The Conspiracy Theory that the Middle Ages Never Happened

The Conspiracy Theory that the Middle Ages Never Happened Date

This post was made possible by Skillshare. Start learning for free for two months by being one of the first 1,000 to sign up at skl.sh/hai33. Now, here at HAI we don’t want to spread conspiracy theories, but we do want to get lots of views in order to further our never-ending quest for money, power, and URL extensions that give us free two free months of Skillshare and so when we come across a conspiracy theory that we want to tell you about, because it’s hilarious, we’re in a conundrum: how can make a post on it while maintaining our status as the preeminent source of super-accurate, hard-hitting factual content on YouTube.

So today, here’s the plan: we’re gonna tell you all about this very fun and very insane conspiracy theory, and then we’re gonna very clearly explain why it’s not true, and along the way, you’re gonna learn a whole bunch about calendars. That’s right, everybody: calendars, the coolest, sexiest thing since the abacus. Alright so the theory, which is known by the super-credible sounding name, “the Phantom Time Theory,” goes like this: the middle ages didn’t happen, they were made up. That’s right, according to this guy, Heribert Illig, whose name sounds like a piece of IKEA furniture, the years 614-911 simply did not happen, but were instead invented by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII because, I mean, if you’re gonna do a conspiracy theory, go big or go home.

Now, you may ask, why would two kings and a pope invent three centuries of knights, pillaging, and cholera? Well, according to Illig, Otto, Constantine, and the Pope were actually alive in the early 700s, but wanted to live in the year 1000 AD, because—and this is true—round numbers are cool. Plus, they could create a fake historical record full of their own personal Charlemagne-based fan-fiction that would strengthen Otto III’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire. The evidence—and I’m using the word evidence very lightly—for the Phantom Time Hypothesis lies on three pillars: First, there isn’t a lot of existing archaeological evidence from the supposed period of time from 614 to 911. Second, 10th Century Western Europe is littered with Roman architecture, which Illig says doesn’t make sense given that the Roman Empire fell in 475 AD, supposedly over 400 years prior.

And the final reason has to do with calendars. That’s right folks, try to hold in your excitement, because it’s finally calendar time. Now, the earth rotates 365.24219 times every year, which is pretty close to 365.25, so we round up and pretend it’s 365 and a quarter, which means every four year we have an extra day, which we account for with leap day. But the thing is, it’s not actually 365.25, it’s 365.24219, which is 0.00781 less.

That may not sound like a lot, but every 128 years, that 0.00781 adds up to a day, which means every 128 years, we should subtract a day to keep on track. But the Julian calendar didn’t account for that, so between when it was introduced in 45 BC and when the new Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 to fix the problem, 1,627 years had passed, or about 13 sets of 128 years, which meant that the Julian calendar should have been behind by about 13 days. But it turned out, and try to stop your brain from exploding here, the Julian calendar was actually only off by about 10 days, and because each of those missing days takes 128 years to accumulate, that means there’s 300 something years unaccounted for. By the way, if you’re wondering, the Gregorian calendar fixes the problem by skipping a leap day every 100 years, but then adding it back in every 400 years, which still means we’re behind by a day every 1000 years, but the world probably only has a few decades left anyways so, you know, c’est la vie. So that’s the theory.

It’s probably got you giving a big, “hmmm.” Now, let’s talk about why it’s not true. First of all, even if there isn’t a ton of archaeological evidence, there still is some—and we have reliable ways of dating these artifacts, through both carbon dating, and looking at tree rings, which can also be called dendrological dating if you’re pretentious. Second, the Roman architecture in 10th century Europe. So… yeah… have you noticed how there’s Roman columns and arches like… everywhere?

The White House, Buckingham Palace, the Arc de Triomphe, Townsville Hall from the Powerpuff Girls. There’s still Roman architecture being built today, so yeah… people also built it in the 900s. Third, the calendars. For an apparent calendaropthamist, Illig weirdly didn’t realize that the Gregorian calendar wasn’t trying to reset things to 45 BC, when the Julian calendar was introduced, but rather to 325 AD, which is when this thing called the Council of Nicaea met and did some calendar fixing. They didn’t reset things all the way back which accounts for the missing 300-odd years of date shifting.

And believe it or not, there are even stronger pieces of evidence that show that this whole thing is impossible. Most notably, astronomy. You see, certain astronomical events are highly predictable—for example, for complicated astronomy reasons that I totally, definitely, understand but just don’t have time to explain, we know with absolute certainty that there must have been a solar eclipse over Campania, Italy, between 7 and 8 am, on April 30th, exactly 1,961 years ago, and we know that a guy named Pliny the Elder recorded exactly that in 59 AD, which means that 59 AD must have been 1,961 years ago. If the Phantom Time Hypothesis were true, that eclipse would have happened in 238 BC, and Pliny the Elder couldn’t have recorded it because he wasn’t elder at all at that point, or even existent.

This post was made possible by Skillshare. Start learning for free for two months by being one of the first 1,000 to sign up at skl.sh/hai33. Now, here at HAI we don’t want to spread conspiracy theories, but we do want to get lots of views in order to further our never-ending quest for money, power, and URL extensions that give us free two free months of Skillshare and so when we come across a conspiracy theory that we want to tell you about, because it’s hilarious, we’re in a conundrum: how can make a post on it while maintaining our status as the preeminent source of super-accurate, hard-hitting factual content on YouTube.

The Conspiracy Theory that the Middle Ages Never Happened Date

So today, here’s the plan: we’re gonna tell you all about this very fun and very insane conspiracy theory, and then we’re gonna very clearly explain why it’s not true, and along the way, you’re gonna learn a whole bunch about calendars. That’s right, everybody: calendars, the coolest, sexiest thing since the abacus. Alright so the theory, which is known by the super-credible sounding name, “the Phantom Time Theory,” goes like this: the middle ages didn’t happen, they were made up. That’s right, according to this guy, Heribert Illig, whose name sounds like a piece of IKEA furniture, the years 614-911 simply did not happen, but were instead invented by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII because, I mean, if you’re gonna do a conspiracy theory, go big or go home.

Now, you may ask, why would two kings and a pope invent three centuries of knights, pillaging, and cholera? Well, according to Illig, Otto, Constantine, and the Pope were actually alive in the early 700s, but wanted to live in the year 1000 AD, because—and this is true—round numbers are cool. Plus, they could create a fake historical record full of their own personal Charlemagne-based fan-fiction that would strengthen Otto III’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire. The evidence—and I’m using the word evidence very lightly—for the Phantom Time Hypothesis lies on three pillars: First, there isn’t a lot of existing archaeological evidence from the supposed period of time from 614 to 911. Second, 10th Century Western Europe is littered with Roman architecture, which Illig says doesn’t make sense given that the Roman Empire fell in 475 AD, supposedly over 400 years prior.

And the final reason has to do with calendars. That’s right folks, try to hold in your excitement, because it’s finally calendar time. Now, the earth rotates 365.24219 times every year, which is pretty close to 365.25, so we round up and pretend it’s 365 and a quarter, which means every four year we have an extra day, which we account for with leap day. But the thing is, it’s not actually 365.25, it’s 365.24219, which is 0.00781 less.

That may not sound like a lot, but every 128 years, that 0.00781 adds up to a day, which means every 128 years, we should subtract a day to keep on track. But the Julian calendar didn’t account for that, so between when it was introduced in 45 BC and when the new Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 to fix the problem, 1,627 years had passed, or about 13 sets of 128 years, which meant that the Julian calendar should have been behind by about 13 days. But it turned out, and try to stop your brain from exploding here, the Julian calendar was actually only off by about 10 days, and because each of those missing days takes 128 years to accumulate, that means there’s 300 something years unaccounted for. By the way, if you’re wondering, the Gregorian calendar fixes the problem by skipping a leap day every 100 years, but then adding it back in every 400 years, which still means we’re behind by a day every 1000 years, but the world probably only has a few decades left anyways so, you know, c’est la vie. So that’s the theory.

It’s probably got you giving a big, “hmmm.” Now, let’s talk about why it’s not true. First of all, even if there isn’t a ton of archaeological evidence, there still is some—and we have reliable ways of dating these artifacts, through both carbon dating, and looking at tree rings, which can also be called dendrological dating if you’re pretentious. Second, the Roman architecture in 10th century Europe. So… yeah… have you noticed how there’s Roman columns and arches like… everywhere?

The White House, Buckingham Palace, the Arc de Triomphe, Townsville Hall from the Powerpuff Girls. There’s still Roman architecture being built today, so yeah… people also built it in the 900s. Third, the calendars. For an apparent calendaropthamist, Illig weirdly didn’t realize that the Gregorian calendar wasn’t trying to reset things to 45 BC, when the Julian calendar was introduced, but rather to 325 AD, which is when this thing called the Council of Nicaea met and did some calendar fixing. They didn’t reset things all the way back which accounts for the missing 300-odd years of date shifting.

And believe it or not, there are even stronger pieces of evidence that show that this whole thing is impossible. Most notably, astronomy. You see, certain astronomical events are highly predictable—for example, for complicated astronomy reasons that I totally, definitely, understand but just don’t have time to explain, we know with absolute certainty that there must have been a solar eclipse over Campania, Italy, between 7 and 8 am, on April 30th, exactly 1,961 years ago, and we know that a guy named Pliny the Elder recorded exactly that in 59 AD, which means that 59 AD must have been 1,961 years ago. If the Phantom Time Hypothesis were true, that eclipse would have happened in 238 BC, and Pliny the Elder couldn’t have recorded it because he wasn’t elder at all at that point, or even existent.

If that didn’t make sense to you, maybe this will: all of the rest of the world also records that 614 to 911 happened. Otto and the Pope would have had to convince ancient Arab writers to make up Mohammad, convince the English to fabricate most of the Anglo-Saxon period, and convince the Chinese to invent the entire Tang dynasty, which is a level of coordination that seems unlikely, especially considering I can’t even figure out how to do a multi-person Zoom call. If you’re on Zoom calls a lot because you’re stuck at home, you might also, like me, be getting pretty bored.

Well I’ve got the perfect thing for you: this great class on making cinema-style iPhone filmmaking by Niles Grey and Caleb Babcock that’s available right now on Skillshare—perfect for feeding your creative side. Skillshare, of course, is an online learning community with millions of members who want to further their creative goals. When you’re a member, you can take that class, and thousands of others on pretty much any subject you can imagine.

It’s perfect for learning something to advance your career, to help you in school, or to just have fun, but best of all, you can get two months free when you’re one of the first 1,000 to sign up at skl.sh/hai33, and you’ll be supporting HAI while you’re at it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *