Re: Charlemagne et al.

From: Markus Kuhn (
Date: Mon Mar 13 2000 - 14:16:27 EST

"Alain" wrote on 2000-03-13 15:59 UTC:
> Btw, modern German and French are twins, they were
> officially born on the same day, in the bilingual text of what is known in
> French as "Les serments de Starsbourg", a peace treaty between the heirs of
> Charlemagne. That was in the year 842.

Actually ...

The first-hand factual scientific evidence for Charlemagne ever having
existed (and also for the years ~614-911 A.D. in our timeline of history
physically having happened) is far far less solid than your high-school
history teacher might have believed. Those of you interested in
calendars, medieval history, and capable of reading German might be
highly fascinated by reading

  Heribert Illig: Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht?
  Econ Verlag, München, 1999, 288 p., ISBN 361226561X.

Illig's hypothesis is that when around 1000 years ago the "years since
the birth of Christ" year counting scheme was introduced, a clever fraud
was committed by probably Pope Sylvester II, who decided to simply
advance the Christian calendar by ~300 years and then have fake
documents added to the church archives to cover up the resulting
inconsistencies. The years 600-900 are widely referred to as the "dark
ages", because there is almost a complete lack of documents, buildings,
and grave stones from this era. Astronomical records don't match up very
well before that era, carbon dating and dendrochronolgy results of
artifacts suddenly get very strange when we go back more than 1000
years, and there are also widely ignored but well-established glitches
in interfacing the Indian and Chinese written history at the time to
what is believed to have happened in Europe.

Illig's thesis that Charlemagne was made up by the same people who seem
to have tampered with our calendar at its introduction is currently
intensively debated in Germany. Since all the published material is only
available in German so far, word of this discussion has not yet spread
much into the English language world. The only English text available
online that I know is a translation of a German newspaper article:

After having read all this material, I am not that sure any more that
the era of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth physically happened 2000
years ago, it might very well have been only 1700 years ago. The study
of history seems to be more a liberal art than a science, and medival
historians have to very critically review the evidence on which their
calendar mapping tables are built today.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at,  WWW: <>

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