PQC: This is a very brave attempt to question and challenge the narrative of the Power. After all, “history” has always been written by victors and idiots. Find time to read this lengthy argument and come to your own conclusion.
As for me, ALL the so-called history are fake and forgeries. If people intellectuals, and so-called “historians” could not even get the recent events and incidents correctly and accurately, how much you can trust them with many things and stories in the long, long way past!?
In this brand new two decades of the 21 century, we, humankind already has several “unsolved” mysteries: The 911, the Al Qaeda, the ISIS, Usama Bin laden, and this current CovidScam. Of course, Governments and their mainstream scribes, court historians always already have established “facts” (such as ‘the holohoax”).
If your are about 50+ years of age, have you ever wonder what your children learnt or rather been taught about the 911, Osama Bin Laden at school? Is is the same way you were taught about the two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Kennedies, Martin Luther King executions, the USS Liberty, the Moon Scamding? What would your grand children be taught about this Covid19-scam in the next three decades?
How Fake Is Roman Antiquity?
The First Millennium Revisionist • June 26, 2020
This is the first of a series of three articles challenging the conventional historical framework of the Mediterranean world from the Roman Empire to the Crusades. It is a collective contribution to an old debate that has gained new momentum in recent decades in the fringe of the academic world, mostly in Germany, Russia, and France. Some working hypotheses will be made along the way, and the final article will suggest a global solution in the form of a paradigm shift based on hard archeological evidence.
One of our most detailed historical sources on imperial Rome is Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 CE), whose major works, the Annals and the Histories, span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in 14 AD, to the death of Domitian in 96.
Here is how the French scholar Polydor Hochart introduced in 1890 the result of his investigation on “the authenticity of the Annals and the Histories of Tacitus,” building up on the work of John Wilson Ross published twelve years earlier, Tacitus and Bracciolini: The Annals forged in the XVth century (1878):
“At the beginning of the fifteenth century scholars had at their disposal no part of the works of Tacitus; they were supposed to be lost. It was around 1429 that Poggio Bracciolini and Niccoli of Florence brought to light a manuscript that contained the last six books of the Annals and the first five books of the Histories. It is this archetypal manuscript that served to make the copies that were in circulation until the use of printing. Now, when one wants to know where and how it came into their possession, one is surprised to find that they have given unacceptable explanations on this subject, that they either did not want or could not say the truth. About eighty years later, Pope Leo X was given a volume containing the first five books of the Annals. Its origin is also surrounded by darkness. / Why these mysteries? What confidence do those who exhibited these documents deserve? What guarantees do we have of their authenticity? / In considering these questions we shall first see that Poggio and Niccoli were not distinguished by honesty and loyalty, and that the search for ancient manuscripts was for them an industry, a means of acquiring money. / We will also notice that Poggio was one of the most learned men of his time, that he was also a clever calligrapher, and that he even had in his pay scribes trained by him to write on parchment in a remarkable way in Lombard and Carolin characters. Volumes coming out of his hands could thus imitate perfectly the ancient manuscripts, as he says himself. / We will also be able to see with what elements the Annals and the Histories were composed. Finally, in seeking who may have been the author of this literary fraud, we shall be led to think that, in all probability, the pseudo-Tacitus is none other than Poggio Bracciolini himself.”
Hochart’s demonstration proceeds in two stages. First, he traces the origin of the manuscript discovered by Poggio and Niccoli, using Poggio’s correspondence as evidence of deception. Then Hochart deals with the emergence of the second manuscript, two years after Pope Leo X (a Medici) had promised great reward in gold to anyone who could provide him with unknown manuscripts of the ancient Greeks or Romans. Leo rewarded his unknown provider with 500 golden crowns, a fortune at that time, and immediately ordered the printing of the precious manuscript. Hochart concludes that the manuscript must have been supplied indirectly to Leo X by Jean-François Bracciolini, the son and sole inheritor of Poggio’s private library and papers, who happened to be secretary of Leo X at that time, and who used an anonymous intermediary in order to elude suspicion.
Both manuscripts are now preserved in Florence, so their age can be scientifically established, can’t it? That is questionable, but the truth, anyway, is that their age is simply assumed. For other works of Tacitus, such as Germania and De Agricola, we don’t even have any medieval manuscripts. David Schaps tells us that Germania was ignored throughout the Middle Ages but survived in a single manuscript that was found in Hersfeld Abbey in 1425, was brought to Italy and examined by Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, as well as by Bracciolini, then vanished from sight.
Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459) is credited for “rediscovering and recovering a great number of classical Latin manuscripts, mostly decaying and forgotten in German, Swiss, and French monastic libraries” (Wikipedia). Hochart believes that Tacitus’ books are not his only forgeries. Under suspicion come other works by Cicero, Lucretius, Vitruvius, and Quintilian, to name just a few. For instance, Lucretius’ only known work, De rerum natura “virtually disappeared during the Middle Ages, but was rediscovered in 1417 in a monastery in Germany by Poggio Bracciolini” (Wikipedia). So was Quintilian’s only extant work, a twelve-volume textbook on rhetoric entitled Institutio Oratoria, whose discovery Poggio recounts in a letter:
“There amid a tremendous quantity of books which it would take too long to describe, we found Quintilian still safe and sound, though filthy with mould and dust. For these books were not in the library, as befitted their worth, but in a sort of foul and gloomy dungeon at the bottom of one of the towers, where not even men convicted of a capital offence would have been stuck away.”
Provided Hochart is right, was Poggio the exception that confirms the rule of honesty among the humanists to whom humankind is indebted for “rediscovering” the great classics? Hardly, as we shall see. Even the great Erasmus (1465-1536) succumbed to the temptation of forging a treatise under the name of saint Cyprian (De duplici martyrio ad Fortunatum), which he pretended to have found by chance in an ancient library. Erasmus used this stratagem to voice his criticism of the Catholic confusion between virtue and suffering. In this case, heterodoxy gave the forger away. But how many forgeries went undetected for lack of originality? Giles Constable writes in “Forgery and Plagiarism in the Middle Ages”: “The secret of successful forgers and plagiarists is to attune the deceit so closely to the desires and standards of their age that it is not detected, or even suspected, at the time of creation.” In other words: “Forgeries and plagiarisms … follow rather than create fashion and can without paradox be considered among the most authentic products of their time.”
We are here focusing on literary forgeries, but there were other kinds. Michelangelo himself launched his own career by faking antique statues, including one known as the Sleeping Cupid (now lost), while under the employment of the Medici family in Florence. He used acidic earth to make the statue look antique. It was sold through a dealer to Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio, who eventually found out the hoax and demanded his money back, but didn’t press any charges against the artist. Apart from this recognized forgery, Lynn Catterson has made a strong case that the sculptural group of “Laocoon and his Sons,” dated from around 40 BC and supposedly discovered in 1506 in a vineyard in Rome and immediately acquired by Pope Julius II, is another of Michelangelo’s forgery (read here).
When one comes to think about it seriously, one can find several reasons to doubt that such masterworks were possible any time before the Renaissance, one of them having to do with the progress in human anatomy. Many other antique works raise similar questions. For instance, a comparison between Marcus Aurelius’ bronze equestrian statue (formely thought to be Constantine’s), with, say, Louis XIV’s, makes you wonder: how come nothing remotely approaching this level of achievement can be found between the fifth and the fifteenth century? Can we even be sure that Marcus Aurelius is a historical figure? “The major sources depicting the life and rule of Marcus are patchy and frequently unreliable” (Wikipedia), the most important one being the highly dubious Historia Augusta (more later).
“Literary Forgery in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1800” was the subject of a 2012 conference, whose proceedings were published in 2018 by the John Hopkins University Press (who also published a 440-page catalog, Bibliotheca Fictiva: A Collection of Books & Manuscripts Relating to Literary Forgery, 400 BC-AD 2000). One forger discussed in that book is Annius of Viterbo (1432-1502), who produced a collection of eleven texts, attributed to a Chaldean, an Egyptian, a Persian, and several ancient Greeks and Romans, purporting to show that his native town of Viterbo had been an important center of culture during the Etruscan period. Annius attributed his texts to recognizable ancient authors whose genuine works had conveniently perished, and he went on producing voluminous commentaries on his own forgeries.
This case illustrates the combination of political and mercantile motives in many literary forgeries. History-writing is a political act, and in the fifteenth century, it played a crucial role in the competition for prestige between Italian cities. Tacitus’ history of Rome was brought forward by Bracciolini thirty years after a Florentine chancellor by the name of Leonardo Bruni (1369-1444) wrote his History of the Florentine people (Historiae Florentini populi) in 12 volumes (by plagiarizing Byzantine chronicles). Political value translated into economic value, and the market for ancient works reached astronomical prices: it is said that with the sale of just a copy of a manuscript of Titus Livy, Bracciolini bought himself a villa in Florence. During the Renaissance, “the acquisition of classical artifacts had simply become the new fad, the new way of displaying power and status. Instead of collecting the bones and body parts of saints, towns and wealthy rulers now collected fragments of the ancient world. And just as with the relic trade, demand far outstripped supply” (from the website of San Diego’s “Museum of Hoaxes”).
In the mainstream of classical studies, ancient texts are assumed to be authentic if they are not proven forged. Cicero’s De Consolatione is now universally considered the work of Carolus Sigonius (1520-1584), an Italian humanist born in Modena, only because we have a letter by Sigonius himself admitting the forgery. But short of such a confession, or of some blatant anachronism, historians and classical scholars will simply ignore the possibility of fraud. They would never, for example, suspect Francesco Petrarca, known as Petrarch (1304-1374), of faking his discovery of Cicero’s letters, even though he went on publishing his own letters in perfect Ciceronian style. Jerry Brotton is not being ironic when he writes in The Renaissance Bazaar: “Cicero was crucial to Petrarch and the subsequent development of humanism because he offered a new way of thinking about how the cultured individual united the philosophical and contemplative side of life with its more active and public dimension. […] This was the blueprint for Petrarch’s humanism.”
The medieval manuscripts found by Petrarch are long lost, so what evidence do we have of their authenticity, besides Petrarch’s reputation? Imagine if historians seriously questioned the authenticity of some of our most cherished classical treasures. How many of them would pass the test? If Hochart is right and Tacitus is removed from the list of reliable sources, the whole historical edifice of the Roman Empire suffers from a major structural failure, but what if other pillars of ancient historiography crumble under similar scrutiny? What about Titus Livy, author a century earlier than Tacitus of a monumental history of Rome in 142 verbose volumes, starting with the foundation of Rome in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus. It is admitted, since Louis de Beaufort’s critical analysis (1738), that the first five centuries of Livy’s history are a web of fiction. But can we trust the rest of it? It was also Petrarch, Brotton informs us, who “began piecing together texts like Livy’s History of Rome, collating different manuscript fragments, correcting corruptions in the language, and imitating its style in writing a more linguistically fluent and rhetorically persuasive form of Latin.” None of the manuscripts used by Petrarch are available anymore.
What about the Augustan History (Historia Augusta), a Roman chronicle that Edward Gibbon trusted entirely for writing his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? It has since been exposed as the work of an impostor who has masked his fraud by inventing sources from scratch. However, for some vague reason, it is assumed that the forger lived in the fifth century, which is supposed to make his forgery worthwhile anyway. In reality, some of its stories sound like cryptic satire of Renaissance mores, others like Christian calumny of pre-Christian religion. How likely is it, for example, that the hero Antinous, worshipped throughout the Mediterranean Basin as an avatar of Osiris, was the gay lover (eromenos) of Hadrian, as told in Augustan History? Such questions of plausibility are simply ignored by professional historians. But they jump to the face of any lay reader unimpressed by scholarly consensus. For instance, just reading the summary of Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelve Cesars on the Wikipedia page should suffice to raise very strong suspicions, not only of fraud, but of mockery, for we are obviously dealing here with biographies of great imagination, but of no historical value whatsoever.
Works of fiction also come under suspicion. We owe the complete version of The Satyricon, supposedly written under Nero, to a manuscript discovered by Poggio Bracciolini in Cologne. Apuleius’ novel The Golden Ass was also found by Poggio in the same manuscript as the fragments of Tacitus’ Annales and Histories. It was unknown before the thirteenth century, and its central piece, the tale of Cupid and Psyche, seems derived from the more archaic version found in the twelfth-century Roman de Partonopeu de Blois.
The question can be raised of why Romans would bother writing and copying such works on papyrus volumen, but the more important question is: Why would medieval monks copy and preserve them on expensive parchments? This question applies to all pagan authors, for none of them reached the Renaissance in manuscripts allegedly older than the ninth century. “Did the monks, out of pure scientific interest, have a duty to preserve for posterity, for the greater glory of paganism, the masterpieces of antiquity?” asks Hochart.
And not only masterpieces, but bundles of letters! In the early years of the sixteenth century, the Veronian Fra Giovanni Giocondo discovered a volume of 121 letters exchanged between Pliny the Younger (friend of Tacitus) and Emperor Trajan around the year 112. This “book”, writes Latinist scholar Jacques Heurgon, “had disappeared during the whole Middle Ages, and one could believe it definitively lost, when it suddenly emerged, in the very first years of the sixteenth century, in a single manuscript which, having been copied, partially, then completely, was lost again.” Such unsuspecting presentation is illustrative of the blind confidence of classical scholars in their Latin sources, unknown in the Middle Ages and magically appearing from nowhere in the Renaissance.
The strangest thing, Hochart remarks, is that Christian monks are supposed to have copied thousands of pagan volumes on expensive parchment, only to treat them as worthless rubbish:
“To explain how many works of Latin authors had remained unknown to scholars of previous centuries and were uncovered by Renaissance scholars, it was said that monks had generally relegated to the attics or cellars of their convents most of the pagan writings that had been in their libraries. It was therefore among the discarded objects, sometimes among the rubbish, when they were allowed to search there, that the finders of manuscripts found, they claimed, the masterpieces of antiquity.”
In medieval convents, manuscript copying was a commercial craft, and focused exclusively on religious books such as psalters, gospels, missals, catechisms, and saints’ legends. They were mostly copied on papyrus. Parchment and vellum were reserved for luxury books, and since it was a very expensive material, it was common practice to scrape old scrolls in order to reuse them. Pagan works were the first to disappear. In fact, their destruction, rather than their preservation, was considered a holy deed, as hagiographers abundantly illustrate in their saints’ lives.
Independently of Hochart, and on the basis of philological considerations, Robert Baldauf, professor at the university of Basle, argued that many of the most famous ancient Latin and Greek works are of late medieval origin (Historie und Kritik, 1902). “Our Romans and Greeks have been Italian humanists,” he says. They have given us a whole fantasy world of Antiquity that “has rooted itself in our perception to such an extent that no positivist criticisms can make humanity doubt its veracity.”
Baldauf points out, for example, German and Italian influences in Horace’s Latin. On similar grounds, he concludes that Julius Cesar’s books, so appreciated for their exquisite Latin, are late medieval forgeries. Recent historians of Gaul, now informed by archeology, are actually puzzled by Cesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico—our only source on the elusive Vercingetorix. Everything in there that doesn’t come from book XXIII of Poseidonios’ Histories appears either wrong or unreliable in terms of geography, demography, anthropology, and religion.
A great mystery hangs over the supposed author himself. We are taught that “Caesar” was a cognomen (nickname) of unknown meaning and origin, and that it was adopted immediately after Julius Caesar’s death as imperial title; we are asked to believe, in other words, that the emperors all called themselves Caesar in memory of that general and dictator who was not even emperor, and that the term gained such prestige that it went on to be adopted by Russian “Czars” and German “Kaisers”. But that etymology has long been challenged by those (including Voltaire) who claim that Caesar comes from an Indo-European root word meaning “king”, which also gave the Persian Khosro. These two origins cannot both be true, and the second seems well grounded.
Cesar’s gentilice (surname) Iulius does not ease our perplexity. We are told by Virgil that it goes back to Cesar’s supposed ancestor Iulus or Iule. But Virgil also tells us (drawing from Cato the Elder, c. 168 BC) that it is the short name of Jupiter (Jul Pater). And it happens to be an Indo-European root word designating the sunlight or the day sky, identical to the Scandinavian name for the solar god, Yule (Helios for the Greeks, Haul for the Gauls, Hel for the Germans, from which derives the French Noël, Novo Hel). Is “Julius Caesar” the “Sun King”?
Consider, in addition, that: 1. Roman emperors were traditionally declared adoptive sons of the sun-god Jupiter or of the “Undefeated Sun” (Sol Invictus). 2. The first emperor, Octavian Augustus, was allegedly the adoptive son of Julius Caesar, whom he divinized under the name Iulius Caesar Divus (celebrated on January 1), while renaming in his honor the first month of summer, July. If Augustus is both the adoptive son of the divine Sun and the adoptive son of the divine Julius, and if in addition Julius or Julus is the divine name of the Sun, it means that the divine Julius is none other than the divine Sun (and the so-called “Julian” calendar simply meant the “solar” calendar). Julius Caesar has been brought down from heaven to earth, transposed from mythology to history. That is a common process in Roman history, according to Georges Dumézil, who explains the notorious poverty of Roman mythology by the fact that it “was radically destroyed at the level of theology [but] flourished in the form of history,” which is to say that Roman history is a literary fiction built on mythical structures.
The mystery surrounding Julius Caesar is of course of great consequence, since on him rests the historiography of Imperial Rome. If Julius Caesar is a fiction, then so is much of Imperial Rome. Note that, on the coins attributed to his era, the first emperor is simply named Augustus Caesar, which is not a name, but a title that could be applied to any emperor.
At this point, most readers will have lost patience. With those whose curiosity surpasses their skepticism, we shall now argue that Imperial Rome is actually, for a large part, a fictitious mirror image of Constantinople, a fantasy that started emerging in the eleventh century in the context of the cultural war waged by the papacy against the Byzantine empire, and solidified in the fifteenth century, in the context of the plunder of Byzantine culture that is known as the Renaissance. This, of course, will raise many objections, some of which will be addressed here, others in further articles.
First objection: Wasn’t Constantinople founded by a Roman emperor, namely Constantine the Great? So it is said. But then, how real is this legendary Constantine?
If Julius Caesar is the alpha of the Western Roman Empire, Constantine is the omega. One major difference between them is the nature of our sources. For Constantine’s biography, we are totally dependent on Christian authors, beginning with Eusebius of Caesarea, whose Life of Constantine, including the story of the emperor’s conversion to Christianity, is a mixture of eulogy and hagiography.
The common notion derived from Eusebius is that Constantine moved the capital of his Empire from Rome to Byzantium, which he renamed in his own honor. But that general narrative of the first translatio imperii is itself replete with inner contradictions. First, Constantine didn’t really move his capital to the East, because he was himself from the East. He was born in Naissus (today Nis in Serbia), in the region then called Moesia, West of Thracia. According to standard history, Constantine had never set foot in Rome before he marched on the city and conquered it from Maxentius.
Constantine wasn’t just a Roman who happened to be born in Moesia. His father Constantius also came from Moesia. And so did his predecessor Diocletian, who was born in Moesia, built his palace there (Split, today in Croatia), and died there. In Byzantine chronicles, Diocletian is given as Dux Moesiae (Wikipedia), which can mean “king of Moesia”, for well into the Early Middle Ages, dux was more or less synonymous with rex.
Textbook history tells us that, on becoming emperor, Diocletian decided to share his power with Maximian as co-emperor. That is already odd enough. But instead of keeping for himself the historical heart of the empire, he left it to his subordinate and settled in the East. Seven years later, he divided the Empire further into a tetrarchy; instead of one Augustus Caesar, there was now two Augustus and two Caesars. Diocletian retired to the far eastern part of Asia Minor, bordering on Persia. Like Constantine after him, Diocletian never reigned in Rome; he visited it once in his lifetime.
This leads us to the second inner contradiction of the translatio imperii paradigm: Constantine didn’t really move the imperial capital from Rome to Byzantium, because Rome had ceased to be the imperial capital in 286, being replaced by Milan. By the time of Diocletian and Constantine, the whole of Italy had actually fallen into anarchy during the Crisis of the Third Century (AD 235–284). When in 402 AD, the Eastern emperor Honorius restored order in the Peninsula, he transferred its capital to Ravenna on the Adriatic coast. So from 286 on, we are supposed to have a Roman Empire with a deserted Rome.
The conundrum only thickens when we compare Roman and Byzantine cultures. According to the translatio imperii paradigm, the Eastern Roman Empire is the continuation of the Western Roman Empire. But Byzantium scholars insist on the great differences between the Greek-speaking Byzantine civilization and the earlier civilization of the Latium. Byzantinist Anthony Kaldellis wrote:
“The Byzantines were not a warlike people. […] They preferred to pay their enemies either to go away or to fight among themselves. Likewise, the court at the heart of their empire sought to buy allegiance with honors, fancy titles, bales of silk, and streams of gold. Politics was the cunning art of providing just the right incentives to win over supporters and keep them loyal. Money, silk, and titles were the empire’s preferred instruments of governance and foreign policy, over swords and armies.”
The Byzantine civilization owed nothing to Rome. It inherited all its philosophical, scientific, poetic, mythological, and artistic tradition from classical Greece. Culturally, it was closer to Persia and Egypt than to Italy, which it treated as a colony. At the dawn of the second millenium AD, it had almost no recollection of its supposed Latin past, to the point that the most famous byzantine philosopher of the eleventh century, Michael Psellos, confused Cicero with Caesar.
How does the textbook story of Constantine’s translatio imperii fit in this perspective? It doesn’t. In fact, the notion is highly problematic. Unwilling, for good reasons, to accept at face value the Christian tale that Constantine settled in Byzantium in order to leave Rome to the Pope, historians struggle to find a reasonable explanation for the transfer, and they generally settle for this one: after the old capital had fallen into irreversible decadence (soon to be sacked by the Gauls), Constantine decided to move the heart of the Empire closer to its most endangered borders. Does that make any sense? Even if it did, how plausible is the transfer of an imperial capital over a thousand miles, with senators, bureaucrats and armies, resulting in the metamorphosis of a Roman empire into another Roman empire with a totally different political structure, language, culture, and religion?
One of the major sources of this preposterous concept is the false Donation of Constantine. While it is admitted that this document was forged by medieval popes in order to justify their claim on Rome, its basic premise, the translation of the imperial capital to the East, has not been questioned. We suggest that Constantine’s translatio imperii was actually a mythological cover for the very real opposite movement of translatio studii, the transfer of Byzantine culture to the West that started before the crusades and evolved into systematic plunder after. Late medieval Roman culture rationalized and disguised its less than honorable Byzantine origin by the opposite myth of the Roman origin of Constantinople.
This will become clearer in the next article, but here is already one example of an insurmountable contradiction to the accepted filiation between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. One of the most fundamental and precious legacy of the Romans to our Western civilization is their tradition of civil law. Roman law is still the foundation of our legal system. How come, then, that Roman law was imported to Italy from Byzantium at the end of the eleventh century? Specialists like Harold Berman or Aldo Schiavone are adamant that knowledge of Roman laws had totally disappeared for 700 years in Western Europe, until a Byzantine copy of their compilation by Justinian (the Digesta) was discovered around 1080 by Bolognese scholars. This “700-year long eclipse” of Roman law in the West, is an undisputed yet almost incomprehensible phenomenon .
One obvious objection to the idea that the relationship between Rome and Constantinople has been inverted is that the Byzantines called themselves Romans (Romaioi), and believed they were living in Romania. Persians, Arabs and Turks called them Roumis. Even the Greeks of the Hellenic Peninsula called themselves Romaioi in Late Antiquity, despite their detestation of the Latins. This is taken as proof that the Byzantines considered themselves the heirs of the Roman Empire of the West, founded in Rome, Italy. But it is not. Strangely enough, mythography and etymology both suggest that, just like the name “Caesar”, the name “Rome” travelled from East to West, rather than the other way. Romos, latinized in Romus or Remus, is a Greek word meaning “strong”. The Italian Romans were Etruscans from Lydia in Asia Minor. They were well aware of their eastern origin, the memory of which was preserved in their legends. According to the tradition elaborated by Virgil in his epic Aeneid, Rome was founded by Aeneas from Troy, in the immediate vicinity of the Bosphorus. According to another version, Rome was founded by Romos, the son of Odysseus and Circe. The historian Strabo, supposedly living in the first century BC (but quoted only from the fifth century AD), reports that “another older tradition makes Rome an Arcadian colony,” and insists that “Rome itself was of Hellenic origin” (Geographia V, 3). Denys of Halicarnassus in his Roman Antiquities, declares “Rome is a Greek city.” His thesis is summed up by the syllogism: “The Romans descend from the Trojans. But the Trojans are of Greek origin. So the Romans are of Greek origin.”
The famous legend of Romulus and Remus, told by Titus Livy (I, 3), is generally considered of later origin. It could very well be an invention of the late Middle Age. Anatoly Fomenko, of whom we will have more to say later on, believes that its central theme, the simultaneous foundation of two cities, one by Romulus on the Palatine Hill, and the other by Remus on the Aventine, is a mythical reflection of the struggle for ascendency between the two Romes. As we shall see, the murder of Remus by Romulus is a fitting allegory of the events unfolding from the fourth crusade. Interestingly, that legend evokes the history of the brothers Valens and Valentinian, who are said to have reigned respectively over Constantinople and Rome from 364 to 378 (their story is known from one single author, Ammianus Marcellinus, a Greek writing in Latin). It happens that valens is a Latin equivalent for the Greek romos.
We have started this article by suggesting that much of the history of the Western Roman Empire is of Renaissance invention. But as we progress in our investigation, another complementary hypothesis will emerge: much of the history of the Western Roman Empire is borrowed from the history of the Eastern Roman Empire, either by deliberate plagiarism, or by confusion resulting from the fact that the Byzantines called themselves Romans and their city Rome. The process can be inferred from some obvious duplicates. Here is one example, taken from Latin historian Jordanes, whose Origin and Deeds of the Goths is notoriously full of anachronisms: in 441, Attila crossed the Danube, invaded the Balkans, and threatened Constantinople, but could not take the city and retreated with an immense booty. Ten years later, the same Attila crossed the Alps, invaded Italy, and threatened Rome, but couldn’t take the city and retreated with an immense booty .
Another objection against questioning the existence of the Western Roman Empire is the spread of Latin throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. It is admitted that Latin, originally the language spoken in the Latium, is the origin of French, Italian, Occitan, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese, called “Western Romance Languages”. However, the amateur historian and linguist M. J. Harper has made the following remark:
“The linguistic evidence mirrors the geography with great precision: Portuguese resembles Spanish more than any other language; French resembles Occitan more than any other; Occitan resembles Catalan, Catalan resembles Spanish and so forth. So which was the Ur-language? Can’t tell; it could be any of them. Or it could be a language that has long since disappeared. But the original language cannot have been Latin. All the Romance languages, even Portuguese and Italian, resemble one another more than any of them resemble Latin, and do so by a wide margin.”
For that reason, linguists postulate that “Romance languages” do not derive directly from Latin, but from Vulgar Latin, the popular and colloquial sociolect of Latin spoken by soldiers, settlers, and merchants of the Roman Empire. What was Vulgar Latin, or proto-Romance, like? No one knows.
As a matter of fact, the language that most resembles Latin is Romanian, which, although divided in several dialects, constitutes by itself the only member of the Eastern branch of Romance languages. It is the only Romance language that has maintained archaic traits of Latin, such as the case system (endings of words depending on their role in the sentence) and the neutral gender.
But how did Romanians come to speak Vulgar Latin? There is another mystery there. Part of the linguistic area of Romanian was conquered by Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and formed the Roman province of Dacia for a mere 165 years. One or two legions were stationed in the South-West of Dacia, and, although not Italians, they are supposed to have communicated in Vulgar Latin and imposed their language to the whole country, even north of the Danube, where there was no Roman presence. What language did people speak in Dacia before the Romans conquered the south part of it? No one has a clue. The “Dacian language” “is an extinct language, … poorly documented. … only one Dacian inscription is believed to have survived.” Only 160 Romanian words are hypothetically of Dacian origin. Dacian is believed to be closely related to Thracian, itself “an extinct and poorly attested language.”
Let me repeat: The inhabitants of Dacia north of the Danube adopted Latin from the non-Italian legions that stationed on the lower part of their territory from 106 to 271 AD, and completely forgot their original language, to the point that no trace of it is left. They were so Romanized that their country came to be called Romania, and that Romanian is now closer to Latin than are other European Romance languages. Yet the Romans hardly ever occupied Dacia (on the map above, Dacia is not even counted as part of the Roman Empire). The next part is also extraordinary: Dacians, who had so easily given up their original language for Vulgar Latin, then became so attached to Vulgar Latin that the German invaders, who caused the Romans to retreat in 271, failed to impose their language. So did the Huns and, more surprisingly, the Slavs, who dominated the area since the seventh century and left many traces in the toponymy. Less than ten percent of Romanian words are of Slavic origin (but the Romanians adopted Slavonic for their liturgy).
One more thing: although Latin was a written language in the Empire, Romanians are believed to have never had a written language until the Middle Ages. The first document written in Romanian goes back to the sixteenth century, and it is written in Cyrillic alphabet.
Obviously, there is room for the following alternative theory: Latin is a language originating from Dacia; ancient Dacian did not vanish mysteriously but is the common ancestor of both Latin and modern Romanian. Dacian, if you will, is Vulgar Latin, which preceded Classical Latin. A likely explanation for the fact that Dacia is also called Romania is that it—rather than Italy—was the original home of the Romans who founded Constantinople. That would be consistent with the notion that the Roman language (Latin) remained the administrative language of the Eastern Empire until the sixth century AD, when it was abandoned for Greek, the language spoken by the majority of its subjects. That, in turn, is consistent with the character of Latin itself. Harper makes the following remark:
“Latin is not a natural language. When written, Latin takes up approximately half the space of written Italian or written French (or written English, German or any natural European language). Since Latin appears to have come into existence in the first half of the first millennium BC, which was the time when alphabets were first spreading through the Mediterranean basin, it seems a reasonable working hypothesis to assume that Latin was originally a shorthand compiled by Italian speakers for the purposes of written (confidential? commercial?) communication. This would explain:
a) the very close concordance between Italian and Latin vocabulary;
b) the conciseness of Latin in, for instance, dispensing with separate prepositions, compound verb forms and other ‘natural’ language impedimenta;
c) the unusually formal rules governing Latin grammar and syntax;
d) the lack of irregular, non-standard usages;
e) the unusual adoption among Western European languages of a specifically vocative case (‘Dear Marcus, re. you letter of…’).
The hypothesis that Latin was a “non-demotic” language, a koine of the empire, a cultural artifact developed for the purpose of writing, was first proposed by Russian researchers Igor Davidenko and Jaroslav Kesler in The Book of Civilizations (2001).
The strongest objection against the theory that ancient Imperial Rome is a fiction is, of course, her many architectural vestiges. This subject will be more fully explored in a later article, but a quotation from Viscount James Bryce’s influential work, The Holy Roman Empire (1864), will point to the answer:
“The modern traveller, after his first few days in Rome, when he has looked out upon the Campagna from the summit of St. Peter’s, paced the chilly corridors of the Vatican, and mused under the echoing dome of the Pantheon, when he has passed in review the monuments of regal and republican and papal Rome, begins to seek for some relics of the twelve hundred years that lie between Constantine and Pope Julius the Second. ‘Where,’ he asks, ‘is the Rome of the Middle Ages, the Rome of Alberic and Hildebrand and Rienzi? the Rome which dug the graves of so many Teutonic hosts; whither the pilgrims flocked; whence came the commands at which kings bowed? Where are the memorials of the brightest age of Christian architecture, the age which reared Cologne and Rheims and Westminster, which gave to Italy the cathedrals of Tuscany and the wave-washed palaces of Venice?’ To this question there is no answer. Rome, the mother of the arts, has scarcely a building to commemorate those times.”
Officially, there is hardly a medieval vestige in Rome, and the same applies to other Italian cities believed to have been founded during Antiquity. François de Sarre, a French contributor to the field of research here presented, was first intrigued by the magnificent palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), in the center of the city of Split, today in Croatia. The Renaissance constructions are integrated to it in such a perfect architectural ensemble as to be almost indistinguishable. It is hard to believe that ten centuries separate the two stages of construction, as if the ancient buildings had been left untouched during the whole Middle Ages.
Also puzzling is the little-known fact that ancient Roman architecture used advanced technologies such as concretes of remarkable quality (read here and here), used for example to build the Pantheon’s beautifully preserved dome. The secrets of fabrication of Roman concrete is described in Vitruvius’ multi-volume work entitled De architectura (first century BC). Medieval men, we are told, were totally ignorant of this technology, because “Vitruvius’ works were largely forgotten until 1414, when De architectura was ‘rediscovered’ by the Florentine humanist Poggio Bracciolini in the library of Saint Gall Abbey” (Wikipedia).
As a temporary conclusion: all the oddities that we have pointed out are like pieces of a puzzle that do not fit well within our conventional representation. We will later be able to assemble them into a more plausible picture. But before that, in the next article, we will focus on ecclesiastical literature from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, for it is the original source of the great historical distortion that later took a life of its own before being standardized as the dogma of modern chronology and historiography.
 Polydor Hochart, De l’authenticité des Annales et des Histoires de Tacite, 1890 (on archive.org), pp. viii-ix.
 Giles Constable, “Forgery and Plagiarism in the Middle Ages,” in Culture and Spirituality in Medieval Europe, Variorum, 1996, p. 1-41, and on www.degruyter.com/abstract/j/afd.1983.29.issue-jg/afd.1983.29.jg.1/afd.1983.29.jg.1.xml
 David Carrette, L’Invention du Moyen Âge. La plus grande falsification de l’histoire, Magazine Top-Secret, Hors-série n°9, 2014.
 Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo, Oxford UP, 2010, pp. 66-67.
 Louis de Beaufort, Dissertation sur l’incertitude des cinq premiers siècles de l’histoire romaine (1738), on www.mediterranee-antique.fr/Fichiers_PdF/ABC/Beaufort/Dissertation.pdf.
 Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar, op. cit., pp. 66-67.
 It is never raised, for example, by Royston Lambert in his Beloved and God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous, Phoenix Giant, 1984.
 Petronius, The Satyricon, trans. P. D. Walsh , Oxford UP, 1997, “Introduction,” p. xxxv.
 Gédéon Huet, “Le Roman d’Apulée était-il connu au Moyen Âge ?”, Le Moyen Âge, 22 (1909), pp. 23-28.
 Jean-Louis Brunaux, The Celtic Gauls: Gods, Rites, and Santuaries, Routledge, 1987; David Henige, “He came, he saw, we counted: the historiography and demography of Caesar’s gallic numbers,” Annales de démographie historique, 1998-1, pp. 215-242, on www.persee.fr
 Georges Dumézil, Heur et malheur du guerrier. Aspects mythiques de la fonction guerrière chez les Indo-Européens (1969), Flammarion, 1985, p. 66 and 16.
 Anthony Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade, Oxford UP, 2019, p. xxvii.
 Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution, the Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, Harvard UP, 1983; Aldo Schiavone, The Invention of Law in the West, Harvard UP, 2012.
 Sander M. Goldberg, Epic in Republican Rome, Oxford UP, 1995, pp. 50-51.
 Anatoly T. Fomenko, History: Fiction or Science? vol. 1, Delamere Publishing, 2003, p. 357.
 M. J. Harper, The History of Britain Revealed, Icon Books, 2006, p. 116.
 We need to take into account that Southeastern Romania is located in the Pontic Steppe which, according to the widely held Kurgan hypothesis, is the original home of the earliest proto-Indo-European speech community.
 M. J. Harper, The History of Britain Revealed, op. cit., pp. 130-131.
 More on Roman concrete in Lynne Lancaster, Concrete Vaulted Construction in Imperial Rome: Innovations in Context, Cambridge UP, 2005.
How Fake Is Church History?
The Gregorian Coup and the Birthright Theft
The First Millennium Revisionist • July 19, 2020
This is the second of three articles drawing attention to major structural problems in our history of Europe in the first millennium AD. In the first article (“How fake is Roman Antiquity?”), we have argued that the forgery of ancient books during the Renaissance was more widespread than usually acknowledged, so that what we think we know about the Roman Empire — including events and individuals of central importance — rests on questionable sources. (We have not claimed that all written sources on the Roman Empire are fake.)
We have also argued that the traditional perspective of the first millennium is distorted by a strong bias in favor of Rome, at the expense of Constantinople. The common representation of the Byzantine Empire as the final phase of the Roman Empire, whose capital had been transferred from the Latium to the Bosphorus, is today recognized as a falsification. Politically, culturally, linguistically, and religiously, Byzantium owes nothing to Rome. “Believing that their own culture was vastly superior to Rome’s, the Greeks were hardly receptive to the influence of Roman civilization,” states a recent Atlas de l’Empire Romain, mentioning only gladiator combats as a possible, yet marginal, debt.
The assumption that Western civilization originated in Rome, Italy relies partly on a misunderstanding of the word “Roman”. What we now call “the Byzantine Empire” (a term that only became customary in the sixteenth century) was then called Basileía tôn Rhômaíôn (the kingdom of the Romans), and for most of the first millennium, “Roman” simply meant what we understand today as “Byzantine”.
Our perception of Rome as the origin and center of Western civilization is also linked to our assurance that Latin is the mother of all Romance languages. But that filiation, which became a dogma in the mid-nineteenth century, is under severe attack (we thank the commenters who directed us to this documentary and that one, to Yves Cortez’s book Le Français ne vient pas du latin, and to Mario Alinei’s work). It seems that Dante was correct when he assumed in De vulgari eloquentia (c. 1303), the first treatise on the subject, that Latin was an artificial, synthetic language created “by the common consent of many peoples” for written purposes.
The distortions that produced our textbook history of the first millennium have both a geographical and a chronological dimension. The geographical distortion is part of that Eurocentrism that is now being challenged by scholars like James Morris Blaut (The Colonizer’s Model of the World, Guilford Press, 1993), John M. Hobson (The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization, Cambridge UP, 2004), or Jack Goody (The Theft of History, Cambridge UP, 2012). The chronological distortion, on the other hand, is not yet an issue in mainstream academia: historians simply do not question the chronological backbone of the first millennium. They don’t even ask themselves when, how and by whom it was created.
So far, we have formulated the working hypothesis that the Western Roman Empire is, to some extent, a phantom duplicate of the Eastern Roman Empire, conjured by Rome in order to steal the birthright from Constantinople, while concealing its debt to the civilization that it conspired to assassinate. The Roman Empire, in other words, was a dream rather than a memory, exactly like Solomon’s empire. But, one will instantly object, while archeologists have found no trace of Solomon’s empire, the vestiges of Augustus’ empire are plentiful. True, but are these vestiges really from Antiquity, and if so, why are medieval vestiges nowhere to be found in Rome? If Rome was the beating heart of medieval Western Christendom, it should have been busy constructing, not just restoring.
The Commune of Rome was founded in 1144 as a Republic with a consul and a senate, in the wake of other Italian cities (Pise in 1085, Milano in 1097, Gene in 1099, Florence in 1100). It defined itself by the phrase senatus populusque romanus (“the Senate and the Roman people”), condensed in the acronym SPQR. Beginning in 1184 and until the early sixteenth century, the city of Rome struck coins with these letters. But, we are told, SPQR was already the mark of the first Roman Republic founded in 509 BC and, more incredibly, it was preserved by emperors, who apparently didn’t mind being thus ignored. As outrageous as it sounds, one cannot easily brush aside the suspicion that the ancient Roman Republic, known to us thanks to Petrarch’s “piecing together” Titus Livy’s History of Rome, is an imaginative portrait of late medieval Rome in antique garb. Petrarch was part of a circle of Italian propagandists who celebrated Rome’s past glory. “His intentions,” writes French medievalist Jacques Heers, “were deliberately political, and his approach was part of a real struggle.” He was “one of the most virulent writers of his time, involved in a great quarrel against the papacy of Avignon, and this relentlessness in fighting determined his cultural as well as political options.”
In the first article, we have questioned the objectivity and even the probity of those humanists who claimed to resurrect the long forgotten splendor of Republican and Imperial Rome. In this second article, we turn our attention to ecclesiastical historians of earlier times, who fashioned our vision of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Their history of the Christian Church, peopled with miracle-performing holy men and diabolical heretics, is hard to connect with political history, and secular historians specialized in Late Antiquity are generally happy to leave the field to “Church historians” and teachers of faith. That is a shame, because the credibility of this literature has largely gone unchallenged.
“Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature is the degree to which it was forged.” So Bert Ehrman begins his book Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. Throughout the first four centuries AD, he says, forgery was the rule in Christian literature, and genuine authorship the exception. Forgery was so systemic that forgeries gave rise to counterforgeries, that is, forgeries “used to counter the views of other forgeries.” If forgery is part of the DNA of Christianity, we can expect it to continue throughout the Middle Ages.
One of the most famous medieval forgeries is the “Donation of Constantine.” By this document, Emperor Constantine is supposed to have transferred his own authority over the Western regions of the Empire to Pope Sylvester. This forgery of outrageous audacity is the centerpiece of a whole collection of about a hundred counterfeit decrees and acts of Synods, attributed to the earliest popes or other Church dignitaries, and known today as the Pseudo–Isidorian Decretals. Their aim was to set forth precedents for the exercise of sovereign authority of the popes over the universal Church, as well as over kings and emperors.
These documents were not used until the middle of the eleventh century, and it is not before the twelfth century that they were incorporated by Gratian into his Decretum, which became the basis of all canon law. Yet the scholarly consensus is that they date back from the time of Charlemagne. For that reason, Horst Fuhrmann, a specialist in medieval forgeries, classifies them as “forgeries with anticipatory character,” which “have the characteristic that at the time they were written, they had hardly any effect.” According to him, these fakes had to wait, depending on the case, between 250 and 550 years before being used. Heribert Illig rightly protests against this theory of forgeries allegedly written by clerics who had no immediate use of them and did not know what purpose their forgeries could serve a few centuries later. Forgeries are produced to serve a project, and they are made on demand when needed. The Donation of Constantine and other false Decretals are therefore most probably pure products of the Gregorian reform. Their “anticipatory character” is an illusion created by one of the chronological distortions that we have set out to correct.
Emperor Constantine’s donation to Pope Sylvester illustrated
The Gregorian reform, which started with the accession of Pope Leo IX in 1049, was a continuation of the monastic revival launched by the powerful Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, which a century after its foundation in 910 had developed a network of more than a thousand monasteries all over Europe. The Gregorian reform can be conceived as a monkish coup over Europe, in the sense that celibate monks, who used to live at the margin of society, progressively took the leadership over it.
It is worth insisting on the revolutionary character of the Gregorian reform. It was, wrote Marc Bloch in Feudal Society, “an extraordinarily powerful movement from which, without exaggeration, may be dated the definite formation of Latin Christianity.” More recently, Robert I. Moore wrote in The First European Revolution, c. 970-1215: “The ‘reform’ which was embodied in the Gregorian program was nothing less than a project to divide the world, both people and property, into two distinct and autonomous realms, not geographically by socially.” The reform triumphed at the Fourth Lateran Council convoked by Innocent III in 1215. The world created by Lateran IV was “an entirely different world — a world pervaded and increasingly moulded by the well-drilled piety and obedience associated with the traditional vision of ‘the age of faith’, or medieval Christianity.” Yet in a sense, Lateran IV was only a beginning: in 1234, Innocent III’s cousin Gregory IX instituted the Inquisition, but the great period of witch-hunting — the last battle against paganism — was still two centuries away.
In his book Law and Revolution, the Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Harvard UP, 1983), Harold Berman also insists on the revolutionary character of the Gregorian reform, by which “the clergy became the first translocal, transtribal, transfeudal, transnational class in Europe to achieve political and legal unity.” “To speak of revolutionary change within the Church of Rome is, of course, to challenge the orthodox (though not the Eastern Orthodox) view that the structure of the Roman Catholic Church is the result of a gradual elaboration of elements that had been present from very early times. This was, indeed, the official view of the Catholic Reformers of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries: they were only going back, they said, to an earlier tradition that had been betrayed by their immediate predecessors.” The Reformers, in other words, established a new world order under the pretense of restoring an ancient world order. They created a new past in order to control the future.
For that, they employed an army of legists who elaborated a new canonical legal system to supersede customary feudal laws, and made their new legal system appear as the oldest by producing forgeries on a massive scale. Besides the Pseudo–Isidorian Decretals and the false Donation of Constantine, they crafted the Symmachian forgeries, destined to produce legal precedents to immune the pope from criticism. One of these documents, the Silvestri constitutum, contains the legend of Pope Sylvester 1st curing Constantine the Great of leprosy with the waters of baptism, and receiving in gratitude Constantine’s imperial insignia and the city of Rome. Charlemagne’s father was also made to contribute with the false Donation of Pepin. It is now admitted that the vast majority of legal documents supposedly established before the ninth century are clerical forgeries. According to French historian Laurent Morelle, “two thirds of the acts entitled in the name of the Merovingian kings (481-751) have been identified as false or falsified.” It is very likely that the real proportion is much higher, and that many documents which are still deemed authentic are forgeries: for instance, it is our view that the wording of the foundation charter of the Abbey of Cluny, by which its founder William I (the Pious) renounced all control over it, cannot possibly have been dictated or endorsed by a medieval duke of Aquitaine (virtually a king).
These fake documents served the popes on several fronts. They were used in their power struggle against the German emperors, by backing up their extravagant claim that the pope could depose emperors. They were also powerful weapons in the geopolitical war waged against the Byzantine church and empire. By bestowing on the papacy “supremacy over the four principal sees, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople, as also over all the churches of God in the whole earth,” the false Donation of Constantine justified Rome’s claim for precedence over Constantinople, which led to the Great Schism of 1054 and ultimately the sack of Constantinople by the Latins in 1205. By a cruel irony, the spuriousness of the Donation of Constantine was exposed in 1430, after it had served its purpose. By then, the Eastern Empire had lost all its territories and was reduced to a depopulated city besieged by the Ottomans.
It is little known, but of great importance for understanding medieval times, when ethnicity played a major part in politics, that the Gregorian reformers were Franks, even before Bruno of Egisheim-Dagsburg gave the first impulse as pope Leo IX. That is why Orthodox theologian John Romanides blames the Franks for having destroyed the unity of Christendom with ethnic and geopolitical motivations. In Byzantine chronicles, “Latin” and “Frank” are synonymous.
It should now be clear that the very concept of a Gregorian “reform” is a disguise for the revolutionary character of the reformers’ project; “the idea that Gregorians were rigorous traditionalists is a serious oversimplification,” argue John Meyendorff and Aristeides Papadakis; “the conventional conclusion which views the Gregorians as defenders of a consistently uniform tradition is largely fiction.” In fact, before the twelfth century, “the pope’s fragile hold upon Western Christendom was largely imaginary. The parochial world of Roman politics was actually the papacy’s only domain.” Aviad Kleinberg even argues that, “until the twelfth century, when the pope’s status was imposed as the ultimate religious authority in matters of education and jurisdiction, there was not really an organization that could be called ‘the Church’.” There certainly were no “popes” in the modern sense before the end of the eighth century: this affectionate title, derived from the Greek papa, was given to every bishop. Even conventional history speaks of the period of the “Byzantine papacy,” ending in 752 with the conquest of Italy by the Franks, and teaches that civil, military and even ecclesiastical affairs were then under the supervision of the exarch of Ravenna, the Greek representative of the Byzantine Emperor.
This means that the first-millennium history of the Western Church written by itself is a complete sham. One of its centerpieces, the Liber Pontificalis, a book of biographies of the popes from saint Peter to the ninth century, is today recognized as a work of imagination. It served to ascertain the pope’s claim to occupy the “the throne of saint Peter” in an unbroken chain going back to the first apostle — the “rock” on which Jesus built his kingdom (Matthew 16,18).
As the story goes, in the second year of Claudius, Peter went to Rome to challenge Simon Magus, the father of all heretical sects. He became the first Catholic bishop and was crucified head downwards in the last year of Nero, then buried where St. Peter’s Basilica now stands (his bones were found there in 1968). That story appears in the works of Clement of Rome, the fictional travelling companion and successor of Peter, whose prolific literature in Latin contains so many improbabilities, contradictions and anachronisms that most of it is today recognized as apocryphal and renamed “pseudo-clementine”. Peter’s story is also the theme of the Acta Petri, supposedly written in Greek in the second century but surviving only in Latin translation. It is also told by Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130-202 AD), another author supposedly writing in Greek but known only through defective Latin translations.
There is no reason to take that story as reliable history. It is self-evident propaganda. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the New Testament, which says nothing of Peter’s travel to Rome, and assumes that he simply remained the head of the Jerusalem church. The legend of saint Peter in Rome tells us nothing about real events, but informs us about the means deployed by the Roman curia to steal the birthright from the Eastern Church. It is fake currency minted to overbid on Constantinople’s genuine claim that the unity of the Church had been achieved in its immediate vicinity, at the so-called “ecumenical” councils (Oikouménê designated the civilized world under the authority of the basileus), whose participants were exclusively oriental.
Although we cannot delve here into the editorial history of the New Testament, it is interesting to note that the story of Paul’s travel to Rome also bears the mark of falsification. If we remember that the Byzantines called themselves “Romans”, we are intrigued by the fact that, in his “Epistle to the Romans” (written in Greek), Paul calls the Romans “Greeks” to distinguish them from Jews (1,14-15; 3,9). Moreover, if we look up on a map the cities addressed by Paul in other epistles — Ephesus, Corinth, Galata, Philipae, Thessaloniki (Salonica), Colossae — we see that Italian Rome was not part of his sphere of influence. Paul’s trip to Rome in Italy in Acts 27-28 (where Italy is explicitly named) belongs to the “we section” of Acts, which is recognizably foreign to the first redaction.
Our main source for the early history of the Church is Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History in ten volumes. Like so many other sources, it was supposedly written in Greek, but was known in the Middle Ages only in Latin translation (from which it was later translated back into Greek). Its Latin translation was attributed to the great saint and scholar Jerome (Hieronymus). Saint Jerome also produced, at the request of Pope Damasus, the Latin Bible known as the Vulgate, which would be decreed the sole authorized version at the Council of Trent in the mid-sixteenth century.
Eusebius is our main source on the conversion of Constantine to Christianity. Two panegyrics of Constantine have been preserved, and they make no mention of Christianity. Instead, one contains the story of a vision Constantine had of the sun-god Apollo, “with Victory accompanying him.” From then on, Constantine placed himself under the protection of Sol invictus, also called Sol pacator on some of his coins. What Eusebius writes in his Life of Constantine about the battle of the Milvian Bridge is obviously a rewriting of that earlier pagan legend. When marching on Rome to overthrow Maxentius, Constantine “saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, ‘by this sign, you shall win’.” The following night, Christ appeared to him in his dream to confirm the vision. Constantine had all his troops paint the sign on their shields and won the battle. Eusebius describes the sign as the Greek letters Chi and Rho superimposed, and tells us it represents the first two letters of Christos. This Chi-Rho sign is found in a great variety of mosaic and reliefs up to the time of Justinian, and it is especially common in the Pyrenean region, often with the addition of a sigma, as documented in this monography. Some hypothesize that it carried in pagan time the meaning pax. Whether that is the case or not, there is no evidence that the Chi-Rho was of Christian origin.
What does Chi-Rho have to do with Christ?
I hope to have shown that there is ample cause for radical skepticism regarding the autobiography of the Roman Church. It is not just legal documents that were forged. The whole underlying narrative could be phony. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, one man, Jesuit librarian Jean Hardouin (1646-1729), spent a lifetime researching and questioning Church history, until he came to the conclusion of a massive fraud originating in Benedictine monasteries in the thirteenth century. His conclusions were published posthumously in Ad Censuram Veterum Scriptorum Prolegomena (1766). According to Hardouin, all the works ascribed to Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose of Milan, and Gregory the Great, were in fact written just decades before the cunning Boniface VIII (1294-1303) promoted them as the “Latin Fathers of the Church.” Eusebius’ history translated by Jerome is a web of fiction according to Hardouin.
The Prolegomena of Jean Hardouin were translated in English in the nineteenth century by Edwin Johnson (1842-1901), who built up on Hardouin’s insights in his own works, starting with The Rise of Christendom (1890), followed one year later by The Rise of English Culture. Johnson argued for a medieval origin of most literary sources ascribed to Antiquity or Late Antiquity, and insisted that the whole first-millennium history of the Roman Church was fabricated by the Roman curia in its effort to impose its new world order.
The medieval origin of these texts, Johnson says, explains why their supposed authors are fighting heresies that so much resemble the heresies fought by the medieval Church. The Manicheans and Gnostics attacked by Tertullian, Augustine and Irenaeus of Lyon are like the ghosts of those attacked under the same denominations by twelfth and thirteenth-century popes. According to Patricia Stirnemann, the oldest manuscript of Augustine’s Contra Faustus, written and preserved in the abbey of Clairvaux, is the witness of the struggle against “the resurgence of a neo-manicheism in the 12th century” (she doesn’t question the authorship of the work, but gives us additional reason to do so).
The context of the Latin colonization of the East by the crusaders is transparent in many spurious sources from Late Antiquity, according to Johnson. Jerome’s biography is a case in point: “he is made to travel from Aquileia to Rome, and from Rome to Bethlehem and to Egypt. He settles at Bethlehem, is followed by Roman ladies, who found there a nunnery, and there he dies. This is a reflection of something that was happening during the later Crusades.” The same goes for Constantine: the legend of his military conquest by the sign of the Crucified bears the mark of the age of the crusades, “when military men came under monkish influence.”
If all first-millennium Church history is bogus, how can we reconstruct the real history of the Church before the Gregorian reform? Johnson says there was no Western Christianity then: the Western Church was “a purely Mediaeval institution, without either literary or oral links with the past,” and its fables “were not heard of in the world until the epoch of the Crusades.” A less radical hypothesis is that Christianity only became a dominant force in the West with the Gregorian reform. In any case, there is ample evidence that it imposed its religious hegemony not so much by the destruction of pagan traditions as by their appropriation. The cult of Notre Dame, which owes much to Bernard de Clairvaux (1090–1153), was superimposed on cults of Diane and Isis.
What the Gregorian reformers did was rewrite history in order to create the illusion that Christianity was 1000 years old in Europe. Not all sources were written from scratch. Many were simply heavily edited. One example is the Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede the Venerable (672-735). James Watson has shown that it was originally a History of the English People with no mention of Christianity; it was heavily interpolated during the tenth century, Watson says, when “most of the ecclesiastical notices in the work have been engrafted with the original history.” A somewhat different case is the Christianization of Boethius (c. 480-524), turned into a Christian theologian and martyr at the time of Abélard, although his famous Consolation of Philosophy doesn’t contain the slightest mention of his supposed Christian faith.
As for the History of the Franks, supposedly written at the end of the sixth century by Gregory of Tours, and virtually our only source on Clovis’ conversion to Catholicism, it is most probably a clerical forgery from the Gregorian period, possibly using earlier sources. It is interesting to note that our pseudo-Gregory of Tours (perhaps Odilo of Cluny, who wrote a Life of Gregory) believed it possible for a medieval power to orchestrate the systematic rewriting of all books: he writes that King Childeric introduced new signs into the Latin alphabet, and “wanted all the old manuscripts to be erased with pumice stone, to make other copies, where the new signs would be used” (chapter IV).
Chroniclers of the eleventh century are important sources for understanding the Christianization of Europe. Thietmar of Merseburg spoke in his Chronicon of a new dawn illuminating the world in 1004, and the French monk Rodulfus Glaber wrote:
“At the approach of the third year after the year 1000, in almost all the earth, especially in Italy and in Gaul, the churches were rebuilt. Although they were in a good state and did not need it, the whole Christian people competed for possession of the most beautiful churches. And it was as if the world itself, shaking the rags of its old age, covered itself on all sides with a white mantle of churches. Then, at the initiative of the faithful, almost all the churches, from the cathedrals to the monasteries dedicated to the various saints, and down to small village oratories, were rebuilt, only more beautifully” (book IV, §13).
Since Rodulfus writes under Cluniac supervision (he dedicates his work to the abbot of Cluny Odilo), we must be wary of his claim that what appeared new was in fact old, for this was the pretense of the Gregorian “reformers”. Because he says the churches were “in a good state”, their “rebuilding” may be an understatement for their rededication to a new cult. Gregory the Great (590-604), who seems to be a duplicate of Gregory VII, is reported to have recommended that pagan temples be exorcised and reused for Christian worship, and many local traditions in France assert that Romanesque churches were originally pre-Christian sanctuaries. As for the “basilicas”, their name derives from a Greek word designating a royal building, more precisely a chamber of justice under the authority of the basileius. Textbook history says that, as the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, the basic architectural plan of the basilica was adopted for major church buildings throughout Europe, but that explanation has the ring of a flinch.
The Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna
In reality, Western Christianity was in its infancy in the year 1000 AD. As for its birth in the East, it is shrouded in mystery, for whatever genuine Greek source could inform us has either been destroyed or heavily edited. The subject is beyond the scope of this article, but let us simply ask: Is it conceivable that the great basilica built by Justinian in the sixth century was dedicated to Christianity and named Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom)? Sophia is the goddess of philosophers, not priests, and no “saint Sophie” promoted by Jacques de Voragine in the thirteenth century can hide that fact. Edwin Johnson argued that Christianity and Islam were born in the same period. A case can be made that Hagia Sophia was Christianized during the reign of the iconoclast basileus Leo III the Isaurian (717-741), when it was stripped of all its icons and sculptural work, or in 842, when it was redecorated.
We have now reached a point where one of the working hypotheses of our first article can be reconsidered: although French scholar Polydor Hochart was fully justified to question the prevailing theory that Christian monks copied pagan books on precious parchments, we must consider the alternative theory that those who copied in the ninth to eleventh centuries the manuscripts that humanists discovered in the fourteenth century were actually not Christians. This will become clearer in our the next.
Where shall we go from here? Assuming that the history of the first millennium is heavily distorted by the forgeries of pontifical scribes and later humanists, can we evaluate the degree of that distortion and reconstruct a credible picture? The best we can do is to position ourselves in the eleventh century, the earliest period for which we have a good amount of chronicles. For that period, we can perhaps trust historians to give us a generally accurate picture of the European, North-African, and Near-Eastern world, and, looking back a couple of centuries away, we can try to discern the movements of history that led to that world. Beyond that, everything is blurry.
Geographically, we might as well position ourselves at the center of the world we are seeking to understand. That center was not Rome. Despite Roman propaganda praising the Mirabilia Urbis Romae (“the wonders of the city of Rome”) in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the political, economic, cultural and religious center of the civilization that included Rome, was Constantinople (with Alexandria in second position).
In the eleventh century, the walls of Constantinople could have contained the ten largest cities of the West. Its size, architectural masterpieces, and wealth so impressed Western visitors that, in the French novel Partonopeu de Blois, Constantinople is the name of paradise. The economic prosperity of Constantinople rested on its situation at a crossroads of the great trade routes, on a monopoly in the trade of luxury products like silk, on a considerable gold money supply, and on an efficient tax administration (the kommerkion was a ten-percent tax on any transaction in the city’s port).
Greek culture was radiating from Constantinople to the four corners of the world, from Persia and Egypt to Ireland and Spain. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there was a vast movement of translation from Greek to Latin of philosophical and scientific works (medicine, astronomy, etc.). Greek books were also translated into Persian and Syriac, and, from there, into Arabic. In his book Aristote au mont Saint-Michel. Les racines grecques de l’Europe chrétienne, Sylvain Gouguenheim defeats the common idea that the spread of philosophy and science in the Middle Ages was due mainly to Muslims. In reality, the Greek heritage was transmitted to Italian cities directly from Constantinople, that is, in the opposite direction of the fictitious translatio imperii of Constantine.
The basileus maintained good relations with the Fatimid caliphate of Egypt, which had conquered Jerusalem and lower Syria from the Abbasids in the 960s. In the early 1070s, the alliance between Byzantines and Fatimids was reinforced by a common threat: the incursions of the Seljukid Turks, who had taken control of the caliphate in Badhdad. In 1071, they defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert and established in Anatolia the Sultanate of Rum, with their capital city in Nicaea, just one hundred kilometers from Constantinople. Then they took a part of Syria, including Jerusalem, from the Fatimids.
Until recently, it was commonly believed that the crusades were the generous response of the Roman Church to a desperate plea for help from Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos. This is how Western contemporary chroniclers presented it, using a forged letter of Alexios to the count of Flanders, in which the former confessed his powerlessness against the Turks and humbly begged for rescue. In fact, the emperor was in no desperate situation, and his request was just for mercenaries to fight under his command and help him reconquer Anatolia from the Seljukids. The Byzantines had always drawn in warriors from foreign nations to serve under their banner in return for imperial largesse, and Frankish knights were highly appreciated in that quality.
Instead, Urban II (a former abbot of Cluny), wanted to raise an army that would immediately set out to conquer Jerusalem, a city on which Alexios had no immediate claim, and that he would have happily given back to the Fatimids. An army of crusaders under the order of a papal legate was never what Alexios had called for, and the Byzantines were worried and suspicious when they saw it coming. “Alexios and his advisers saw the approaching crusade not as the arrival of long-awaited allies but rather as a potential threat to the Oikoumene,” writes Jonathan Harris. They feared that the liberation of the Holy Sepulcher was a mere pretext for some sinister plot against Constantinople.
The first crusade succeeded in establishing four Latin states in Syria and Palestine, which formed the basis of a Western presence that was to endure until 1291. At the end of the twelfth century, Jerusalem having been recovered by Saladin, Pope Innocent III proclaimed a new crusade, the fourth in modern numbering. This time, the Byzantines’ fear of a hidden agenda proved fully justified. Instead of going to Jerusalem via Alexandria, as officially announced, the Frankish knights, indebted by the tricky Venetians (and mainstream historians do speak here of a “Venetian conspiracy”), moved toward Constantinople. The huge army of the crusaders penetrated into the city in April 1204 and sacked it during three days. “Since the creation of this world, such great wealth had neither been seen nor conquered,” marveled the crusader Robert de Clari in his chronicle. Palaces, churches, monasteries, libraries were systematically pillaged, and the city became a shambles.
The new Franco-Latin Empire, built on the smoking ruins of Constantinople, lasted only half a century. The Byzantines, entrenched in Nicaea (Iznik), slowly regained part of their ancient territory, and, in 1261, under the commandment of Michael VIII Palaiologos, chased the Franks and Latins from Constantinople. But the city was but the shadow of its past glory: the Greek population had been slaughtered or had fled, the churches and the monasteries had been profaned, the palaces were in ruins, and international trade had come to a stop. Moreover, Pope Urban IV ordered that a new crusade be preached throughout Europe to retake Constantinople from the “schismatics”. There were few volunteers. But in 1281 again, Pope Martin IV encouraged the project of Charles of Anjou (brother of King Louis IX) to take back Constantinople and establish a new Catholic empire. It failed, but the Fourth Crusade and its aftermath had inflicted on the Byzantine civilization a mortal wound, and it collapsed one century and a half later, after one thousand years of existence, when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II took Constantinople in 1453. The renowned medieval historian Steven Runciman wrote:
“There was never a greater crime against humanity than the Fourth Crusade. Not only did it cause the destruction or dispersal of all the treasures of the past that Byzantium had devotedly stored, and the mortal wounding of a civilization that was still active and great; but it was also an act of gigantic political folly. It brought no help to the Christians in Palestine. Instead it robbed them of potential helpers. And it upset the whole defense of Christendom.”
The Horses of Saint Mark, looted from Constantinople by the Venetians
However, for the West, and Italy in particular, the sack of Constantinople kicked off an astounding economic growth, fed initially by the vast quantities of plundered gold. In the early thirteenth century the first gold coins appeared in the West, where only silver coinage had been issued so far (except in Sicily and Spain). The cultural benefits of the Fourth Crusade were also impressive: in subsequent years, whole libraries were pillaged, which Greek-speaking scholars would then start to translate into Latin. It can be said without exaggeration that the rise of humanism in Italy was an indirect effect of the fall of Constantinople.
The Council of Florence in 1438, the last attempt to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox churches, is an important date in the transfer of Greek culture to the West. Byzantine Emperor John VIII Paleologus and the Patriarch Joseph II came to Florence with a retinue of 700 Greeks and an extraordinary collection of classical books yet unknown in the West, including manuscripts of Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Euclid, and Ptolemy. “Culturally, the transmission of classical texts, ideas, and art objects from east to west that took place at the Council was to have a decisive effect on the art and scholarship of late 15th-century Italy.” And when, after 1453, the last bearers of Constantinople’s high culture fled Ottoman rule, many came to contribute to the blooming of the Italian Renaissance. In 1463, the Florentine court of Cosimo de’ Medici made acquaintance with the Neoplatonic philosopher George Gemistos, known as Pletho, whose discourses upon Plato so fascinated them that they decided to refound Plato’s Academy in Florence. They named Marsilio Ficino as its head, supplying him with Greek manuscripts of Plato’s work, whereupon Ficino started translating the entire corpus into Latin.
At the same time as they appropriated the Greek heritage, the Italian humanists affected to ignore their debt to Constantinople. As a result, until very recently, medieval studies overlooked the Byzantine influence on the West, and even the importance of the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages. Cambridge professor Paul Stephenson commented in 1972: “The excision of Byzantine history from medieval European studies does indeed seem to me an unforgivable offense against the very spirit of history.” One aggravating factor is that “practically all the archives of the imperial and patriarchal chanceries of Byzantium perished either in 1204, when the city was sacked by the Crusaders, or in 1453, when it fell under the Turks.” Byzantium was killed twice: after sacking it in 1204, the Latin West strove to erase it from its collective memory. As Steven Runciman writes:
“Western Europe, with ancestral memories of jealousy of Byzantine civilization, with its spiritual advisers denouncing the Orthodox as sinful schismatics, and with a haunting sense of guilt that it had failed the city at the end, chose to forget about Byzantium. It could not forget the debt that it owed to the Greeks; but it saw the debt as being owed only to the Classical age.”
It must be emphasized, however, that at this stage, scholars did not possess a consistent global chronology to date precisely the Greek classical age; that would be a project of the Jesuits in the sixteenth century, as we will document in the next article. French byzantinist Michel Kaplan makes the interesting remark that Western humanists who studied the Greek literature imported from Constantinople from the fourteenth century, “did not distinguish between the works of classical and Hellenistic Greece and those of the Byzantine era.” The implicit assumption is that modern scholars are now able to clearly make that distinction. But are they really?
The same questions we have raised about Latin sources in our earlier piece can be applied to Greek sources. What proof do we have that the works ascribed to Plato, for instance, date from about 2500 years ago? It has been solidly established that all of Plato’s known manuscripts derive from a unique archetype, dated from the period of the great Patriarch Photios (c. 810-895). It was at that time that Byzantine emperor Leo the Philosopher “rediscovered” and promoted knowledge of Plato, as well as of his disciples Porphyry, Iamblichus and Plotinus, whom we now call Neoplatonists and ascribe to seven centuries later than Plato. Then there is the linguistic issue: Greek scholars such as Roderick Saxey II of Ohio State University are puzzled by “how little the language had changed, even in well over three millennia.” According to Harvard professor Margaret Alexiou, “Homeric Greek is probably closer to demotic [modern Greek] than twelfth-century Middle English is to modern spoken English.” If we assume that the evolution of languages follows universal laws, Homeric Greek should not be much older than Middle English.
In his stimulating book stimulating book Re-Dating Ancient Greece, Sylvain Tristan explores how the Franks who ruled much of Greece after the Fourth Crusade, may have contributed not only to the transmission of classical Greek culture to the West, but to its elaboration. Tristan also notes that the architectural vestiges of Frankish Greece are not as easy to distinguish from those of the Classical Age as one would expect. On the Acropolis used to stand a tower known locally as the Frankish Tower, probably built by Othon de la Roche, founder of the Duchy of Athens in the early thirteenth century. Although it was made of the same stones as the adjacent building, Heinrich Schliemann deemed it anachronistic and had it demolished in 1874.
The Acropolis with its Frankish Tower in 1872
According to our textbook chronology, the Parthenon was built 2,500 years ago. Its current state may seem consistent with such old age, but few people know that it was still intact in 1687, when it was blown up by a bomb shot by a Venetian mortar. The French painter Jacques Carrey had made some fifty-five drawings of it in 1674, which served later for its restoration.
The Parthenon in 1674, and exploding in 1687
In ancient times, we are told, the Parthenon housed a gigantic statue of Athena Parthenos (“Virgin”), while in the sixth century it became a church dedicated to “Our Lady or Athens,” until it was turned into a mosque by the Ottomans. Strangely enough, historian William Miller tells us in his History of Frankish Greece that the Parthenon is not mentioned in medieval texts before around 1380, when the King of Aragon describes it as “the most precious jewel that exists in the world.” The Acropolis was then known as “the Castle of Athens.” Could it be a medieval fortified city from the start? Is Ancient Greece a fantasy? Or is it simply wrongly dated?
In the framework of our hypothesis that, between the eleventh and the fifteenth century, Rome invented or embellished its own Republican and Imperial Antiquity as propaganda to cheat Constantinople of its birthright, it makes sense that Rome would also invent or embellish a pre-byzantine Greek civilization as a way of explaining its own Greek heritage without acknowledging its debt to Constantinople. To explain how Greek culture had filled the world before reaching Rome, Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic legacy were also invented.
Alexander is a legendary figure. According to his most sober biography, due to Plutarch, at the age of 22, this Macedonian prince (educated by Aristotle) set out to conquer the world with about 30,000 men, founded seventy cities, and died at the age of 32, leaving a fully formed Greek-speaking civilization that stretched from Egypt to Persia. Sylvain Tristan remarks, after Anatoly Fomenko, that the Seleucids (Seleukidós), who ruled Asia Minor after Alexander, bear almost the same name as the Seljukids (Seljoukides) who controlled that same region from 1037 to 1194. Is the Hellenistic civilization another phantom image of the Byzantine commonwealth, pushed back in the distant past in order to conceal Italy’s debt to Constantinople? Such hypothesis seems farfetched. But it becomes plausible once we realize that our chronology is a relatively recent construction. In the Middle Ages, there existed no accepted long chronology scanning millenniums. If today Wikipedia tells us that Alexander the Great was born on July 21, 356 BC and died on June 11, 323 BC, it is simply because some sixteenth-century scholar declared it so, using arbitrary guesswork and a biblical measuring tape. However, with the recent progress of archeology, the problems met by our received chronology have accumulated into a critical mass.
Here is one example, mentioned by Sylvain Tristan: the “Antikythera mechanism” is an analogue computer composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gear wheels, used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It was retrieved from the sea in 1901 among wreckage from a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. It is dated from the second or first century BC. According to Wikipedia, “the knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in Antiquity” and “works with similar complexity did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century.” This technological chasm of 1,500 years is perhaps easier to believe when one already believes that the heliocentric model developed by Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos in the third century BC was totally forgotten until Nicolaus Copernicus reinvented it in the sixteenth century AD. But skepticism is here less extravagant that the scholarly consensus.
The number of skeptics has grown in recent years, and several researchers have set out to challenge what they call the Scaligerian chronology (standardized by Joseph Scaliger in his book De emendatione temporum, 1583). Most of these “recentists,” whom we will introduce in our next article, focus on the first millennium AD. They believe that it is much too long, in other words, that Antiquity is closer to us than we think. They actually find themselves in agreement with the Renaissance humanists who, according to historian Bernard Guenée, thought of the “middle age” between Antiquity and their time (the term media tempestas first appears in 1469 in the correspondence of Giovanni Andrea Bussi) as “nothing but a parenthesis, an in-between.” In 1439, Flavio Biondo, the first archeologist of Rome, wrote a book about this period and titled it: Decades of History from the Deterioration of the Roman Empire. Giorgio Vasari thought of it as a mere two centuries when he wrote in his Life of Giotto (1550), that Giotto (1267-1337) “brought back to life the true art of painting, introducing the drawing from nature of living persons, which had not been practised for two hundred years.”
If our Middle Ages have been artificially stretched by seven or more centuries, does that mean that most of it is pure fiction? Not necessarily. Gunnar Heinsohn, using comparative archeology and stratigraphy (explore his articles or watch his video conference), argues that events spread throughout Antiquity, Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages were in fact contemporary. In other words, the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire, and the Germanic Roman Empire must be resynchronized and seen as parts of the same civilization which collapsed a little more than ten centuries ago, after a global cataclysmic event that caused a commotion of memory and a taste for apocalyptic salvation cults.
 Claire Levasseur et Christophe Badel, Atlas de l’Empire romain : Construction et apogée: 300 av. J.-C. – 200 apr. J.-C., Édiions Autrement, 2020 , p. 76.
 Most influential was Émile Littré with his Histoire de la langue française, 1862.
 Angelo Mazzocco, Linguistic Theories in Dante and the Humanists: Studies of Language and Intellectual History in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Italy, E.J. Brill, 1993, p. 175 (read on books.google.com).
 In the words of Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo, Oxford UP, 2010, p. 66, as already quoted in “How Fake is Roman Antiquity?”
 Jacques Heers, Le Moyen Âge, une imposture, Perrin, 1992, pp. 55-58.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics, Oxford University Press, 2013 (on books.google.com), pp. 1, 27.
 Heribert Illig, “Anomalous Eras – Best Evidence: Best Theory,” June 2005, on www.bearfabrique.org/Catastrophism/illig_paper.htm.
 Herbert Edward John Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the Gregorian Reform, Clarendon, 1970.
 Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, vol. 1: The Growth of Ties of Dependance, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. 107.
 Robert I. Moore, The First European Revolution, c. 970-1215, Basil Blackwell, pp. 11, 174.
 Harold Berman, Law and Revolution, the Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, Harvard UP, 1983, pp. 15, 108.
 Laurent Morelle, “Des faux par milliers” L’Histoire, n° 372, February 2012.
 Reproduced from from F. Henderson, (Ed.), Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, George Bell and Sons, 1910 (on archive.org), pp. 329-333.
 John Romanides, Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine: An Interplay Between Theology and Society, Patriarch Athenagoras Memorial Lectures, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1981, on www.romanity.org/htm/rom.03.en.franks_romans_feudalism_and_doctrine.01.htm
 John Meyendorff and Aristeides Papadakis, The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994, pp. 55, 167, 27.
 Aviad Kleinberg, Histoires de saints. Leur rôle dans la formation de l’Occident, Gallimard, 2005, p. 72.
 Andrew J. Ekonomou, Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern Influences on Rome and the Papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590-752, Lexington Books, 2009, p. 43.
 Michel Kaplan, Pourquoi Byzance ?: Un empire de onze siècles, Folio/Gallimard, 2016, p. 55.
 Edwin Johnson, The Rise of Christendom (1890), on archive.org, p. 360.
 Edwin Johnson, The Rise of Christendom, op. cit., p. 50.
 Edwin Johnson, The Rise of Christendom, op. cit., pp. 7, 80.
 James Watson, Interpolations in Bede’s Ecclesiastical history and other ancient annals affecting the early history of Scotland and Ireland, Peebles, 1883 (archive.org), p. 9.
 Grégroire de Tours, Histoire des rois francs, Gallimard, 1990, chapitre IV, p. 103
 Raoul Glaber, Histoires, éd. et trad. Mathieu Arnoux, Turnhout, Brépols, 1996, IV, §13, pp. 163-165.
 Thomas Creissen, “La christianisation des lieux de culte païens : ‘assassinat’, simple récupération ou mythe historiographique ?”, Gallia – Archéologie de la France antique, CNRS Éditions, 2014, 71 (1), pp. 279-287, on hal.archives-ouvertes.fr
 Polydor Hochart, De l’authenticité des Annales et des Histoires de Tacite, 1890 (on archive.org), pp. 3-5.
 Sylvain Gouguenheim, Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel. Les racines grecques de l’Europe chrétienne, Seuil, 2008.
 Jonathan Harris, Byzantium and the Crusades, Hambledon Continuum, 2003, p. 56.
 Robert de Clari, La Conquête de Constantinople, Champion Classiques, 2004, p. 171.
 Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. 3: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades (1954), Penguin Classics, 2016, p. 123.
 Jonathan Harris, Byzantium and the Crusades, op. cit., p. 50.
 Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. 3, op. cit, p. 130.
 Edwin Hunt, The Medieval Super-Companies: A Study of the Peruzzi Company of Florence, Cambridge UP, 1994.
 Jerry Brotton, The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo, Oxford UP, 2010, p. 103.
 In his book Re-Dating Ancient Greece (2008), Sylvain Tristan points to intriguing paralells between Plato’s and Pletho’s lives, and makes the hypothesis that Plato is in reality a fictional personae of Pletho.
 Paul Stephenson, The Byzantine World, Routledge, 2012, p. xxi.
 John Meyendorff, Byzantium and the Rise of Russia, Cambridge UP, 1981, p. 2.
 Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge UP, 1965, p. 190.
 Michel Kaplan, Pourquoi Byzance? Un empire de onze siècles, Folio/Gallimard, 2016, p. 39.
 Roderick Saxey II (1998-99), “The Greek language through time,” http://linguistics.byu.edu/classes/ling450ch/reports/greek.html
 Margaret Alexiou, “Diglossia in Greece,” in William Haas, Standard Languages: Spoken and Written, Manchester UP, 1982.
 Sylvain Tristan, Re-Dating Ancient Greece: 500 BC = 1300 AD?, independently published, 2008.
 William Miller, The Latins in the Levant: A History of Frankish Greece (1204-1566), P. Dutton & Co., 1908 (on archive.org), pp. 315, 327.
 Bernard Guenée, Histoire et culture historique dans l’occident medieval, Aubier, 2011, p. 9.
 David Carrette, L’Invention du Moyen Âge. La plus grande falsification de l’histoire, Magazine Top-Secret, Hors-série n°9, 2014, pp. 43, 53.
How Long Was the First Millenium?
Gunnar Heinsohn’s stratigraphy-based chronology
The First Millennium Revisionist • September 19, 2020
This is the final installment of a three-part essay advocating a radical revisionism of the first millennium AD. In Part 1 and Part 2, I examined a series of fundamental problems in our standard history of the greater part of the first millennium AD. Here I present what I believe is the best solution to these problems.
We are so used to rely on a universally accepted global chronology covering all of human history that we take this chronology as a given, a simple representation of time itself, as self-evident as the air we breathe. In reality, this chronology, which allows us to place with relative precision on a single time scale all major events in the histories of all peoples, is a sophisticated cultural construct that was not achieved before the late sixteenth century. Jesuits played a prominent role in that computation, but the main architect of the chronology we are now familiar with was a French Huguenot named Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609), who set out to harmonize all available chronicles and calendars (Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Persian, Babylonian, Egyptian). His main works on chronology, written in Latin, are De emendatione temporum (1583) and Thesaurus temporum (1606). The Jesuit Denys Pétau (1583-1652) built on Scaliger’s foundation to publish his Tabulae chronologicae, from 1628 to 1657.
So our global chronology, the backbone of textbook history, is a scientific construct of modern Europe. Like other European norms, it was accepted by the rest of the world during the period of European cultural domination. The Chinese, for example, had already compiled, during the Song dynasty (960-1279), a long historical narrative, but it was Jesuit missionaries who reshaped it to fit in their BC-AD calendar, resulting in the thirteen volumes of the Histoire Générale de la Chine by Joseph-Anne-Marie de Moyriac de Mailla, published between 1777 and 1785. Once Chinese history was securely riveted to Scaligerian chronology, the rest followed. But some peoples had to wait until the 19th century to find their place in that framework; the Indians had very ancient records, but no consistent chronology until the British gave them one.
Truth be told, the chronology of ancient empires was never completely settled. In The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) had suggested to reduce drastically the by-then-accepted antiquity of Greece, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia. Today, ancient chronology is still open to debate in the academic community (read for instance about David Rohl’s “new chronology”). But as we approach the Common Era, the chronology is considered untouchable, except for minor adjustments, because of the abundance of written sources. However, until the ninth century AD, no primary source provides absolute dates. Events are dated relatively to some other event of local importance, such as the foundation of a town or the accession of a ruler. Dating recent events in anno domini (AD) only became common in the eleventh century. So the general timeline of the first millennium still relies on a great deal of interpretation, not to mention trust in the sources. Like for earlier eras, it was fixed centuries before the beginning of scientific excavations (19th, mainly 20th century), and, as we shall see, its authority is such that archeologists surrender to it even when their stratigraphic data contradicts it. Dendrochronology (tree-rings dating) and radiocarbon dating (for organic materials) are of little help, and are unreliable anyway because they are relative, interdependent, and calibrated on the standard timeline one way or another.
The best-known of these revisionists is the Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko (born 1945). With his associate Gleb Nosovsky, he has produced tens of thousands of pages in support of his “New Chronology” (check their Amazon page). In my view, Fomenko and Nosovsky have signaled a great number of major problems in conventional chronology, and provided plausible solutions to many of them, but their global reconstruction is extravagantly Russo-centric. Their confidence in their statistical method (a good presentation in this video) is also exaggerated. Nevertheless, Fomenko and Nosovsky must be credited for having provided stimulus and direction for many others. For a first approach to their work, I recommend volume 1 of their series History: Fiction or Science (here on archive.org), especially chapter 7, “‘Dark Ages’ in Mediaeval History”, pp. 373-415.
One major discovery of Fomenko and Nosovsky is that our conventional history is full of doublets, produced by the arbitrary end-to-end alignment of chronicles that tell the same events, but are “written by different people, from different viewpoints, in different languages, with the same characters under different names and nicknames.” Whole periods have been thus duplicated. For example, drawing from the previous work of Russian Nikolai Mozorov (1854-1946), Fomenko and Nosovsky show a striking parallel between the sequences Pompey/Caesar/Octavian and Diocletian/Constantius/Constantine, leading to the conclusion that the Western Roman Empire is, to some extent, a phantom duplicate of the Eastern Roman Empire. According to Fomenko and Nosovsky, the capital of the one and only Roman Empire was founded on the Bosporus some 330 years before the foundation of its colony in the Latium. Starting from the age of the crusades, Roman clerics, followed by Italian humanists, produced an inverted chronological sequence, using the real history of Constantinople as the model for their fake earlier history of Italian Rome. A great confusion ensued, as “many mediaeval documents confuse the two Romes: in Italy and on the Bosporus,” both being commonly called Rome or “the City”. A likely scenario is that the prototype for Titus Livy’s History was about Constantinople, the original capital of the “Romans”. The original Livy, Fomenko conjectures, was writing around the tenth century about Constantinople, so he was not far off the mark when he placed the foundation of the City (urbs condita) some seven centuries before his time. But as it was rewritten by Petrarch and reinterpreted by later humanists (read “How fake is Roman Antiquity?”), a chronological chasm of roughly one thousand year was introduced between the foundation of the two “Romes” (from 753 BC to 330 AD).
However, even the dates for Constantinople are wrong, according to Fomenko and Nosovky, and the whole sequence happened much more recently: Constantinople was founded around the tenth or eleventh century AD, and Rome, 330 or 360 years later, i.e. around the fifteenth or sixteenth century AD. Here, as often, Fomenko and Nosovsky may be spoiling their best insights by exaggeration.
In the mid-1990s, independently from the Russian school, German scholars Heribert Illig, Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, Uwe Topper, Manfred Zeller and others also became convinced that something is wrong with the accepted chronology of the Middle Ages. Calling themselves the “Zeitenspringer” (time jumpers), they suggested that approximately 300 years — from 600 to 900 AD — never existed. English summaries of their approach have been produced by Niemitz (“Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” 2000), and in Illig (“Anomalous Eras – Best Evidence: Best Theory” 2005).
The German discussion originally focused on Charlemagne (Illig’s book). Sources on Charlemagne are often contradictory and unreliable. His main biography, Eginhard’s Vita Karoli, supposedly written “for the benefit of posterity rather than to allow the shades of oblivion to blot out the life of this King, the noblest and greatest of his age, and his famous deeds, which the men of later times will scarcely be able to imitate” (from Eginhard’s foreword), is recognizably modeled on Suetonius’ life of the first Roman emperor Augustus.
Charlemagne’s “empire” itself, lasting only 45 years, from 800 to its dislocation in three kingdoms, defies reason. Ferdinand Gregorovius, in his History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages in 8 volumes (1872), writes: “The figure of the Great Charles can be compared to a flash of lightning who came out of the night, illuminated the earth for a while, and then left night behind him” (quoted by Illig). Is this shooting star just an illusion, and the legends about him virtually devoid of relation to history?
The main problem with Charlemagne is with architecture. His Palatine Chapel in Aachen exhibits a technological advance of 200 years, with for example arched aisles not seen before the 11th century. On the opposite, Charlemagne’s residence in Ingelheim was built in the Roman style of the 2nd century, with materials supposedly recycled from the 2nd century. Illig and Niemitz challenge such absurdities and conclude that Charlemagne is a mythical predecessor invented by the Ottonian emperors to legitimate their imperial claims. All Carolingians of the 8th and 9th and their wars are also fictitious, and the timespan of roughly 600-900 CE, is a phantom era.
Gunnar Heinsohn objects to this theory on numismatic ground: about 15,000 coins have been found bearing the name Karlus (alternatively Karolus or Carlus) Magnus.
Gunnar Heinsohn, from the University of Bremen, is in my view the most interesting and convincing scholar in the field of chronological revisionism. His recent articles in English are posted on this website, and his 2016 conference in Toronto makes a good introduction. Heinsohn focuses on hard archeological evidence, and insists that stratigraphy is the most important criterion for dating archeological finds. He shows that, time and again, stratigraphy contradicts history, and that archeologists should have logically forced historians into a paradigm shift. Unfortunately, “In order to be consistent with a pre-fabricated chronology, archaeologists unknowingly betray their own craft.” When they dig up the same artifacts or building structures in different parts of the world, they assign them to different periods in order to satisfy historians. And when they find, in the same place and layer, mixtures of artifacts that they have already attributed to different periods, they explain it away with the ludicrous “heirloom theory,” or call them “art collections.”
“Archaeologists are particularly confident of correctly dating finds from 1st-millennium excavation sites when they find coins associated with them. A coin-dated layer is considered to be of utmost scientific precision. But how do scholars know the dates of the coins? From coin catalogues! How do the authors of these catalogues know how to date the coins? Not according to archaeological strata, but from the lists of Roman emperors. But how are the emperors dated and then sorted into these lists? Nobody knows for sure.”
Quite often, archeologists unearth coins of supposedly widely different dates in the same settlement strata or the same tombs. One example is the famous leather purse of Childeric, a Frankish prince reigning from 458-481 AD. For Heinsohn, these coins are not a “coin collection” but “indicate the simultaneity of Roman Emperors artificially dispersed over two epochs — Imperial Antiquity and Late Antiquity.”
Heinsohn’s work is not easy to summarize, because it is a work in progress, because it covers virtually all regions of the globe, and because it is abundantly illustrated and referenced with historical and archeological studies. Nothing can replace a painstaking study of his articles, completed with personal research. All I can do here is try to reflect the scope and the depth of his research and the significance of his conclusions. Rather than paraphrase him, I will quote extensively from his articles. From now on, only quotations from other authors will be indented. All illustrations, except the next one and the last one, are borrowed or adapted from his articles.
The best starting point is his own summary (“Heinsohn in a nutshell”): “According to mainstream chronology, major European cities should exhibit — separated by traces of crisis and destruction — distinct building strata groups for the three urban periods of some 230 years that are unquestionably built in Roman styles with Roman materials and technologies (Antiquity/A>Late Antiquity/LA>Early Middle Ages/EMA). None of the ca. 2,500 Roman cities known so far has the expected three strata groups super-imposed on each other. … Any city (covering, at least, the periods from Antiquity to the High Middle Ages [HMA; 10th/11th c.]) has just one (A or LA or EMA) distinct building strata group in Roman format (with, of course, internal evolution, repairs etc.). Therefore, all three urban realms labeled as A or LA or EMA existed simultaneously, side by side in the Imperium Romanum. None can be deleted. All three realms (if their cities continue at all) enter HMA in tandem, i.e. all belong to the 700-930s period that ended in a global catastrophe. This parallelity not only explains the mind-boggling absence of technological and archaeological evolution over 700 years but also solves the enigma of Latin’s linguistic petrification between the 1st/2nd and 8th/9th c. CE. Both text groups are contemporary.”
In other words, from other articles: “The High Middle Ages, beginning after the 930s A.D., are not only found –– as would be expected –– contingent with, i.e., immediately above the Early Middle Ages (ending in the 930s). They are also found –– which is chronologically perplexing –– directly above Imperial Antiquity or Late Antiquity in locations where settlements continued after the 930s cataclysm.” “There is — in any individual site — only one period of some 230 years (all of them with Roman characteristics, such as imperial coins, fibulae, millefiori glass beads, villae rusticae etc.) that is terminated by a catastrophic conflagration. Since the cataclysm dated to the 230s shares the same stratigraphic depth as the cataclysms dated to the 530s or the 930s, some 700 years of 1st millennium history are phantom years.” The first millennium, in other words, lasted only about 300 years. “Following stratigraphy, all earlier dates have to come about 700 years closer to the present, too. Thus, the last century of Late Latène (100 to 1 BCE), moves to around 600 to 700 CE.”
All over the Mediterranean world “three blocks of time have left — in any individual site — just one block of strata covering some 230 years.” Wherever they are found, the strata for Imperial Antiquity and Late Antiquity lie just underneath the tenth century and therefore really belong to the Early Middle Age, that is, 700-930 AD. The distinction between Antiquity, Late Antiquity and Early Middle Age is a cultural representation that has no basis in reality. Heinsohn proposes contemporaneity of the three periods, because they “are all found at the same stratigraphic depth, and must, therefore, end simultaneously in the 230s CE (being also the 520s and 930s).” “Thus, the three parallel time-blocks now found in our history books in a chronological sequence must be brought back to their stratigraphical position.” In this way, “the early medieval period (approx. 700-930s AD) becomes the epoch for which history can finally be written because it contains Imperial Antiquity and Late Antiquity, too.”
As a result of stretching 230 years into 930 years, history is now distributed unevenly, each time-block having most of its recorded events localized in one of three geographical zones: Roman South-West, Byzantine South-East, and Germanic-Slavic North. If we look at written sources, “we have [for the 1st-3rd century] a spotlight on Rome, but know little about the 1st-3rd century in Constantinople or Aachen. Then we have a spotlight on Ravenna and Constantinople, but know little about the 4th-7th century in Rome or Aachen. Finally, we have a spotlight on Aachen in the 8th-10th century, but hardly know any details from Rome or Constantinople. I turn on all the lights at the same time and, thus, can see connections that were previously considered dark or completely unrecognizable.”
Each period ends with a demographic, architectural, technical, and cultural collapse, caused by a cosmic catastrophe and accompanied by plague. Historians “have identified major mega-catastrophes shaking the earth in three regions of Europe (South-West [230s]; South-East [530s], and Slavic North [940s]) within the 1st millennium.” “The catastrophic ends of (1) Imperial Antiquity, (2) Late Antiquity, and (3) the Early Middles Ages sit in the same stratigraphic plane immediately before the High Middle Ages (beginning around 930s AD).” Therefore these three devastating collapses of civilization are one and the same, which Heinsohn refers to as “the Tenth Century Collapse.”
Heinsohn’s identification of three time-blocks that should be synchronized is not to be taken as an exact parallelism: “This assumption does not claim a pure 1:1 parallelism in which events reported for the year 100 AD could simply be supplemented with information for the year 800 AD.” Stratigraphic identity only means that all real events that are dated to Imperial Antiquity or Late Antiquity happened in fact during the Early Middle Ages (from the stratigraphic viewpoint).
Moreover, all three time-blocks do not have the same length. That is because Late Antiquity (from the beginning of Diocletian’s reign in 284 to the death of Heraclius in 641) is some 120 years too long, according to Heinsohn. The Byzantine segment from the rise of Justinian (527) to the death of Heraclius (641) was in reality shorter and overlapped with the period of Anastasius (491-518). In other words, not only the first millennium as a whole, but Late Antiquity itself has to be shortened. Duplicates account for its phantom years. Thus the Persian emperor Khosrow I (531-579) fought by Justinian is identical to the Khosrow II (591-628) fought by his immediate successors — regardless of the fact that archeologists decided to ascribe the silver drachmas to Khosrow I and the gold dinars to Khosrow II.
Other duplicates within Late Antiquity include the Roman emperor Flavius Theodosius (379-395) being identical to the Gothic ruler of Ravenna and Italy Flavius Theodoric (471-526), who bears the same name, only with the additional suffix riks, meaning king. “At some point in the half millennium with manipulations of the original texts that can no longer be counted or reconstructed, two names of one person have become two persons with different names placed one behind the other.” The Gothic wars have also been duplicated: with the war fought by Odoacer and his son Thela in the 470, and the one fought by ToTila in the 540s, “we are not dealing with two different Italian wars, but with two different narratives about the same war, which were connected chronologically one after the other.”
This author’s visual of the simultaneous three 230-year time-blocks
The strength or Heinsohn’s approach, as compared to Illig and Niemtiz’s, is that he doesn’t really delete history: “If one removes the span of time that has been artificially created by mistakenly placing parallel periods in sequence, only emptiness is lost, not history. By reuniting texts and artifacts that have now been chopped up and scattered over seven centuries, meaningful historiography becomes possible for the first time.” In fact, “a much richer image of Roman history emerges. The numerous actors from Iceland (with Roman coins; Heinsohn 2013d) to Baghdad (whose 9th c. coins are found in the same stratum as 2nd c. Roman coins; Heinsohn 2013b) can eventually be drawn together to weave the rich and colourful fabric of that vast space with 2.500 cities, and 85.000 km of roads.”
Applied to Rome, Heinsohn’s theory solves a conundrum that has always puzzled historians: the absence of any vestige datable from the late third century to the tenth century (mentioned in Part 1): “Rome of the first millennium CE builds residential quarters, latrines, water pipes, sewage systems, streets, ports, bakeries etc. only during Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd c.) but not in Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.) and in the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th c.). Since the ruins of the 3rd century lie directly under the primitive new buildings of the 10th century, Imperial Antiquity belongs stratigraphically to the period from ca. 700 to 930 CE.” “The heart of the Imperium Romanum has no new construction for the seven centuries between the 3rd and the 10th c. CE. The urban material of the 3rd c. is stratigraphically contingent with the early 10th in which it was wiped out.” In the illustration below, the floor of Trajan’s Forum (Piano Antico 2nd/3rd c. AD) is directly covered by the dark mud (fango) layer of the cataclysm that sealed Roman Civilization (more on it later).
In order to fill up their artificially stretched millennium, modern historians often have to do violence to their primary sources. As Fomenko already pointed out, the Getae and the Goths were considered the same people by Jordanes — himself a Goth — in his Getica written in the middle of the 6th century. Other historians before and after him, such as Claudian, Isidore of Seville and Procopius of Caesarea also used the name Getae to designate the Goths. But Theodor Mommsen has rejected the identification: “The Getae were Thracians, the Goths Germans, and apart from the coincidental similarity in their names they had nothing whatever in common.” Yet archeologists are puzzled by the fact that the Getae and the Goths inhabit the same area at 300 years distance, and there is no explanation for how the Getae disappeared before the Goth appeared, and for the lack of demography during the 300-year interval. Besides, there is evidence, contrary to what Mommsen claims, of great resemblance between their culture, including in clothing, as Gunnar Heinsohn points out: Goths in the 3rd/4th c. “made great efforts to dress, from head to toe, like their mysteriously missing predecessors” (the 1st/3rd-c. Getae), and continued “to manufacture 300 year older ceramics, rolling back technological evolution to pre-Christian La Tène earthenware.” According to Heinsohn, “The identity of Getae and Goths can help to solve some of the most stubborn enigmas of Gothic history,” such as strong parallel between Rome’s Getic-Dacian wars in the first century AD and Rome’s Gothic wars some 300 years later. The Dacian leader Decebalus (meaning “The Powerful”) may be identical to the Goth Alaric (meaning “King of all”). By such processes, “different sources dealing with the same events have been split (and altered) in such a way that the same event is described twice, albeit from different angles, thereby creating a chronology that is twice as long as the actual course of history that can be substantiated by archaeology.”
Getian prisoner and Gothic warrior, both wearing the same clothes, including the Phrygian hat
“While no new residential areas with latrines, water systems and streets were built in Rome during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, they are missing in Constantinople during Imperial Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. […] Both cities have these basic components of urbanity in only one of the three epochs of the first millennium. Although in Rome they are dated to Imperial Antiquity, whilst in Constantinople they are dated to Late Antiquity, from the point of view of architecture and building technology they are nearly indistinguishable.” That is because, in reality, they “share the same stratigraphical horizon.”
There are, however, non-residential constructions in Byzantium dated from Imperial Antiquity. The most important is its first recorded aqueduct, built under Hadrian (117-138 AD). “This is considered a mystery because Byzantium’s actual founder, Constantine the Great (305-337 AD), did not expand the city until 200 years later.” In reality, “Hadrian’s aqueduct carries water to a flourishing city 100 years after Constantine, and not to a supposed wasteland centuries earlier. The mystery disappears. When Justinian renovates the great Basilica Cistern, which gathers water from Hadrian’s aqueduct, he does so not 400 years, but less than 100 years after it was built.”
The Early Middle Ages are known as Byzantium’s Dark Ages, beginning in 641 after the reign of Heraclius, and ending with the Macedonian Renaissance under Basil II (976-1022 AD). In the words of historian John O’Neill, “About forty years after the death of Justinian the Great, from the first quarter of the seventh century, [for] three centuries, cities were abandoned and urban life came to an end. There is no sign of revival until the middle of the tenth century.” For Heinsohn, this period, like most other “dark ages”, is a phantom age. The Justinian dynasty starting with Justin I (AD 518-527) is identical to the Macedonian dynasty, which we can count from Constantine VII (913-959), initiator of the Macedonian Renaissance. The 400-year period between Justinian (527-565 AD) and Basil II lasted in reality only 70 years, corresponding to the Tenth Century Collapse.
Besides archeology, there are also “anachronisms and puzzles in the development of the laws of Justinian (527-535 CE),” written in 2nd-c. Latin. “Not a single jurist from the 300 years between the Severan early 3rd century and Justinian’s 6th century textbook date is included in the Digestae. Moreover, no post-550s jurist put his hand to the Digestae.” So that “There are, from the Severans to the end of the Early Middle Ages, some 700 years without comments by Roman jurists.” In addition: “It is a mystery why Justinian’s Greek subjects had to wait 370 years [until the 900s CE], only to receive a version of the laws in Koine Greek of the 2nd c. out of use since 700 years.” It all “looks bizarre only as long as the stratigraphic simultaneity of Imperial Antiquity, Late Antiquity, and the Early Middle Ages is denied.” That the Severan and the Justinian dynasties are contemporaries explain that both fought a Persian emperor named Khosrow.
According to Heinsohn, the foundation of Imperial Rome and Imperial Constantinople are roughly contemporary. It is “a geographical sequence from west to east [that] was turned into a chronological sequence from earlier to later.” “Diocletian did not reside in ruins, but lived at the same time as Augustus. His capital was not Rome. He had residences in Antioch, Nicomedia, and Sirmium. From there he worked tirelessly for the protection of Augustus’ empire.” Heinsohn’s hypothesis of the contemporaneity of Diocletian in the East and Octavian Augustus in the West (ruling in concert) distinguishes him from Fomenko, who believes that Augustus is a fictitious duplicate of the Roman Emperor residing in Constantinople. Heinsohn also differs from Fomenko in the way he sees the relationship between the two Roman capitals: he accepts Rome’s precedence and assumes that Diocletian was a subordinate of Octavian Augustus. Fomenko, on the other hand, considers that Constantinople was the original center of the empire. This is consistent with Diocletian’s position as the superior of his Western counterpart Maximian. Diocletian was an Eastern Emperor from the beginning. He was born in today’s Croatia, where he built his palace (Split), and hardly ever set foot in Rome. Maximian, sent to rule in Rome, was himself from the Balkans.
Ravenna is a special case, because it stands between Rome and Constantinople: it was long under Byzantine control, yet was the “capital of the Occident in Late Antiquity” (Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann). Ravenna has been called a “palimpsest” for the reason explained by historian Deborah Mauskoppf Deliyannis (Ravenna in Late Antiquity, Cambridge UP, 2014), quoted by Heinsohn:
“Ravenna’s walls and churches were usually built of reused brick. Scholars disagree over whether the use of these spolia was symbolic (triumph over Roman paganism, for example) or whether their use simply had to do with the availability and expense of materials. In other words, was their use meaningful, or practical, or both? Did it demonstrate the power of the emperors to control construction of preexisting buildings, or the power of the church to demolish them? Or, by the time Ravenna’s buildings were constructed, were Roman spolia simply considered de rigueur for impressive public buildings. / One striking feature to all these [5th century; GH] buildings is that, like the city walls they were made of bricks that had been reused from earlier [2nd/3rd century; GH] Roman structures. […] It was expected that a noble church would be built of spolia.”
One senses here a desperate effort to force into the accepted chronological framework a situation that doesn’t fit in it. Heinsohn’s revisionism solves this problem: the buildings and their materials are, of course, contemporary, rather than separated by 300 years.
There is also a problem with Ravenna’s civil and military port, which could harbor 240 ships according to Jordanes, with its lighthouse praised by Pliny the Elder as rivaling with the Pharos of Alexandria. “However, what is considered strange is that after all port activities ceased around 300 AD it is still being celebrated by mosaics supposedly created in the 5th/6th century. Even Agnellus in the 9th century knows the lighthouse, although the city had supposedly fallen into ruins in the late 6th century.”
Andrea Agnellus (ca. 800-850) was a cleric from Ravenna who wrote the history of Ravenna from the beginning of the Empire to his time. After Vespasian (69-79 AD), the emperor of the martyrdom of Peter, Agnellus doesn’t report anything before events dated 500 years later. He writes about saint Apollinaris being sent to Ravenna by saint Peter to found the church of Ravenna, then about the construction of Ravenna’s first church (Sant’Apollinare dated 549 AD), without apparently being aware that half a millennium separated the two. Again, we see here how historians do violence to their sources by inserting phantom times into their chronicles. According to Heinsohn, only approximately 130 years passed between Vespasian and Agnellus.
Mosaic in the Basilica of Sant‘Apollonare Nuove (dated around 500 AD)
In the footsteps of Illig and Niemitz, Heinsohn notes that Charlemagne’s residence at Ingelheim is built like a Roman villa dating from the 2nd and not from the 9th c. CE. As noticed in a website dedicated to the building, it “was not fortified. Nor was it built on a naturally protected site, which was usually necessary and customary when building castles” (Fortifications 2009). Heinsohn comments: “It was as if Charlemagne did not understand the vagaries of his own period, and was behaving like a senator still living in the Roman Empire. He insisted on Roman rooftiles but forgot the defenses. Was he not just great but also insane?” No medieval fortification has been found that could be attributed to Charlemagne or any of the Carolingians.
Archeologists excavating Ingelheim were “staggered by a building complex that — down to the water supply, and up to the roofing — was ‘based on antique designs’ (Research 2009), and, therefore, appears to be a reincarnation of 700-year-older Roman outlines from the 1st to 3rd c. CE.” The same is true of his Aachen residence (chapel excluded): “Excavators are realizing that Aachen’s Imperial Antiquity and Aachen’s Early Middle Ages cannot have followed each other at a distance of 700 years, but must have existed simultaneously. This seems incredible, but the material findings, down to the floor tiles, speak with unmistakable clarity: Aachen’s Roman sewer system is so well intact that the early medieval Aacheners ‘tied themselves to the Roman sewer system.’ The same applies to transport routes: ‘A continuous use from Roman times also applies to large parts of the inner city road and path network. […] The Roman road, which has already been documented in the Dome-Quadrum [Palatinate ensemble] in northeast-southwest orientation, was used until the late Middle Ages’.”
As mentioned earlier, Heinsohn objects to Illig and Niemitz’s conclusion of the non-existence of Karlus Magnus, on the ground of the great number of coins bearing his name. However, he adds, “These coins are sometimes surprising because they may be found lumped together with Roman coins that are 700 years older.” Deleting 700 years solves this problem, and at the same time matches Charlemagne’s palaces with 2nd/3rd century Roman architecture. The Carolingian era that precedes immediately the Tenth Century Collapse is the era of the Roman Empire. “Today’s researchers see Charlemagne as the promoter of a restoration of the Roman Empire (restitutio imperii). They see his time as an ingenious and conscious renaissance of a perished civilization. Charlemagne himself, however, knows nothing about such notions. […] Nowhere does he proclaim that he lives many centuries after the glories of imperial Rome.”
Just like “Carolingian architects erected buildings and water pipes in the early Middle Ages that were similar in form and technology to those of Imperial Antiquity,” so “Carolingian authors wrote in the early Middle Ages in the Latin style of Imperial Antiquity.” Thus, Alcuin of York (Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, 735-804 AD) brought back to life at the court of Charlemagne the classical Latin of Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd century) after many dark centuries. Alcuin also wrote Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes, which is seen as the earliest general survey of mathematical problems in Latin. “We do not understand how Alcuin could learn mathematics and write it down in Ciceronian Latin after the crises of the 3rd and 6th century, when there were no more teachers from Athens, Constantinople and Rome to instruct him.”
Heinsohn shows that Charles the Great, Charles the Bald, Charles the Fat, and Charles the Simple appear to have the same signature and may be one and the same, although Heinsohn “has not come to a final view on how many Carolinginan Carolus rulers have to be retained.” It must be noted that Karlus is the Latin form of Karl, a Slavic noun meaning “king”, hardly a personal name. Heinsohn remarks: “There have been, we are told, two Frankish lords by the name of Pepin in the territory of Civitas Tungrorum (roughly the diocese of Liège). Each had a son named Charles. One was Charles Martel, the other Charlemagne. Each Charles waged one war against the Saracens on the French-Spanish border, and ten wars against the Saxons. […] This author sees both Pepins, as well as both Charles’, as alter egos.” Moreover, Heinsohn recently suggested that: “Stratigraphically […], Charlemagne and Louis [the Pious] do not belong to the 8th/9th century, but to the 9th/10th century. They live through the turmoil of the plague of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus of the late 2nd century.”
That Karlus is called Imperator Augustus does not preclude him being contemporary with others claiming the same title in Italy. Heinsohn mentions that gold coins found in Ingelheim “caused surprise by the imperial diadem worn by Charles making him look like a junior partner of Rome.”
Saxons are supposed to start taking over England in 410 AD, yet archeologists cannot find any trace of them in that period. Saxon houses and sacral buildings are missing, there is no trace of their agriculture, and not even of their pottery. Heinsohn solves this problem by suggesting that the earliest Anglo-Saxons of the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th century) were contemporaries of Roman Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd century); “that would mean that Romans and Anglo-Saxons had fought simultaneously and in competition with each other for control of Celtic Britain.”
In Winchester, the city of Alfred the Great (871-899 AD), no archeology remains whatsoever has been found that match his reign. “Nobody knows where the Anglo-Saxon king was able to hold court. Although some scholars try to resort to the idea of a mobile court with no fixed capital anywhere on the British Isles in the 8th to early 10th c. period, the sources give no hint of such homeless rulers. They describe Venta Belgarum/Winchester as the unchallenged capital of Wessex. Since there are no building strata in 9th c. Venta Belgarum/Winchester, the mobile court theory would have to be expanded to a mobile nation theory because Afred’s bureaucrats as well as his subjects are without fixed homesteads, too. Yet, is it possible that entire nations have always been on the move without leaving traces?”
Archeologists do find an abundance of buildings in Winchester, but they are in typical 2nd-century Roman style, and, unlike in Charlemagne’s case, archeologists see them as genuine 2nd century rather than imitation of 2nd century. “Yet, the Roman period 2nd/3rd c. building stratum with Roman town houses (domus), temples, and public buildings on a forum with Jupiter column […] is contingent with Winchester’s 10th/11th c. building stratum.” “There are no strata anywhere between the 3rd and the 11th c. to accommodate the king’s 9th c. palace. Yet, there is a 2nd/3rd c. Roman period palace in Winchester for which no one claims ownership.” Therefore, according to Heinsohn, the 2nd/3rd c. building stratum belongs to the period of Alfred. This is also consistent with the Roman style of Alfred’s coins (as is the case with Charlemagne’s).
Heinsohn’s theory of the contemporaneity of the Early Middle Ages and Roman Antiquity solves the riddle of the legendary King Arthur: “The Celtic ruler Arthur of Camelot, active in a time when Saxons and Romans are simultaneously and competitively at war to conquer England, finds his alter ego in Aththe-Domaros of Camulodunum, the finest Celtic military leader in the period of Emperor Augustus, whose archaeological evidence moves to a stratigraphy-based date of c. 670s-710s AD.” “Camelot, Chrétien de Troyes’ [c. 1140-1190 AD] name for Arthur’s Court, is derived directly from Camelod-unum, the name of Roman Colchester.” Thus both Arthur of Camelot and Aththe of Camulodunum, by reuniting, come out of obscurity. This is a good illustration of the way Heinsohn, rather than extinguishing parts of history, brings them into the light of history.
The Vikings of the 8th century were contemporary with the Franks and Saxon invaders: “1st-3rd as well as 4th-6th c. Scandinavians were the same people we call Vikings today. The evidence that stratigraphically belongs only to their 8th-10th c. period has been spread over the entire 1st millennium to fill a 1,000 year time span whose construction is neither understood nor challenged.” “Viking 9th c. longboats with square sails are in actual fact found at the same stratigraphic depth as Roman longboats with square sails. The latter are wrongly dated 700 years too early to the 2nd c. CE. Therefore, the Scandinavians’ supposed 700 year delay in all major fields of development, like towns, ports, breakwaters, kingship, coinage, monotheism, and sailing ships, is derived from chronological ideas that make the Roman period some 700 years older than stratigraphy allows.”
Similar problems are found throughout the lands of Franks, Saxons and Slavs — that is, in the regions where archeological finds are generally dated to the Early Middle Ages. Thus, the cities of Pliska and Preslav in Bulgaria, supposedly built in the 9th century, are entirely consistent with 1st-3rd century Roman architecture and technology. “The eternal controversies between different Bulgarian schools of archaeology about whether Pliska and Preslav belong to Antiquity, Late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages could never come to a conclusion because all of them are right.”
Heinsohn’s shortened chronology of the first millennium solves fundamental inconsistencies in the history of many regions of the globe. It explains, for example, “why the invention of hand-made paper takes about 700 years to spread from China to east and west.” “The enigmatic absence of paper in Japan, so close to China, up to the 8th century AD, when it was suddenly produced in 40 provinces, can be explained, too, by taking into account that the Han stratigraphically are some 700 years younger than in textbook chronology.” Other problems include the fact that Han and Tang art are indistinguishable:
Inconsistencies in the history of Arabs are also solved. “Nobody understands how the inheritors of the Nabataeans and their Aramaic language dominating long distance trade between Asia in the East and the Roman Empire in the West can survive some 700 years without being able to mint coins or sign contracts. This extreme Arab primitivism stands in stark contrast to the Arabs who thrive from the 8th to the beginning of the 10th centuries CE. Their coins are not only found in Poland but from Norway all the way to India and beyond at a time when the rest of the known world was trying to crawl out of the darkness of the Early Middle Ages, and civilization might have been lost for good had not Arabs kept it alive.” On the other hand, “The coin finds of Raqqa, for example, which stratigraphically belongs to the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th century), also contain imperial Roman coins from Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd century) and Late Antiquity (4th-7th century).”
“The Arabs did not walk in ignorance without coinage and writing for some 700 years. Those 700 years represent phantom centuries. Thus, it is not true that Arabs were backward in comparison with their immediate Roman and Greek neighbours who, interestingly enough, are not on record for having ever claimed any Arab backwardness. In the stratigraphy of ancient sites, Arab coins are found at the same stratigraphic depth as imperial Roman coins from the 1st to the early 3rd c. CE. Thus, the caliphs now dated from the 690s to the 930s are actually the caliphs of the period from Augustus to the 230s. The Romans from Augustus to the 230s knew them as rulers of Arabia Felix. The Romans from the same 1-230s period in its duplication to the 290-530s period (“Late Antiquity”) knew them as Ghassanid caliphs with the same reputation for anti-trinitarian monotheism as the Abbasid Caliphs now dated to 8th/9th centuries.”
Heinsohn’s articles contain an abundance of quotes from archeologists puzzled by the contradictions between their hard evidence and their received chronology, yet betray their craft by yielding to chronology. Here is how Israeli archeologist Moshe Hartal is quoted in an Haaretz article:
“During the course of a dig designed to facilitate the expansion of the Galei Kinneret Hotel, Hartal noticed a mysterious phenomenon: Alongside a layer of earth from the time of the Umayyad era (638-750[CE]), and at the same depth, the archaeologists found a layer of earth from the Ancient Roman era (37 BCE-132[CE]). ‘I encountered a situation for which I had no explanation — two layers of earth from hundreds of years apart lying side by side,’ says Hartal. ‘I was simply dumbfounded’.”
Roman and Abbasid millefiori bowls that are identical, yet supposedly seven centuries apart
Although Heinsohn has not yet written specifically about first-millennium Israel, he has noted the same gaps in the historical record. As the following signboard photographed in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem puts it:
Heinsohn links with the cataclysmic paradigm pioneered by Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian-born scientist, author in 1950 of Worlds in Collision (Macmillan), followed by Ages in Chaos and Earth in Upheaval (Doubleday, 1952 and 1956). Although Velikovsky’s books were then severely attacked by the scientific community, his hypothesis of a major cataclysm caused by the tail of a giant comet about ten thousand years ago has been vindicated. There is a growing consensus that the sudden drop of global temperatures that marked the beginning of the geological era of the Younger Dryas 12,000 years ago started with a comet impact that blew large amounts of dust and ashes into the atmosphere, eclipsing the sun for years. This catastrophic comet and later ones may have formed the basis for the worldwide myths about flying and fire-breathing dragons (read here).
For the first millennium AD, Heinsohn gathers evidence of three major civilization collapses caused by cosmic catastrophe followed by plague, in the 230s, the 530s and the 930s, and argues that they are one and the same, described differently in Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval sources.
The first of these cataclysms caused the “Crisis of the Third Century” that started in the 230s. Textbook history defines it primarily as “a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of barbarian invasions and migrations into the Roman territory, civil wars, peasant rebellions, political instability” (Wikipedia). Disease played a major role, most notably with the Plague of Cyprian (c. 249-262), originating in Pelusium in Egypt. At the height of the outbreak, 5,000 people were said to be dying every day in Rome (Kyle Harper, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, Princeton UP, 2017). Although Latin sources make no mention of it, the massive damage observed by archeologists in several cities suggest that the crisis was triggered by a cosmic cataclysm. In Rome, “Trajan’s market—the commercial heart of the known world—was massively damaged and never repaired again. All eleven aquaeducts were destroyed. The first was not repaired before 1453.” As illustrated above, thick layers of so-called “dark earth” are found immediately above the 3rd century, with no new construction above before the 10th century. This situation, which is repeated in many other Western cities such as London, is generally interpreted as proof that the land was converted to arable and pastoral use or abandoned entirely for seven centuries. But it is more likely that the mud resulted primarily from a cosmic cataclysm.
Three hundred years after the Third Century Crisis in Italy, the Eastern Empire was impacted by identical phenomena, whose effect, notes historian of Late Antiquity Wolf Liebeschuetz, “was like the crisis of the third century.” A climatic disaster is documented by ancient historians of that period, such as Procopius of Caesarea, Cassiodorus, or John of Ephesus, who writes: “the sun became dark and its darkness lasted for eighteen months. […] As a result of this inexplicable darkness, the crops were poor and famine struck.” To explain this “miniature ice age,” confirmed relatively by tree-ring and ice-core data, some scientists like David Keys hypothesize massive volcanic irruptions (Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World, Balanine, 1999, and the Channel 4 documentary based on it; read also this article). Others see “a comet impact in AD 536” causing a plunge in temperatures by as much as 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit for several years, leading to the crop failures that brought famine to the Roman Empire. Its weakened inhabitants soon became vulnerable to diseases. In 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, exactly like Cyprian’s Plague 300 years earlier, this time spreading to Constantinople, with some 10,000 people dying daily in Justinian’s capital alone, according to Procopius. In the words of John Loeffler, “How Comets Changed the Course of Human History”: “The terrified citizens and merchants fled the city of Constantinople, spreading the disease further into Europe, where it laid waste to communities of famished Europeans as far away as Germany, killing anywhere from a third to a half of the population” (watch also Michael Lachmann’s BBC documentary “The Comet’s Tale”).
Justinian’s comet over Constantinople
According to Heinsohn, the Western collapse of the third century and the Eastern collapse of the sixth century are both identical with the “Tenth Century Collapse” starting in the 930s. This civilizational collapse is documented by archeology in peripheral parts of the Empire: “Widespread destructions from Scandinavia to Eastern Europe and the Black Sea are dated to the end of the Early Middle Ages (930s CE). The disaster struck in territories where no devastations appear to have occurred during the ‘Crisis of the Third Century’, or the ‘Crisis of the Sixth Century’.” Archeology shows that Austria, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria were also hit in the early 10th century, as well as Slovak and Czech territories. Bulgarian metropolis Pliska basically disappeared, strangled by a considerable amounts of erosion material (colluvium), also known as “black earth”. All Baltic ports suddenly and mysteriously “undergo discontinuity.”
What Heinsohn calls the “Tenth Century Collapse” is well known to historians of the Middle Ages, but generally attributed to invasions. Mark Bloch wrote about it in his classic work Feudal Society (1940):
“From the turmoil of the last invasions, the West emerged covered with countless scars. The towns themselves had not been spared — at least not by the Scandinavian — and if many of them, after pillage or evacuation, rose again from their ruins, this break in the regular course of their life left them for long years enfeebled. […] Along the river routes the trading centres had lost all security […] Above all, the cultivated land suffered disastrously, often being reduced to desert. […] Naturally the peasants, more than any other class, were driven to despair by these conditions. […] The lords, who derived their revenues from the land, were impoverished.”
This upheaval marked the end of the ancient world and would be followed by the emergence of the feudal world. Guy Blois, in The Transformation of the Year One Thousand, describes the transition as global and sudden. In some region like the Mâconnais, which he studied in detail, “twenty to twenty-five years sufficed to transform the social landscape from top to bottom.”
“There was no gentle progress by imperceptible transitions from one situation to another. There was drastic upheaval, affecting all aspects of social life: a new distribution of power, a new relation of exploitation (the seigneurie), new economic mechanisms (the irruption of the market), and a new social and political ideology. If the word revolution means anything, it could hardly find a better application.”
At the same time, the actual factors and processes of transformation remain largely mysterious, because the 10th century is “a period which is among the most mysterious in our history,” and “has left few traces in our collective memory.” Sources of information from the 10th century are almost non-existent, and the sources from the 11th century not very explicit about the ills of the 10th century. The people of the early 11th century lived with a sense of a radical seizure between the last century, a time of destruction, disintegration, and confusion, and their present, a time full of promises which would soon give birth to what historians call the “Renaissance of the Twelfth Century”.
Heinsohn remarks: “The Tenth Century Collapse ran its lethal course closer to the present than any other world-shaking event in human history. However, it is the least researched, too. … We do not yet know what could have been powerful enough to bring about such a mind-boggling transformation of our planet. Though it must have been enormous we still cannot reconstruct the cosmic scenario.” This is because most sources dealing with the catastrophe have been shifted backward. Yet the few Western chronicles that we have for the 11th century do inform us. The monk Rodulfus Glaber, writing between 1026 and 1040, mentions for December of 997, “there appeared in the air an admirable wonder: the form, or perhaps the body itself, of a huge dragon, coming from the north and heading south, with dazzling lightning bolts. This prodigy terrified almost all those who saw it in the Gauls.” Glaber also mentions that, between 993 and 997,
“Mount Vesuvius (which is also called Vulcan’s Caldron) gaped far more often than his wont and belched forth a multitude of vast stones mingled with sulphurous flames which fell even to a distance of three miles around. […] It befell meanwhile that almost all the cities of Italy and Gaul were ravaged by flames of fire, and that the greater part even of the city of Rome was devoured by a conflagration. […] At this same time a horrible plague raged among men, namely a hidden fire which, upon whatsoever limb it toned, consumed it and severed it from the body. […] Moreover, about the same time, a most mighty famine raged for five years throughout the Roman world [in universo Romano orbe], so that no region could be heard of which was not hunger stricken for lack of bread, and many of the people were starved to death. In those days also, in many regions, the terrible famine compelled men to make their food not only of unclean beasts and creeping things, but even of men’s, women’s, and children’s flesh, without regard even of kindred; for so fierce waxed this hunger that grown-up sons devoured their mothers, and mothers, forgetting their maternal love ate their babes.”
In Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium, Patrick Geary writes, referring to the Tenth Century Collapse:
“Those living on the other side of this caesura felt themselves separated by a great gulf from this earlier age. Already in the eleventh century those people who undertook to preserve the past in written form, for their contemporaries or their posterity, seemed to know little and understand less of their familial, institutional, cultural, and regional past. […] And yet they were deeply concerned with this past, possessed by it almost, and their invented past became the goal and justification of their programs in the present.”
From the “Ground Zero” of the Tenth Century Collapse, they recreated this past from bits and pieces — a form of “recovered memory”. It is this recreation that we have:
“Much of what we think we know about the early Middle Ages was determined by the changing problems and concerns of eleventh-century men and women, not by those of the more distant past. Unless we understand the mental and social structures that acted as filters, suppressing or transforming the received past in the eleventh century in terms of presentist needs, we are doomed to misunderstand those earlier centuries.”
The confused perspective of eleventh-century men on earlier ages can account for the chronological distortions that later made it into history books. Within a few generations, what Rodulfus Glaber still calls “the Roman world” (citation above), destroyed by cataclysms, plague and famine only decades before his time, was idealized and pushed back in almost mythical times.
This coincides with the rise of Christianity, heavily dominated by apocalypticism in its infancy. In Matthew 24:6-8, when Jesus’ disciples asked him: “Tell us, when is this going to happen, and what sign will there be of your coming (parousia) and of the end of the world?” he answered: “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All this is only the beginning of the birthpangs.” “In the minds of survivors,” Heinsohn writes, “the ancient gods had failed, but the apocalyptic books of the Bible had been proven right. Spontaneous conversions to the various Judaism-derived sects quickly increased throughout the empire.” The Book of Revelation sounded like a summary of the conflagrations just passed:
“A mighty earthquake took place, and the sun became black like animal hair sack-cloth, and the full moon became like blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, […] And the kings of the earth, and the great people and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves, and among the rocks of the mountains. […] There came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was rained on the earth. And one third of the earth was burned up, and one third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. Something like a huge mountain burning with fire was hurled into the sea. […] A huge star fell from heaven, burning like a lamp, and it fell on a third of the rivers, and on the sources of the waters.” (from Revelation of John, chapters 6 and 8)
Heinsohn suggests that the Book of Revelation directly influenced the chronological shift, because its chapter 20 postulates a thousand period between Jesus and the catastrophe: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven. / He took hold of the dragon, / Satan, and chained him for 1,000 years. / He could not fool the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were completed.” Church father Cyprianus (200-258 AD, i.e. 900-958 in revised chronology), a survivor of the catastrophe in his heavily hit city of Carthage, wrote: “Our Lord has foretold all this. War and famine, earth quakes and pestilence will occur everywhere” (On Mortality). Rodulfus Glaber also wrote at the end of book 2: “All this accords with the prophecy of St John [Revelation 20:7], who said that the Devil would be freed after a thousand years.” Heinsohn suggests Michael Psellos (c. 1018-1078 AD), author of the Chronographia, as the main engineer of the chronological shift.
To understand more precisely the role played by Christianity in the chronological reset, we would need a clear vision of the history of early Christianity, which we don’t have, as I have shown in Part 2. What is almost certain is that, contrary to what Church historians have written, the Roman world was not dominated by Christianity until the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform. Excavation of Carolingian tombs casts doubt on the Christian religion of that age: “excavators recently analyzing the contents of 96 Carolingian burials from 86 different locations (dated 751-911, but mostly from the time of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious), were shocked by an extremely widespread practice resembling Charon’s obol. That payment was used as a means of bribing the legendary ferryman for passage across the Styx, the river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.” Even more puzzling — but logical within the Heinsohnian paradigm —, some of those coins are Roman coins.
One likely factor in the chronological confusion of the eleventh century, leading to the stretch of 300 years into a millennium, came from the traditional Roman computation. Roman historians counted years ab urbe condita (“since the foundation of the city”), abbreviated AUC. A monk named Dionysius Exiguus determined that Jesus’ birth took place in 753 AUC. That means that 1000 AUC falls on 246 AD, during the Third Century Crisis. People living soon after the cataclysm (like Dionysius) believed they were living around 1000 AUC. They could easily be led to believe that they really lived 1000 years after Christ. It has actually been suggested that the “Dominus” in Anno Domine originally meant Romulus, the founder of Rome. Changing Romulus into Christ would have been easy since both legendary figures have similar mythical attributes. Like Christ, Romulus suffered a sacrificial death, and then the Romans “began to cheer Romulus, like a god born of a god, the king and the father of the city, imploring his protection, so that he should always protect his children with his benevolent favor” (Titus Livy, History of Rome I.16). (Whether we take the resemblance between Romulus and Christ as another clue that Livy is a medieval or Renaissance fabrication makes little difference.) At some stage, people were led by the Church to change their notion of living one millennium after Romulus into the notion of living one millennium after Christ. This shift was part and parcel of the Christianization process: just like the Church Christianized many Pagan gods, holy places and holy days, it Christianized AUD into AD. The confusion was facilitated by the fact that AUC was still used in the eleventh century (some chroniclers such as Ademar of Chabannes also counted years in annus mundi, based on biblical chronology).
Since, according to Dionysius, Jesus was born in 753 AUC, the confusion of AUC with AD added 753 years, which is approximately the length of phantom time added into the first millennium according to Heinsohn. The Church was then too happy to fill in the vacuum and make itself look older than it was, with forgeries such as Liver Pontificalis, the Donation of Constantine, and the pseudo-Isidorian decretals. Papal clerics imposed their millennium-long Christian history, when in reality, their Christ had been crucified (under Augustus) only 300 years before Gregory VII (1073-1085).
In the comment section of my previous installment, Professor Eric Knibbs has objected to the theory that the AD chronology was imposed after the Tenth Century Collapse, by the Gregorian reformers or their immediate predecessors. He has provided evidence that AD dates were already in use in ninth-century manuscripts. For instance, on codex Sankt-Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek 272 (here page 245), we read “anno dccc.vi. ab incarnatione domini” (“In the year 806 from the incarnation of the Lord”). In Ms. lat. 2341, Paris, Bibl. nat. (here), future dates for the celebration of Easter are given in the form “anno incarnationis domini nostri iesu christi dcccxliii” (“the year of the incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ 843”). Another case is Clm 14429 at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (here), which indicates on the first folio the date when it was copied: “anno domini dcccxxi” (“the year of the Lord 821”).
However, on second thought, I find the objection inconclusive, because there is no way of knowing if scribes were using AD dates consistently. The problem is illustrated by the above-mentioned Rodulfus Glaber, writing between 1026 and 1040. In Book II, §8 of his autograph manuscript, Rodulfus gives the date “888 of the Word incarnate” instead of 988 (according to the editor’s footnote in my Latin-French edition). In Book 1, §23, he mentions an event during the pontificate of Benedict VIII (1012-1024) and dates it from “the year 710 of the Lord’s incarnation.” The editor corrects him in footnote: “In fact in 1014, but the manuscript corrected by Rodulfus carries indisputably the date 710; nothing explains such a mistake.” One thing that can explain such mistakes is the floating state of the chronology. Most probably, Rodulfus borrowed these “erroneous” dates from others without realizing they were tuned on a different dating scale. Even a manuscript carrying a date like 806 AD could be misdated, that is, written by someone counting years with a shorter chronology and living in the Gregorian age. What is illustrated by Rodulfus is that the AD dating system did not become settled overnight, and that different people could ascribe different AD dates to very recent times. A case by case examination of supposedly ninth-century manuscripts with AD dates should determine if the dating is consistent with these manuscripts surviving the Tenth Century Collapse.
Starting from the premise that AD dates were well established long before the Gregorian Reform, historians have assumed that, when medieval men saw the year 1000 approach, they must have feared the worst. This assumption has been proven false: our sources are mute about the supposed “fears of the year 1000.” Historians who nevertheless insist on its reality, like Richard Landes, resort to funny arguments like “a consensus of silence that masks a great deal of concern. […] medieval writers avoided the subject of the millennium whenever and wherever possible.” More convincingly, the missing “fears of the year 1000” make a strong argument that the AD computation came in use after the year 1000.
In the two previous installments, I pointed out all kinds of reasons to question the authenticity and accepted dating of many sources. Some of my working hypotheses can now be corrected. In Part 1, “How fake is Roman Antiquity?” I agreed with Polydor Hochart’s objection to the possibility that books from Imperial Rome were preserved until the 14th-15th century because monks copied them in the 9th, 10th or 11th century. Christian monks copying Pagan works on expensive parchments is just not credible. Rather, we have every reason to believe that, whenever they got their hands on such books, monks either destroyed them or scrapped them to reuse the parchment. Hochart therefore concludes that these books from Imperial Rome are forgeries. But Heinsohn’s revised chronology now gives us a more satisfactory solution: the original composition of these works (1st century) and their medieval copies (9th century at the earliest) are not separated by seven centuries or more, but by one or two centuries at the most. The 9th century still belonged to Roman times, and Christianity was then in its infancy. That doesn’t eliminate suspicion of Medieval or Renaissance fraud, but that reduces it. We can now read Roman sources with a different perspective.
In Part 2, “How fake is Church history?”, I focused on Church history and agreed with Jean Hardouin (1646-1729), the Jesuit librarian who came to the frightening conclusion that all the works ascribed to Augustine (AD 354-430), Jerome of Stridon (AD 347-420), Ambrose of Milan (c. AD 340-397), ad many others, could not have been written before the 11th or 12th century, and were therefore forgeries. We can now consider that Hardouin was both right and wrong. He was right in estimating these works much younger than officially claimed (though perhaps wih some exaggeration), but he was not necessarily right in concluding that they were forgeries; if Augustine, Jerome and Ambrose really belong, in stratigraphic time, to the end of the Early Middle Ages at the earliest, it is no wonder they are attacking the same heresies as the medieval Church who promoted them.
 Anatoly Fomenko and Gleb Nosovsky, History: Fiction or Science, volume 1: Introducing the problem. A criticism of the Scaligerian chronology. Dating methods as offered by mathematical statistics. Eclipses and zodiacs, ch. 6, p. 356.
 Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 Heinsohn, “Goths of the 4th century and Getae of the 1st century” (2014).
 Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 From Heinsohn’s letter to Eric Knibbs, 2020, communicated to the author.
 Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 Heinsohn, “Ravenna and chronology” (2020). Also “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 Heinsohn, “Siegfried found: decoding the Nibelungen period,” 2018.
 Theodor Mommsen, A History of Rome Under the Emperors. Routledge, 2005, p. 281.
 Michael J. Decker, The Byzantine Dark Ages, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016; Eleonora Kountoura-Galake, ed., The Dark Centuries of Byzantium (7th-9th C.), National Hellenic Research Foundation, 2001.
 John J. O’Neill, Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization, Felibri.com, Ingram Books, 2009, p. 231, quoted in “Were there really no people in Poland between 300 and 600 AD?” (2020).
 Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 Heinsohn, “Augustus and Diocletian: contemporaries or 300 years apart?” 2019.
 Heinsohn, “Charlemagne’s Correct Place in History” 2014, quoting Fortifications (2009), “Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim: Fortifications“, http://www.kaiserpfalz-ingelheim.de/en/historical_tour_10.php
 From Heinsohn’s letter to Eric Knibbs, 2020, communicated to the author.
 Heinsohn, “Vikings for 700 years without sails, ports and towns? An essay” (2014).
 Heinsohn, “Arthur of Camelot and the-Domaros of Camulodunum” (2017).
 Heinsohn, “Vikings for 700 years without sails, ports and towns? An essay” (2014).
 Heinsohn, “Vikings for 700 years without sails, ports and towns? An essay” (2014).
 Heinsohn, “Mieszko I, destructions, and Slavic mass conversions to Christianity” (2014).
 Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 Quoted in Heinsohn, “Arabs of the 8th Century: Cultural imitators or original creators?” (2018).
 Photo M. M. Vogt, in Heinsohn, “Were there really no people in Poland between 300 and 600 AD?” (2020).
 Velikovsky hypothesized that the comet settled as planet Venus. It has been recently reported (here) that “Venus sports a giant, ion-packed tail that stretches almost far enough to tickle the Earth when the two planets are in line with the Sun.” Read also “When a planet behaves like a comet”. Velikovsky is given due credit by astronomer James McCanney, author of Planet-X, Comets & Earth Changes: A Scientific Treatise on the Effects of a New Large Planet or Comet Arriving in our Solar System and Expected Earth Weather and Earth Changes, jmccanneyscience.com press, 2007 (read here).
 Wolf Liebeschuetz, “The End of the Ancient City”, in J. Rich, ed., The City in Late Antiquity, Routledge, 1992, quoted in Heinsohn, “Justinian’s correct date in 1st Millennium chronology” (2019).
 John Loeffler, “How Comets Changed the Course of Human History,” November 30th, 2008, on interestingengineering.com/how-comets-changed-the-course-of-human-history
 Useful article: Declan M Mills, “The Tenth-Century Collapse in West Francia and the Birth of Christian Holy War,” Newcastle University Postgraduate Forum E-Journal, Edition 12, 2015, online here.
 Mark Bloch, Feudal Society (1940), Routledge, 2014, pp. 43-44.
 Guy Blois, The Transformation of the Year One Thousand: The Village of Lournand from autiquity to feudalism, Manchester UP, 1992, pp. 161, 167, 1.
 Raoul Glaber, Histoires, ed. and trans. Mathieu Arnoux, Brépols, 1996, book II, § 13-17, pp. 116-125.
 Patrick J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millenium, Princeton UP, 1994, p. 9.
 Patrick J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millenium, Princeton UP, 1994, p. 7.
 Edward Adams, The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: ‘Cosmic Catastrophe’ in the New Testament and its World, The Library of New Testament Studies, 2007.
 Heinsohn, “Mieszko I, destructions, and Slavic mass conversions to Christianity” (2014).
 Dionysius supposedly made his computation in 532 AD, but since he was living in Bulgaria, in the Byzantine world, this date corresponds to 232 in Imperial Antiquity (and to 932 AD in Early Middle Ages).
 Raoul Glaber, Histoires, ed. and trans. Mathieu Arnoux, Brépols, 1996, pp. 106-107 and 78-79.