A thick dust cloud hangs over the globe, causing crop failures and famine worldwide. The sun is only visible for about four hours a day and even then the light is so diffuse and weak that it hardly casts any shadows. Weather anomalies are everywhere, resulting in numerous deaths. Climatic after affects will last anywere from 539 to 550, depending on the region.
Evidence (but not yet complete proof) that the cause is a 600 meter (2,000 ft) asteroid impacting the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. Possibly there is more than one impact or the impact is followed in 541-542 by one or more major volcanic explosions.
There is similar evidence that the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador erupts with a DRE value of at least 84 km3 around this time. It’s actually considered a little bit more powerful than the 1815 Mount Tambora eruption, which caused a global temperature drop. An area of roughly 80 by 125 km (50 by 78 miles) is blanketed in ash and pumice 1 meter (3 feet) or more deep. People related to the Mayans are living in El Salvador at this point.
541-542 The Plague of Justinian becomes the first documented wave of the Black Plague in Europe. It originated in China. It continues to return on occasion until the 700s, in the process killing roughly half of Europe’s population.
555 Justinian, emperor of the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, controls almost the entire Mediterranean after years of warfare. Procopius of Caesarea, councilor to Justinian and an officially recognized historian, in a work published after his death described Justinian as a “veritable demon”, a “vampire”, an “evil spirit” and the “King of the Devils”. He doesn’t seem to be much different from hundreds of other rulers.
610 It is this year that Mohammed, born in Mecca, says he was visited by God’s angel Gabriel (in what has become the Ramadan period). As a result he begins to write what would become the Koran. Muslims see Mohammed as the last prophet of God, while Christians and Jews see him as a false prophet. Supposedly Mohammed was able to temporarily split the Moon and was able to provide drinking water for 1,500 followers by letting water stream from his hands. According to Mohammed, infidels and sinners go to hell, including Jews and Christians, while followers will go to heaven. Infidels can be murdered without consequence. Women have less rights than men. Men are allowed to have a maximum of four women, with slaves not counting. Women are only allowed to have one (Muslim) husband. In case of adultery, they can be beaten. The witness testimony of one man equals that of two women.
622 The great Islamic Conquest begins, starting in Saudi Arabia.
628 A plague kills half of the population in the Western Persian Empire.
654 Muslim invasion of the Greek Island Cyprus. The island is only recaptured in 965 by the Byzantine Empire.
700 Monks as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra continue to spread esoteric Buddhist and Yogic teachings in China. In this period En no Gyoja in Japan is seen as the founder of Shugendo, a practice that mixes esoteric Buddhist, Yogic, Taoist, and Shamanic teachings. Shugendo becomes associated with the Yamabushi and the Ninja. There are others who spread these teaching from the mainland to Japan. Regular Buddhism has been spreading in Japan for about two centuries at this point, where it is mixed with Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion.
711 Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). It takes roughly 8 years for the Muslims to conquer almost all of the Iberian Peninsula up to the Pyrenees Mountains. Muslim rule didn’t begin to crumble until 1031 and wasn’t entirely forced out until 1492.
800 The Frankish Kingdom encompasses France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the northern tip of Spain and the northern half of Italy. The Western Roman Empire is recreated at this point when the Frankish Carolingian king Charlemagne is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by the pope. It now exists next to the Byzantine Empire in the East.
820 Muslim invasion of the Greek Island Crete. The island is fully conquered in 840 and recaptured by the Byzantine Empire in 965.
827 Muslim invasion of Italy’s main island Sicily. Soon Palermo is captured, followed in later decades by much of the rest of the island. Conquests continue until 902. The Muslims are eventually forced out Italy in 1091.
843 Treaty of Verdun after three years of warfare in the Frankish kingdom. An Eastern, Central, and Western Frankish Kingdom is created.
870 The Central Frankish Kingdom ceases to exist. Only the Eastern (German) and Western (French, Belgian and Dutch) kingdoms remain.
946 The huge Baekdu volcanic eruption of about 150 km3 at the border between North Korea and China. Modern research indicates that despite the enormous size of the eruption, effects are mainly regional. China, in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, has no clear central authority at this point.
A more permanent Holy Roman Empire is recreated (in effect as a continuation of the old Western Roman Empire) with the coronation of Eastern Frankish/German king Otto I as the new holy roman emperor.
987 Vikings discover North America via Greenland. Small Viking settlements exist until the mid-1450s. Natives prevent any major expansions of the Vikings.