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His system was to replace the Diocletian era that had been used in an old Easter table because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians.

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During the first six centuries of what would come to be known as the Christian era, European countries used various systems to count years.

Systems in use included consular dating, imperial regnal year dating, and Creation dating.

Although Anno Domini was in widespread use by the 9th century, the term "Before Christ" (or its equivalent) did not become common until much later.

Bede the Venerable used the expression "anno igitur ante incarnationem Dominicam" (so in the year before the Incarnation of the Lord) twice.

On the continent of Europe, Anno Domini was introduced as the era of choice of the Carolingian Renaissance by the English cleric and scholar Alcuin in the late eighth century.

Its endorsement by Emperor Charlemagne and his successors popularizing the use of the epoch and spreading it throughout the Carolingian Empire ultimately lies at the core of the system's prevalence.

"Anno an xpi nativitate" (in the year before the birth of Christ) is found in 1474 in a work by a German monk.

In 1627, the French Jesuit theologian Denis Pétau (Dionysius Petavius in Latin), with his work De doctrina temporum, popularized the usage ante Christum (Latin for "Before Christ") to mark years prior to AD.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, popes continued to date documents according to regnal years for some time, but usage of AD gradually became more common in Roman Catholic countries from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

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