his family engaged in piracy hounded him throughout his career. Even so, the young Baldassare was able to rise up from his humble beginnings. He went to Rome to study theology, and studied civil and canon law in Bologna.

Baldassare Cossa became a canon in Bologna in 1386. Pope Boniface IX elevated him to archdeacon ten years later. In early 1402, he was appointed as cardinal-deacon of the church of Sant’Eustachio in Rome. He became a papal legate in the same year and governed the city of Bologna on behalf of the pope.

Cardinal Cossa was one of the leading figures of the Council of Pisa held in 1409. The council elected Cardinal Pietro Philargi who later took the name Alexander V. He was the first pope elected in the Italian city of Pisa, but his rule was short. Alexander V died in Bologna in 1410, and Cardinal Cossa was elected as pope in Pisa soon after. The new pope adopted the name John XXIII. His election was recognized by the rulers of England, France, and some parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Other European monarchs remained firmly on the side of the Avignon and Roman popes.

The Council of Constance and the End of the Great Western Schism

John XXIII was born Baldassarre Cossa in 1370.

In 1414, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg convinced Pope John XXIII to assemble a council. The emperor’s goal was to end the Western Schism, as well as address the heresies of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Pope John XXIII was eager to comply, so he summoned church leaders and scholars to gather in the German city of Constance.

It soon became clear to John XXIII that the council would depose him, so he fled with the assistance of the Duke of Austria. Since he was not there, the council simply announced his deposition. The Holy Roman Emperor, however, was unhappy that the pope fled, so he ordered his lieutenant to pursue the fugitives. Sigismund’s lieutenant caught up with them, and John had no choice but to return to Constance.

John XXIII was put on trial when he arrived in Constance. He was accused of simony, immorality, heresy, and other sins. The former pope was imprisoned in Germany for four years after his conviction. He was freed after his long-time patron, the Medici family, bailed him out in 1418. He returned to Italy where he was reinstated as a cardinal. He died in 1419 and was buried in a lavish tomb commissioned by the Medici family in the Florence Baptistry.


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Kirsch, Johann Peter. “John XXIII.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 18 Jan. 2017 <>.

Locke, Clinton. The Age of the Great Western Schism. New York: Christian Literature Co., 1896.

O’Malley, John W. A History of the Popes: From Peter to the Present. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward, 2010.

Penn, Imma. Dogma Evolution & Papal Fallacies. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2007.

“The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church – Biographical Dictionary – Consistory of June 23, 1419.” Accessed January 18, 2017.

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End of Temporal Power of the Pope 1798

The papal temporal power refers to the pope’s secular and political authority over the Papal States, as well as other kings and countries. This authority was first granted by the Frankish King Pippin to Pope Stephen II during the 8th century. Although many monarchs challenged papal authority over the years, none succeeded in ending the pope’s temporal powers except the French in 1798. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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The Origin of the Pope’s Temporal Power

The Lateran Palace was one of the first estates owned by the pope after Emperor Constantine allegedly gave it to the Church in the early 4th century. (This later became the basis of the forged document entitled “Donation of Constantine” that would appear during the 8th century.) Over the years, the pope’s real properties steadily grew after the noble families of Rome donated lands to the Church. These estates formed the Patrimonium Petri (Patrimony of Peter), and it was not long before the pope became one of the richest landowners in Italy. Despite the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, the papacy flourished and the Patrimonium Petri continued to expand. Medieval Period popes, however, did not hold temporal power and continued to acknowledge the Byzantine emperors as their overlord.

The balance of power in Italy finally shifted in AD 756. In the early 700s, the issue of iconoclasm formed a rift between the Byzantine rulers and the popes. Meanwhile, Aistulf, the king of Lombardy, captured the Byzantine territory of Ravenna. His army was poised to capture the neighboring papal lands when Pope Stephen II appealed to Byzantine Emperor for help. Emperor Constantine V, however, was unable to help the pope, so Stephen II had no choice but to ask another ally, the Frankish King Pippin, for help.

After defeating Aistulf, Pippin granted Ravenna to the Pope. The land grant was the birth of the Papal States and the beginning of the Pope’s temporal power. Stephen justified it further by presenting a forged document called the “Donation of Constantine” to Pippin. The Frankish king probably knew it was a forgery, but was content to look the other way as long as he had the pope’s support.

Napoleon and the End of the Temporal Power of the Pope

Napoleon Bonaparte was responsible for ending the pope’s temporal power.

It was a Frankish king who granted Stephen II and the popes who came after him the temporal power. Strangely enough, it was the French themselves who came galloping into Italy more than a thousand years later to take the same power away from Pope Pius VI.

When Pope Pius VI was elected in 1775, old ideas and regimes were beginning to crumble on both sides of the Atlantic. Efforts to undermine his secular authority had already started in Germany, Austria, and Tuscany. The greatest threat to his temporal power would come from beyond the Alps.

The French Revolution that broke out in 1789 upended the dominance of the First Estate (the Roman Catholic Clergy) and the Second Estate (the nobility). France’s powerful Catholic clergy was finally brought to heel by the new government with the passage of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790. With the Constitution, the Roman Catholic Church was now under the control of the French government and not of the pope. Pope Pius VI was outraged when he heard of the passage of the Constitution. He immediately issued a condemnation (anathematization) of France’s new rulers and the clerics who submitted to the Constitution. His outrage and condemnation, however, were impotent in a country that was on the verge of total anarchy.

Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who would eventually end the pope’s temporal power, emerged during the bloody months of the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) and the War of the First Coalition (1792-1797). In 1796, Napoleon and his troops crossed the Alps, defeated Savoy’s troops, and occupied Turin. This defeat forced the king of Piedmont-Sardinia to cede Savoy and Nice to France. Pius was forced to give up the papal territories of Ferrara, Romagna, and Bologna in 1796. Peace was finally achieved between the Coalition (which included the Papal State) and France in Campo Formio in 1797.

However, Napoleon and the Directory in Paris were not content to leave the Papal States alone. They used the riot in Rome and the ensuing death of the French General Duphot as a reason to invade the Papal States. With the approval of the Directory, General Louis Berthier and his troops entered Rome in February 1798, and soon announced the creation of the Roman Republic. Pope Pius VI was taken as prisoner by the French troops, thereby ending his temporal power. He was imprisoned in northern Italy before he was taken to southern France in 1799 where he was kept under house arrest. He died six weeks after his arrival at Valence on August 29, 1799. He was succeeded by the more conciliatory Pius VII in 1800.

Picture by: transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons by Stefan Bernd.Alt source: [1], Public Domain, Link


Bauer, Susan Wise. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.

Breunig, Charles. The Age of Revolution and Reaction: 1789-1850. New York: Norton, 1977.

Sellers, Ian. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by J. D. Douglas and Earle E. Cairns. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Walsh, John. The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 9: War and Peace in an Age of Upheaval, 1793-1830. Edited by C.W. Crawley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.

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First African Baptist Church in America 1773-1775

The First African Baptist Church was organized by Reverend George Liele (Lisle) of Savannah, Georgia between 1773 and 1775. Liele was born into slavery in 1750 in Virginia. During his youth, he was transported to other parts of the colonies until he was sold to a Baptist deacon named Henry Sharp of Burke County, Georgia. His master later allowed him to attend a nearby Baptist church. He was baptized by Matthew Moore, the pastor of the Big Buckhead Baptist Church in Millen, Georgia. These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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The Spiritual Emancipation of George Liele

Liele would not remain in the background for long. An eloquent speaker, he soon became a preacher to fellow black slaves and whites in his home church and other plantations. He finally received his license to preach after a three-year probationary period.

Sharp, a Loyalist, freed Liele sometime before the onset of the American Revolutionary Wars (1775-1783). Leile accompanied Sharp and his family to British-occupied Savannah when the war finally broke out. There he met two slaves named David George and Andrew Bryan. Both men came from South Carolina and were also brought there by their Loyalist masters. The two men would later become instrumental in the foundation of the first African church in North America. His newly formed congregation also included Kate Hogg, Jesse Gausling, Hagar Simpson, a “Brother Amos,” and Bryan’s wife Hannah. Leile and his friends organized the church they had envisioned in the Yamacraw suburb of Savannah.

Sharp served as a Loyalist soldier during the war but died of injuries before it ended in 1783. Before his death, he had already handed Leile his manumission papers. Sharp’s children, however, tried to bring Liele back into slavery and threw him in prison when he resisted. He was able to produce his manumission papers and obtain his release with the help of a British colonel named Kirkland. After his release, Leile signed up as an indentured servant to Kirkland to repay him. He and his family later accompanied the colonel to Jamaica during the British evacuation in 1783. They landed in Kingston, Jamaica where Liele preached for the rest of his life. He became the first American missionary abroad, predating Adoniram Judson’s mission in Burma in the early 19th century.  

The Foundation of the First African Baptist Church

Lisle helped to convert some of the original members of the First African Baptist Church.

The future of the first African church in North America became uncertain. Liele’s friend David George also fled to Nova Scotia with his family and the Loyalists. The task of continuing Leile’s legacy was left to Andrew Bryan and his wife Hannah who had chosen to remain in Savannah. Bryan started preaching months after Liele’s departure and soon attracted a number of followers. A man named Edward Davis offered the preacher and his congregation a piece of land in Yamacraw where they could build a church and hold services. Bryan agreed, and his small congregation soon had a new home. Unfortunately, they were soon evicted from this location.

Since he was a slave, Bryan and his ministry encountered fierce opposition from the white community. He was forbidden to preach and was twice imprisoned for defying the order. He, his brother Sampson, and other members of their ministry were whipped for their defiance. They were finally released from imprisonment when Andrew’s master, Jonathan Bryan, intervened on their behalf. Jonathan Bryan then offered a barn on his property called Brampton so that Andrew Bryan and his congregation could worship without fear of harassment. The congregation agreed to occupy the barn as their makeshift church. This arrangement lasted for two years.

The prominent Baptist pastor Abraham Marshall and his colleague Thomas Burton visited the congregation in early 1788. The two men conducted an interview and examination of the congregation and its pastor. After finding their answers satisfactory, he then certified the church and its pastor on January 19/20, 1788.

With more than 500 members, Bryan and his flock agreed to rename the church to First African Baptist Church in 1790. The church was under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Baptist Association. By 1794, the First African Baptist Church, with the help of their white Baptist supporters, was able to buy a plot of land in Savannah and build a permanent church there. Pastor Andrew’s master died in 1795, so his children finally allowed him to buy his freedom for a sum of fifty pounds sterling. By the time he died in 1812, the First African Baptist Church already had more than 1,000 members.


Picture by: KudzuVineOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Davis, John W. “George Liele and Andrew Bryan, Pioneer Negro Baptist Preachers.” The Journal of Negro History 3, no. 2 (April 1, 1918): 119. doi:10.2307/2713485.

Gates, Henry Louis, and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. African American Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Love, Emmanuel King. History of the First African Baptist Church, From its Organization, January 10th, 1788, to July 1st, 1888: Including the Centennial Celebration, Addresses, Sermons, etc. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Co., 1998.

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Mansa Musa’s Pilgrimage to Mecca

More than sixty years after the reign of Sundiata Keita, one of his descendants rose to become the King of Mali. His name was Mansa Musa, and he was a devout Muslim. Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca happened between 1324 and 1325. He brought a large entourage with him which impressed people everywhere they went. He spent a lot of gold in the cities they passed through on the way to Mecca. Because of his kingdom’s abundance of gold, Mansa Musa was known as one of the richest men who ever lived on earth.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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An African Adventure

Mansa Musa was born in 1280 in Niani, Mali. He was the grandnephew of the first king of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. He was also the grandson and successor of Abu Bakr II who, out of curiosity, decided to explore the Atlantic Ocean. He ordered his people to build a fleet of ships and left the kingdom to the care of his cousin Musa. After bringing their provisions on board, King Abu Bakr II and his men sailed off west. They never returned, and Musa was proclaimed as the new Mansa (king) of the Mali empire in 1312.

Mansa Musa and the Journey to Mecca

Mansa Musa, ruler of the Mali empire in the 14th century.

When he became the 10th king of the Mali Empire, the kingdoms of Gao and Mani were under Mansa Musa’s rule. His reign was said to be the height of the Mali Empire. The Empire was rich because of the abundance of gold in the territory. Mali had a rule that all the gold mined in the empire should always be given to the king, and this was how Mansa Musa became as wealthy as he did.

He also wanted to travel, but his plan was to head east to Mecca instead of the Atlantic Ocean. After several years of planning, the king’s journey to Arabia finally started in 1324. His wife Inari Kanute, officials, soldiers, camel drivers, merchants, and slaves all joined him in the journey. From their homeland in Mali, Mansa Musa’s caravan traveled north and crossed the Sahara Desert into Egypt. The king’s caravan made a stopover in Cairo where Mansa Musa met the city’s governor.

Mansa Musa’s entourage impressed the governor of Cairo, but what really amazed him was the amount of gold the king and his people brought with them. Mansa Musa showered the Egyptian court in Cairo with gold, and the city would remember his generosity for many years. Unfortunately, the shopkeepers of the city tricked and overcharged Mansa Musa’s people whenever they shopped in their markets. The amount of gold he gave away to the people of Cairo was so large that its value went down for many years.

They continued the journey to Mecca after three months in Cairo. The journey to Arabia was full of danger and multiple mishaps.  Those who were not killed by thirst or hunger in the desert died when they were attacked by bandits. They finally arrived in Mecca after many months. The group remained there for a while until Musa decided that it was time to return home. He and his companions retraced their steps in the coast of Arabia, and finally went back to Egypt. But this time, the great king had no money nor gold to give away as his treasures had run out. Sadly, he had to borrow money from Cairo’s moneylenders so that he and his people could go home.

Legacy of Mansa Musa’s Pilgrimage

Mansa Musa’s journey and his lavish spending in Cairo introduced his West African kingdom to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. When merchants heard of his wealth, they organized caravans and traveled to make their fortunes in the Mali Empire. Egyptian and Moroccan merchants, in particular, traded more frequently in the empire. North African rulers also sent envoys to the Mali Kingdom after they heard of Mansa Musa’s incredible wealth.


By Abraham Cresques of Mallorca – Catalan Atlas of the known world (mapamundi), drawn by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca. Online:, Public Domain, Link

Conrad, David C. Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay. New York: Facts On File, 2005.

Levtzion, Nehemia. The Cambridge History of Africa, Vol 3 from c. 1050 to c. 1600. Edited by Roland Oliver and J.D. Fage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Magill, Frank N., ed. The Middle Ages: Dictionary of World Biography. Vol. 2. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998.

Tesfu, Julianna. “Musa, Mansa (1280-1337) .” The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. Accessed January 11, 2017.

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Pope’s Residence Changes to Avignon

Between 1309 to 1376, the popes lived in the town of Avignon in the region of Provence. It began when Pope Clement V chose to stay in France after his election for fear of the violence between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy. He was an ally of Philip IV of France, and he became the king’s puppet during his reign as pope. Six more popes stayed in Avignon until Gregory XI finally returned to Rome in 1376.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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In 1285, Philip IV (the Fair) became the king of France. He ruled as an overlord to King Edward I who was the Duke of Aquitaine through his grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In 1294, a conflict broke out between Edward and Philip after a group of Norman and French sailors fought against each other. Philip summoned Edward to appear before his court, but the English king refused to obey.

The French king responded by seizing the duchy of Aquitaine which escalated the conflict into war. The Duke of Brittany and the Count of Flanders sided with Edward, while the King of Scotland, John Balliol, became Philip’s ally. The war with the English for Aquitaine was an expensive venture, so Philip first taxed the Jews to fund his war. When it was not enough, he then imposed a heavy tax on the Catholic Church in France—an act which angered Pope Boniface VIII.

France’s economy hit an all-time low in the years that followed so that Philip was forced to sue for peace with King Edward I in 1299. The war was not yet over as Philip still continued to fight with the Count of Flanders on the northern front. Thus the special taxes imposed on the churches in France remained. If this was not enough to anger the pope, Philip also insisted on controlling the clergy in his kingdom.

Pope Boniface sent the king a letter in 1301 where he made it clear that he alone had the authority over the priests. The king ignored it, but he knew that there would be consequences for his defiance. Another letter from the pope arrived in France in 1302, but Philip once again ignored it. He was finally excommunicated and deposed by the pope in 1303. Philip’s response to his deposition was drastic: he told his men to kidnap the pope before the papal bull could be issued. The pope was rescued by his own men, but he died a month later in the Vatican.

The Avignon Popes

Philip IV of France was king during the time of the papal transition to Avignon.

He was succeeded by Pope Benedict XI who ruled for several months until his death in 1304. The throne of the pope was vacant for several months until King Philip nominated a French-born archbishop named Bertrand de Got. He was elected by the cardinals in 1305, and he adopted the name Clement V. The new pope did not go to Rome as was customary as there was violence between the Guelphs (partisans of the pope) and the Ghibellines (imperialists). Instead, he stayed in France and settled the papacy in the town of Avignon in 1309.

In 1309, he visited the quiet Provencal town owned by the Kingdom of Naples and stayed in a Dominican convent there. He decided to stay in Avignon for good as it was near a papal property in Comtat-Venaissin. The pope was also comfortable in the Provence region since it was owned by the king of Naples (Sicily) who was his vassal.

Since he owed his election to the French king, Clement immediately retracted the deposition and excommunication Boniface issued to Philip. He also assisted the king in driving out the Jews from France and seizing their properties to pay off his debts. The king used the pope in imprisoning the Knights Templar and confiscating their wealth for his own gain. Many Knights Templar died during the inquisition, including their Grand Master Jacques de Molay. Pope Clement then dissolved the Order of the Knights Templar in 1312.

The pope died in 1314, and it was quickly followed by Philip IV’s death in the same year. The seat of the papacy, however, stayed in Avignon and continued to be in the town for the next seventy years. Six more popes ruled in Avignon after Clement V. John XXII and Benedict XII planned to return the seat of the pope to Rome but failed. Their stay in Avignon seemed permanent when the episcopal palace was expanded into the Papal Palace during the reign of Benedict XII. Pope Clement VI also bought Avignon from Sicily in 1348. Finally in 1376, Gregory XI and his cardinals returned to Rome. Two antipopes also rose to power between 1378 and 1423.

Popes Who Lived in Avignon After Clement V

John XXII – reigned from 1316 to 1331.
Benedict XII – reigned from 1334 to 1342
Clement VI – reigned from 1342 to 1352
Innocent VI – reigned from 1352 to 1362
Urban V – reigned from 1362 to 1370. He lived in Rome between 1367 to 1370.
Gregory XI – reigned from 1370 to 1378. He finally returned to Rome in 1376.


Picture by: Anonymous, Public Domain, Link

Menache, Sophia. Clement V. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Nicholson, Helen J. On The Margins of Crusading: the military orders, the Papacy and the Christian world. Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011.

Ralls, Karen. Knights Templar Encyclopedia: The Essential Guide to the People, Places, Events, and Symbols of the Order of the Temple. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2007.

Toon, Peter. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by J. D. Douglas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. Co., 1978.

Zutshi, P.N.R. The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 6, C.1300-c.1415. Edited by Michael Jones. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.

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Ottoman Conquest Reaches as Far as Hungary

After conquering much of the Balkans, the people of Hungary knew that it was only a matter of time before they, too, would be attacked by the Ottomans. The Ottoman conquest had reached as far as Hungary during the reign of Bayezid I (1389-1403) and is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during 1402. Over the years, Hungary had to defend itself against the unrelenting Ottoman attacks until its capital, Buda, finally fell in 1541.

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The Conquest of Hungary

In 1366, a desperate John V Palaiologos came to Hungary. His goal was to ask the help of King Louis I against the Ottomans who had started to expand from their beylik in Anatolia. No help came after this appeal. The Byzantine territories and Balkan states rapidly fell to the Turks soon after. In 1395, the Turkish Sultan Bayezid I attacked Mircea, the voivode (governor) of Wallachia (a vassal state of Hungary). Mircea and his troops were defeated by the Turks, and he had to flee Wallachia to survive.

Hungary was one of the biggest and strongest Christian kingdoms in eastern Europe at that time. It was also the gateway into central and northern Europe. The Hungarian king Sigismund knew that the Turks would cross into their territory soon. In 1396, he was forced to seek the help of the Pope in Rome (as well as the antipope in Avignon) who then issued a papal bull for another Crusade. French and Hungarian knights fought the Turks in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, but the Crusaders were slaughtered. King Sigismund of Hungary only escaped the battle by crossing the Danube on a boat.

From then on, the Ottomans controlled the area on the southern bank of the Danube. In the years that followed, they crossed the river and started to launch raids into Hungary itself. The great Turkish sultan Bayezid was captured in 1402 by Timur. His death the following year plunged the Turks into civil war. The Turks recovered from disaster in 1413, and the empire continued to expand as the years passed. In 1427, King Sigismund captured Belgrade after the Turks attacked Wallachia and Serbia. The Turks also took the fortress of Golubac on the Danube in 1428. A peace treaty was signed by both sides in 1428, but it expired in 1431.

The Battle of Varna

The Hungarian king Wladyslaw, Serbian despot George Brankovic, and John Hunyadi of Transylvania signed a 10-year peace treaty with the Turkish Sultan Murad in 1444 (Peace of Szeged). The Hungarians themselves broke this treaty when they launched another Crusade in 1444. On the 18th of September 1444, the Hungarian army marched into the city of Varna on the coast of the Black Sea.

“Bayezid I”

Murad had retired some months before and passed his throne to his teenage son Mehmed II. The Janissaries (Turkish elite soldiers) were beginning to rebel against the young Mehmed, so Murad came out of retirement two years later and led the Ottoman Army to counter the Crusaders at Varna. The two armies met at the Battle of Varna on November 10, 1444. King Wladyslaw was killed during the battle. His soldiers completely lost heart and fled when they saw that he was dead. Those who could not escape were slaughtered. The battle resulted in another victory for the Ottomans.

John Hunyadi and the governor of Wallachia launched another attack on the Ottomans in 1445, but their armies were also defeated. In 1448, another Hungarian army led by John Hunyadi was crushed by the Ottomans in the Second Battle of Kosovo. John Hunyadi, now Hungary’s regent, signed a peace treaty with Sultan Mehmed II in 1451. He, however, continued the resistance against the Turks until his death in 1456.

John’s son Matthias Corvinus succeeded his father in 1458. By that time, however, the Turks had conquered Constantinople from the Byzantines. Just like his father, Matthias resisted the Turks and attacked Ottoman-held Bosnia where he defeated them. He died in 1490, and the conflicts between the Turks and Hungarians continued.

In 1521, the Ottomans led by Suleyman the Magnificent took Belgrade on the Danube so that they were now free to push further into Hungarian territory. On August 29, 1526, Suleyman and the Turks fought King Louis II and his Hungarian troops in the Battle of Mohacs. King Louis II died in the battle, and his soldiers either fled in order to survive or were killed in battle with the king. The Ottomans followed up this victory with the siege of the Hungarian city of Buda (present-day Budapest) in the same year. They finally captured Buda in 1541 and ruled it for the next 150 years.

Picture By Cristofano dell’AltissimoSakıp Sabancı Museum website:Embedding web page:, Public Domain, Link
Finkel, Caroline. Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Fleet, Kate. The New Cambridge History of Islam: The Western Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries. Edited by Maribel Fierro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Mikaberidze, Alexander. Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO Interactive, 2011.
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John Knox, born between 1505-1515

Although his years of involvement in the Reformation spanned approximately 30 years, few people made a greater impact on the movement in Scotland than John Knox (b. between 1505 and 1515). He spent the first 40 years of his life as a priest and a tutor but joined the Reformation movement through the influence of the Scottish reformer George Wishart. Knox plunged into the life of a reformer after the death of his mentor, but his work at the Protestant haven of St. Andrews was cut off when he and several others were taken as prisoners by the French.

With the help of English authorities, Knox was freed from the life of a French galley slave. He was able to work as a preacher in England with the help of English patrons, but this was once again cut off when the Catholic princess Mary Tudor became Queen in 1553. With his life in danger, Knox fled to Geneva and spent some time in Frankfurt. He went back to Geneva after some time and served as a preacher to the English refugees.

He came home to Scotland in 1559 and helped organize the Scottish Church during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Civil war engulfed Scotland during his final years, but he continued to preach, write, and work to promote the Reformation in the kingdom. Knox died of natural causes on November 24, 1572.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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Early Years

John Knox was born in the Scottish town of Haddington between 1505 and 1515, near the city of Edinburgh. He was the son of a man named William Knox who possibly worked as a farmer or a merchant. His mother died when he was young, and his father remarried soon after.

The younger Knox received a Catholic education in a school at Haddington for the first seventeen years of his life. His father later sent John to the University of Glasgow to study divinity when he reached eighteen. He studied under the Catholic theologian John Major and went on to study at the University of Saint Andrews after his stint at Glasgow. It was also during this time that the Reformation spread in many areas of Scotland with the help of the Scottish reformer Patrick Hamilton.

From Catholicism to Protestantism

John Knox was ordained as a priest between 1531 and 1532 and then served as a notary nine years later. In 1545, he worked as a tutor in East Lothian to the son of John Cockburn, laird of Ormiston and the sons of Hugh Douglas, laird of Longniddry. Both lairds were known to be sympathetic to the Reformation movement in Scotland. It was during this time that he met the Scottish reformer George Wishart who had just returned from his exile in Europe.

Wishart had been preaching in East Lothian when he met John Knox in 1545. Knox soon became his disciple, and later served as Wishart’s bodyguard after an assassination attempt ordered by Cardinal Beaton. In 1546, an agitated Wishart preached in Haddington with Knox as his sword-bearer. He had already been condemned to be burned at the stake so he was fearful for his disciple’s life. Wishart convinced Knox to return to his work as a tutor so that the authorities would not go after him.

Knox followed his mentor’s advice with a heavy heart and went back to Longniddry. The authorities arrested Wishart soon after and he was once again tried and sentenced to death. Wishart was hanged and burned on the 1st of March 1546 in St. Andrews Castle in front of Cardinal Beaton. The cardinal was killed three months later when Protestants from Fife stormed the castle in revenge for Wishart’s death.

Cardinal Beaton’s death angered the Catholic authorities who soon targeted Knox himself. Knox, along with his students, moved constantly between 1546 and 1547 to avoid arrest. He requested the lairds to allow him to flee to Europe, but they refused. In spite of the danger, Knox continued to teach their sons while they were on the move. After some time, the lairds suggested that Knox and their sons hide in the St. Andrews Castle. The Protestants, by then, had converted Cardinal Beaton’s home into their own stronghold after his death. Knox agreed to move, and they arrived at St. Andrews at Easter of 1547.

St. Andrews, by then, was home to a ragtag group of people which included earnest Protestants, lairds, soldiers, preachers, women, and assassins. John Rough, the former chaplain to Governor Arran (James Hamilton), came to live at St. Andrews and discovered Knox’s talent for preaching. Rough, along with Sir David Lyndsay and Henry Balnaves, soon convinced him to preach to the residents of the castle.

The somewhat timid (and prone to tears) Knox refused many times by saying that preaching was not his calling. Besides, he did not have experience in preaching as he worked for many years as a tutor and a notary. He gave in only after Rough preached against the dangers of not answering God’s call and admonished him in front of a crowd.

Knox’s timidity disappeared whenever he stood behind the pulpit. He echoed Luther’s belief on sola fide (“faith alone”) and sola scriptura (“Scriptures alone”). He also started to challenge the Pope’s authority, the existence of Purgatory, and the benefits of praying for the dead. Because of his preaching, many people joined the bands of refugees in the St. Andrews Castle.

The Galley Slave

Knox’s role as a preacher in St. Andrews, however, did not last long. On June 29, 1547, twenty-one French war galleys appeared off the coast of St. Andrews. The galleys were under the command of Admiral Leone Strozzi (cousin of the Queen of France, Catherine de Medici) who immediately ordered the French forces to attack the residents of the castle. The French forces were initially unsuccessful, but an epidemic broke out in the castle which only weakened the defenders. With no hope or allies in sight, the Scottish defenders finally surrendered more than one month after the appearance of the French fleet.

The French forces then took Knox and other inhabitants of the castle and loaded them aboard the galleys. It was far from a pleasure cruise as Knox and his fellow Scots were now galley slaves. They were commanded to row the galleys back to France and were separated when they arrived. Those who belonged to the nobility were sent to Rouen, while Knox and his companions remained as galley slaves.

The French tried their best to get the Scottish prisoners to embrace Catholicism but to no avail. Life as a galley slave took its toll on Knox’s health. In 1548, a feverish Knox and several prisoners were made to row back to the coast near St. Andrews to look for English ships that the French preyed on. When a fellow prisoner named James Balfour asked him if he recognized the place, Knox replied that he remembered the steeple of St. Andrews and that was where he first preached. He vowed that in spite of his illness, he would not die without preaching once again at St. Andrews.

The Exile in England

John Knox was a notable figure in the Scottish Reformation movement, as well as the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

John Knox worked as a galley slave until he was freed in early 1549 when relations between the French and the Scots warmed. By then, the kingdom of Scotland (with French support) was already engulfed in a war against England (the Rough Wooing) because of the infant queen Mary Stuart betrothal to the French prince Francis (later Francis II). This betrothal was opposed by King Henry VIII who wanted her to marry his heir, Edward VI.

Apart from the warming relations with the French, it was possible that the Protestant Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector Edward Seymour had a hand in Knox’s release. The Duke was keen on using Knox to strengthen the Reformation in Northumberland, so the Scottish preacher was allowed to stay in England upon his release. The Privy Council even issued him a license to preach in the English border town of Berwick in summer of 1549.

Berwick was the temporary home of English soldiers and foreign mercenaries during the Rough Wooing period. More importantly, however, it was a haven for Scottish Protestant refugees with whom Knox found a home. Anti-Scot sentiments were rampant in this poverty-stricken border town, but strangely, it was here that Knox was said to be at his happiest. Ministering to the refugees took up most up of his time, but he was able to spend the rest of it studying and recovering from his stint as a galley slave. He also became a spiritual mentor for Elizabeth Bowes and her daughter (Knox’s future wife), Marjorie Bowes, during his stay in Berwick.

Knox was well-liked by his congregation in Berwick. His style of preaching was similar to modern Protestant preaching, and he adopted the Calvinist belief on the nature of the bread and wine. He also introduced a more egalitarian way of receiving the bread and wine. He did this by stepping down from the pulpit and sitting with the congregation to receive the elements.

The authorities of the Church of England felt that Knox’s innovation strayed from The Book of Common Prayer, so he was immediately summoned to Newcastle to explain himself. He met with Bishop Tunstall on April 4, 1550, and successfully defended his position on receiving communion. His fame as a preacher spread, and he was soon transferred to St. Nicholas Church in Newcastle.

In 1552, Knox became one of the six chaplains to King Edward VI despite the fall from grace of his patron, the Duke of Somerset. The controversy regarding his belief in the nature of the bread and wine (as well as his innovations on communion) were far from over. This time, however, his refusal to kneel during communion became the subject for debate.

He came to London with his other patron, the Earl of Northumberland, to defend his views before the church authorities. He told them that he refused to kneel because it was an act of idolatry. The divided authorities were forced to create a committee to judge the validity of his belief. In the end, the committee decided that kneeling would be allowed during the communion, but it was only optional.

Happy that Knox was temporarily out of trouble, the Earl of Northumberland then suggested that he be appointed as the new Bishop of Rochester. Knox declined this politically-motivated offer, and promptly returned to Newcastle. The Earl was stung with his refusal, but they remained on good terms even after the incident.

In late 1552, news of King Edward VI’s illness and impending death reached Knox and alarmed him. If the Protestant King Edward died, he would then be succeeded by his sister, the Catholic Princess Mary, to the throne. Her succession only meant renewed violence against Protestants. In spite of his fears, he temporarily put them out of his mind to arrange his engagement (or possible marriage) to Marjorie Bowes. He also refused the offer of vicarship in London because of his disinterest in politics and his insistence on staying independent.

In early 1553, Knox returned to London to deliver one last sermon to the dying king. His sermon offended some of Edward’s advisers, and Knox was soon sent to a remote village in Buckinghamshire as punishment. Edward VI died on June 6, 1553, and he was soon succeeded by his sister, the Princess Mary. Even in his remote village, Knox delivered a scathing sermon against Mary and her intended groom, Philip II of Spain.

News of the sermon eventually reached the Catholic Queen and Knox’s life was once again in danger. He fled Buckinghamshire and traveled north until he reached Newcastle on November 22, 1553. He tried to go to Berwick to see Marjorie, but his friends stopped him as it was too dangerous. With Catholicism back in the mainstream, Knox was forced to leave England for France as an exile. The wanderer arrived in Dieppe in Normandy in February 1554.

The Marian Exile

Knox knew France was not a safe place for him, so he quickly traveled to Geneva to seek refuge. John Calvin welcomed Knox warmly, but the Scottish refugee did not stay long. Knox had asked Calvin his views on Queen Mary Tudor’s right to rule, but the latter was not willing to dip his toes into a new controversy. Knox then traveled to Zurich and posed the same question to Heinrich Bullinger, but he fared no better.

He went back to Geneva, but Calvin would not give the answer that he was looking for. He went back to Dieppe, and despite Calvin and Bullinger’s reluctance to answer the issue, Knox had his mind made up. He wrote and published a pamphlet in the middle of 1554 criticizing Queen Mary, the Catholic bishops of England, and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

He went back to Geneva and stayed there for a short while before he joined some English refugees in Frankfurt. The city, however, was embroiled in a dispute between the local Lutherans and Calvinist refugees. Despite this existing conflict, Knox accepted the Calvinists’ offer for him to serve as their minister during the autumn of 1554. These refugees had been using the Book of Common Prayer, but with a few innovations of their own. Another group of refugees arrived in Frankfurt, but this set strictly followed the Book of Common Prayer.

The disagreement on the Book of Common Prayer turned into a new conflict. To resolve the issue, Knox and his colleague William Whittingham were forced to send a letter to Calvin to ask him for views. Calvin sent the Frankfurt congregation a stern warning against the division and advised Knox to settle on a compromise. Knox did as he was advised, but conflict rose once again when Richard Cox (one of the authors of the Book of Common Prayer) arrived and protested the changes. To maintain peace, the authorities in Frankfurt finally advised Knox to leave the city.

Knox left Frankfurt on March 26, 1555, and went back to Geneva to serve as a minister there. He then received a letter from his mother-in-law asking him to see her daughter Marjorie. He left Geneva and returned to Scotland in August of the same year in spite of the dangers he faced to see his wife. He then went on a preaching tour and promoted the Reformed beliefs advocated by his friend Calvin.

He met influential Scottish noblemen along the way, and they became his supporters when he was summoned by the authorities upon the request of the bishops. The meeting was canceled, but the Scottish authorities could not deny that Knox now had an influential base. He left Scotland once again, but this time he took his wife and mother-in-law with him back to Geneva. They arrived in Calvin’s city in late 1556.

Knox and His Family in Geneva

Knox served as a minister to English and Italian refugees while living in exile in Geneva. It was not only the birthplace of his sons but it was also a popular destination for English refugees. He considered the years spent in Geneva the most peaceful in his life, but he continued his harsh criticism of female rulers while he was living there. He specifically targeted the French-born Scottish regent Mary of Guise and Queen Mary Tudor of England in his pamphlet The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women.

In Scotland

Knox returned to Scotland when he received a plea to come home from Scottish Protestant noblemen and preachers. They had been summoned to appear before Mary of Guise and they desperately needed his support. He and his family left Geneva in January of 1559 to be with his countrymen, but the pamphlet he wrote in 1558 came back to haunt him. It had reached and offended Queen Elizabeth I of England, so his request for a safe conduct pass was refused. It was not until May of 1559 that he and his family finally arrived in Scotland.

He was soon declared an outlaw by Mary of Guise, but he still traveled several miles to preach at St John the Baptist Church in Perth. What started out as a sermon soon turned into a riot, and the Queen was forced to send troops to control the crowd. Knox fled to St. Andrews and delivered a sermon in the area, but it once again descended into a riot.

The chaos soon spread to other parts of Scotland, so the Queen was forced to send her troops to check the Protestant rebels. She became distracted when news of the death of King Henry II reached her. She was now one of the most powerful women in Europe, thanks to her brothers who took a lion’s share of the power upon the king’s death. Apart from her brothers, the French queen regent’s influence also grew when her daughter (the future Mary, Queen of Scots) married Henry II’s heir, Francis II, in 1558.

Queen Elizabeth I felt that England was in a dangerous position as it was wedged between an unstable Scotland and Catholic France. Knox used the danger of French incursion in Scotland to appeal for some support from the English queen. She still felt the sting of Knox’s criticism of female rulers, so it was not until 1560 when Elizabeth allowed her troops to intervene in Scotland. The French queen regent died in the same year, so the French troops were forced withdraw from Scotland. With Scotland temporarily at peace, Knox was able to focus on transforming the Church of Scotland along the lines of the Reformed theology.

The Scottish Reformed Church and the Reign of Mary, Queen of Scots

The Scottish Parliament decided to resolve the country’s religious issues once and for all, so they summoned Knox and other ministers to write a confession of faith on August 1, 1560. Knox handed the text of the Scots Confession to the Parliament several days later, and it was soon approved. The Parliament also commissioned Knox to head the creation of a new Scottish Church.

However, his efforts to organize the Scottish church was put on hold when his wife Marjorie died in December 1560. Apart from her grief-stricken husband, Marjorie left behind two young sons. Knox resumed his efforts to organize a Scottish church by writing the Book of Discipline in 1561. In this book, Knox outlined his plans for the Scottish Church, but the Parliament put it on hold to wait for the arrival of Mary, the Queen of Scots, from France.

The young queen was raised in Catholic France, so Knox knew that they would one day come to blows. One of her servants was harassed during the celebration of Mass several weeks after her arrival, so she immediately issued a proclamation forbidding the Scots to interfere with her servants. She also reassured her people that she would not meddle when it comes to religious matters.

Mary knew that Knox was a powerful force in Scotland, so she needed to address his involvement with the church and the government head on. She summoned him before her, and the two discussed her role as queen and his roles as her subject and the leader of the Reformation. The discussion solved nothing, and the heated showdowns between the queen and Knox were repeated several times between 1562 and 1563. Knox’s disapproval of Mary’s planned marriage to Don Carlos of Spain became their most bitter disagreement. The frustrated Mary publicly admonished him, but she soon broke down in angry tears. Knox left the queen’s presence with many things unresolved between them.

Knox rubbed salt into Mary’s wound in 1564 by marrying the queen’s young relative, the 17-year old Margaret Stewart. The marriage produced additional bad blood between the two as Mary was not informed of her young relative’s wedding to the elderly Knox. The marriage produced three daughters.

Later Years

Knox’s endless conflict with and rejection of Mary’s rule took their toll on his popularity. The Queen married Lord Darnley in July 1565, but it proved very unpopular among the Scottish people. Knox, too, publicly criticized this marriage during a sermon with the Queen’s husband in attendance. The outraged Darnley walked out, and Knox was soon prohibited by the authorities to preach in the city while the Queen stayed there.

The murder of the Queen’s secretary, David Rizzio, on March 9, 1566, sparked another conflict during her reign. The chaos that ensued in Edinburgh drove Knox to leave the city and seek refuge in Ayrshire. He used the time to finish the History of the Reformation of Scotland which he had worked on since 1559. He returned to Edinburgh when the hostilities died down, but found that Mary’s position had also deteriorated when she nearly married the main suspect in Darnley’s murder.

Mary abdicated in 1567 and was sent to prison soon after. The Scottish nobility crowned her one-year-old son, James VI, as king of Scotland while Lord Moray served as his regent. Mary’s power was greatly reduced, but Knox continued to preach against her and even called for her death. The deposed queen escaped from prison in May 1568, and soon the kingdom was once again plunged into a civil war.

Age had greatly weakened Knox, and he left Edinburgh in 1571 to escape the hostilities. He returned to St. Andrews and resumed preaching there until 1572. The two sides agreed to a ceasefire, so Knox was able to return to Edinburgh in the same year. He preached for the last time in St. Giles and died on November 24, 1572.


Picture by: Theodore Beza, Icones (1580) – Scanned from an old book, Public Domain, Link

Graham, Roderick. John Knox: Man of Action. Edinburgh: St Andrew Press, 2013.

MacCunn, Florence A. John Knox. London: Methuen, 1904.

Muir, Edwin. John Knox: Portrait of a Calvinist. Dallas: Kennikat Press, 1972.

Parker, T.M. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Counter-Reformation and Price Revolution, 1559-1610. Edited by R. B. Wernham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

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Georgia Settled By Oglethorpe 1732

In 1732, King George II of England granted James Oglethorpe and his co-trustees the right to create a settlement in Georgia. Oglethorpe’s initial purpose was to provide a haven for England’s poorest, but in the end, workers who possessed skills necessary for building a colony were prioritized. The immigrants sailed from England in November 1732 and docked in America in February 1733. Oglethorpe and his men explored the mouth of the Savannah River and soon came across a Yamacraw village along its banks. Oglethorpe befriended the Creek chief Tomochichi and negotiated to obtain the land on which the city of Savannah now stands.  These events are recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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The British Colonies in America

Since their arrival in the early 1600s, English settlers in North America had been mostly confined to the northeastern coast. Unfortunately, New England was unsuitable for farming, so the settlers turned to fishing on the rich waters off the eastern coast. Fishermen from New England ventured to the waters off Maine and Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, others ventured south into the waters off the coast of the Carolinas. Although not as small as those of their French and Dutch counterparts, the British population in the Americas still left much to be desired.   

It was not until the middle of the 1700s that the population of British settlers began to surge. Children were born, while new European immigrants flocked into English settlements. Ulster Scots who fled repression and poverty made up the largest wave of immigrants. They initially settled in Boston but were driven into New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania when disagreements with the established settlers occurred. Some eventually found their way inland into the Shenandoahs and the Carolinas.

German farmers from the Palatinate region followed the Ulster Scots. They first found a home in New York but were soon enticed by the tolerant communities of Philadelphia. They moved into Pennsylvania (particularly Lancaster County), and soon established farms in this fertile land. The majority of the German immigrants were Lutherans, but they were also accompanied by a few Mennonites, Moravians, and other Protestant denominations.

Tobacco plantations still existed in Maryland and Virginia, but they were past their prime. Many of the English plantation owners were deeply in debt and found the land that they had long cultivated had lost its fertility. Some of them pushed further into the Appalachians and converted the lands they cleared into farms. Others shifted to rice and indigo farming which they soon found to be very profitable.

The area that is now Georgia, however, was still free from English settlements, and this made the English authorities uneasy. Spanish colonists were firmly lodged in Florida and the West Indies, while the French were catching up in Louisiana. Worried that their rivals would slowly make their way into this “unoccupied” area, the authorities in England then allowed settlers into the area with the help of James Oglethorpe.

James Oglethorpe and the Settlement of Georgia

James Oglethorpe was the governor of Georgia from 1732–1743.

James Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696. He was born in London, but the family soon relocated to Westbrook Place in Surrey. His father, a member of the House of Commons, sent his son to Corpus Christi College in Oxford. The younger Oglethorpe soon dropped out and studied in a French military academy so he could fight against the Turks. He rose through the ranks, and eventually served as an aide to Prince Eugene of Savoy. He then continued his studies in Oxford after earning his stripes in the war against the Turks. Oglethorpe was not able to finish his degree but was still awarded a special Master of Arts by the university.

James Oglethorpe was elected as a member of the House of Commons in 1722. In 1729, the authorities arrested and imprisoned his friend Robert Castell for failing to pay his debts. At that time, prisoners needed to pay wardens so they would be given “better accommodations.” Castell, naturally, was unable to pay, so he was thrown into a prison with a man who was suffering from smallpox. He contracted the disease and died after some time in prison. His friend’s death deeply affected Oglethorpe, and it inspired him to start a campaign to reform prisons in England.

He headed a commission that investigated prison conditions and was horrified at what he saw. He and his colleagues tried to improve prison conditions, but he knew that they needed to address poverty and indebtedness. He and a group of trustees then petitioned King George II to allow a number of poor and debt-ridden English people to leave their homeland. These refugees would then make a new life in one of England’s colonies in North America.

This petition essentially killed two birds with one stone for King George. England’s poor now had a chance to have a better life, while their settlements would then create a buffer against the French and Spanish colonists. He approved Oglethorpe’s plan and granted him a royal charter to occupy Georgia in 1732. Oglethorpe would serve as its governor and work with the 21 trustees to administer the colony.

However, the original plan was defeated at the onset when impoverished and indebted people themselves were left out of the newly formed population. The trustees knew that the colony needed people with the right skills, so they prioritized merchants, tailors, carpenters, and farmers as immigrants.  

The English immigrants sailed from England to North America in the same year. They stayed briefly at Charleston and proceeded to Port Royal. Oglethorpe left the new settlers at Port Royal and took local rangers with him to explore the area further south. They soon entered the Savannah River and explored several miles inland until they arrived at the Yamacraw Bluff.

Oglethorpe encountered the Creek chieftain Tomochichi and the Native Americans who lived in the area. He became friends with the chief and negotiated (with the help of an interpreter named Mary Musgrove) to acquire the land which later became Savannah. Tomochichi agreed, so Oglethorpe and his men hurried back to Port Royal to tell the settlers of their good news.

He and the new settlers arrived at the Yamacraw Bluff on February 12, 1733. They cleared the land while Oglethorpe was busy preparing the plans for the town of Savannah. From the start, Oglethorpe wanted Savannah to have an egalitarian society. The trustees gave away equal-sized plots of land which could not be sold by its owners to other parties. The land would then be transformed to vineyards and mulberry trees would be cultivated for the silk industry. Settlers were prohibited from bringing in African slaves, while Catholics were not allowed to settle in the area for fear that they would side with the Spaniards and the French. The trustees strictly regulated the fur trade and forbade the settlers from bringing in rum, which was a common incentive for Native Americans who traded pelts.


Picture by: after William Verelst – National Portrait Gallery, London [1], Public Domain, Link

Coleman, Kenneth. A History of Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

Jackson, Edwin L. “James Oglethorpe (1696-1785).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Accessed August 22, 2017.

Lindsay, J. O., ed. The New Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 7. The New Cambridge Modern History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521045452.

Ross, Mary. “Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild.” ISTG Vol 2 – Ann. Accessed August 22, 2017.

Smith, George Gilman. The Story of Georgia and the Georgia People, 1732 to 1860. Georgia: G.G. Smith, 1900.


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Confederation of New England Colonies 1643

In 1643, the independent colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven came together and established the Confederation of New England Colonies. The Confederation was established in response to the threat posed by hostile natives, as well as colonies’ French and Dutch rivals. Its goal was to create friendship and interdependence between the colonies, as well as defend each other in times of hostilities. The Confederation of New England Colonies lasted until 1684. This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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New England Colonies: The Early Years

During the early 17th century, large groups of Puritans fled England and sought refuge in the New World. In spite of the challenges they faced, they were able to establish settlements along the coast of the Massachusetts Bay. Some of the towns created during the early years of colonization were Plymouth, Salem, Charlestown, and Boston.

Unfortunately, religious uniformity was impossible to attain, and dissenters soon emerged among the Puritans. Despite the persecution they experienced in the past, the Puritans themselves were not tolerant of dissent. The dissenters’ conflict with the Puritan leaders soon forced them to look for other places where they could settle. Some of them eventually founded new colonies in Wethersfield (1633) and New Haven (1638) in Connecticut.

The colonies of New England, however, were wedged between two other rivals: the French in the Canada and the Dutch traders in New Amsterdam. Apart from their Old World rivals, the different Native American tribes that lived near the colonies became a threat to the settlers. The tribes and the colonists were often times allies, but wars sometimes broke out between them.

The trade-driven conflict between the Native Americans and the English settlers finally exploded in 1637 with the Pequot War. What started out as a rivalry on the fur and wampum trade ignited into retaliatory killings between the natives and the settlers. The conflict only ended when the settlers (along with their Mohegan and Narragansett allies) massacred the Pequot in their village in Mystic, Connecticut.

The Confederation

The Pequot War was a catalyst for the formation of the Confederation of New England Colonies.

The Puritans knew that their enemies would continue as threats unless they put up a united front and create defenses for themselves. In May 1643, the representatives of the Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven finally came together and created the United Colonies of New England   (also known as Confederation of New England Colonies or New England Confederation).

It was one of the earliest forms of government in the colonies and was created so they could support and defend each other. Each colony was allowed to appoint two commissioners who would then represent them in annual meetings (or whenever necessary). A commissioner who wanted to lead the Confederation would need six votes for him to become president. The colonies were also encouraged to help each other and build their own defenses against the natives and foreign rivals. This alliance lasted only until 1684.


Picture by: Artist: A.R. Waud Engraver: Anthony (authorship from here) – New York Public Library Digital Collection:, Public Domain, Link

Rich, E.E. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War 1609-48/59. Edited by J.P. Cooper. Vol. 4. London: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

United Colonies of New England. The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England. New York: P.P. Simmons Co., 1917.

“The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England; May 19, 1643.” Avalon Project. Accessed August 01, 2017.

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Transylvania and Hungary acquired by Austria

In 1699, the representatives of the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League signed the Treaty of Karlowitz. The Austrians had captured Buda in 1688, while Transylvania fell to them in 1689. Humiliated at the Battle of Zenta in 1697, the Ottomans officially agreed to give up Transylvania and Hungary in 1699.  This event is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History during that time.

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The Great Turkish War

In 1526, Sultan Suleiman I led the Ottoman army to victory against the forces of Hungary’s King Louis II in the Battle of Mohacs. Since then, the Ottoman forces had been on a conquering spree in Hungary which alarmed the Habsburg rulers of Austria. The Ottomans occupied most of Hungary along with the Principality of Transylvania.  Only the northwestern part, called “Royal Hungary”, was held by the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor in Austria. Buda, the capital of Hungary, was finally captured and occupied by the Ottomans in 1541.

However, this did not stop the Habsburgs from intervening in Transylvanian affairs. Fazil Ahmed Pasha, Mehmed IV’s Grand Vizier, demanded that Austria refrain from meddling in Transylvania. This demand, however, was dismissed. Exasperated, the Grand Vizier Fazil Ahmed Pasha led his troops in attacking the fortress of Ujvar (Neuhasel/Nove Zamsky) in Hungary in 1663. It fell to the Ottomans in September of the same year.

In response to this new Ottoman victory, the Holy Roman Emperor and Pope Alexander VII hastily organized a new alliance. Both sides agreed to negotiate and finalize a peace treaty in the Hungarian town of Vasvar.  Their armies clashed once again just as the messengers from Vasvar were on the way to the Grand Vizier and the Holy Roman Emperor to deliver the document. The Holy League defeated the Ottoman army on the 1st of August 1664 near the Hungarian town of Saint Gotthard. Both sides agreed to uphold the peace treaty ten days later, and the Principality of Transylvania stayed in Ottoman hands.

Suleiman I, otherwise known as “Suleiman the Magnificent”, was the tenth and longest- reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire during the late 17th century was plagued by instability and rebellions. Its army fought on almost all frontiers, including Hungary where the presence of Austrians threatened Ottoman influence in the region. The Reformation also spread to Hungary during the 16th century. This movement was met with harsh counter-reformation measures led by the Catholic Habsburg rulers. The resentment of the Protestant Hungarians boiled over, and the anti-Habsburg sentiments turned into an uprising.

This revolt was led by a Hungarian Protestant named Count Imre Thokoly whose family’s properties had been confiscated by the Austrians. To counter the Habsburgs, Imre Thokoly gambled with an alliance with Ottomans and the French. The Ottomans agreed to help the count and his followers if they also helped them in the upcoming invasion of Gyor. Imre Thokoly agreed.

The Siege of Vienna

In June 1683, the grand vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha and the Ottoman army marched from Istanbul and across the Balkans. Their original destination was the fortress of Gyor, but Kara Mustafa Pasha decided to lead the army instead to the Austrian capital. They arrived at the outskirts of the heavily fortified Vienna in July of the same year. They started the siege immediately, but the Habsburg defense was better this time.

The European defenders also learned from past encounters, so they invested in the latest large caliber weapons to help them defend the city. The Ottomans, meanwhile, remained stagnant when it came to weaponry. The city was also defended with the help of the soldiers from Poland, the Papal States, Portugal, and Spain. Germany also sent soldiers later on, and it was clear to the Ottomans that they would have to turn back.

On the 12th of September, 1683, the Ottoman army retreated to regroup but it was useless. They were disorganized and under the poor leadership of Kara Mustafa Pasha. The Hungarian rebel leader Imre Thokoly received some of the blame for the failure of the siege of Vienna. But it was Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha who bore the brunt of the viziers’ anger. He spent the winter in Belgrade after the retreat, but he was not meant to go home nor lead another battle. The viziers ordered his execution in Belgrade on December 25, 1683.

However, his death did little to solve the problems of the Empire. No one in court was competent enough to replace Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha, and Mehmed himself was unpopular as a sultan. The Empire’s problem became bigger when the European powers formed the Holy League in 1684. This supergroup was made up of Poland, Malta, Tuscany, the Papal States, Venice, and the Habsburg Austria. Russia also joined this alliance later on.

Mehmed IV’s court was unhappy at the turn of events, and he was removed from the throne soon after. He was succeeded by his brother, Suleiman II, but his reign was greeted with the Holy League’s capture of Croatia and Slovenia. Other Balkan territories held by the Ottomans revolted when they saw this. Suleiman II was not equipped to deal with this setback, so he immediately sued for peace with the Holy League. The peace treaty, however, came to nothing as the other members of the Holy League did not agree to the terms. As a result of this, the attacks and counter-attacks continued.

In 1688, the Habsburg troops captured Buda which forced the Ottoman officials to flee to Belgrade. The Ottoman soldiers did not put up much of a fight as their salaries had been unpaid for some time now. In addition to this, they did not have a competent general who would lead them in the fight. The soldiers promptly rebelled, so the troops of the Holy League took this opportunity to push deeper into Hungary and the Balkans.

By 1689, the Austrians invaded and occupied Transylvania and Wallachia. Suleiman II died in 1691 while his successor Ahmed II died in 1695. He was succeeded by Mustafa II who, along with his Grand Vizier, initiated the military and political reforms desperately needed by the Empire. These reforms seemed to have paid off as the Ottomans won some battles against the Holy League. Unfortunately for the Ottomans, the conflict within the Empire’s army ran deep, and it showed in their crushing defeat in the Battle of Zenta in 1697.

By 1698, the Ottomans were already spent and they were forced to sue for peace once again with the Holy League. The two sides met in the town of Karlowitz, and the treaty was signed on January 26, 1699. The territories were divided based on the principle of uti possidetis (“as you possess”). Each party was allowed to keep whichever territory it took during the years of war. In the Treaty of Karlowitz, Transylvania and Hungary went to Austria. The Ottomans, meanwhile, were allowed to keep Timisoara (Temesvar).

Picture by: Cristofano dell’AltissimoAtlante dell’arte italianadirect url / Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy, Public Domain, Link
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