lunedì 12 settembre 2016

Aachen: A tradition on shaky ground.

                                             Aachen: A tradition on shaky ground.

In the 1800’s, while the German scholars, encouraged by Romanticism, began to look into the Middle Ages with the intent of finding events and characters who would justify the origins of the German nation, in the Italian region of Piceno a complete damnatio memoriae was taking place, obscuring all the events that had taken place in this area during the Middle Ages.
The German historians, in the reconstruction of their fatherland, started from what Einhard reported in his “Life of Charlemagne”, and that is to say that Charlemagne died and was buried in Aquisgrana, the place where he was born and where he had always lived.
Based on a tradition that wanted the bones kept in an urn in Aachen to belong to Charlemagne, the German historians assumed that Aquisgrana meant Aachen.
This tradition is now on shaky ground since it has been questioned by Prof. Giovanni Carnevale’s research.
Historical studies are starting to cast doubts on the fact that the Chapel in Aachen was built by Charlemagne. Such doubts are justified especially because relics dating back to the 8th century were never found in Aachen.
The Germans obtusely hang on to the strength of the tradition. As a matter of fact, for centuries nobody has questioned that the bones conserved in Aachen belong to Charlemagne. To date, nobody has ever dared stating that the emperor’s tomb could be elsewhere, despite the existence of a very reliable source indicating that a Translatio Santissimi Caroli Imperatoris took place in the 12th century.
The Germans, compelled to distort this source to their advantage, have given a rather curious interpretation of the text, affirming that the Translatio simply entailed the moving of Charlemagne’s remains from his tomb, which has never been found, to the urn.
To this very day, in spite of the negative results of the many, repeated archeological excavations inside the Palatine Chapel, no-one has had the courage  to admit that Charlemagne’s tomb never was inside the Palatine Chapel in Aachen.
As a matter of fact, when the Germans talk about Charlemagne’s tomb, they always refer to the urn where the emperor’s bones are kept. If you attempt to get a clarification from them, they will tell you that the tomb is certainly inside the Chapel, but it has not been found yet.

In recent years, several elements of historical and archeological nature have come to light. These elements undermine the German theory and point to a different truth.
An interesting research on this subject was started in the second half of the 20th century when Prof. Giovanni Carnevale became curious about the archeological enigma presented by the church of San Claudio, located in Corridonia, in the Macerata province.
He then started to study and interpret the architectural structure of the church.
He found that San Claudio’s structure was identical to three other buildings, all of them found in the Piceno region. However, outside of Piceno, there was no knowledge of a similar building in all of Europe. He later discovered that a church in Germigny des Pres was structurally identical to San Claudio.
Even more interesting was the information provided by the sources of the 8th century. These sources stated that the church in Germigny des Pres had been commissioned by Theodulf, a clerical dignitary from the court of Charlemagne. The documents also state that the church was built to look like the Palatine Chapel: Basilicam miri operis, instar eius quae Aquis est constituta.
This information further encouraged Prof. Carnevale to continue the archeological studies of San Claudio.
He noticed right away that all the experts were assuming San Claudio was built after the year 1000. This assumption was based on the architecture of the church which featured the cross-shaped vaults. According to the archeologists, the use of the cross-shaped vaults, a technology taken from the Arabs in Spain, started in Western Europe only after the year 1000. But the discoveries made by English archeologists in the second half of the 20th century at Khirbet al Mafjar, near Jericho, show that the cross-shaped vaults were used in the frigidarium of the Omayyad palace, a building that was destroyed in an earthquake at the beginning of the 8th century, while it was being built.

The building at Germigny des Pres, confirmed to have been built in the 8th century by historical sources, featured the cross-shaped vaults, demonstrating that they were already utilized at the times of Charlemagne and in Western Europe, as well.
Prof. Carnevale felt he had the authority to state that San Claudio could be considered Carolingian.
He was in possession of valid arguments to start dismantling the Aachen theory.
Moving further in his analysis, the fact that Germigny des Pres had been built imitating the Palatine Chapel built by Charlemagne in Aquisgrana, spurred Prof. Carnevale to compare this building with the Chapel in Aachen. He realized that there were no similarities whatsoever between the two buildings, whereas Germigny des Pres had the very same structure as San Claudio.
Another interesting point is that both Germigny des Pres and San Claudio featured the cross-shaped vaults, imitating the buildings of the near East, and this fact underlined the close relation between them.
At this point, archeological research would pose the question: why do these buildings look so much alike?
We would have to wait for an answer.
Prof. Carnevale found some clarifications when he went from archeology to the reading of the historical sources:
  • Einhard reports that Charlemagne relied on workmen coming from the Orient in order to build the Palatine Chapel. Most likely, these were the same workmen who, left jobless after the Omayyads were chased away by the Abbasids, gladly accepted the employment offered by the emperor.
  • Notker describes how some diplomats from Baghdad, sent by the Caliph of Baghdad to the court of Charlemagne, walked out on the balcony of the Chapel to observe the daily activities of Aquisgrana. Such a balcony was present both at Germigny des Pres and San Claudio. There was no balcony at Khirbat al-Mafjar, even though there was a dome in the roof of the building. There is no balcony at the Chapel in Aachen, and there could not be one. Prof. Carnevale began to evaluate the architectural aspect more in depth. He asked himself several questions and began formulating some hypothesis. Why did Khirbat al-Mafjar feature such an original plan and the cross-shaped vaults? The Muslims had conquered Iran and had been exposed to a different type of architecture that used the cross-shaped vaults. This building technique could have easily been passed from Iran to Syria, to nearby Khirbat al-Mafjar and from there, thanks to the Oriental workmen hired by Charlemagne, as reported by Einhard, to the Piceno area. This type of architecture had finally been introduced to Western Europe and it is featured in the Palatine Chapel that Charlemagne wanted built for him, and that is to say San Claudio. This was not a major discovery, yet it made evident the fact that the chapel in Aachen, completely different than the one in Germigny, had no right to proclaim itself the Aquisgrana that Theodulf had used as inspiration. On the other hand, San Claudio, practically identical in its architecture to Germigny des Pres, could be identified as Charlemagne’s chapel. Another meaningful proof supporting San Claudio is the presence of the women’s gallery. This particular building feature is a clear indication of the presence of a court. In that era, galleries for women could be found in the orient, in Constantinople, where an imperial court resided, and in Ravenna, which was under the authority of Constantinople. Germigny did not have a women’s gallery since it was a smaller church, just a place where Theodulf could pray. The women’s gallery at San Claudio is fundamental. Its existence allows for the presence of an imperial court, the court of Charlemagne.
  • In the Capitulare de Villis, the law which Charlemagne used to define social and productive life in Aquisgrana through its Ministeria, there is a list of plants that were supposed to be grown in Aquisgrana. Almost all of these plants were exclusively suited to the Mediterranean climate and would have never survived in Aachen. Also, the Capitulare describes the organization and the control, both administrative and agricultural, of the Aquisgrana ager (countryside): the Palatium of Aquisgrana at the center of a network of Ministeria (an organization that can be found exclusively in the Piceno area) where the iudices exercised both judiciary and administrative power, reporting directly to Charlemagne. Identifying Aquisgrana with Aachen would render the Capitulare de Villis completely false since, unlike in the Chienti valley, a similar structure never existed in Germany nor there are any traces or memory of it.
  • Widukind, in his Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres, describes the crowning of Otto I, which took place in the Palatine Chapel in Aquisgrana. The author reports that the Palatine Chapel had a solium on the façade. One could access the solium through the spiral staircases of the two towers. From the solium, Otto I appeared, facing his Saxons who were gathered in the xistum, acclaiming him as their king. After descending to the presbytery by way of the spiral staircase, Otto I participated in the religious ceremony, which could be spectated by the people in the women’s gallery.
  • Historical sources also point to the existence of Campomaggio in Aquisgrana. Such a place is nonexistent in or near Aachen, whereas here in the Piceno area there still is a large plain named Campomaggio. If this area is not Aquisgrana, how come we still find Campomaggio and even Campolungo?
  • The historical documents report that, as the war between the Longobards and the Francs drew near, omnes abitatores of the Piceno area, the duchy of Osimo, Ancona and Fermo, they all ran away. Why would they flee an area not involved in a war? And why would these refugees be welcomed and given shelter in Rome by Pope Adrian, who fearing the Longobards, asked for Charlemagne’s help? Could it be that the refugees were Francs that inhabited the Piceno area and were fearful of retaliations from the Longobards?
  • And again, while the Francs have Pavia under siege, how can it be explained that Charlemagne appoints the Duke of Spoleto and goes off to Rome to spend Easter with the Pope?
  • Charlemagne was crowned emperor in Rome on Christmas day of the year 800. Historical sources report that early in 801, Charlemagne started exercising his imperial prerogatives. He presided the trial in Rome against slanderers of Pope Leo III. In February 801 he was in Aquisgrana, as demonstrated by the diploma that he bestowed on the Farfa abbey. The Annales Regni Francorum  report that throughout the winter (tota hieme non aliud fecit imperator) he was engaged with the organization of the Western Empire, with the new relationship with the Pope and with the order of all of Italy, providing Aquisgrana with a “New Rome” (Romanae Urbis) in the Chienti Valley.  He organized the military expedition of his son Pippin against Benevento. After celebrating Easter in Rome, Charlemagne went to Spoleto where, at the end of April, was jolted by a strong earthquake. Later, the emperor travelled to Ravenna. This news is confirmed by Agnello, a monk from Ravenna. Agnello also mentions that Charlemagne had a statue of Theodoric on his horse moved from Ravenna to Aquisgrana, in France. To the skeptics who do not believe him. Agnello replies: “qui non credit, sunat Franciae iter, eum aspiciat!” – “if you don’t believe me, take the road to France and go see for yourself!”  From Ravenna, it would only be necessary to head south from the Esarcato, take the Flaminia road and be on the way to reach France. The short distance between Ravenna and France is confirmed by the letter that Pope Adrian wrote to Charlemagne, complaining that the citizens of Pentapoli and Ravenna go directly to the Carolingian court to present their grievances.
  • What we read in the Fioretto XIII of St. Francis is perfectly clear for those who place France in the Piceno area, but remains incomprehensible to those who cling to history’s official version. In fact, in the Fioretto XIII we are told how St. Francis along with friar Masseo “took the path toward the province of France”. After having begged, prayed and eaten,”they stood up to walk in France… they arrived in Rome and entered the church of St. Peter, and St. Francis knelt in prayer”. The Fioretto comes to an end, stating that the Apostle Peter reassured Francis that God would grant him and his friars the “treasure of very holy poverty”. After that, Francesco and Masseo “full of joy, decided to return to the Spoleto valley, abandoning the idea of going to France”. It is evident that the tale is referring to the France and the Rome in the Piceno area. As a matter of fact, the Fioretti were written in the Piceno.
  • Historical sources reveal that in 804 Pope Leo III went to see Charlemagne in order to spend Christmas together. He was received at Carisiacum Villa  and on January 14th, 805 the emperor had the Pope escorted to Ravenna.
  • In 806, right after Christmas, doge Obelerio with his brother Beato and the Bishop of Zara, Donato, are guests of Charlemagne at Theodonis Villa (can you imagine the Pope or the doge travelling more than a thousand kilometers in the dead of winter, crossing the Alps, to spend just a few days with the emperor? It is more plausible that the doge sailed down the Adriatic coast down to the Piceno area. The Pope, travelling along the Salaria road, would have easily reached Aquisgrana, and that is to say San Claudio abbey).
  • Claudio, Bishop of Turin, summoned to Aquisgrana by Ludovico the Pious, wrote: “As soon as I became bishop, my tasks multiplied… in the winter, when I have to run up and down the roads to the Palatium, I have no time for my beloved studies. And from mid-spring, along with the scrolls, I must take my weapons and I have to go down the coast fighting the Saracens and the Moors. At night I fight, in the daytime I handle the pen and the books…” In another excerpt taken from his Apologeticum, Claudio reveals “After I came to Italy in the civitas Taurinis, having accepted grudgingly the pastoral task, invited by prince Ludovico the Pious…”
  • How can we explain that, in 891, Guy of Spoleto and Lambert, dukes of locations extremely far from Aachen, were crowned emperors in Aquisgrana? That would make sense only if Aquisgrana was located in the Chienti valley.
  • France and Gaul, in all historical sources are always identified as two separate and independent entities. There is no historian that has given an exact interpretation of the location of France before the year 1000, despite the fact that in all historical sources the two places are always mentioned in a distinct manner. As an example, in describing that Arnulf of Carinthia had been summoned to Aquisgrana to evaluate his willingness to replace his uncle Charles the Fat, who was gravely ill, the historical documents state: compositis in Francia feliciter rebus, in Baoaria revertitur,  having settled things satisfactorily in Francia, he returned to Bavaria. The German historians have been forced to theorize and therefore place a territory named Franconia between Gaul and Saxony, only because the historical sources have Francia bordering Saxony, even though there is no mention whatsoever of Franconia in the documents of that era. Also, they theorized that Saxony is in the northern part of Germany, instead of being next to Francia in the Piceno area, as reported in recent studies on Widukind’s history of the Saxons.
  • In 1166, Barbarossa, after having antipope Pasquale III name Charlemagne a saint, had his body moved to Germany where he was planning to erect the Aachen chapel.
  • Ten years later, after realizing that it was impossible to restore the splendor of Aquisgrana, given his enmity with the Pope and his allies, Barbarossa decides to go ahead with the Translatio Imperii to Germany.
  • In the historical sources, considerable seismic activities are reported in the Aquisgrana territory in the years 803, 814, 823 and 827. These reports lead us to believe that Aquisgrana cannot be Aachen, since all of Germany is not a seismic area.
  • Alcuin, one of Charlemagne’s counselors, having returned to his native England from Aquisgrana, wrote a letter lamenting the horrible English beer and dreaming to return to see the “Novam Cappellam inter vineta”. There were no vineyards in Aachen. Furthermore, the use of Cappella should make us think; the church was identified with that term because St. Martin’s cloak was preserved in its interior (Cappellam = St.Martin’s cloak).
  • In describing the events at the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno, the Chronicon Volturnense defines it as ius palatii. How can anyone believe that this monastery, located near Benevento, was under the jurisdiction of Aachen, therefore suggesting that Aachen and Aquisgrana are one and the same? This utter confusion of identity must have certainly caused erroneous interpretations in the work of the scribes. Here’s an example: on October 10th 881, San Vincenzo al Volturno was destroyed by the Saracens; in the same year the Arabs invaded the Chienti valley destroying the monasteriolum at Santa Croce al Chienti, as reported in the documents preserved in Sant’Elpidio a Mare. That is the same year in which the official version of history has the Normans conquering Aquisgrana. In these two episodes, apparently different one from the other, the identity of the invading forces must have surely been confused by the amanuensis in the abbeys of Northern Europe. They, after Barbarossa’s translatio, were already identifying Aquisgrana with Aachen and consequently they felt it was correct to call Normans the invaders of Aquisgrana. For them, it was quite improbable that Arab invaders would land in the north and conquer Aachen. There is another consideration that makes it unlikely that it was the Normans who were the invaders. Just a few months earlier, the Normans had reached an agreement with Charles the Fat who, after the battle of Paris, had granted them the territory that we now call Normandy.
  • Nithard (9th century) said that Aquisgrana was the Sedes Prima Franciae, and Notker with the word Francia specifies: Franciam vero intendumcum nomina vero omnes cisalpinas provincias significo.
  • Thanks to the erroneous interpretation of where Aquisgrana is located, we have a very confusing description of the death and burial of Otto III. This young emperor was attacked by the Romans and was forced to retreat to the castle of Paterno, where he died victim of an undisclosed disease. In order to keep the enemy from finding out that the emperor had died, he was embalmed. When the conflict had somewhat faded, the embalmed body of the emperor was hoisted on a horse, with the intention of bringing him to Aquisgrana to be buried. Since it could not be denied that the emperor had died in Italy, the German historians, firmly convinced that Aquisgrana meant Aachen, had to come up with a ludicrous story describing the transfer of the dead emperor from Italy to Germany. According to the description, in order to eliminate any suspicion that he might have died, the emperor escort had him hoisted on a horse and transported in this manner, while the furious Romans were chasing the coffin all the way to Berne; from here they went on to Neuburg (Civitas quae nova vocatur) and at last they arrived at Aquisgrana where the emperor was hastily buried in front of the altar. But if we place Aquisgrana in the Chienti valley, at San Claudio abbey, the burial would have been much simpler considering that coming down from the hill of Paterno one would arrive at Berta, then proceed to the Civitanova area and then quickly arrive at Aquisgrana, where the hapless emperor was buried in a hurry for fear of an attack by the Romans.
  • In 1139, Sugier attended a council that took place in Aquisgrana, in the wing of the palace named Laterano. The following year, upon request from the Pope, the Cistercian monks were sent to Aquas Salvias, where they founded the Fiastra abbey.
  • On Christmas day in 1165 at Aquisgrana, Barbarossa had antipope Pasquale III declare Charlemagne saint. Since we know for a fact that this pope never set foot in Germany, the German historians have concluded that he was replaced during the ceremony of sanctification by Rainald von Dassel, the archbishop of Cologne.
  • In 1176, after being defeated by the league of Communes and opposed by the Pope who was inciting the Communes against him, Barbarossa realized that it had become impossible to continue his project of restoring the ancient splendors and imperial power of Aquisgrana. He carried out the Translatio Imperii from the Piceno area to Germany, starting the construction of the church in Aachen.

Considering all the archeological discoveries and the testimonials of the Carolingian authors, how can the German historians state that Aquisgrana and Aachen are the same place? They are forced to define Notker and any other writer who describes events that do not conform to their own historical reconstruction as great mystifiers of the truth and declare false everything they wrote. Sadly and dramatically, we realize that if we take Aachen away, the Germans are left with none of their historical account of the birth of their nation.
With this very strange historical setting, based on considering false everything that does not match their own reconstruction, the German historians have won the battle and, even without any proof in their support, the Aachen tradition remains in spite of all the historical sources.

From all serious and in-depth analyses of the historical sources and from the study of the structural features of the buildings taken in consideration, it is evident that the official historical version presents severe inconsistencies. It is for this reason that the definition of San Claudio abbey = Aquisgrana continues to gain momentum and credibility.  

 Alberto Morresi 
 tranlated by Angelo Prati

Nessun commento:

Posta un commento