It was around that time that they effectively replaced Roman numerals in Europe.
Someone should really share this history lesson with far-right German mayoral candidate Otfried Best, who recently put his foot in it somewhat.
Best, who represents the anti-immigration NPD party, is running for mayor in the town of Völklingen, near the French border.
On Wednesday, he participated in a debate and was caught unaware when challenged on the issue of Arabic numbers being used in the town.
An opposing candidate, of the satirical Die Partei, asked the 60-year-old:
Mr. Best … I find it alarming that in Völklingen many house numbers are displayed in Arabic numerals.
How would you like to take action against this creeping foreigner infiltration?
The audience, who were clued up on the history of numbers, broke out into laughter after hearing the otherwise ridiculous question.
A bemused Best, possibly confused at what everyone thought was so funny, replied with a serious answer.
You just wait until I am mayor.
I will change that.
Then there will be normal numbers.
Politicowriter Dan Diamond shared the story on Twitter and it earned some very amusing responses.
In Germany, lawmakers have twice tried prevent the NPD from standing for elections but it was deemed by a court that they were not a big enough threat to be banned, which in many ways for them, is worse than getting banned.
They also plan to stand for the federal election later this month but are not likely to achieve the 5 per cent threshold requirement to make it into parliament.