The ERA, a medieval chronological reckoning
Berlin · 2006
The Julian or province-era, generally called ERA, was widely documented throughout Europe during the Middle Ages from the 5th to the 15th centuries at a time long before our modern AD-reckoning came into usage. The word ERA probably is Vandal in origin and means the same as the German word "Jahr" (year), meaning "turning round in a circle" like the beasts do on a threshing ground which is called "era" in Spain until today. As this way of reckoning the years was called "provincial era" in some documents, it was supposed that it started when Spain became a province of the Roman Empire. This opinion has been discarded long since, already Pauly-Wissowa (1893, I, 606) had strong objections.
|This stone of Granada (Alhambra) mentions the consecrations of three different churches, but offers a blank space for the date (above left) and a date later engraved with smaller letters (below right)|
In order to compare
the era-years to modern counting one has to subtract 38 years, and that
is why the start of the ERA was placed at 38 BC. Yet nobody ever found
a reason why this particular year should have been chosen as starting
So the anachronism
was erradicated anyway, but the two stones taken together bluntly tell
the technique: They are forgeries in order to create the history of the
church. By long research into the matter and visiting a great number of
the known inscriptions with ERA dates I found that all of them must have
been faked (see Topper 1998, chapter 5).
|This stone found in Cordoba not only shows the name of the Gothic king Swintila and the date ERA 665, but also a typical cross of the 12th century 'Reconquista'|
When did the ERA come into use ?
It is not clearly known when the Julian ERA started to be used. Hübner (1871, Nr. 113) reproduces the "oldest unsuspectable inscription" of Spain, a tombstone of a woman who died "504 ERA". Another similar tombstone testifies to a "female servant of God, who had lived more or less 70 years and died ERA 552". I could see this stone in the Museum of Cádiz in 1997, yet after publishing my book criticising the inscription the stone was removed and replaced by a photograph of something else.
Now let us consider the origin of the ERA the way it is generally accepted nowadays and was aptly explained by Krusch (1880) and his colleagues: If the earliest inscriptions showing ERA dates go back to around 500 ERA we can agree that ERA was started 493 by king Geiserich. In this year Geiserich supposedly sacked Rome, corresponding to the year 455 AD. After he had imposed the ERA for his empire, the council of Tarragona (516 AD) accepted this regulation for the Western Church as well. That means that from this date on the Vatican and all its dependencies used the ERA in their documents. Even the Arabs in Andalusia used the same procedure calling it "Tarikh es-Safar", which means "History of the Spaniards". Documents issued in Germany by the Castilian king Alfons X, the Wise, in his authority as king of Germany, used ERA dates as well.
The most commonly
known medieval writer Isidore of Seville (7th c.) uses in one of his books,
the "History of the Goths", dates according to ERA throughout
as a red ribbon. But many historians regard this book as a fake. In other
writings of Isidore the ERA dates are only handwritten on the margins
and can thus easily be detected as later additions. In his famous "De
Natura Rerum" (chapter VI, 7) Isidore explains that ERA began when
the Roman emperor Augustus censured the people of his empire in 7 BC (or
to others in 4 BC). This does not agree with the information that ERA
starts in 38 BC, but it is a strong hint that the counting of the years
from the birth of Christ on (AD) has its starting point at 7 BC (which
is widely accepted nowadays).
The magical year 1001
Waiting for the Thousand-year Paradise was the reason that produced our time-reckoning. It also provided us with the key to discover its manner of manipulation.
If the ERA started at 500 with stone inscriptions and manuscripts and was uninterruptedly used until the introduction of the AD reckoning, we should easily find out its limits: Either the difference was 38 years as proposed in modern times or it was 259 years (297 minus 38). Taken the latter case we have to conclude that the Renaissance writers erred or lied intentionally. By many researches I came to the conviction that they lied.
Some first indication was delivered by Hübner in his diligent work (p. 117): He reproduces an inscription Nr. 489 with the date Era 621 (corresponding to 583 AD) and says that this date must be false because style and art belong to the 9th century. Hübner easily skips the given date and prefers to trust the characteristics of art thus jumping over three hundred years. This is an example valid for many I have scrutinized. I regard all ERA dates as fakes produced in an age posterior to the dates suggested, in order to create history with theological interest. Hübner tells us involuntarily but surely that two types of chronology were fighting each other, with a difference of 297 years, of which the longer one is prevailing.
On the -supposed- tombstone of the Byzantine general Belisarius, we find blank spaces for the age and the exact year of the death
So we don't have to ponder any longer why ERA-dates end in the 11th century - the latest ones have 1065 AD - and AD reckoning officially starts in Spain in the 14th century (or a century later). Did those cultured and documenting people in Spain not date anything for 300 years? This can only be explained as a jump over figures in a fictitious time-reckoning.
A remarkable hint indicating the jump over 297 years I found in the "Eternal Gospel" of Joaquim of Fiore. According to ecclesiastical opinion he lived between 1130 and 1202 AD and wrote a wellknown commentary on the Revelation of St. John. This work was reedited by a monk Gerard de Borgo Donino in 1254 AD but banned by the church, and the monk was imprisoned for 18 years!
Of course we don't
know the real content of this book as it was rewritten by the church after
the Tridentinum; the modern text contains details belonging to the theological
discussion following the council of Trento.
The expectation of
the year 1001, loaded with fear by the church had been bound to the calculation
of the ERA computists: 1260 minus 297 makes 963 plus 38 (difference between
Era and AD) makes 1001.
It seems obvious from this procedure - as confirmed by many other incidents - that there was a long quarrel between two sections of the church: There were the Spanish popes (Borgia) who defended the original conversion of Iberia to Christ by the mission of Santiago, whereas the other fraction, the later popes in Rome, in order to defend their primacy, invented the mission of Peter and Paul. They had to present a longer chronology then the ERA and thus made it jump over three centuries.
Hübner, Emil (1871 und 1900): Inscriptiones Hispaniae Christianae,
mit Supplementum (G. Reimer, Berlin; reprint Hildesheim 1975)
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