Sunday 28 June 2009

Years of Our Lord

More snippets from the archives!

Have you ever thought about the dating system we use in the west? No, well, neither did I until I read a brief exegesis on the whole question. I suppose it should really come as no great surprise to learn that for centuries after the birth of Christ few people had any idea that they were living in the Christian era. Indeed the idea that the years should be counted from the Day of Annunciation only emerged in the sixth century, in the work of a Greek-speaking monk known as Dionysius Exiguus. The point in time he fixed for Day One Year One was 25 March, nine months before the commonly accepted birth of Christ on 25 December. All previous years were to be ‘Before Christ’, and all subsequent years Anni Domini, Years of our Lord.

But more centuries were to elapse before this notion was generally accepted. In England it first came when Venerable Bede accepted the chronology advanced by Dionysius in his History of the English Church and People, written in the early eighth century. Before this several dating systems had been in operation, the most common being the regnal year of a ruling king, pope or emperor.

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