Historical Events Database - History


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Another bit I found just a bit ago because I was searching on Nonius Marcellus who apparently preserved bits from a lot of otherwise totally lost ancient authors in his dictionary. The following is full of interesting little tidbits.

How the text of Nonius Marcellus reaches us
March 4th, 2011 by Roger Pearse

The 4th century Latin dictionary by Nonius Marcellus is our main source for the fragments of lost Latin literature from the Roman republic — works like Accius, the satirist Lucillius, Varro’s Menippean Satires, the Tragedies of Ennius, Sissena and the Historiae of Sallust. The format of the work is a word, a definition, and then one or more quotations to show the usage of the word.

The work was in 20 books, as was traditional for works of grammar. But the books are of very uneven length. In the three volume Teubner edition by W. M. Lindsay from 1903 — still the standard, I believe — volume 1 contains books 1-3; volume 2 contains only book 4, which is vast, and volume 3 contains books 5-20. Book 20 is just a single sheet. The manuscripts reveal that the work was split into these chunks for transmission also.

Three forms of the text have reached us.

The first contains what is known as the ‘pure’ text. This is pretty much untampered with, although subject to the usual perils of transmission. Copying a dictionary composed of short quotes and spotting errors in it is quite a challenge if your Latin is not that good, and Angelo Mai, when he printed the first edition of the text of Cicero’s previously lost De re publica in 1822, described the text as A vertice, ut aiunt, usque ad extremum unguem ulcus est — as ulcerated from top to toe.

The second form of the text is known as the ‘doctored’ text. In some places this is actually more faithful to the original than the corrupted ‘pure’ text. But mostly it has been edited. Some scholar of the Carolingian period revised the text to produce a more readable version, in the interests of those trying to learn Latin. This was a very successful revision, and copies of this version out-number the pure text.

The third form is the ‘extract’ version. The word and definition is included, but the quotations have been omitted in most cases. The result is a glossary, doubtless intended for handier use in monasteries.

All three versions derive from a single archetype, in which a leaf from book 4 had fallen out, and been replaced for safe-keeping immediately after the first leaf of book 1. The transmission is also rather mix-and-match: a single manuscript may use the first form for books 1-3, and the doctored text for book 4.

All the manuscripts are 9th century or later, and all of them, for all three versions, seem to be connected to Tours and the Loire valley in France. In particular the literary activity of Lupus of Ferrieres there in the 9th century seems to be pivotal.

{I'll insert a bit about Lupus after.}

The pure text is represented by the following manuscripts:

L – Leiden, Voss. Lat. F. 73, dated to the start of the 9th century, from Tours.
F – Florence, Lauren. 48.1, 9th century, corrected and annotated by Lupus of Ferrieres.
H – British Library, Harley 2719, 9-10th century. Contains glosses in Breton, so was written in or near Britanny, not far from the Loire. Online.
E – Escorial M.III.14, mid-late 9th century, from Auxerre. The book was at St. Peter’s Ghent during the 11th century.
Gen. – Geneva lat.84, 9th century, from Fulda in Germany, with which Lupus had connections.
B – Berne 83, 9th century, written at Reims in the time of Hincmar.
Cant. – Cambridge University Library Mm.5.22, end of the 9th century, from Bourges.
P – Paris lat. 7667, 10th century, from Fleury.

L contains all three sections of the text, and is a fine and carefully written book made at Tours in the early years of the 9th century, probably while Alcuin was still abbot of St. Martins there. For books 1-3 it is the ancestor of all the other surviving manuscripts above. It incorporates corrections from the doctored and extract families.

The corrections to F are interesting. F3 contains readings and supplements known from no other source, and clearly right. It must be inferred that this corrector had access to another old manuscript — perhaps the archetype of all the manuscripts itself, or a copy taken before the rot had set in.

For book 4, things change. Book 4 of E is descended from book 4 of L, but the best manuscript of this book is Gen. which is NOT descended from book 4 in L, but from some common ancestor. And Gen. was undoubtedly written at Fulda in Lower Germany. There were links between Tours and Fulda, as we can see from the transmission of Apicius and Suetonius, and again we think of Lupus of Ferrieres, whose strong links with Fulda explain why a German manuscript appears in what is otherwise a bunch of manuscripts all written in one area of France. Some of the notes may even be in his hand. We can be reasonably certain that this book was brought from Fulda to the Loire area. Book 4 in B is a cousin of Gen., written rather badly, and the other manuscripts are descended from Gen.

The chunk comprising books 5-20 is different again, with these books in L descended from the archetype, while H, P and E are all cousins of L via one or more now lost intermediaries.

The ‘doctored’ text does not tell us much more about how the text moved around in the Dark Ages. The only complete representative of the whole family is G, Wolfenbuttel Gud.lat. 96. This was written, yes, at Tours between 800-850.

The ‘extract’ family exists in a bunch of manuscripts, and, once again, they are all connected with Tours, Reims, and Auxerre.

Nonius, then, was popular during the 9th century. But he is a difficult author, and after this period he was not copied. Only two medieval book catalogues (St. Vincent, Metz, s. XI, and St.Amand, s.XII) mention a copy. The text did not circulate widely again until the 15th century.

Now, a bit about our Lupus guy:

Lupus, was born into an influential family within the Archdiocese of Sens. Many of his family held influential positions in the Church or court. His father was Bavarian and his mother Frankish. He assumed the nickname of Servatus in commemoration of his miraculous escape from danger either in a serious illness or on the battlefield....

He began his education at the Abbey of Saints Peter and Paul in Ferrières-en-Gâtinais under St. Aldric, then abbot of the monastery. ...

Lupus was not fond of the required learning but developed a passion for Classical studies. Abbot Aldric saw fit to send him to deepen his theological education at the Abbey of Fulda under Rabanus Maurus. Spending years in study and writing he developed a reputation as a scholar. Rabanus made use of his pupil, having him translate and compose bodies or works. During his residence at Fulda (c. 830–36) he became an intimate friend and disciple of the learned Einhard, whose Vita Karoli magni he was one of the first to read and praised it because of its style (epist. 1, 5). Lupus had written a letter to Einhard expressing his admiration and asked for a loan of Einhard's secular works (this would become a common practice of Lupus).

His opinion was that education should be esteemed and intended not for a certain purpose, but as a good of its own value (epist. 1, 5). He was interested therefore not only in Christian but also in pagan classical authors and even those who not belonged to the reading canon of the Carolingian schools like Suetonius, of whom he was one of very few readers in the early Middle Ages, and Cicero, whose nearly entire work he seems to know, not only as usual his rhetorical writings, and whom he mentions and cites very often. He borrowed manuscripts from Einhard (epist. 1, 6) and from the library of the monastery of Fulda and corresponded therefore with Abbot Markward (epist. 10, 4; 91, 4).

{Read the rest of the history part here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupus_Servatus }

During the reign of Charles the Bald an enormous amount of written material was produced. Lupus' letters, of which 132 remain, are distinguished for literary elegance and valuable historical information. Most of these letters were written to church officials, monks in neighboring monasteries, clergymen, Popes Benedict III and Nicholas I, Charles the Bald and Lothair. His own writings show him as a classicist and admirer of the Ciceronian style. He made his vast translation of Cicero's letters serve as a code of communicating with other well-read individuals.

Lupus made a tireless quest of manuscripts of classic authors, as it has long been known to readers of his letters.[9] It is because of his passion for copying and preserving manuscripts so that they may be passed on that he is regarded as an influential literate figure and the first humanist. Though his personal works and letters discuss theological matters it was not his chief interest.[7] Philology was his desired area of expertise. Scholars have increasingly become aware of the detailed examination that Lupus undertook when studying his acquired texts.

The scholar E.K. Rand of Harvard University reveals:

"...no less than five manuscripts that contain the corrections or collations of Lupus and one that is entirely written by that scholar himself."

These manuscripts are rewrites of Cicero's De Oratore, his De Inventione and his Letters, a Commentary on Virgil and a revision of Codex Bernensis 366.

Over the years modern scholars have made investigations as to what Lupus had participated in. Charles H. Beeson has been the foremost scholar on Lupus Servatus. Beeson took to studying the different handwriting styles of manuscripts according to area of the Early Middle Ages. He concluded that Lupus had written or been a part of copying texts more than originally thought. Lupus had a rigid adherence to the rules of the Roman grammarians for the division of syllables, whereby any pronounceable group of consonants is placed with the following vowel.[10] Lupus not only conformed to this rule in his personal practice, but also made the texts that he collected adhere to the style.

Graipey, Robert J. (1967). Lupus of Ferrieres and the Classics. The Monographic Press
Laitner, M.L.W. (1931) Thought and Letters in Western Europe-A.D. 500–900. New York
Regenos, Graydon W. (1966). The Letters of Lupus Servatus. Martinus Nijoff. The Hague

Now, what about his pal, Einhard???

Einhard (also Eginhard or Einhart; c. 775 – March 14, 840) was a Frankish scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."

Einhard was from the eastern German-speaking part of the Frankish Kingdom. Born into a family of relatively low status, his parents sent him to be educated by the monks of Fulda - one of the most impressive centres of learning in the Frank lands - perhaps due to his small stature (Einhard referred to himself as a "tiny manlet") which restricted his riding and sword-fighting ability, Einhard concentrated his energies towards scholarship and especially to the mastering of Latin. Despite such humble origins, he was accepted into the hugely wealthy court of Charlemagne around 791 or 792. Charlemagne actively sought to amass scholarly men around him and established a royal school led by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin. Einhard evidently was a talented builder and construction manager, because Charlemagne put him in charge of the completion of several palace complexes including Aachen and Ingelheim. Despite the fact that Einhard was on intimate terms with Charlemagne, he never achieved office in his reign. In 814, on Charlemagne's death his son Louis the Pious made Einhard his private secretary. Einhard retired from court during the time of the disputes between Louis and his sons in the spring of 830.

He died at Seligenstadt in 840.
The most famous of Einhard's works is his biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "The Life of Charlemagne" (c. 817–836), which provides much direct information about Charlemagne's life and character, written sometime between 817 and 830. In composing this he relied heavily upon the Annals of the Frankish Kingdom. Einhard's literary model was the classical work of the Roman historian Suetonius, the Lives of the Caesars, though it is important to stress that the work is very much Einhard's own, that is to say he adapts the models and sources for his own purposes. His work was written as a praise of Charlemagne, whom he regarded as a foster-father (nutritor) and to whom he was a debtor "in life and death". The work thus contains an understandable degree of bias, Einhard taking care to exculpate Charlemagne in some matters, not mention others, and to gloss over certain issues which would be of embarrassment to Charlemagne, such as the morality of his daughters; by contrast, other issues are curiously not glossed over, like his concubines.

Okay, what about the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin??

Alcuin of York (Latin: Alcuinus, c. 735 – 19 May 804), also called Ealhwine, Albinus or Flaccus, was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York. At the invitation of Charlemagne, he became a leading scholar and teacher at the Carolingian court, where he remained a figure in the 780s and 790s. He wrote many theological and dogmatic treatises, as well as a few grammatical works and a number of poems. He was made Abbot of Tours in 796, where he remained until his death. "The most learned man anywhere to be found", according to Einhard's Life of Charlemagne,[1] he is considered among the most important architects of the Carolingian Renaissance. Among his pupils were many of the dominant intellectuals of the Carolingian era....

Alcuin was born in Northumbria, presumably sometime in the 730s.[2] Virtually nothing is known of his parents, family background, or origin....

The young Alcuin came to the cathedral church of York during the golden age of Archbishop Ecgbert and his brother, the Northumbrian King Eadberht. Ecgbert had been a disciple of the Venerable Bede, who urged him to raise York to an archbishopric. King Eadberht and Archbishop Ecgbert oversaw the re-energising and re-organisation of the English church, with an emphasis on reforming the clergy and on the tradition of learning that Bede had begun. Ecgbert was devoted to Alcuin, who thrived under his tutelage. It was in York that Alcuin formed his love of classical poetry, though he was sometimes troubled by the fact that it was written by non-Christians...

The York school was renowned as a centre of learning in the liberal arts, literature, and science, as well as in religious matters.[6] It was from here that Alcuin drew inspiration for the school he would lead at the Frankish court. He revived the school with the trivium and quadrivium disciplines, writing a codex on the trivium, while his student Hraban wrote one on the quadrivium....

In 781, King Elfwald sent Alcuin to Rome to petition the Pope for official confirmation of York's status as an archbishopric and to confirm the election of the new archbishop, Eanbald I. On his way home he met Charlemagne (whom he had met once before), this time in the Italian city of Parma....

Alcuin's love of the church and his intellectual curiosity allowed him to be reluctantly persuaded to join Charlemagne's court. He joined an illustrious group of scholars that Charlemagne had gathered around him, the mainsprings of the Carolingian Renaissance: Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, Rado, and Abbot Fulrad. Alcuin would later write that "the Lord was calling me to the service of King Charles."...

From 782 to 790, Alcuin taught Charlemagne himself, his sons Pepin and Louis, the young men sent to be educated at court, and the young clerics attached to the palace chapel. Bringing with him from York his assistants Pyttel, Sigewulf, and Joseph, Alcuin revolutionised the educational standards of the Palace School, introducing Charlemagne to the liberal arts and creating a personalised atmosphere of scholarship and learning, to the extent that the institution came to be known as the 'school of Master Albinus'.

In this role as adviser, he tackled the emperor over his policy of forcing pagans to be baptised on pain of death, arguing, "Faith is a free act of the will, not a forced act. We must appeal to the conscience, not compel it by violence. You can force people to be baptised, but you cannot force them to believe." His arguments seem to have prevailed – Charlemagne abolished the death penalty for paganism in 797.

In 790 Alcuin returned from the court of Charlemagne to England, to which he had remained attached. He dwelt there for some time, but Charlemagne then invited him back to help in the fight against the Adoptionist heresy which was at that time making great progress in Toledo, the old capital of the Visigoths and still a major city for the Christians under Islamic rule in Spain. He is believed to have had contacts with Beatus of Liébana, from the Kingdom of Asturias, who fought against Adoptionism. At the Council of Frankfurt in 794, Alcuin upheld the orthodox doctrine and obtained the condemnation of the heresiarch Felix of Urgel. Having failed during his stay in Northumbria to influence King Æthelred in the conduct of his reign, Alcuin never returned home.

He was back at Charlemagne's court by at least mid-792, writing a series of letters to Æthelred, to Hygbald, Bishop of Lindisfarne, and to Æthelhard, Archbishop of Canterbury in the succeeding months, dealing with the Viking attack on Lindisfarne in July 793. These letters and Alcuin's poem on the subject, De clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii, provide the only significant contemporary account of these events.

In his description of the Viking attack, he wrote: "Never before has such terror appeared in Britain. Behold the church of St Cuthbert, splattered with the blood of God's priests, robbed of its ornaments."

In 796 Alcuin was in his sixties. He hoped to be free from court duties and was given the chance upon the death of Abbot Itherius of Saint Martin at Tours, when Charlemagne put Marmoutier Abbey into Alcuin's care, with the understanding that he should be available if the king ever needed his counsel.

Alcuin died on 19 May 804, some ten years before the emperor, and was buried at St. Martin's Church under an epitaph that partly read:

Dust, worms, and ashes now ...
Alcuin my name, wisdom I always loved,
Pray, reader, for my soul.

He was later canonised as a saint, and remains recognised within the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

The majority of details on Alcuin's life come from his letters and poems. There are also autobiographical sections in Alcuin's poem on York and in the Vita Alcuini, a Life written for him at Ferrières in the 820s, possibly based in part on the memories of Sigwulf, one of Alcuin's pupils....

Alcuin made the abbey school into a model of excellence and many students flocked to it. He had many manuscripts copied using outstandingly beautiful calligraphy, the Carolingian minuscule based on round and legible uncial letters. He wrote many letters to his English friends, to Arno, bishop of Salzburg and above all to Charlemagne. These letters (of which 311 are extant) are filled mainly with pious meditations, but they form an important source of information as to the literary and social conditions of the time and are the most reliable authority for the history of humanism during the Carolingian age. Alcuin trained the numerous monks of the abbey in piety, and it was in the midst of these pursuits that he died.

Alcuin is the most prominent figure of the Carolingian Renaissance, in which three main periods have been distinguished: in the first of these, up to the arrival of Alcuin at the court, the Italians occupy a central place; in the second, Alcuin and the Anglo-Saxons are dominant; in the third (from 804), the influence of Theodulf, the Visigoth is preponderant....

Alcuin is credited with inventing the first known question mark, though it didn't resemble the modern symbol.[11]

Alcuin transmitted to the Franks the knowledge of Latin culture which had existed in Anglo-Saxon England. A number of his works still exist. His letters and his poetry are equally interesting. Besides some graceful epistles in the style of Venantius Fortunatus, he wrote some long poems, and notably he is the author of a history (in verse) of the church at York, Versus de patribus, regibus et sanctis Eboracensis ecclesiae....

while at Aachen, Alcuin bestowed pet names upon his pupils – derived from mainly from Virgil's Eclogues).

Frederick Lorenz. The life of Alcuin (Thomas Hurst, 1837).
Rolph Barlow Page. The Letters of Alcuin (New York: Forest Press, 1909).
E. M. Wilmot-Buxton. Alcuin (P J Kennedy, 1922).
Stephen Allot. Alcuin of York, his life and letters ISBN 0-900657-21-9
Andrew Fleming West. Alcuin and the Rise of the Christian Schools (C. Sscribner's Sons, 1912) ISBN 0-8371-1635-X
Eleanor Shipley Duckett. Alcuin, Friend of Charlemagne, (1951)
Eleanor Shipley Duckett. Carolingian Portraits, (1962)
F. L. Ganshof. The Carolingians and the Frankish Monarchy ISBN 0-582-48227-5

I guess we should keep going back and look at Ecbert and Bede:

Ecgbert (died 766) was an eighth century Archbishop of York and correspondent of Bede and Boniface. After he became bishop, his diocese was elevated to an archbishopric. In 737, Ecgbert's brother became king of Northumbria and the two siblings worked together on ecclesiastical issues....

Ecgbert was the son of Eata, who was descended from the founder of the kingdom of Bernicia. His brother Eadberht was king of Northumbria from 737 to 758. Ecgbert went to Rome with another brother, and was ordained deacon while still in Rome.[1] Ecgbert has been claimed to have been a student of Bede, who much later visited with Ecgbert in 733 at York,[4] but this statement may simply mean that Ecgbert was a student of Bede's writings, and not that he was formally taught by Bede.

...some of Eadberht's coins feature Ecbert's image on the opposite face....

Ecgbert's problems with the monasteries in his diocese came from the secular practice of families setting up monasteries that were totally under their control as a way of making the family lands book-land and free from secular service. Book-land was at first an exclusive right of ecclesiastical property. By transferring land to a family-controlled monastery, the family would retain the use of the land without having to perform any services to the king for the land....

The school Ecgbert founded at York is held by the modern historian Peter Hunter Blair to have equalled or surpassed the famous monasteries at Wearmouth and Jarrow.[10] The school educated not just the cathedral clergy but also the offspring of nobles.[11] Blair also calls the library that was established at York "a library whose contents were unequalled in the western Europe of its day".[12] Among the students at the school was Alcuin, who was placed by his family with Ecgbert.[1][13] Both Liudger, later the first Bishop of Munster, and Aluberht, another bishop in Germany, also studied at the school in York.

{So, where did they get THEIR manuscripts?}

...Bede wrote Ecgbert a letter dealing with monastic issues as well as the problems of large dioceses.[1] The letter, written in 734, became known as the Epistola ad Ecgberhtum episcopum.[15] Bede urged Ecgbert to study Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care,[1] and held up Aidan and Cuthbert as examples of model bishops.[16] The main thrust of Bede's letter was to urge Ecgbert to reform his church to more closely resemble Gregory the Great's original plan for it....

Boniface wrote to Ecgbert, asking for support against Æthelbald of Mercia. Boniface also asked the archbishop for some of Bede's books, and in return sent wine to be drunk "in a merry day with the brethern."...

Ecgbert wrote the Dialogus ecclesiasticae institutionis, which was a legal code for the clergy, setting forth the proper procedures for many clerical and ecclesiastical issues including weregild for clerics, entrance to clerical orders, deposition from the clergy, criminal monks, clerics in court, and other matters.[1] It survives as one complete manuscript, with a few excerpts in other manuscripts.[3][c] Because Ecgbert was the senior archbishop in England after the death of Nothhelm in 739, it is possible that the Dialogus was intended not just for the Northumbrian church but for the entire church in England.[22] The Dialogus details a code of conduct for the clergy and how the clergy was to behave in society.[23] The exact date it was composed is unclear, but it was probably after 735, based on the mention of the archiepiscopal status of Ecgbert in one title as well as the internal evidence of the work.

Blair, Peter Hunter (1990). The World of Bede (1970 reprint ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39819-3.
Blair, Peter Hunter; Blair, Peter D. (2003). An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (Third ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53777-0.
Coates, Simon (1996). "The Role of Bishops in the Early Anglo-Saxon Church: A Reassessment". History 81 (262): 177–196. doi:10.1111/j.1468-229X.1996.tb02256.x.
Cubitt, Catherine (1999). "Finding the Forger: An Alleged Decree of the 679 Council of Hatfield". The English Historical Review 114 (459): 1217–1248. doi:10.1093/ehr/114.459.1217. JSTOR 580246.
Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
Hindley, Geoffrey (2006). A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons: The Beginnings of the English Nation. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7867-1738-5.

Now, Bede:

Bede (672/673 – 26 May 735), also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede (Latin: Bēda Venerābilis), was an English monk at the monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth and its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow (see Monkwearmouth-Jarrow), Northeast England, both of which were located in the Kingdom of Northumbria. He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The Father of English History".

In 1899, Bede was made a Doctor of the Church by Leo XIII, a position of theological significance; he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation (Anselm of Canterbury, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally from Italy). Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, and his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, contributing significantly to English Christianity. Bede's monastery had access to a superb library which included works by Eusebius and Orosius, among many others.

{A "superb library"???}

... Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. ... Bede's first abbot was Benedict Biscop, and the names "Biscop" and "Beda" both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family.

...The name "Bede" was not a common one at the time. The Liber Vitae of Durham Cathedral includes a list of priests; two are named Bede, and one of these is presumably Bede himself. Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede's works, mention that Cuthbert's own priest was named Bede; it is possible that this priest is the other name listed in the Liber Vitae. These occurrences, along with a Bieda who is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 501, are the only appearances of the name in early sources....

At the age of seven, he was sent to the monastery of Monkwearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and later by Ceolfrith.[15] Bede does not say whether it was already intended at that point that he would be a monk.[16] It was fairly common in Ireland at this time for young boys, particularly those of noble birth, to be fostered out; the practice was also likely to have been common among the Germanic peoples in England.[17] Monkwearmouth's sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, and Bede probably transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year.[10] The dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day; it is dated 23 April 685, and as Bede would have been required to assist with menial tasks in his day-to-day life it is possible that he helped in building the original church.[17] In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow. The Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices; one was Ceolfrith and the other a young boy, who according to the anonymous writer had been taught by Ceolfrith. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy until others could be trained. The young boy was almost certainly Bede, who would have been about 14....

When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnan, the abbot of Iona Abbey, visited Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. Bede would probably have met the abbot during this visit, and it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede's interest in the Easter dating controversy. ...

In about 701 Bede wrote his first works, the De Arte Metrica and De Schematibus et Tropis; both were intended for use in the classroom.[20] He continued to write for the rest of his life, eventually completing over 60 books, most of which have survived. Not all his output can be easily dated, and Bede may have worked on some texts over a period of many years....

In 733, Bede travelled to York to visit Ecgbert, who was then bishop of York. ... Bede also travelled to the monastery of Lindisfarne, and at some point visited the otherwise-unknown monastery of a monk named Wicthed, a visit that is mentioned in a letter to that monk. Because of his widespread correspondence with others throughout the British Isles, and due to the fact that many of the letters imply that Bede had met his correspondents, it is likely that Bede travelled to some other places, although nothing further about timing or locations can be guessed....

It seems certain that he did not visit Rome, however, as he would have mentioned it in the autobiographical chapter of his Historia Ecclesiastica.[32] Nothhelm, a correspondent of Bede's who assisted him by finding documents for him in Rome, is known to have visited Bede, though the date cannot be determined beyond the fact that it was after Nothhelm's visit to Rome....

Bede wrote scientific, historical and theological works, reflecting the range of his writings from music and metrics to exegetical Scripture commentaries. He knew patristic literature, as well as Pliny the Elder, Virgil, Lucretius, Ovid, Horace and other classical writers. He knew some Greek. His Latin is generally clear, but his Biblical commentaries are more technical....

Bede's best-known work is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, or An Ecclesiastical History of the English People,[47] completed in about 731. Bede was aided in writing this book by Albinus, abbot of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.[48] The first of the five books begins with some geographical background, and then sketches the history of England, beginning with Caesar's invasion in 55 BC....

The monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow had an excellent library. Both Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith had acquired books from the Continent, and in Bede's day the monastery was a renowned centre of learning.[55] It has been estimated that there were about 200 books in the monastic library....

{Acquired books from the continent???}

Bede drew on earlier writers, including Solinus.[4][57] He had access to two works of Eusebius: the Historia Ecclesiastica, and also the Chronicon, though he had neither in the original Greek; instead he had a Latin translation of the Historia, by Rufinus, and Saint Jerome's translation of the Chronicon.[58] He also knew Orosius's Adversus Paganus, and Gregory of Tours' Historia Francorum, both Christian histories,[58] as well as the work of Eutropius, a pagan historian.[59] He used Constantius's Life of Germanus as a source for Germanus's visits to Britain.[4][57] Bede's account of the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons is drawn largely from Gildas's De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae...

He also drew on Josephus's Antiquities, and the works of Cassiodorus,[61] and there was a copy of the Liber Pontificalis in Bede's monastery.[62] Bede quotes from several classical authors, including Cicero, Plautus, and Terence, but he may have had access to their work via a Latin grammar rather than directly.[63] However, it is clear he was familiar with the works of Virgil and with Pliny the Elder's Natural History, and his monastery also owned copies of the works of Dionysius Exiguus....

Bede's stylistic models included some of the same authors from whom he drew the material for the earlier parts of his history. His introduction imitates the work of Orosius,[4] and his title is an echo of Eusebius's Historia Ecclesiastica.[1] Bede also followed Eusebius in taking the Acts of the Apostles as the model for the overall work: where Eusebius used the Acts as the theme for his description of the development of the church, Bede made it the model for his history of the Anglo-Saxon church.[71] Bede quoted his sources at length in his narrative, as Eusebius had done....

Bede's account of the early migrations of the Angles and Saxons to England omits any mention of a movement of those peoples across the channel from Britain to Brittany described by Procopius, who was writing in the sixth century. Frank Stenton describes this omission as "a scholar's dislike of the indefinite"; traditional material that could not be dated or used for Bede's didactic purposes had no interest for him.... {Or he didn't know Procopius.}

The Historia Ecclesiastica was copied often in the Middle Ages, and about 160 manuscripts containing it survive. About half of those are located on the European continent, rather than on the British Isles.[85] Most of the 8th- and 9th-century texts of Bede's Historia come from the northern parts of the Carolingian Empire....

Some historians have questioned the reliability of some of Bede's accounts. One historian, Charlotte Behr, thinks that the Historia's account of the arrival of the Germanic invaders in Kent should not be considered to relate what actually happened, but rather relates myths that were current in Kent during Bede's time.[92]

It is likely that Bede's work, because it was so widely copied, discouraged others from writing histories and may even have led to the disappearance of manuscripts containing older historical works....

Bede synthesised and transmitted the learning from his predecessors, as well as made careful, judicious innovation in knowledge (such as recalculating the age of the earth – for which he was censured before surviving the heresy accusations and eventually having his views championed by Archbishop Ussher in the sixteenth century – see below) that had theological implications. In order to do this, he learned Greek, and attempted to learn Hebrew. He spent time reading and rereading both the Old and the New Testaments. He mentions that he studied from a text of Jerome's Vulgate, which itself was from the Hebrew text. He also studied both the Latin and the Greek Fathers of the Church. In the monastic library at Jarrow were a number of books by theologians, including works by Basil, Cassian, John Chrysostom, Isidore of Seville, Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome, Pope Gregory I, Ambrose of Milan, Cassiodorus, and Cyprian. ... He had a Latin translation by Evagrius of Athanasius's Life of Antony, and a copy of Sulpicius Severus' Life of St. Martin....

Bede sometimes included in his theological books an acknowledgement of the predecessors on whose works he drew. In two cases he left instructions that his marginal notes, which gave the details of his sources, should be preserved by the copyist, and he may have originally added marginal comments about his sources to others of his works. Where he does not specify, it is still possible to identify books to which he must have had access by quotations that he uses. A full catalogue of the library available to Bede in the monastery cannot be reconstructed, but it is possible to tell, for example, that Bede was very familiar with the works of Virgil. There is little evidence that he had access to any other of the pagan Latin writers–he quotes many of these writers but the quotes are almost all to be found in the Latin grammars that were common in his day, one or more of which would certainly have been at the monastery. Another difficulty is that manuscripts of early writers were often incomplete: it is apparent that Bede had access to Pliny's Encyclopedia, for example, but it seems that the version he had was missing book xviii, as he would almost certainly have quoted from it in his De temporum ratione. ...

In addition to these works on astronomical timekeeping, he also wrote De natura rerum, or On the Nature of Things, modelled in part after the work of the same title by Isidore of Seville.[119] His works were so influential that late in the 9th century Notker the Stammerer, a monk of the Monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland, wrote that "God, the orderer of natures, who raised the Sun from the East on the fourth day of Creation, in the sixth day of the world has made Bede rise from the West as a new Sun to illuminate the whole Earth".

So, we stop for today. We still have some mysterious manuscripts floating around and don't quite know who had what, when.


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

Having ended with Bede, above, we are almost back to the time of Nennius which started this whole thread-pulling episode.

At the same time, I'm reading "Scribes and Scholars: A guide to the Transmission of Greek & Latin Literature" by Reynolds and Wilson. It starts from the other end and marches toward the Renaissance.

Now, what is peculiar about all this is that there is a big gap. Let me explain.

The story goes along talking about scrolls, academics, criticism, etc, and then brings up the fact that "between the 2nd and 4th centuries" there was the gradual disappearance of the "roll" in favor of the codex... and how a lot of activity was undertaken by scholarly types to transfer texts from scrolls to books, more or less.

The impulse to change to the format of the book must have come from the early Christians; for while the pagan codex was a rarity in the second century, the codex form was already universal for biblical texts.

Well, we already know that Caesar invented the book - sheets of papyrus stitched together at the side so they could be turned as pages.

The change from roll to codex involved the gradual but wholesale transference of ancient literature from one form to another. This was the first major bottle-neck through which classical literature had to pass. ... little read works would not be transferred to codex form, and in time their rolls would perish.

Then some discussion of handwriting styles and spelling (paleography and orthography) and problems associated with that.

Then a discussion of how the Christians maintained SOME of the classical literature for teaching purposes since they didn't have a literature of their own - yet...

Then, a switch to the Greek Eastern empire where there was a literary movement to "go back to the ancient styles", so to say. It was called "Atticism".

Although the fashion was artificial in the extreme and had undesirable effects on literary compositions of every kind, the practice of Atticism lasted a very long time; it was the governing principle for all writers who aimed at a good style not merely under the Roman empire but right to the end of the Byzantine period. ... lexica of Attic diction were composed by later scholars, for example Photius in the ninth century and Thomas Magister in the fourteenth; and as late as the fifteenth century we find the historian Critobulus writing an account of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 in a style which is clearly intended as an imitation of the classics; Thucydides and Arrian are the most prominent sources of his language. Stylistic archaism on this scale has no parallel except perhaps in China, where it was possible for Mao Tse-tung to think it worth writing lyrics in the style of eighth-century poets...

Atticism had another important and less unfortunate consequence. The requirement to use only Attic diction of the best period ensured that in schools the classics of Athenian literature continued to be read as part of the regular curriculum, and this in turn meant that new copies of major works were being steadily produced in sufficient numbers to guarantee the survival of most of them... Even when the Eastern empire was at its lowest ebb the tradition of reading classical literature in the schools was never quite obliterated.

Close linguistic study of Attic texts led to other results. The occurrence of non-Attic words in a text supposed to come from the classical period might rouse suspicions as to its authenticity; and in fact we find Phrynichus remarking that the speech "Against Neaera" in the Demosthenic corpus is to be regarded as spurious partly on account of its impure language. But the minute linguistic observations of the schools were not entirely beneficial. They had the effect of instilling the forms and inflections of the Attic dialect so deeply that, when an educated man was transcribing a text, he tended to replace forms drawn from other dialects by the Attic forms which he knew so well.

Anyway, it goes along through the 2nd, 3rd, 4th century...gets to the 6th century where it says:

One by one the schools declined or closed, until by the middle of the sixth century only Constantinople and Alexandria remaind: Justinian himself had closed the philosophical school at Athens in 529, and the other cities had been much reduced by war or natural disasters. ...

The last feature of this period which merits discussion is the progressive narrowing of the range of literature normally read. After the third century it becomes more and more uncommon to find any educated man showing knowledge of the texts that have not come down to the modern world. To explain this fact Wilamowitz formulated the theory that in the second or third century a school syllabus was selected by a prominent schoolmaster, and this became so influential that all schools adopted it. With the general decline of culture and impoverishment of the empire no texts outside this range were read and copied often enough to be guaranteed survival.

This doesn't fly very well because there IS evidence of some reading of texts outside the "syllabus" that was proposed. For example:

Menander was still being read in the school at Gaza in the sixth century, but did not survive into the Middle Ages. Last and most important, it is clear that not all the losses of ancient literature took place so early. In the ninth century Photius was able to read a large number of prose texts that have subsequently disappeared and are known to us from no source except his own account of them.


By the latter part of the sixth century the decline of learning and culture was serious. The imperial university at Constantinople re-founded by Theodosius II c. 425, and a new clerical academy under the direction of the patriarchate, were the only major educational institutions in the main part of the empire; the school at Alexandria continued, but rather in isolation. The exhausted condition of the empire did nothing to encourage learning, and before any recovery could take place matters were made worse by the religious controversy over icon-worship. For nearly three centuries there is little record of education and the study of the classics. The iconoclasts were not finally defeated until 843, when a Church council formally restored the traditional practices of image worship. Very few manuscripts of any kind remain from this period, and there is little external evidence about classical studies.

So, basically, they are saying that nothing was happening for three centuries counting back from 843. That puts us right at 543, more or less, and the exact time of the serious events of planetary cataclysm that destroyed the Western Empire almost totally, and had profound effects on the Eastern Empire as well, mainly through plague.

However, it seems that during this period some texts were being translated into Syriac and Arabic...

Now, coming back to our problem: we have read in the stuff posted above that Bede (672/673 – 26 May 735), KNEW Gregory of Tours History of the Franks. (Gregory of Tours (30 November c. 538 – 17 November 594)).

Along with other problems found by different scholars, I've found almost the smoking gun that a chunk of the backbone of "The History of the Franks" was lifted entirely from late Byzantine chronicles that more or less come to a complete stop in the 6th century around the time in question: dust veil event, portents and prodigies, probable cometary impacts (witnessed to judge by the reports of the chroniclers) not to mention the plague of Justinian which had a mortality of about 80%.

We also have the problem of Nennius (9th century) which started this whole thing.

The History of the Britons (Latin: Historia Brittonum) is a purported history of the indigenous British (Brittonic) people that was written around 828 and survives in numerous recensions that date from after the 11th century. The Historia Brittonum is commonly attributed to Nennius, as some recensions have a preface written in his name. Some experts have dismissed the Nennian preface as a late forgery, arguing that the work was actually an anonymous compilation. ... The Historia Brittonum can be dated to about 829. The work was written no earlier than the "fourth year of [the reign of] king Mermenus" (who has been identified as Merfyn Frych ap Gwriad, king of Gwynedd). Historians have conservatively assigned 828 to the earliest date for the work, which is consistent with the statement in chapter 4 that "from the Passion of Christ 796 years have passed. But from his Incarnation are 831 years".

So, basically, the British business started up about the same time as the "defeat of the iconoclasts" alleged to have occurred in 843.

We still have 300 years to account for.

And now we have the problem of just how the heck MSS. got to England, fer gawd's sake, that early??? Well, they say that they were obtained from the Continent... that there were travels to "Rome", exchanges with Germany, and so forth. And of course, there was Charlemagne there in the background wanting to establish himself as a legitimate emperor in the Roman style. The later exchanges between Otto and Byzantium suggest that there were possibly/probably earlier contacts.

Can we verify ANY history written during that time? Like Syrian or Arabic??? (Excluding Christian nonsense that is all about Saints and their alleged trials and tribulations.) Or is it all post facto?


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

I'm more and more beginning to think that Pope Gregory did NOT make an error when he rectified Caesar's calendar in 1582. He's been accused of being off by 369 years, that he only took off 10 days when he should have taken off 12. Well, maybe he was right for astronomical reasons, not ecclesiastical ones, and the cover story was created that there were 300 years of church history?

That would mean, of course, that there weren't 3 centuries of "stone-age" existence for Europe exactly, though large areas were "in darkness" while Charlemagne was trying to take advantage of a destroyed civilization rather sooner than anyone supposed. It would also mean that a lot of stuff supposed to have taken place in Byzantium over that period of time was also "made up Church history." (The iconoclasm dispute).

It's just odd that Bede et al suddenly "wake up and make their presence known" after 300 years of silence, right at the time of the EASTER controversy which was ultimately what the Gregorian calendar was supposed to correct.

I'm not as radical as Fomenko, but there is definitely something smelly here and I think the above solution is better and takes into account the widespread, localized destruction of overhead comet explosions, impacts, plague, etc. So, I'll be interested to find a single shred of hard evidence that this 300 year period actually passed and was not just made up.


Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

There was a book about this in German - "Das erfundene Mittelalter" by Heribert Illig. It translates to "The made up middle ages".

The "phantom time" theory says that about 300 years of history were invented starting with the 7th century or that the year 911 followed the year 614.

More information can be found here: _http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erfundenes_Mittelalter

I'll see if there is any information about this in English, I am in work at the moment and don't have much time, but this rang a bell because my Grandfather owned the book I mentioned.

Added: There is some information on Wikipedia: _http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heribert_Illig


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

Thanks Finduilas for that clue.

I've been mulling this problem over, off and on, for a long time now. If it is true that something like 300 years was added (and filled with fake church history), that would mean that not very long after the destruction of the empire via cometary catastrophes and plague, things picked up rather more quickly than supposed. That would better explain the survival of genuine texts from the previous period.

According to wikipedia:

The phantom time hypothesis is a revisionist history and conspiracy theory developed in the 1980s and '90s by German historian and publisher Heribert Illig (born 1947 in Vohenstrauß, Germany). The hypothesis proposes that periods of history, specifically that of Europe during the Early Middle Ages (AD 614–911), are either wrongly dated, or did not occur at all, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation, and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.[1]

The basis of Illig's hypothesis include:[2][3]

>> the scarcity of archaeological evidence that can be reliably dated to the period AD 614–911, on perceived inadequacies of radiometric and dendrochronological methods of dating this period, and on the over-reliance of medieval historians on written sources.

>> the presence of Romanesque architecture in tenth-century Western Europe. This is taken as evidence that less than half a millennium could have passed since the fall of the Roman Empire, and concludes that the entire Carolingian period, including the existence of the individual known as Charlemagne, is a forgery by medieval chroniclers; or more precisely, a conspiracy instigated by Otto III and Gerbert d'Aurillac.

>> the relation between the Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar and the underlying astronomical solar or tropical year. The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar, was long known to introduce a discrepancy from the tropical year of around one day for each century that the calendar was in use. By the time the Gregorian calendar was introduced in AD 1582, Illig alleges that the old Julian calendar "should" have produced a discrepancy of thirteen days between it and the real (or tropical) calendar. Instead, the astronomers and mathematicians working for Pope Gregory had found that the civil calendar needed to be adjusted by only ten days. From this, Illig concludes that the AD era had counted roughly three centuries which never existed.

Regarding the second point above, there is this article:



You know what they say about the early Middle Ages, don’t you? If you can remember them, you weren’t really there. However, if you could recall those times, was this simply because you had been making up the entire era as a state-enrolled forger? If so, this would be explicable by the Phantom Time Hypothesis (PTH), a chronological theory almost unheard of in its radicalism, and which has been propagating steadily through German academic circles since 1998.

Picture a mediæval-style ‘Man­hattan Project’ with scriptoria instead of hangars, and Gothic minuscule instead of maths. Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (980–1002) has engaged his theo­logians under the leadership of Gerbert d’Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) in a project that is among the most zealous and secretive of its kind since the facsimile houses of Alexandria were at their busiest. The gilding of narratives has many precedents in the writing of hist­ories, especially self-aggrandising ones. But the one described by the PTH takes this art of embellishment up a few more notches: more than two centuries worked up from scratch, then infiltrated into as many chronologies as possible. Only a Middle Gothic or a Byzantine fanatic could have taken it to such lengths. But it worked. And as the traces were destroyed, the histories reconfigured and rebound, no one was any the wiser. At least until Heribert Illig and his adherents apparently figured it out.

Illig’s theory is rooted in the introduct­ion of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It had long been known that the old Julian calendar had a defect – the Julian year being roughly 11 minutes too long – and the new calendar was designed to correct this discrepancy, to the tune of making up for 10 days that gradually slipped during the years between AD 1 and AD 1582. But Illig alleged that the Julian calendar should have produced a discrepancy of not 10 but 13 days over the period in question, and concluded that roughly three centuries had been added to the calendar that had never existed. His response was to run with the notion of calendar “slack” and look for corroborat­ive evidence.

The obvious period to look at was the most obscure one: the Dark Ages. Byzantinists and architectural historians are largely responsible for giving us the period from c. 600–900, about which almost nothing is known in cultural or urban development. The historical sources simply aren’t in the ground or the archives. This raises the ‘debate of continuity’, explained by groups of ‘Gradualists’ who bicker learnedly over whether the period happened so slowly that the participants hardly noticed it, or that it was a kind of torpid aftermath from Antiquity’s brilliance. The glaring exception here is the Carolingians, and the luminous figure of Charlemagne who is meant to have reigned from 768 to 814. Illig zeroes in on the polymath qualities of Charlemagne as recorded in various texts which make him an architect, astronomer, educator, philo­logist, folklorist, lawmaker and more. For Illig, “the conclusion is simple: far too much is ascribed to this one person.”[1]

Speaking of these texts, Illig stresses that “[T]he number of genuine documents diminishes all the time. In fact, it’s moving towards zero.” The physical sources of this period are best embodied by the Aachen Palatine Chapel; yet its anomalies, which include a dome without a precedent (or a Carolingian successor) and the lack of a building tradition in the 400-year gap between the Romans and the Franks,[2] makes Illig certain that: “Carolingian buildings do not fit into the history of the arts as it is taught today.” Taking the Palatine Chapel out of the Carolingian Renaiss­ance removes the ‘ecclesiastical heart’ from the Frankish Empire. “With the loss of this dome alone,” says Illig, “the tradition of Charlemagne’s giant empire crumbles to dust.”[3]

Others who’ve taken up the Phantom Time Hypothesis find evidence from further east. Uwe Topper and Manfred Zeller use the PTH to resolve such problems as why the architecture of the Umayyads has untypical character­istics;[4] why Arab coins under the caliph Abd al Malik bear the portrait of a dead King; and why the famous historical epic, the Shahnameh, wraps up in the mid 7th century AD, with a gap of 300 years to its time of writing in AD 1010, and has no allusions to Islam. From this they discern a phantom time period of 78 years that came into being “through artificial separation of the Persian and Umayyad history which in reality was contemporan­eous”.[5] This puts the origin of Islam in a bit of an awkward spot, but may at least remove some of the mystery from its near-miraculous success. The history of the dynasty of Harun al-Rashid, greatest of the Abassid caliphs, with all the expedit­ions he led and the diplomatic gifts he gave to Charlemagne (including a clock that dropped bronze balls into a bowl, and two albino elephants) were dreamt up at a scribe’s desk.

Phantom Time is also borne out by Jewish history, which “totally disapp­eared together with the breakdown of the Roman Empire”, not resurfacing in evid­ence until the Carolingian period.[6] The difficulty Dr Hans-Ulrich Niemitz sees with archæological sources, for which he cites the absence of German town stratigraphies from the relevant era and the achingly slow development of north German ceramics from the 7th–9th cent­uries AD, is that it is not dated independently of written sources. This contravenes proper archæological method. Specialists referring to neighbouring disciplines to solve their problems, Neimitz argues, fall into circular reasoning, discounting the whole situation and thus missing the bigger picture.

Also discussed by Niemitz is dendro­chronology, or tree-ring dating. The field has only recently bridged all the gaps in European history over two millennia; but, says Niemitz, this achievement relies on far too few samples to date the Middle Ages. More pointedly still, in Niemitz’s view, Ernst Hollstein, Germany’s leading dendrochrono­logist, fatally changed the method­ology by allowing the sequence samples to admit red beech (alongside oak) to bridge the critical 8th cent­ury with a sequence predated by historians. An archæological no-no, you’ll recall. Hollstein despaired that: “It is strange, but it has proved extremely difficult to connect the Merovingian wood samples from excavations with the above mentioned chronologies,” and that “all attempts to get enough tree ring sequences from timber of the Carolingian times have failed…”[7]

Illig offers hypotheses and suspects for this grandest of deceptions. The first is that Otto III had his teacher, Gerbert d’Aurillac, the best-read man in Christendom, direct the product­ion and insertion of 300 extra years because he wanted to be ‘Christian Man of the Millennium’ in the year AD 1000 (in the event, two years before Otto’s death). Or did Constantine VII (AD 905–959) rewrite Byzantine hist­ory by having the monks convert every single piece of Greek majuscule into the new minuscule script, before destroying the originals, changing all existing texts in two generations, or even faster?

Niemitz’s two key questions are: when, how, and why was history falsified by 300 years, and how come scientists seemingly didn’t notice sooner?[8] “The second question,” says Niemitz, “implicitly triggers the threat of a changing of the paradigms, which implies a threat to confidence in the work of all scientists working in historical research.” This could be a sleight-of-hand argument, when a more pointed question might be: what’s the point of going to all the trouble? What’s to be gained? If the Otto III scenario is to carry any weight, the question of motive cannot be brushed under the carpet, as Niemitz wants it to be. The Emperor must have been very concerned indeed about his image in history, since his bogus chronology could only have been written with posterity in mind. Why? Because the great majority of those who would have been able to consume it at the time Otto III was alive were already involved in faking it. Practic­ally everyone who mattered within the Emperor’s dominion would have been complicit, negating its intended effect.

{The above is a specious, straw-man argument. When you consider what probably had just recently happened, i.e. cometary disasters, there was very, VERY good reason to try to recreate a history that put the minds of people at rest and induced them to support a power grab.}

Perhaps this is beside the point. As exponents of the PTH are mindful, it is an idea that challeges what is considered to be immutable, exposing weak points and championing the need for more interdisciplinary study. There is also a call for research to be done outside the usual group, since, as philosopher of scientific breakthroughs Thomas Kuhn has explained,[9] only a few scientists are willing to reopen research into a problem that the group considers to have been solved (sometimes on the word of a single expert). I suspect economists know well how true this is – as do forteans. Enough uncertainty exists over inconsistent Dark Ages knowledge, and how the evidence has been interpreted and assembled, to make such a project perfectly conceivable; and, in my view, more research across disciplines is a prime pathway towards gaining a better sense of how and why History comes into existence.

1 Heribert Illig: “The Invented Middle Ages” (essay); see bearfabrique.org.
2 The lack of physical traces of Viking raids in the Frankish Empire, for example.
3 Illig: op. cit.
4 The first Arabic dynasty, AD661–750.
5 Dr Hans-Ulrich Niemitz: Did the Early Middles Ages Really Exist?, rev. vers., 2000.
6 Cecil Roth: The Dark Ages: Jews in Christian Europe 711–1096, 1966, p162.
7 E Hollstein: “Dendrochrono­logische Unter­suchungen an Holzern des fruthen Mittelalters”, In Acta Præhistorica 1, 1970, pp147–156.
8 Sir Isaac Newton was dissatisfied with the Classical Mediterr­anean chron­ology, changing the dating of the Trojan War and Rome’s Founding.
9 Thomas S Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 1970.


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

A debunkery type of article from a debunkery type of person:

The Phantom Time Hypothesis

Then there's the Phantom Time Hypothesis, developed by Heribert Illig and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, among others. The genesis of the idea seems to been inspired by problems dating medieval documents. A number of forgeries apparently date from centuries before they became useful. Either somebody was amazingly prescient, or there's a problem with the dating. Two rather more prosaic explanations come to mind:

The documents aren't forgeries (after-the-fact interpretation of inconvenient documents as forgeries is practically a cottage industry in history and a variety of conspiracy theory in its own right).
They were back-dated and given a spurious appearance of age to enhance their credibility and forestall accusations of forgery, which opponents would have certainly raised when the documents were first produced.

Then there's a third possibility. Somebody dropped 297 years out of the calendar, and the years 614-911 never happened. Advocates of the theory make the standard boilerplate appeals to open-mindedness in presenting it. In support of this idea, advocates of the hypothesis point to hiatuses in construction in Constantinople, and in development of theological doctrines, and the fact that the Gregorian Calendar adjustment of 1582 was too small for the alleged interval since the adoption of the Julian Calendar. 614-911 was the early Middle Ages, a period about which we lave less than perfect history. There was one key figure in European history who lived in the Phantom Time era: Charlemagne. So he's dealt with in classic conspiracy theory fashion: he never existed. Apparently neither did Alfred the Great and his son Edward, the first king of unified England. Also sixty Popes, four antipopes, and 18 archbishops of Canterbury.

{I wouldn't say that Charlemagne or Alfred didn't exist, but that their power and influence was highly exaggerated. However, the sixty popes and 4 anti-popes and archbishops could very well have been made up.}

Ignoring the problems of how somebody fudged the calendar, got everybody in Europe to go along, invented not just Charlemagne but entire royal lineages, and somehow got everyone to keep all their stories straight, one critic of the theory points out a fatal flaw. The theory is hopelessly Eurocentric.

For example, Mohammed either died in 614, a decade before he began dictating the Koran and 18 years before the history books say, or he lived until 929 A.D. I think we'd have spotted that already. The Phantom Time Interval completely encompasses the explosive growth of Islam. So one day it's 614 and Mohammed is an obscure visionary trader in Arabia, the next it's 911, and somehow Mohammed's ideas have spread from the Atlantic to Central Asia. And Arabs have suddenly occupied Persia and Egypt, as well as Spain, and they've been in Spain for 200 years. They've also built the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

{This is another specious straw-man type of argument. It just seems to me that after the decimation of population and other destructions, it was quite easy for those groups that survived best, within a couple of generations or so, to move in and take over and then to seek to legitimize their power with new "histories". It's always been done that way throughout history. It's not like its a new theory; it's just damned uncomfortable for historians to contemplate it happening so recently.}

The Phantom Time interval closely approximates the Tang Dynasty of China, a high point of Chinese culture and political power. So there's a neat conspiratorial interpretation. The Tang Dynasty is an invention, a classic "golden age" myth. The only thing lacking is some explanation of how someone from medieval Europe convinced the Chinese to create a fake dynasty complete with bogus archives.

{This guy forgets that there are no "ties" between China an Europe at the time. You don't have to invent Chinese history, just slide the timeline in Europe together to close the gap and move it forward. }

Then there are other lines of evidence. We have historical records of every appearance of Halley's Comet since 240 B.C., including Chinese records from 684, 760, and 837. The 837 approach was one of the closest and brightest ever. The Chinese were punctilious astronomical observers and modern orbital calculations match not only the dates but the positions in the sky recorded by the Chinese. 76 years x 4 = 304, not too different from the 297 years of the Phantom Time interval, except that nobody back then knew there was a comet reappearing every 76 years, so why would they have picked that interval?

{Do we? Notice that the records of Halley's comet he cites are Chinese, not European. Like I said, just slide the European timeline together to close the gap, and move it forward. Taking these noted Chinese observations of Halley's back we find a couple of interesting things:

532 - New studies out recently that it was fragmenting of Halleys' that destroyed the Roman Empire.
304 - Around the time of Constantine and his comet (supposedly 312 or thereabouts)
0 - Don't you find it surpassingly odd that Halley's would have passed exactly at the year 0 - the divide between BC and AD???

So, if we slide the timeline up to match the Chinese records (just playing here) we get this:

837 - The return of Halley's prompted a whole lot of activity on the part of power-survivors to settle the masses down and regain control. That means that:
760 coincides with 532 - Destruction of Empire
684 coincides with 456
304 - Constantine and his comet

That only accounts for 228 years. I think there were a couple other periods that were "inserted", and that may have happened around the time of Diocletian and/or Constantine. }

The Chinese also recorded eclipses, planetary conjunctions, and even occultations of planets by the moon. During the the Tang dynasty, total solar eclipses were recorded in 756, 761, 879, and 888 and partial eclipses in 702, 729, 754, and 822. Needless to say, these observations can be checked with modern astronomical software. They really happened. Velikovsky could blow off astronomical observations by appealing to calendrical uncertainties, but there's absolutely no way you can just drop 297 years from the calendar in the last 2000 years and not notice it.

{Again, a stupid, specious argument. So what if the Chinese observed these things? There is NOTHING TO MATCH THEM TO in European Dark Ages history!}

<skip Fomenko rant>

Shades of Harold Hill and the Missing Day story! The Robert Newton cited is a well known researcher in celestial mechanics, best known as author of The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy. There is no evidence that Fomenko and Newton ever collaborated on any research.

All the criticisms of the Phantom Time Hypothesis apply in spades here. We lose a whole bunch of Chinese dynasties. {No we don't.} There are several dozen eruptions of Mount Vesuvius recorded during that interval. Were they all faked? {He's really stretching here "several dozen"??} Were these forgers really clever enough to anticipate that scholars centuries later would be interested in the supernovae of 1006 and 1054, so as to create spurious records of those events? None of these theorists seem to appreciate, either, that it is possible to radiocarbon date stuff like papyrus and mummies to cross-check ancient chronologies. And then there's the lead from Roman smelting that turns up in the Greenland Ice Cap, right where traditional chronology would have us believe. {This guy's comprehension of the problem is limited and he obviously hasn't read the material he is attempting to debunk so he just ends up looking ignorant.}


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

This talk about chronological gaps in history reminds me of a book I read in university by Florin Diacu called The Lost Millenium. It's from him I first heard of Worlds in Collision. I should fish it out and have a re-read of that, paying more attention to the possibility of a Germanic transplant into the Roman husk...


Dagobah Resident
Re: Historical Events Database

There's an essay in English, "The Invented Middle Ages" by Heribert Illig here:


It discusses the 10-day correction to Caesar's Calendar, architecture, Charlemagne, Phantom Era theory.

In the literature, the term "Dark Ages" is used for various periods (Slide 4). The author of a history of Byzantium, Frank ThieB, called the period from the death of Justinian I till 741 "dark centuries". The Byzantinist Cyril Mango considers events in Greece and sees "dark ages" there from 580 to the 10th century. In the Frankish west, there is talk of a Merovingian Dark Age between 600 and 750. According to Peter Schreiner, a Byzantinist, there is no contemporary historiography for the period from 600 to 800. And in Byzantine architecture, for the period between 610 and at least 850 there is a large gap. This has been described by Mango. (The first preserved building that is not known from literature only is from the period shortly after 900.)

For the French medievalist Guy Bois, the century between 814 and 914 is one of the most mysterious because it is the darkest of all. For the city of Rome, its "biographer" Ferdinand Gregorovius noted in the 19th century that the period between 825 and 925 was the darkest part of an already dark era. In the Occident, it is striking that almost nothing was built between 850 and 950, which has been noticed by architectural historians such as Zimmermann or Erwin Panofsky. Incidentally, the first who talked of a dark century was Cardinal Caesar Baronius, who died in 1607. In his Ecclesiastical Annals, he used this term to describe the period between 900 and 1000.


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

I'm working on tracing the MSS from ancient to modern times, trying to assess how reliable anything is. The following books would be useful but they are VERY pricey. So, if anyone can find and copy any of them, send it to me (hopefully very readable because my eyes really are going South), I would appreciate it.

Codices Latini Antiquiores – January 1, 1982
by E. A. Lowe

Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics [Hardcover]
Leighton D. Reynolds

Classical Influences on European Culture A.D. 500-1500
R. R. Bolgar

A History of the Church in the Middle Ages [Paperback] CANCEL - Ark found it for me
F Donald Logan

Books known to Anglo-Latin writers from Aldhelm to Alcuin (670-804) (The Mediaeval Academy of America. Studies and documents) Unknown Binding
by J. D. A Ogilvy

The Anglo-Saxon Library [Hardcover] CANCEL - Ark found it for me
Michael Lapidge

Text and Transmission in Medieval Europe [Hardcover]
Chris Bishop (Author)

European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Bollingen) Paperback
by Ernst Robert Curtius (Author) , Colin Burrow (Introduction) CANCEL - Ark found it for me

Latin Classics in Medieval Hungary: Eleventh Century (Ceu Medievalia, 6) [Paperback]
Elod Nemerkenyi (Author) CANCEL - Ark found it for me

Justification in Earlier Medieval Theology [Paperback] CANCEL - Ark found it for me
C.P. Carlson Jr. (Author)

Historical Writing in England: 550 - 1307 and 1307 to the Early Sixteenth Century [Hardcover]
Antonia Gransden (Author)


FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

More: (Obviously, don't need all at once since I can only read about two at a time!)

Visigothic Spain 409 - 711 [Hardcover]
Roger Collins (Author)

Visigothic Spain: New Approaches [Anglais] [Relié]
Edward James (Sous la direction de)

The Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow [Anglais] [Relié]
Christopher Grocock (Sous la direction de), I. N. Wood (Sous la direction de)

Medieval European Coinage: Volume 1, The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th Centuries) [Anglais] [Broché]
Philip Grierson (Auteur), Mark Blackburn

Dawn of the Written Vernacular in Western Europe [Broché]
M. Goyens (Sous la direction de), W. Verbeke (Sous la direction de), Mich Le Goyens (Sous la direction de)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Re: Historical Events Database

Laura said:
I'm working on tracing the MSS from ancient to modern times, trying to assess how reliable anything is. The following books would be useful but they are VERY pricey. So, if anyone can find and copy any of them, send it to me (hopefully very readable because my eyes really are going South), I would appreciate it.

Classical Influences on European Culture A.D. 500-1500
R. R. Bolgar

I found this one on amazon.com for just over $9. I can buy it and then mail it to you if you don't have access to getting books from amazon.com


edit added:

Found this one for about $32 on amazon.com - Books known to Anglo-Latin writers from Aldhelm to Alcuin (670-804) (The Mediaeval Academy of America. Studies and documents) Unknown Binding
by J. D. A Ogilvy



The Living Force
Re: Historical Events Database

(Scribd says that you will need to login to get the full version, FWIW)


The Living Force
Re: Historical Events Database


HC: $137.49
PB: $48.53 <==

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199686322.do 75 pounds


The Living Force
Re: Historical Events Database

I just checked in my local library database, and they have the following:

Codices Latini Antiquiores – January 1, 1982 {this is listed as an 11-volume set, and my library has volumes 2 and 6-11}
by E. A. Lowe

Books known to Anglo-Latin writers from Aldhelm to Alcuin (670-804) (The Mediaeval Academy of America. Studies and documents) Unknown Binding
by J. D. A Ogilvy

Visigothic Spain: New Approaches [Anglais] [Relié]
Edward James (Sous la direction de)

Dawn of the Written Vernacular in Western Europe [Broché]
M. Goyens (Sous la direction de), W. Verbeke (Sous la direction de), Mich Le Goyens (Sous la direction de)

In addition, it looks like I can order these through interlibrary loan:

Classical Influences on European Culture A.D. 500-1500
R. R. Bolgar

The Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow [Anglais] [Relié]
Christopher Grocock (Sous la direction de), I. N. Wood (Sous la direction de)

Medieval European Coinage: Volume 1, The Early Middle Ages (5th-10th Centuries) [Anglais] [Broché]
Philip Grierson (Auteur), Mark Blackburn

Don Genaro

Jedi Council Member
Re: Historical Events Database

Here's a PDF version of Visigothic Spain by Roger Collins:


It's available from Amazon.fr for just over €33
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