Of the alternative chronologies used by Christians, the most important were: 1 the indiction, 2 the Era of Spain, and 3 the Era of the Passion.
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The indiction was a cycle of 15 years originally based on the interval between imperial tax assessments but during the Middle Ages always reckoned from the accession of Constantine, in Years were given according to their place in the cycle of 15, the number of the indiction itself being ignored. This chronology was the most widespread in the early Middle Ages, but its use diminished rapidly in the 13th century, although public notaries continued to use it until the 16th. First recorded in the 5th century, it was in general use in Visigothic Spain of the 6th and 7th centuries and, after the Arab invasions, in the unconquered Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian Peninsula.
It was abolished, in favour of the Era of the Incarnation, in Catalonia in , in Aragon in , in Castile in , and in Portugal in The Era of the Passion, commencing 33 years after that of the Incarnation, enjoyed a short vogue, mainly in 11th-century France. Unlike earlier chronological systems in use before Islam , Islamic chronology was instituted so soon after the event that was to be the beginning of the Muslim era that no serious problems were encountered in its application.
This sounds somewhat plausible because Yemenis were probably used to affixing dates to their documents. The choice of the Hijrah as the beginning of the epoch has two reasons.
Before the introduction of the new epoch, the Arabs had been acquainted with chronologies used by their neighbours, the Seleucids and the Persians. In Yemen the practice of dating had been perfected to the extent that inscriptions show the day, the month, and the year. The lunar year was adopted by the Muslims for the new chronology. In this there was hardly any innovation insofar as Arabia was concerned.
Muslim historians, annalists, and chroniclers met with difficulties when writing their books on pre-Islamic history. No practice had as yet developed for pre-Hijrah dating; therefore, when writing about the history of various lands in pre-Islamic times, authors resorted to the use of chronologies previously in existence there e. For the histories of the area under Islam, writers used only Muslim chronology, while non-Muslim authors e.
Within the general uniformity of applying the Hijrah era proper, there existed differences, some of which were the result of earlier pre-Islamic practices; others were the result of continuous contacts of Muslim countries with their European neighbours, with whom they had economic as well as political relations.
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It continued in use for some generations, then the ordinary Hijrah era was reintroduced. Two Muslim countries, Turkey and Iran , introduced more drastic changes into their chronology because of European influences. In Turkey the Julian calendar was adopted in ah ad —77 and used solar months with Hijrah dating. The year was officially called the Ottoman fiscal year but was popularly known as the marti year, after mart Turkish for March , which was the beginning of the year.
Iran also adopted a solar year; the names of the months in its calendar are Persian, and the era is still that of the Hijrah.
Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907)
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