The Real Charlie

Friday, February 7, AD 2014

Remarkable.  The bones of Charlemagne at Aachen are likely his real bones:


The relics of Charlemagne, long on display at a treasury in Germany, are likely the real bones of the Frankish king, scientists say.

Last Tuesday (Jan. 28) marked exactly 1,200 years since Charlemagne died in A.D. 814. To commemorate the occasion, a group of scientists at the Cathedral of Aachen gave a summary of the research that has been conducted on the king’s bones, stretching back to 1988.

Go here to read the rest.

Charlemagne.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

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6 Responses to The Real Charlie

  • In France, Charlemagne is widely venerated as a saint. The Maid, on recalls, on the testimony of her companion Dunois, attributed the relief of Orléans to the intercession of St Charlemagne and St Louis.

    Charlemagne was canonized by Pascal III in 1165, possibly to please the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Unfortunately, Pascal was an anti-pope! However, Charlemagne’s cultus has been permitted in many dioceses, both in France and Germany for over a millennium, so he can properly be considered “Blessed.” At least, Pope Benedict XIV thought so, but that great and cautious canonist added that he was expressing his opinion as a private doctor – But what a doctor! There has been no greater canonist than Prospero Lambertini.

    Dom Prosper Guéranger, the great abbot of Solesmes, composed a prayer to Charlemagne, saluting him as “beloved of God, Apostle of Christ, rampart of His Church, protector of justice, guardian of morals and terror of the enemies of the Christian name”; with a pardonable touch of patriotism, it includes the petition, “Protect with a special love France, the most splendid flower of your splendid crown [le plus riche fleuron de votre splendide couronne]. Show that you are always her king and her father. Put an end to the progress of the false empires that have raised themselves in the North on foundations of schism and heresy, and never permit the peoples of the Holy Empire to fall prey to them.”

  • “Thus for Charlemagne and Roland my attentive gaze followed them both, as one’s eye follows his falcon in its flight.” Dante Paradiso 18.43-45.

    The eagle, symbolic of the Roman Empire then the HRE , was seen as a force to defend and advance Christianity. And, I think, Dante viewed the Empire as being “friendly” to Florence and his faction.

  • Dante believed that the problems of Italy could be solved by a unified government under a strong emperor. He was woefully disappointed in his lifetime as imperial power was definitely on the wane in Italy. I have often wondered what he would have made of the sawdust Caesar Mussolini.

  • I had a schoolmaster – he had served in both World Wars – who was firmly convinced that the wars of the 20th century were a direct result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, when the domains of Charlemagne were partitioned amongst the three sons of Louis the Pious. Louis the German received Germany, Charles the Bald, France and Lothair the middle strip of land, including modern Belgium, Alsace, Lorraine, Burgundy and Italy – The Middle Frankish Kingdom.

    Imperial involvement in Italy, from the time of Frederick Barbarossa (the great-uncle, by the by, of St Thomas Aquinas), the quarrels of Guelphs (the papal party) and Ghibellines (the imperial party), the Habsburg-Valois rivalry that was fought out in Italy was the great destabilising factor in European history – the French and Austrians were still fighting each other there in the battles of Solferino and Magenta in 1859.

    His theory does have a sort of quirky logic

  • Considering the Dark Ages from which most of Western Europe was not yet emerged, the Reign of Charlemagne was brilliant, much like emerging from a dark tunnel into immediate sunlight. It also revealed the fruit of the hard laborare et orare of the Gregorian Reform [This reform was Pope St Gregory the Great’s] which synthesized Augustinian theology and Benedictine monasticism. The Benedictine monk, Alcuin was constantly at the side of Charlemagne counseling and setting up the ‘new civilization’s’ Liturgy [Gallo-Roman Liturgy], language {Latin among the educated and officials], education and aesthetics.

    Aragon, the heir of Isuldur, who returned to his throne after a long absence of rightful kings in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings certainly is at least partly based on Charlemagne as well as the Arthurian legends. The difference between Arthur and Charlemagne is that Charlemagne lived, and is a real historical figure.

    I would concur with MPS’ comments about Western European history in many ways being the direct result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, just as I believe this history of Western Civilization is directly marked by the Emperor Diocletian’s dividing the Roman Empire in two around 300 AD to be confirmed by Constantine making old Byzantium into the new Capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople [City of Constantine]. I was watching the heir of the Eastern Roman Emperors declare the Olympic Games open last night on television.

  • Botolph

    Alcuin of York was an excellent poet. I hope Donald will pardon me for reproducing one of his sonnets, with Helen Waddell’s translation. It is the equal of anything written in the Silver Age and brings the man to life, across the gap of twelve centuries. One can understand that plaintive letter to his brethren in York, “Malo vocem lectoris in ædibus tuis quan turba ridentium in scalis” [I prefer the voice of the reader in your house to the laughing throng on the stairs] Life at court, and as a prime minister at that, must have been a trial to him at times.

    De Luscinia

    QUAE te dextra mihi rapuit, luscinia, ruscis,
    ilia meæ fuerat invida laetitiæ.
    tu mea dulcisonis implesti pectora musis,
    atque animum moestum carmine mellifluo.
    qua propter veniant volucrum simul undique cœtus
    carmine te mecum plangere Pierio.
    spreta colore tamen fueras non spreta canendo.
    lata sub angusto gutture vox sonuit,
    dulce melos iterans vario modulamine Musæ,
    atque creatorem semper in ore canens.
    noctibus in furvis nusquam cessavit ab odis,
    vox veneranda sacris, o decus atque decor,
    quid mirum, cherubim, seraphim si voce tonantem
    perpctua laudent, dum tua sic potuit?

    Written for his lost nightingale

    WHOEVER stole you from that bush of broom,
    I think he envied me my happiness, O little nightingale, for many a time
    You lightened my sad heart from its distress,
    And flooded my whole soul with melody.
    And I would have the other birds all come,
    And sing along with me thy threnody.
    So brown and dim that little body was.
    But none could scorn thy singing. In that throat
    That tiny throat, what depth of harmony,
    And all night long ringing thy changing note.
    What marvel if the cherubim in heaven
    Continually do praise Him, when to thee,
    O small and happy, such a grace was given?


Saturday, February 19, AD 2011


Something for the weekend.  Charlemagne by the endlessly talented folks at music for history lovers, sung to the tune of Call Me by Blondie.

Charles the Great.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:

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Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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Science and Technology in World History

Monday, July 5, AD 2010

Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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2 Responses to Science and Technology in World History

  • The Europeans developed the stirrup which made possible heavy cavalry of armored knights. Before that cavalry rode in on the flanks of infantry and either fired arrows or threw javelins. Then retired. With the stirrup, the knight would remain on his war horse even waffter he skewered his foe.

    In my wasted youth (I was drinking more tha I was thinking) I had to take a course in European history in the Middle Ages. One of the books assigned was on technological developments in the Age. That was Spring 1970.

  • Could this be why BHO has just made ‘reaching out to the Muslim world’ foremost mission for NASA?

    That’s a great idea, they are killing us with low tech, so we should help them acquire high-tech so they can kill us better. Liberals are so smart.