- May 22, 2011
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TIL, some people think that the years 614-911 (and I'm sure a sufficiently motivated conspiracy theorist could make quite a bit of hay about that particular end-year) never happened.
According to [historian Herbert] Illig—who cited zero evidence to back up this claim—Pope Sylvester II, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, and Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, all mesmerized by the idea of Christian millenarianism, thought it’d be really cool if they reigned during the year 1000 instead of the relatively drab and boring year 703, so they set their minions to fabricating an entire three-century stretch of time that never actually happened.
Therefore, Charlemagne never existed. Neither did Alfred the Great. According to Illig, Catholic historians invented all these characters in order to pad out history so that the Pope and those two emperors could flatter themselves by claiming to have ruled during the year 1000. As further “evidence” that these three centuries were fabricated out of thin air, Illig points out that there seemed to be no buildings constructed in Constantinople during this time period and no substantial evolution in Church doctrine regarding articles of faith such as purgatory.