APOCALYPTIC FEARS AT THE END OF THE FIRST MILLENNIUM
Prior to the year 1000 A.D. Europe was invaded by Huns, Muslims, and Vikings. There were plagues and famines that decimated the population. Earthquakes, comets, and volcanic eruptions were seen as signs that the end was near. In 988, prince Vladimir converted his Russian subjects to Eastern Orthodoxy, but in 991 the Christian Anglo-Saxons of England were defeated by the heathen Danish invaders. The year 996 saw the revival of the Holy Roman Empire with the crowning of Otto III as emperor. Then in 997 the Muslim general, Almanzor of Cordova, sacked Santiago de Compostela, the Christian shrine and pilgrimage center in Galicia. In the year 1000 he invaded Castile and plundered Burgos. The outbreak of heresies in France and Italy around the year 1000 was interpreted as the unleashing of Satan, as prophesied in Revelation. These events caused many to reckon that the end times would coincide with the ominous close of the first millennium.
Others saw the year 1033 as the fated time, because it marked the year of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is notable that the Muslims destroyed the Holy Sepulchre in the year 1009. In 1013 Berber soldiers laid waste Cordova and slaughtered its inhabitants.
In 1605, Cæsar Cardinal Baronius wrote of these times in his church history: “Now begins the first year after the year 1000. It was falsely said that this year would mark the end of the world or its imminent ruin. The man of sin, the son of perdition, the Antichrist, in a word, would soon appear. These rumors resounded from Gaul throughout the world. Almost everyone believed them: the simple were afraid of them, but the wise scarcely accepted them.”
Ref. U.S. News & World Report magazine, August 16-23, 1999.
Ref. Smithsonian magazine article, “Terror in A.D. 1000.”