c1209 BC Date of the first non-biblical reference to Israel, contained on a stele of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. This approximates the traditional date, c1200 BC, for the arrival of the Jews in the Promised Land after their Exodus from Egypt.
c993 BC David conquers Jerusalem and makes it his capital; he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the city.
c958–c951 BC Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem; the Ark of the Covenant is placed in its holy of holies.
586 BC Assyrians capture Jerusalem and destroy the city and Solomon’s Temple. The Ark of the Covenant is destroyed or lost at or before this time.
520 BC Work begins on the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
63 BC Palestine (as the Romans call it) becomes part of the Roman Empire.
20 BC–64 AD Construction of Herod’s Temple.
c30 AD Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem.
70 AD The Roman emperor Titus puts down the Jewish Revolt and destroys Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple.
135 AD After the Second Jewish Revolt the Roman emperor Hadrian obliterates all trace of the Temple and builds a temple of Jupiter on the site.
c140 AD Valentinus teaches Gnosticism, which flourishes throughout the second and third centuries.
313 AD Edict of Toleration legalises Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.
326–28 AD Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and discovers the True Cross and the Holy Sepulchre.
335 AD Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
622 AD Mohammed, the founder of Islam, flees his opponents in Mecca and establishes himself in Medina; this flight, hegira, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
632 AD Death of Mohammed, by which time he has conquered all Arabia and brought it under the sway of Islam.
633 AD Mohammed’s successor the caliph Umar declares a jihad against the Byzantine Empire.
633–37 AD Arab Muslim armies invade Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
638 AD Jerusalem is conquered by an Arab army under the caliph Umar.
710 AD The Arabs invade Spain.
732 AD Arab army defeated at Poitiers in France by Charles Martel.
750 AD Umayyad dynasty overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty which transfers the capital of the Arab Empire from Damascus to Baghdad.
938 AD Jerusalem’s Muslims attack the city’s majority Christian population during Palm Sunday procession and set fire to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
969 AD Fatimids invade Egypt and found Cairo.
1004 The Fatimid caliph Hakim launches a ferocious persecution of Christians throughout Egypt and Palestine.
1009 A turning point in Western attitudes towards the Muslim East comes when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is destroyed on the orders of the caliph Hakim.
1014 By this year over 40,000 churches have been destroyed as a result of anti-Christian pogroms incited by Hakim.
1055 Seljuk Turks take Baghdad.
1056 Muslims forbid Christian pilgrims to enter Jerusalem.
1063 The papacy gives its blessing to a Crusade against the Muslim occupation of Spain.
1064 Hundreds of unarmed Christian pilgrims are murdered within sight of Jerusalem.
1071–80 Seljuk Turks occupy Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine.
1074 The Byzantine Emperor appeals to the Pope for help but without result.
1085 Christians capture Toledo from the Muslims in Spain.
1095 Again the Byzantines appeal to the West for help. Pope Urban II calls for a Crusade to defend the Byzantine Empire against the Seljuk Turks and to liberate Jerusalem.
1099 Jerusalem is captured from the Fatimids by the First Crusade.
1113 Foundation of the Knights Hospitaller.
1119 A large party of unarmed pilgrims is attacked by Muslims and many hundreds are killed while on their way from Jerusalem to the River Jordan (Easter). Foundation of the Knights Templar (Christmas Day) to defend pilgrims and the Holy Land.
1120 At the Council of Nablus (January), the Templars are accepted in the East. Probably during this year Templars are headquartered in al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
1127 Hugh of Payns, the first Templar Grand Master, meets Bernard of Clairvaux.
1129 Council of Troyes. Establishment of the Latin Rule of the Templars.
c1131 In Praise of the New Knighthood written by Bernard of Clairvaux.
1130s–1140s The Templars given grants of land and put in charge of castles by the emerging kingdom of Portugal as part of its struggle to repel the Muslim occupation of the Iberian peninsula.
c1136 The Templars are put in charge of Baghras castle to defend the Amanus Pass north of Antioch.
1139 The papal bull Omne Datum Optimum establishes the Templars as an independent and permanent order within the Catholic Church, answerable only to the Pope.
1140s Templars build the Paris Temple, which becomes the headquarters of their international financial empire.
1144 The County of Edessa falls to Zengi, marking the start of the Muslim reaction against the Crusaders.
1148–49 The Second Crusade.
1149–50 Gaza is granted to the Templars.
c1152 The Templars are given Chastel Blanc (Safita) and Tartus.
1153 Ascalon falls to the Franks.
1164–1167 King of Jerusalem’s Egyptian campaigns supported by the Templars.
1171 Saladin puts an end to Fatimid rule and founds the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria.
1173 The Templars murder the Assassin envoy.
1176 The Assassins threaten Saladin.
1181 Chretien des Troyes begins his romance, Perceval, The Story of the Grail.
1185 Temple Church in London is consecrated by Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem.
1187 The battles of the Springs of Cresson (1 May) and of Hattin (4 July). Jerusalem falls to Saladin (2 October).
1189–92 The Third Crusade.
1191 The Templars establish new headquarters at Acre.
1191–92 The Templars occupy and briefly own Cyprus.
1202–04 The Fourth Crusade. It is diverted by the Venetians to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, which it captures (1204).
1208 Albigensian Crusade launched against the Cathars.
1218 Templars build a new fortress at Athlit.
1218–21 The Fifth Crusade.
1228–29 Crusade of Frederick II; he regains Jerusalem by treaty.
1236 The Christians capture Cordoba in Spain.
1244 Fall of the Cathar stronghold at Montsegur. Loss of Jerusalem. Battle of La Forbie.
1248–54 Crusade of St Louis.
1250–60 Emergence of a Mameluke sultanate in Egypt and Syria.
1266 The Mamelukes take the Templar castle of Saphet (Safad).
1268 The Mamelukes take Beaufort castle from the Templars.
1271 The Templars abandon Safita (Chastel Blanc) and the Hospitallers abandon Krak des Chevaliers to the Mamelukes.
1271–72 Crusade of Edward of England; he agrees a ten-year truce with the Mamelukes.
1291 Fall of Acre to the Mamelukes (May); the Templars evacuate Tortosa and Athlit (August).
1300–01 Templars attack the Egyptian coast; attempt to retake Outremer fails.
1302 Loss of Ruad off the Syrian coast and the massacre of the Templar garrison.
1307 Arrest of the Templars in France (October).
1308 James of Molay and other Templar leaders meet secretly with papal emissaries at Chinon and are absolved.
1310 Burning of fifty-four Templars as relapsed heretics near Paris.
1312 The papacy abolishes the Templars and transfers their property to the Knights Hospitaller.
1314 James of Molay, the last Grand Master, and Geoffrey of Charney are burnt to death in Paris (March). Pope Clement V dies (April). Robert the Bruce wins the battle of Bannockburn (June). Philip IV of France dies (November).
1319 Establishment of the Knights of Christ, successors to the Templars in Portugal.
1418 Prince Henry the Navigator becomes Grand Master of the Knights of Christ.
1456 Construction of Rosslyn Chapel.
1487 Publication of Malleus Maleficarum, the witchfinders’ handbook.
1492 Christopher Columbus discovers America. The Christians capture Granada and drive the Muslims out of Spain.
1497 Vasco da Gama, a member of the Knights of Christ, finds the sea route round Africa to India.
c.1550 Origins of the Freemasons in England and Scotland.
1571 Destruction of the Templar archive in Cyprus by the Ottomans.
1687 Publication of Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton.
1717 Foundation of the Freemasons’ Grand Lodge in London.
1736 or 1737 Ramsay’s Oration declares that Freemasons are the descendants of the Crusaders.
c1760 George Frederick Johnson states that Freemasons are the direct heirs of the Templars.
1776 American Declaration of Independence.
1789 Outbreak of the French Revolution.
1793 Louis XVI goes to the guillotine; ‘James of Molay is avenged!’
1797 Augustin Barruel blames the Templars and Freemasons for the French Revolution.
1843 Scottish masonic order of Knights Templar invents the myth of the Templars at Bannockburn.
1844 James Smith, founder of the Mormons, is killed by a mob.
2001 Discovery of the Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives.