The 450s decade ran from January 1, 450, to December 31, 459.
- Spring – Justa Grata Honoria, eldest sister of emperor Valentinian III, sends her ring to Attila the Hun in an effort to escape a marriage being forced upon her by her brother. Now about 34, she has had an affair with an officer in her household and has allegedly plotted to overthrow Valentinian, who has sent her to a convent at Constantinople. Attila announces his intention to marry her, says he expects to be given half the Western Roman Empire as her dowry, and gathers a large Hun invasion force. Flavius Aetius, Roman general (magister militum), musters in Gaul an army of Burgundians, Celts, Ripuarians, Salian Franks and Visigoths under the command of the Visigoth king Theodoric I.
- July 28 – Emperor Theodosius II, age 49, falls from his horse while hunting at Constantinople and dies soon afterward. He reigned since 408, mostly under the domination of his Christian sister Pulcheria, who has been allowed to return to court (see 441).
- August 25 – Pulcheria is forced to marry and co-rule the Eastern Roman Empire. She gives the imperial diadem to the Illyrian (or Thracian) officer and senator Marcian, age 58, and is crowned as empress in the Hippodrome at Constantinople, in a first religious coronation ceremony.
- Marcian orders the execution (or assassination) of the unpopular court eunuch Chrysaphius. He discontinues the tribute payments to Attila.
- All the Temples of Aphrodisias (City of Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and its libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stauroupolis (City of the Cross).
- Angles, Saxons and Jutes invade Britain, marking the beginning of the Old English period (approximate date).
- Remodelling begins of the Dome of Baptistry of Neon, Ravenna (Italy) (approximate date).
- King Yazdegerd II summons the leading Armenian nobles to the Persian capital Ctesiphon, pressuring them to cut their ties with the Western Church.
- Metal horseshoes come into more common use in the Near East and in Europe, increasing the efficiency of horsepower in agriculture and transportation.
Exploration and ColonizationEdit
- Hawaii Loa, Polynesian chief, discovers what will be called the Hawaiian Islands; he sails across 2,400 miles of open water from the island of Raiatea, near Tahiti. He settles on Hawaii, named in his honor (approximate date).
- Spring – Attila gathers his vassals—Bastarnae, Gepids, Heruls, Ostrogoths, Rugians, Scirians and Thuringians (among others), and smashes through Germany, causing widespread panic and destruction. He arrives in Belgica with an army (50,000 men) and crosses the Rhine.
- April 7 – Attila's forces invade Gaul and sack Metz. The major cities of Strasbourg, Worms, Mainz, Trier, Cologne, Reims, Tournai, Cambrai, Amiens and Beauvais are destroyed by the Huns.
- Eudocia, daughter of emperor Valentinian III, marries Huneric in Ravenna. The engagement serves to strengthen the alliance between the Western Roman Empire and the Vandal Kingdom.
- June – Attila approaches Aurelianum (modern Orléans) and the city's inhabitants close the gates, forcing him to lay siege. After learning of the Hun invasion, Flavius Aetius (magister militum) moves quickly from Italy into Gaul, and joins forces with the Visigoth king Theodoric I.
- June 20 – Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (Châlons): Attila avoids a pitched battle near Orléans and withdraws to the Catalaunian Plains (Champagne-Ardenne). The Roman coalition defeats the Huns, but Theodoric I is killed in the encounter. This is one of the last military victories of the Western Roman Empire, before the brilliant victories of Emperor Marjorian against the Alemanni, Visigoths, Suebi, and Burgundians between 457 and 461..
- Thorismund succeeds his father Theodoric I as king of the Visigoths. He is crowned in the capital at Toulouse, and extends the Visigothic Kingdom in Hispania.
- May 26 – Battle of Vartanantz: King Yazdegerd II defeats the Armenian army (66,000 men) under their rebel leader Vartan Mamikonian on the Avarayr Plain (Armenia). Despite the loss of Mamikonian, who is killed, the Armenians consider this battle to have been a moral and religious victory, since Yazdegerd, out of respect for their efforts, allows them to remain Christian. The anniversary is a national and religious holiday.
- Yazdegerd II issues a decree to abolish the Shabbat, and orders the execution of Jewish leaders, including the Exilarch.
- October 8–November 1 – Council of Chalcedon, an ecumenical council of the Church: The monophysitism of Eutyches is repudiated and the Chalcedonian Definition set forth. As a result of this council, the Oriental Orthodox Churches eventually become a separate communion. More immediately, Jerusalem becomes a Patriarchate and Dioscorus of Alexandria is deposed as Patriarch of Antioch.
- The Huns under Attila invade Northern Italy. Emperor Valentinian III flees from Ravenna to Rome, and sends Pope Leo I to persuade him to return to the Hungarian Plain. The cities of Aquileia, Padua and Verona are destroyed by the Huns. Milan is saved because Attila is offered a huge amount of gold. Flavius Aetius (magister militum) is unable to raise a new army against him.
- Rome is threatened by Attila but not attacked, due to a last-minute effort by Leo I. Strengthened by news of reinforcements from the Eastern Roman Empire and the plague breaking out among the Huns, Attila is persuaded to withdraw.
- The city of Venice is founded by fugitives from Attila's army. They flee to small islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
- King Vortigern marries Hengist's daughter, Rowena, and becomes king of the Britons. The Anglo-Saxons increase their settlements in Britain (according to British legend).
- Nan'an Yinwang succeeds his father Tai Wu Di, after he is assassinated by the eunuch Zong Ai. Later that year, Yinwang is murdered as well, and Ai is overthrown by a group of high officials. Wen Cheng Di, age 12, becomes the new emperor of Northern Wei.
- Attila the Hun is found dead in bed, after a wedding feast with the Goth princess Ildica. He dies of a nosebleed at his Hungarian stronghold, drowning in his own blood at age 47 (approximate). The Huns celebrate a strava (lamentation) over his burial place with great feasting. Attila had intended to renew his attacks on Constantinople, and reclaim the tribute which emperor Marcian had stopped in late 450. The Hunnic Empire is divided between his sons Ellac (appointed successor), Dengizich and Ernakh. They fight over his legacy, and establish their kingdoms north of the Black Sea (Ukraine), supported by vassal states.
- July – Empress Pulcheria dies of natural causes at Constantinople. She has commissioned many new churches in the city during her reign. Her death leaves Flavius Aspar (magister militum) as the dominant influence on her husband, Marcian.
- Anthemius marries Marcia Euphemia, daughter of Marcian, and is elevated to the rank of comes. He is sent to the Danubian frontier to rebuild the border defences.
- Theodoric II succeeds his brother Thorismund as king of the Visigoths, Thorismund having been murdered, after violating the alliance with the Western Roman Empire.
- Ankō obtains the throne of his father Ingyō after the traditional order of succession and becomes the 20th emperor of Japan. His eldest brother Kinashi commits suicide, after being accused of an incestuous relationship with his sister Karu no Ōiratsume (according to the Nihon Shoki).
- September 21 – Emperor Valentinian III stabs his commander-in-chief Flavius Aetius to death, during a meeting of the imperial council at Ravenna. He has accused Aetius of plotting against him to seize power. After his assassination, the Western Roman Empire has no effective defender against its hostile barbarian neighbors (Alans, Franks, Ostrogoths, Vandals and Visigoths).
- Battle of Nedao: Allied forces of subjected peoples (Gepids, Heruli, Ostrogoths, Rugii, Scirii and Suebi), under the leadership of King Ardaric, defeat the Huns under Ellac, eldest son of Attila the Hun, in Pannonia. Ellac is killed during the battle and succeeded by his brother Dengizich.
- Ardaric unites the Gepids with other Germanic tribes, and founds in the Pannonian Basin the Kingdom of the Gepids.
- The Vandals conquer Malta.
- Ireland: The Diocese of Clogher is erected.
- March 16 – Emperor Valentinian III, age 35, is assassinated by two Hunnic retainers of the late Flavius Aetius, while training with the bow on the Campus Martius (Rome), ending the Theodosian dynasty. His primicerius sacri cubiculi, Heraclius, is also murdered.
- March 17 – Petronius Maximus, former domesticus ("elite bodyguard") of Aetius, becomes (with support of the Roman Senate) emperor of the Western Roman Empire. He secures the throne by bribing officials of the imperial palace. Maximus consolidates his power by a forced marriage with Licinia Eudoxia, widow of Valentinian III.
- Maximus appoints Avitus, most trusted general, to the rank of magister militum and sends him on an embassy to Toulouse, to gain the support of the Visigoths. He elevates his son Palladius to Caesar and has him marry Eudocia, eldest daughter of Valentinian III.
- May 31 – Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome. A widespread panic occurs when many citizens hear the news that the Vandals are plundering the Italian mainland.
- June 2 – Sack of Rome: King Genseric leads the Vandals into Rome, after he has promised Pope Leo I not to burn and plunder the city. Genseric sacks the city for a period of two weeks. Eudoxia and her daughters, Eudocia and Placidia, are taken hostage. The loot is sent to the harbour of Ostia and loaded into ships, from whence the Vandals depart and return to Carthage.
- July 9 – Avitus is proclaimed Roman emperor at Toulouse, and later recognised by the Gallic chiefs in Viernum (near Arles).
- September 21 – Avitus enters Rome with a Gallic army. He restores the imperial authority in Noricum (modern Austria) and leaves a Gothic force under Remistus, Visigoth general (magister militum), at Ravenna.
- The Ostrogoths conquer Pannonia and Dalmatia.
- Battle of Aylesford: Prince Vortimer rebels against the pro-Anglo-Saxon policies of his father, Vortigern. He is defeated in the battle at Aylesford (Kent). Hengist and his son Oisc become kings of Kent. Horsa and Catigern, brother of Vortimer, are killed. The Britons withdraw to London (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle).
- Skandagupta succeeds Kumaragupta I as ruler of the Gupta Empire (India). During his reign he crushes the Hun invasion; however, the expense of the wars drains the empire's resources and contributes to its decline.
- Gaero becomes king of the Korean kingdom of Baekje.
- Barter economy replaces organized trade as Romans and other citizens desert their towns for the countryside, where they will be less vulnerable against barbarian raids (approximate date).
- The city of Vindobona (Vienna) is struck by an epidemic that spreads through the Roman provinces. The disease is probably streptococcus or a form of scarlet fever with streptococcus pneumoniae (approximate date).
- March – Emperor Marcian sends an embassy to Carthage to end the Vandal raids in the Mediterranean from their strongholds in North Africa, and quells disturbances on the Armenian frontier.
- Emperor Avitus sends a Germanic naval expedition under command of Ricimer to defend Sicily. They defeat the Vandals twice: on land at the Battle of Agrigentum (456), and in a sea battle off Corsica.
- Summer – Capua is destroyed by the Vandals. Ricimer is unable to end piracy in the western Mediterranean. Backed by his popularity, he gains the consent of the Senate for an expedition against Avitus.
- September 17 – Remistus, Roman general (magister militum), is besieged with a Gothic force at Ravenna and later executed in the Palace in Classis, outside the city.
- October 5 – The Visigoths under King Theodoric II, acting on orders of Avitus, invade Spain with an army of Burgundians, Franks and Goths, led by their kings Chilperic I and Gondioc. They defeat the Suebi under King Rechiar on the river Urbicus, near Astorga (Gallaecia); this shatters the power of the Suebi. During the battle Rechiar is captured and later executed.
- October 17 – Battle of Placentia: Ricimer, supported by Majorian (comes domesticorum), defeats near Piacenza (northern Italy) the usurper Avitus. They compel him to renounce the purple, and Avitus is obliged to become bishop of Piacenza.
- October 28 – The Visigoths brutally sack the Suebi's capital of Braga (modern Portugal); churches are burnt to the ground.
- Saint Patrick leaves Britain once more to evangelise Ireland as a missionary bishop. The Anglo-Saxons call the British nobles to a peace conference at Stonehenge, but turn on them and massacre almost everyone (approximate date).
- After a 10-year reign, Emperor Ankō is assassinated by the 10-year-old Mayowa no Ōkimi (prince Mayowa), in retaliation for the execution of his father. He is succeeded by his brother Yūryaku who becomes the 21st emperor of Japan.
- January 27 – Emperor Marcian dies at Constantinople, possibly of foot gangrene, an infection contracted during a long religious journey. He is buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, together with his late wife Pulcheria.
- February 7 – Leo I, a Thraco-Roman (or Dacian) high-ranking officer, becomes the new emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, reigning for nearly 20 years. He is first to accept the Byzantine crown from the hands of the patriarch of Constantinople.
- April 1 – Majorian is acclaimed emperor by the Roman army, after defeating 900 Alemanni near Lake Maggiore (Italy).
- December 28 – Majorian is crowned emperor of the Western Roman Empire and recognized by pope Leo I. His rule is accepted in Italy, Dalmatia and some territories in Northern Gaul.
- Childeric I succeeds his father Merovech as king of the Salian Franks. He establishes his capital at Tournai (modern Belgium) and becomes a foederatus (pl. foederati) of the Western Roman Empire.
- According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 4,000 Britons are slain at Crecganford in battle against Hengist and his son Oisc of Kent.
- Yazdegerd II dies after a 19-year reign. He is succeeded by his son Hormizd III who seizes the Persian throne. His elder brother Peroz I rebels against him in Sistan (Iran). After months of civil war he defeats Hormizd and becomes the seventeenth Sasanian king of the Persian Empire.
- Emperor Majorian builds a Roman fleet at Miseno and Ravenna. He strengthens the army, by recruiting a large number of barbarian mercenaries (Bastarnae, Burgundians, Huns, Ostrogoths, Rugii, Scythians and Suebi).
- Summer – The Vandals land in Campania, at the mouth of the Liri or the Garigliano River, and devastate the region. Majorian personally leads the Roman army and defeats the invaders near Sinuessa, destroying their ships on the seashore, loaded with booty.
- Battle of Arelate: Majorian defeats the Visigoths under King Theodoric II at Arles (Southern Gaul), near the Rhone River. Theodoric is forced to sign a peace treaty and becomes a foederatus (pl. foederati) of the Western Roman Empire.
- Winter – Majorian enters the Rhone Valley, and defeats the Burgundians under King Gondioc at Lugdunum. He forces the Bagaudae to join the western coalition against the Suebi in Spain.
Exploration and ColonizationEdit
- The city of Tbilisi (Georgia) on the Kura River is founded by King Vakhtang I of Iberia. Its location gives it control of the trade routes between western and eastern Transcaucasia.
- Emperor Leo I the Thracian signs a peace treaty with the Ostrogoths. King Theodemir sends his son, Theoderic the Great, age 5, as a child hostage to Constantinople. He learns at court about Latin, military tactics and religion (until 469).
- King Vortigern is burnt to death, while being besieged by a Romano-British force under Ambrosius Aurelianus at Ganarew (Herefordshire).
- The Franks conquer the city of Trier. The Frankish Kingdom becomes a military power and gets involved in Roman politics.
- Remigius, age 22, is elected bishop of Reims (approximate date).
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- Theodosius II, Byzantine emperor. Died in 450.
- Pulcheria, Byzantine empress. Died in 453. First Empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire, though she had co-rulers.
- Valentinian III, Western Roman emperor. Died in 455.
- Petronius Maximus, Western Roman emperor. Died in 455, during an invasion by the Vandals. His death was followed by the Sack of Rome.
- Avitus. Western Roman emperor. Died in 456 or 457. He was deposed in 456 and reportedly did not survive for long, but sources on his death are contradictory
- Marcian, Byzantine emperor. Died in 457.
- Attila the Hun, King of the Huns.