Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh

Image result for heraclius and battle of nineveh

by

Damien F. Mackey

‘Something is very rotten in the state of’ a part of our conventional AD history.

Introduction

What! What! What! The Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (reign, 610 to 641 AD), fighting a “Battle of Nineveh” in 627 AD!
And here I am mistakenly under the impression that the city of Nineveh was completely destroyed in c. 612 BC, and that it lay hopelessly dead and buried until it was archaeologically resurrected by Layard in the mid-C19th AD.
But perhaps I am not alone in thinking this. For, according to: http://www.bible-history.com/assyria_archaeology/archaeology_of_ancient_assyria_nineveh.html

Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient [Assyria] and one of the mightiest cities of all antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.

Genesis 10:11
11 “From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh.”

The ancient Hebrew prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:

Nahum 2:8-10
“Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. ‘Halt! Halt!” they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color.”

In fact Nineveh was so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.

[End of quotes]

———————————————————————————–
“The importance of Heraclius’ reign as a historical watershed was recognized
by Gibbon two hundred years ago”.
———————————————————————————–

That there is something quite rotten about our historical perception of this so-called “Dark Age” era is apparent from the research of German scholars, Heribert Illig and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, the latter of whom has written, in “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/volatile/Niemitz-1997.pdf

The easiest way to understand doubts about the accepted chronology and ‘well-known’ history is to seriously systematize the problems of medieval research. This will lead us to detect a pattern which proves my thesis and gives reason to assume that a phantom period of approximately 300 years has been inserted between 600 AD to 900 AD, either by accident, by misinterpretation of documents or by deliberate falsification (Illig 1991). This period and all events that are supposed to have happened therein never existed. Buildings and artifacts ascribed to this period really belong to other periods. To prove this the Carolingian Chapel at Aachen will serve as the first example. ….
[End of quote]

Revisionist historians are well aware of the so-called “Dark Ages” period (c. 1200-700 BC) that has been artificially imposed upon, say, ancient Hittite and Greek history, and well exposed by Peter James et al. in Centuries of Darkness. In the same year that this book was first published, in 1991, German historian Heribert Illig wrote his “Phantom Time Hypothesis”. Just as Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky had pioneered a revision of BC history, so have these German writers, Illig and Niemitz, done the same for AD history. And I believe that both efforts were necessary, though I am far from accepting, in either case (the BC or the AD revision), all of the details of these pioneering works. And this last comment leads me to mention another enthusiastic reviser of ancient history, Emmet Scott, who has now also become vitally interested and well-informed about the AD revision. I neither accept all of Scott’s efforts in BC or AD, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading his helpful A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age, at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=lIpYAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=emmet+s
For an English speaker, such as I, it is easier reading than the above-mentioned German efforts, and Emmet manages to fill in some areas that they may have left untouched. I thoroughly recommend the reading of this book, though with those reservations to be kept in mind.

Nineveh

But, getting back to Nineveh, it figures again in the biography of the prophet Mohammed, whose period of floruit, from his first supposed revelation until his death (610-632 AD), is practically identical to that conventionally assigned to emperor Heraclius (610 to 641 AD). Mohammed, I have argued (and others who have written somewhat similarly, e.g., E. Scott), was by no means a true historical character but something of a biblical composite. See my:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

https://www.academia.edu/12500381/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History

There we learned that Mohammed had supposedly encountered a young man from Nineveh – quite an anomaly. And the pair are said to have discussed the prophet Jonah, whom Mohammed called his “brother”.
I followed up this Part One with:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

https://www.academia.edu/28216595/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

Strangely, then, we are finding that the ancient city of Nineveh, destroyed in the late C7th BC, and not uncovered again until the mid-C19th AD – a period of approximately two and a half millennia, according to conventional estimates – experienced an eerie phase of ‘resurgence’ in the C7th AD, roughly halfway between these two cut-off points.
This is clearly a pseudo-history.
Again, Mohammed supposedly was contemporaneous with a Jew, one Nehemiah, who is like the BC biblical governor of that name strangely resuscitated in ‘another Persian era’. See my:

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

It all makes us have to worry, then, about Heraclius himself.
We read in a review of Walter E. Kaegi’s Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge University Press), that this Byzantine emperor was a ‘most strange and incoherent figure’ http://www.historytoday.com/charles-freeman/heraclius-emperor-byzantium

Heraclius still appears to be one of the strangest and most incoherent figures that history has recorded. His reign is still considered as alternations of wondrous actions and inaction. It is this inadequate conclusion from a biography of 1905 that Professor Kaegi seeks to confront in this full and detailed life of the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. It is a major challenge. The sources for Heraclius’ life are diverse and discordant and remain virtually silent on his personality. He offended as many as he impressed and his defeats were every bit as spectacular as his victories. ….
[End of quote]

The intrigue continues.
The advent of Heraclius upon the ‘historical’ scene coincided perfectly with that of Illig’s “phantom time”, as Scott has well observed:

It was Heraclius, of course, who first came into military conflict with the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Persians, in 614, a date which, according to Heribert Illig, marks the commencement of the phantom time.
….
The importance of Heraclius’ reign as a historical watershed was recognized by Gibbon two hundred years ago. In Chapter 48 of the Decline and Fall he wrote: “From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople”.
Darkened and contracted indeed. Gibbon relied only upon written history, but that picture of contraction and darkening has been fully confirmed by archeology, which, in the past half century, has been unable to cast any fresh light upon the next three centuries of Byzantine history. On the contrary, excavators have been astonished by almost the complete absence of almost all signs of life during the latter seventh, eighth, ninth, and early tenth centuries.
The same darkness manifests itself in the West.
[End of quote]

We may need to do some unlearning

“Unlearning the Dark Ages” is the title of this review of another book by Emmet Scott, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy. Once again, whilst I accept the basic thrust of this, I would not necessarily espouse every single idea presented here (https://didactsreach.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/unlearning-dark-ages.html):

Unlearning the Dark Ages

The best thing about reading iconoclastic, revisionist historians is that, in the process of reading and understanding their works and their ideas, you learn just how badly your schooling has let you down. Such was certainly the case when I read the truth about the Great Depression through the work of Amity Shlaes and her outstanding The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Such was true of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which proved to be a thorough demolition job of the “standard” understanding of the (minimal) differences between fascism and communism. Such was the result of reading Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln.

And now, to that distinguished list, I must add a new book: Emmett Scott’s superb precis analysis of one of the most controversial theories in the field of classical and post-Roman history, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy.
The book looks at the groundbreaking work and analysis of French historian Henri Pirenne, who came up with what was at the time the most radical rethinking of the history of the Dark Ages ever proposed. And to understand just why his proposal was so strange and so difficult for mainstream historians to digest, we need to briefly look at the “accepted” view of the way that the Dark Ages came about, how they led to the Middle Ages, and finally how the Renaissance came about.

The “Received Wisdom”

If your schooling was anything like mine, you were taught that the period following the fall of the Roman Empire, up until the advent of the Carolingian Age (i.e. the age of Charlemagne and his descendants) was a true “Dark Age”, in which the wisdom, literacy, and artistic accomplishments of the Roman Empire decayed and disappeared as civilisation itself retreated and, at certain points, was in danger of dying out completely. You were taught that the 6th through to the 9th centuries were a time of backwardness and decay, and that during this time the great cities of antiquity withered and died as the empire that the Romans had spent centuries to build up, crumbled into dust in the West and was tenuously guarded in the East by Byzantium. You were taught that the Church became an instrument of terror and repression, suppressing knowledge and condemning those who pursued forbidden topics as witches and heretics.

You were even perhaps taught that the Islamic world flourished into a true Golden Age as Europe retreated into backwardness and squalor. You were told that it was the Islamic world’s preservation of ancient Greek and Latin texts that saved European civilisation; when Arabic and Persian scholars took those same books, translated centuries earlier into Arabic, back to Europe to be translated right back into European languages, the resulting transfer of knowledge kicked off the great rebirth of the Renaissance and eventually culminated in the Enlightenment.
All told, you were taught to think that the period from about 550AD (or thereabouts) to very roughly 850AD or 900AD was a three-century-long period of barbarism and backwardness so terrible that it very nearly destroyed what was left of Europe.

An Easily Believed Yarn

Obviously, I am skipping over certain key details here, but that is very broadly the historical consensus that existed before Henri Pirenne walked onto the scene. Both Edward Gibbon and J.B. Bury, perhaps the greatest historians the world has seen since Herodotus and Plutarch, argued convincingly, based on the evidence available to them at the time, that the disappearance of Roman civilisation from Western Europe resulted in a truly terrible Dark Age, and that it was Islam that saved the West. And that meme has persisted down to the present day, to the point where it is taught as near-Gospel in high schools and universities the world over.
There is just one problem with the entire theory: it is complete and arrant nonsense.
So said Henri Pirenne, who attacked the consensus understanding of the history of the period on every front. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries made up to that point, and looking carefully at geological, climatological, and contemporary source data, his conclusions were starkly at odds with the prevailing wisdom:
• Contrary to popular belief, the barbarians who settled the territories once occupied by Roman legions rapidly became Christians and Romanised all on their own, and quickly re-established a civilisation that was in many ways even more advanced than the one it had replaced;
• Trade between Europe, Britain, North Africa, and the Eastern Roman Empire flourished between 476AD and 650AD, creating massive prosperity and economic growth;
• The population of Europe did NOT shrink gradually but in fact entered a boom period, which abruptly cut off when the true Dark Age descended upon Europe;
• Most crucially, the specific reason why a Dark Age hit Europe was Islam itself
That last conclusion is by far the most unsettling. Henri Pirenne did not deny that a Dark Age did indeed descend across Europe; what he contested was the specific dates which were accorded to the period. And his analysis showed that the true Dark Ages corresponded virtually perfectly with the first great wave of Islamic expansion.

A Controversy Revisited

As can be imagined, such a radical revision of accepted historical narrative was a huge shock to most of Pirenne’s contemporaries. In his analysis of and expansion upon Pirenne’s work, Emmett Scott notes that even today, most historians find Pirenne’s conclusions so difficult to swallow that they force themselves through all sorts of contortions of logic, evidence, and fact to avoid the extremely uncomfortable realities that those ideas would lead to.

Yet the evidence itself is beyond dispute. And Mr. Scott presents that evidence in a book that is a true pleasure to read.

He starts with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire itself, and carries on with his analysis all the way through to the latter 11th Century, when the Middle Ages were well and truly established. And his analysis, presented calmly, clearly, and in considerable yet fascinating detail, is extraordinary.

The history in this book reads like a detective story- and what a fascinating story it is. His tale is the forgotten history of a Europe that we are only now beginning to see and understand.

As Mr. Scott points out, the fall of the Roman Empire was not in fact quite the rupture that we are taught it was in school. It was actually basically a simple transition; the last Roman emperor simply stepped off the throne and handed the crown to the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. At that point in time, the population of the Roman Empire had indeed been in long-term decline; the stock of “ethnic Romans” had dwindled significantly, hence the reason why barbarian Germanic and Gothic tribes were allowed to settle within Roman territories in exchange for their service to the Empire. And that downward trend in population did continue into the early 6th Century.

But then something remarkable happened. The “barbarians” began to civilise. And they did so at a truly astonishing pace.

The Visigothic kingdoms of Spain emerged into a true Golden Age. In Gaul, the Merovingians consolidated and united the Gaulish tribes into a true nation and began building upon the centuries of accumulated wisdom of the Romans and the Greeks. England, a frontier outpost long abandoned by the Romans at that point, rebuilt a true Christian civilisation; Caledonia (Scotland) and Hibernia (Ireland), dreary and miserable islands that they were, also began to experience rapid social, technological, and spiritual progress, thanks in no small part to the introduction and rapid uptake of the Christian faith to those benighted lands.

From Spain in the west to Carthage in the south to Byzantium in the East, a true Mediterranean civilisation began to take shape. The existence of expensive and expertly crafted African Red Slip pottery was proven well into the 7th Century in the northern reaches of former Roman territories, including Britain. In the East, the Byzantines held the line against the Persians, but were strong and flourishing in their own right.

Mr. Scott presents a true mountain of evidence showing that there was no Dark Age in Europe, right up to the middle of the 7th Century. In its place was an advanced culture in which art, science, and literature flourished at a rate not since since the days of the Rome of Marcus Aurelius. Not even the great plague of the Emperor Justinian’s time, in the mid-6th Century, could put a stop to Europe’s rapid pace of development.

Within and through it all, the Holy Church spearheaded the revival and revolution. The Benedictine order of monks proved instrumental in preserving, recording, and building upon the knowledge of the ancients. As Mr. Scott points out, there is no other group in all of human history that has done more to advance the knowledge and happiness of our species, and there is no institution in history that has ever done more for Mankind than the Church of Christ.

And then, suddenly, it all went horribly wrong.

Rupture

From the second half of the 7th Century, the evidence tells us that something happened which irrevocably changed Europe’s fate. The advances of the previous two hundred years came to a screeching halt. Thriving metropolises were wiped out almost overnight, never to be resettled. Population growth crashed; trade across the Mediterranean collapsed; the fortunes of the Byzantines lurched from disaster to catastrophe with almost monotonous regularity for the better part of three hundred years.

And so the situation remained, until the Carolingian Age was well and truly established, and mediaeval Europe came into existence.

We know what the Middle Ages were like- or at least, we think we do. In reality, what we were taught in school about the Middle Ages is also basically wrong- in reality, the Middle Ages saw the advent of another advanced civilisation which was brought to its knees by the Plague. But that is not the era with which Pirenne or Scott concerned themselves. They were interested in the reason why an age of progress and expansion collapsed so quickly.
The answer can be summed up in one word: Islam.
The archaeological and historical evidence that Mr. Scott presents shows beyond a doubt that the extremely sudden reversal in Europe’s fortunes coincides perfectly with the beginnings of the first wave of Islamic expansion, following the “prophet” Mohammed’s establishment of a power base in Medina as a warlord.

In the latter quarter of the book, Mr. Scott presents a powerful analysis of the Islamic doctrine of war and shows that the canonical origin story of Islam, already highly suspect, is basically garbage. He further points out that the reason why the Arabs were able to expand so rapidly is not because of any great military skill on their part; the Arabs, a nomadic and squabbling people, were hugely outnumbered and outclassed in every way by the Byzantine Empire. Instead, it is far more likely that they made an alliance with the Sassanid Persians, and that the early victories of “Arab” Islam were in fact backed and financed by the vast wealth and power of the Persian empire in the East.

And anyone who knows anything about Islamic doctrines regarding warfare, piracy, the taking of slaves, and the division of the world into dar al-Harb and dar al-Islam will know that Mr. Scott is talking perfect sense when he points out that it was the rapid expansion of Islam that caused Mediterranean commerce and prosperity to come to a crashing halt almost overnight.

A Myth Debunked

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Mr. Scott’s work is his analysis of the much-ballyhoed “Islamic golden age”. This is another standard trope that we are all taught in school. We are taught to believe the politically correct lie that Islam was an enlightened religion of peace, which fostered scientific advancement, mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and literature at a pace never seen in the West.

This is almost all complete BS.

In reality, whatever advances that the Islamic world made during the Dark Ages, which it created, were due to the works of far greater philosophers and authors from the Roman and Byzantine eras. In fact, the greatest findings attributed to “Arab” mathematicians and philosophers were actually Persian in origin. Indeed, the great advances in mathematics, such as the “Arabic” numbering system and the “Arabic” concept of zero and the “Arabic” method of algebra, are all Indian and Greek discoveries given a fresh coat of paint by Persian philosophers.

The true face of the Arabic Islamic empire of the time was in fact remarkably similar to what we see happening with ISIS today. It was backward, intolerant, abusive of Jews and Christians alike, utterly ruthless in dealing with pagans, violent, intolerant, and totally incapable of responsible governance over the territories that it conquered- which were once the wealthiest and most advanced creations of the children of the Roman Empire.

There is far, far more to this remarkable book than I can possibly do justice to here. But I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in the history of Islam’s interactions with the West. It is a scholarly work of the first order that is as readable as any best-selling thriller, and as thought-provoking as anything that Thomas DiLorenzo has ever written. It will make you sit up and think; it will shock and amaze you; and you will very likely walk away from it with your entire understanding of the post-Roman era of history turned upside-down.

 

Part Two:

A composite character to end all composites

 

Heraclius seems to have one foot in Davidic Israel, one in the old Roman Republic, and, whatever feet may be left (because this definitely cannot be right), in the Christian era.

 

What a mix of a man is this emperor Heraclius! What a conundrum! What a puzzle!

I feel sorry for Walter Emil Kaegi, who has valiantly attempted to write a biography of him: Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium.

 

 

The accomplishment of this scholarly exercise I believe to be a complete impossibility. And I could simply base this view on what I read from Kaegi’s book itself (pp. 12 and 13):

 

The story of Heraclius, as depicted in several literary historical traditions, is almost Herodotean in his experience of fickle fortune’s wheel of triumph and tragedy, of ignorance or excessive pride, error, and disaster.

 

Mackey’s comment: To classify the story of Heraclius as “Herodotean” may be appropriate. Herodotus, ostensibly “the Father of History” (Cicero), has also been called “the Father of Lies” by critics who claim that his ‘histories’ are little more than tall tales.

Heraclius, as we now read, is spread ‘all over the place’ (my description):

 

At one level his name is associated with two categories of classical nomenclature: (1) ancient classical offices such as the consulship, as well as (2) many of the most exciting heroes, places, precedents, and objects of classical, ancient Near Eastern, and Biblical antiquity: Carthage, Nineveh, Jerusalem, the vicinity of Alexander the Great’s triumph over the Persians at Gaugamela, Noah’s Ark, the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, Arbela, the fragments of the True Cross, Damascus, Antioch, perhaps even ancient Armenia’s Tigra- nocerta, and of course, Constantinople.

 

Mackey’s comment: According to a late source (conventionally 600 years after Heraclius): “The historian Elmacin recorded in the 13th Century that in the 7th Century the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had climbed Jabal Judi in order to see the place where the Ark had landed”. http://bibleprobe.com/noahark-timeline.htm

At least the correct mountain may figure here. See my:

 

Mountain of Landing for the Ark of Noah

 

https://www.academia.edu/19675406/Mountain_of_Landing_for_the_Ark_of_Noah

 

Biblically, Heraclius has been compared with such luminaries as Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and even with Jesus Christ.

And no wonder in the case of David! For we read in Steven H. Wander’s article for JSTOR, “The Cyprus Plates and the “Chronicle” of Fredegar” (pp. 345-346):

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291381.pdf

 

…. there is one episode from the military career of Heraclius that bears a striking similarity to the story of David and Goliath.

Byzantine chroniclers record that during his campaign against the Emperor Chosroes in 627, Heraclius fought the Persian general Razatis in single combat, beheading his opponent like the Israelite hero.6 George of Pisidia, the court poet, may have even connected this contemporary event with the life of David. In his epic panegyrics on Heraclius’ Persian wars, he compared the Emperor to such Old Testament figures as Noah, Moses, and Daniel; unfortunately the verses of his Heraclias that, in all likelihood, dealt in detail with the combat are lost.6

 

[End of quote]

 

That fateful year 627 AD again, the year also of the supposed Battle of Nineveh said to have been fought and won by Heraclius!

According to Shaun Tougher, The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People: “Heraclius … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”.

Likewise, in the case of Charlemagne, as I noted in my:

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

https://www.academia.edu/24342059/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

…. Charlemagne has indeed been likened to King Solomon of old, e.g. by H. Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 395), who calls him a “witness of God, after the style of Solomon …”, and he has been spoken of in terms of the ancient kings of Israel; whilst Charlemagne’s father, Pepin the Short, was hailed as “the new king David’.

 

[End of quote]

 

So it appears that Heraclius may have some strong competition from the West in his ‘aspiring’ to be either the new King David or the new King Solomon!

Kaegi continues:

 

He and his writers sought to associate his name with famous names from antiquity: Alexander, Scipio and Constantine I, and with the Biblical Moses and David. Yet he will have to compete with a new name: Muhammad.

 

Mackey’s comment: He is up there with Scipio and Hannibal (another most dubious ‘historical’ character as well).

Thus we read at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius

 

Edward Gibbon in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

 

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. […] Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire.[52]

[End of quote]

 

As for “Muhammad” (Mohammed), we have found him out to be a massive biblical composite.

Given all the biblico-historical baggage with which emperor Heraclius has been fitted down through the centuries, it is little wonder then that, according to Kaegi:

 

No preceding or subsequent Byzantine emperor saw so much: the Araxes, the Khabur, Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias).

….

Heraclius was controversial while living and is controversial today. ….

 

Mackey’s comment: That last is putting it mildly.

But how can one such as Kaegi possibly (and all credit to him for trying) write a biography of Heraclius when, according to Kaegi’s own testimony:

 

Lacunae exist in our knowledge of Heraclius. First of all there are doubts about basic chronology, sometimes due to conflicting reports in the sources, at other times due to omissions of information about certain of his activities. Heraclius and his advisers left no diaries, memoirs, or personal letters. There are no archives of original documents. It is impossible to know biographical details about him that might be standard for nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures. The chronology is inexact for some important events.

 

Mackey’s comment: Phew! Yet, despite that horrific sequence of negatives:

 

… it is not the worst-documented period of the Byzantine Empire, for there is more documentation than for some other reigns of the seventh century, and for many of those of the fifth century.

 

Mackey’s comment: God help us!

Kaegi again:

 

Mysteries abound. The ultimate goals of Heraclius remain obscure. What did Heraclius really want? ….

 

I don’t think that we shall ever know.

 

Part Three:

Channeling Alexander the Great

 

Heraclius, also often compared to Alexander the Great, appears to have usurped some of the credentials of the famous Macedonian world-conqueror.

 

According to the supposed C7th AD historian, George of Pisidia, Heraclius was more than comparable to Alexander the Great and to Timotheus (admiral). This is discussed in the thesis by David M. Pritchard, The Emperor Heraclius; Investigations into the Image of an Emperor:

 

It is not just Heraclius’ military skills that are praised in comparison with the pair of Alexander the Great and Timotheus. They are both Greek commanders one of whom was a general the other an admiral, and both of whom were operating in the same part of the world as Heraclius. However, Heraclius is superior as a person, he built his army up to be organised, well trained and brave, whereas Alexander inherited his from his father. Heraclius had to battle against fortune whilst Tyche smiled on Timotheus’ endeavours: “Timotheus sleeping amidst battles, then Fortune handing over the cities on this side and on that”. … These comparisons serve to summarise the virtues of Heraclius that George wants to extol. He is compared with biblical figures to illustrate his piety and the manner in which he has served God, whilst his military skills that are always in evidence, are complemented by the aid of God, which raises him above his pagan predecessors, thanks to that piety.

[End of quote]

 

But the comparisons with Alexander become even more specific. Previously in this series we may have been puzzled to learn that Heraclius had, in 627 AD, fought the “Battle of Nineveh”, depsite the fact that the city of Nineveh no longer existed. Now, most strangely again, Heraclius is credited with also having fought – just as Alexander the Great had indeed done historically (in 333 BC, conventional dating) – the Battle of Issus. We read about it in this uncritical piece, “Echoing Alexander” http://larsbrownworth.com/blog/category/issus/battle-of-issus/

 

Pavel asks if Heraclius ever fought a battle at Issus- the famous spot where Alexander the Great defeated a huge Persian army led by his rival Darius.

There must have been something about the place that attracted armies.  By the time Heraclius showed up in 622 A.D. Issus had seen two previous major, empire defining, winner-take-all clashes.  The first (and most famous) was in 333 BC when Alexander the Great met Darius and broke the back of Persian power.  The second was in 194 AD during the year of the 5 emperors when the armies of Septimius Severus defeated his main rival.  (A few days after the battle the victorious Severus mopped up the still defiant and relatively nearby Byzantium, where- anticipating Constantine by more than a century- he rebuilt it in his own honor)

Heraclius in a way combined his two predecessors- a Greek-speaking, Hellenized, Roman Emperor.  In the autumn of 622, he crossed the Aegean looking for the Persian army.  They met at the famous Issus, but unlike the previous two battles this one wasn’t decisive.  Neither army was really willing to come to grips and (despite an alleged prediction by Mohammed that it would result in a major Roman victory), it was more of a skirmish.  Heraclius spent the next several years trying to force a Persian engagement and nearly lost it all when he was ambushed crossing a river.  The tide turned in 624, but it wasn’t until December of 627- half a decade after the battle of Issus- that he was able to fight a decisive battle with the Persians.

[End of quote]

 

“… it wasn’t until December of 627- half a decade after the battle of Issus- that he was able to fight a decisive battle with the Persians”, that being, of course, the fictitious Battle of Nineveh.

Modern historian J. Bury followed George of Pisidia in his likening of Heraclius to Alexander.

Irfan Shahid tells of it in The Iranian Factor in Byzantium during the Reign of Heraclius, at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291452.pdf

 

Bury conceived of Heraclius as another Alexander. …. There is indeed something in the career of Heraclius which is reminiscent of Alexander: mounted on his charger, Dorkon … he fought on occasion a Homeric aristeia in much the same way that Alexander, mounted on Bucephalus, had done before, though more significant is his role in the contest of East and West and in the victory of the latter over the former, represented by Persia.

…. Bury’s views have been accepted in whole or in part by a number of scholars … but they have been rejected by others …. Ostrogorsky … in his History of the Byzantine State …. After describing the linguistic change which took place during the reign of Heraclius-the dropping of Latin and the use of Greek exclusively as the official language of the Empire-he goes on to say:

 

Under the influence of this Hellenization an important change, which was at the same time a simplification, was made in the imperial title in the Byzantine Empire. Heraclius gave up the complicated Latin form of address, and following popular Greek usage he took the title of βασιλεύς. Thus the royal title of the ancient Greek kings, which had hitherto only been used unofficially for the Byzantine Emperor, now replaced the Roman titles, imperator [caesar] augustus. In future the Byzantine Emperor was officially designated as Basileus and this was recognized as the actual imperial title.

 

Alexander the Great was, of course, a “king” (basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.

Heraclius again, just like “Alexander [who] … adopted the title ShahanShah (King of Kings) used by the rulers of the First Persian Empire” (http://www.ancient.eu/Alexander_the_Great/),

“took for himself the ancient Persian title of “King of Kings”, dropping the traditional Roman imperial title of “Augustus”.” (http://www.themiddleages.net/people/heraclius.html).

Alexander the Great had, historically again (in 331 BC, conventional dating), fought and won the Battle of Gaugamela. Not surprisingly, now, so did Heraclius. Steven Ward writes of it (Immortal, Updated Edition: A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces, p. 36):

 

Heraclius began a march against the palace of the Great King at Dastagird. The Persian army, now under the command of Razates, avoided combat, probably hoping the Greek move across Anatolia would wear down the soldiers and overextend their lines. An impatient Chosroes, however, ordered his generals to fight. In December 627, Razates inauspicioulsy attacked smaller Greek forces under Heraclius near Gaugamela.

 

[End of quote]

 

With the armies at a standstill, and as we read in Part Two: “Heraclius [who] … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”, famously fought Razates (Razatis) in single combat and – yes, you guessed it – beheaded him.

A “new David” he was, but also “the new Alexander”, the title of Gerrit J. Reinink’s article, “’Heraclius, the New Alexander: Apocalyptic Prophecies during the Reign of Heraclius” (Louvain: Peeters, 2002).

 

I shall conclude this Part Three with a final parallel between Alexander and Heraclius as found in Barbara Baert’s article, “Heraclius and Chosroes or The Desire for the True Cross” (2005) http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Baert_Heraclius_Chosroes.shtml:

 

In an early seventh-century source from Edessa, Heraclius is even compared with Alexander the Great. [6]

….

According to the Legend of the True Cross, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641) was involved in a battle against Chosroes II (588-628?), the Sassanian king who had stolen the cross in Jerusalem. Entering the astrological tower in Ctesiphon, Heraclius finds Chosroes sitting at his mechanical throne. It was kept in constant movement by horses, just as the universe is constantly moving. Into the throne, Chosroes had placed the cross relic “as the sun,” and an image of a cock “as the ghost.” Chosroes considered himself “as the father.” Heraclius decapitates Chosroes on his throne and restitutes the cross to Jerusalem.

….

In 1878, M. J. Mohl published a German translation of the Firdausi verses written down in present-day Iran in 900 or thereabouts. [27] In this legend, a king builds a colossal “Taq dis”; etymologically this means “equal to the firmament” (fornici similis). [28] This “celestial throne” was made of the richest materials and embellished with all the signs of the zodiac. Four steps led up to a throne supported by lions. The Persian astrological throne functioned within a ritual context. As the center of the heavenly realm, the ruler was manifested as one who has power to influence the stars. Indeed, the ruler is venerated as the entity into which the cosmic powers have poured. The throne symbolizes this power.

In the Firdausi verses, it is told that Alexander the Great, indifferent to the treasures of the palace and unfamiliar with the astrological potential of the construction, destroyed the dazzling “Taq dis.” However, Chosroes II conceived the plan of restoring the ancient astrological temple. T. Nöldeke suggests that the specific passage of the legend in which Chosroes II appears was based on the “Book of Chosroes,” a lost Arabic chronicle that goes up to 628 AD. [29] Cedrenos (Historiarum compendium, 1057) also supplemented his Elevation of the Cross passage with a description of the astrological temple. [30]

The throne of Chosroes corresponds to the planetarium or the cosmic clock. Philostratus [c. 200 AD] described such a structure in Babylon. The men’s hall in the palace had a domed vault that resembled the heavens. The dome was decorated with sapphires and with images of their gods, the planets. [31] ….

 

Part Four:

Avaric Empire a Fabrication?

 

Gyula Tóth claims that, while the Hungarian Chronicles fully support Heribert Illig’s Phantom Time hypothesis, Illig himself has been apparently unaware of these Chronicles.

 

Tóth has, in his article, “The Hungarian chronicles and the phantom time hypothesis”, arrived at some amazing conclusions regarding the need for an historical condensation based upon the Hungarian evidence

http://maghon.weebly.com/uploads/2/0/0/3/20035969/toth_gyula_-_angolul_i.pdf

What he discovers is that the Magyar incursion is the same as that of the Avars, 300 years apart.

He commences his article with a comment about Illig, this leading him into his introduction of the Hungarian Chronicles:

 

…. When Heribert Illig introduced his theory on the “fabricated middle ages” (Erfundenes Mittelalter), or more known as Phantom time hypothesis; he mainly referred to western Europe. As per say the many false records from the Carolingian Age, the palace chapel of Aachen that predates by far its era with its architectural solutions (Palatine Chapel), the peculiar calendar reform of Pope Gregory XIII, the characteristic lacking of archeological evidence of the era.

 

Naturally, refers to peculiarities of the Byzantine Empire as well: the stoppage of constructions, the decadence of literacy, the odd fairytale likeliness of events, the incomprehensible and unjustified actions of the rewriting of chronicles. His arguments on their own are heavy enough and stimulating. Illig on the other hand never even mentions one thing, seemingly, the signs show that he was not even aware of it.

 

This is none other [than] the Hungarian chronicles. Those Hungarian chronicles, that back up and confirm his theories with such a surge of elementary power, that it should have been at least mentioned, never the less having its own chapter. …. While in prominent history magazines they try to disproof and debunk that the time line of our chronology has been [tampered] with, they don’t even dare to mention the Hungarian chronicles in these articles.

 

Tóth will be more critical of Illig’s modus operandi in “The Phantom Dark Ages and Beyond” https://www.scribd.com/document/299173251/The-Phantom-Dark-Ages-and-Beyond-Gyula-Toth

He now proceeds to point out the conundrum of the lack of mention of the Avars (not to mention the Khazars) supposedly situated between Attila the Hun and the Magyar incursions:

 

According to the official version of history and the chronology that is in use, Atilla the Hun existed in the first half of the four hundreds A.D., while the Magyar Ingression happened at the end of the eight hundreds, in 895 A.D. The time span between the two events are a merely 450 years, which should be considerable as of historical value. The Hungarian chronicles portray the times of Atilla with utter most detail. The same happens with the Magyar Ingression (secundus ingressus). Pages on end with utter most details depiction of events upon events. Therefore we rightfully might expect that the same would happen

about the time passed between the two events. That our chroniclers write about those events with at least the same accuracy. Let’s say, about the avars and the Avaric Empire that existed in this time period. To our amazement not only they don’t do such a thing, they don’t even write down the name of the avars nor use the word or expression avar, avaric. The dating of events don’t even allow the existence of an Avaric Empire of merely three hundred years. For right after the death of Atilla the Magyar Ingression occurs. This

happens after 104 years, over five generations. Kálti Márk and Kézai Simon make the impression as if they would be suffering of some sort of historical amnesia. Three hundred years can’t just be ignored as if they would be insignificant. How come they know more about the Hunnic period then the Avaric Empire that predates the Magyar Ingression? Let’s admit it: is pure hair raising! Surely they must have had some knowledge of the Avaric Empire, if not first hand at least second hand information. No matter where our ancestors lived during the three hundred years of Avaric rule, it must have been somewhere around the Carpathian Basin. Contact of any kind is likely to take place! Assuming of course that such an Avaric Empire ever existed. If not, it’s not surprising that our chronicles “omit” mentioning about such thing.

Not only the Avaric Empire is “omitted”, but also the Khazar Empire! This is again mind bothering, for according to the official version of events, prior to the Magyar Ingression our ancestors were supposed to be part of such empire from times after the death of Atilla. Our chronicles haven’t even ever heard of any Khazar Empire.

 

I shall include this other section from Tóth’s article, as it includes Heraclius and

 

Constantine III or Constantine VII?

 

Illig in his book takes account of the [eerie] resemblance between events of the 5th and the 10th century as well. “The (Byzantine) empire is weakened militarily by the advancements of the Avars around the year 600 to the Balkan peninsula.” – he writes. Let’s not forget: with the correction of 300 years the Avaric advancement coincides with the Magyar advancement! For the Byzantine Empire had to face a strong enemy from the north in the beginning of the nine hundreds, [namely] the Magyars, the suspicion arises that the whole Avaric era is [none] other [than] the duplicate of the Magyar Ingression backdated. Illig takes reference on Manfred Zeller, who in his works about the peoples of steppe shows that: “the number of the horse-archer peoples’ in the first millennium doubles, filling the empty centuries!” Therefore the Avars are just a duplicate! A duplicate created beside the Hun-Magyar nations with one purpose, to fill in the empty centuries. The archaeological artifacts denoted as Avaric could easily be that of the Huns of Atilla’s.

 

For now let’s return to the Byzantine Empire: in 602 under the name of Phocas, a fearsome and untalented emperor sits on the throne by usurpation. At this time, the king of the Persians, Khosrau II, taking advantage of the situation makes an attack on Byzantine seemingly to avenge the murdered emperor. In 610 Heraclius puts an end to the terror reign of Phocas, but the Persian advancements continue: they take over Eastern Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestina, Egypt and on the Northern shores of Africa they reach till Tripoli. The occupation of Jerusalem and the taking of the True Cross happened in 614 may 22nd after a three [week] siege. An interesting thing about Heraclius is that he had a co-emperor. This is his own son who is already crowned in 613 at the age of two. Being at the side of his father with no contribution in decision making. When he finally got to the throne he only ruled for a mere four months. This being none other then Constantine III, who is mentioned in the Chronicon Pictum about the time of the Magyar Ingression:

 

“… one hundred and four years after the death of the Magyar king Atilla, in the times of Emperor Constantine the III. and Pope Zachary – as can be found written in the chronicles of the Romans – the Magyars rode out for the second time from Scythia…”

 

It is very interesting that the Chronicon Pictum’s author sets the emperor from the time of the Magyar Ingression as an emperor who lived in the six hundreds! As we know according to Illig, the start of the phantom segment in our chronology takes place from 614, shortly after the True Cross is taken away. In this time Constantine III is already crowned, but only of three years of age. The time when he gains power to reign falls within the phantom segment. If Illig is right, then the character of Constantine III has to appear in some form in the 10th century as well. And as by magic, in the 10th century we also have a Constantine! This time not the III but the VII! Namingly Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (the Purpleborn), who probably was one of the mastermind behind the fabrication of our chronology. After this Illig analyzed Constantine’s life story. The story of the 10th century takes its beginning where Emperor Leo VI the Wise within four years becomes a widower three times, then finally Zoe Zaoutzaina gives birth to a son but illegitimate. When Leo crowns this boy as co-emperor, he dies within a year, in 912. (One should keep in mind that according to Illig in the year 911 the history starts anew. So in 912 the crowning of the illegitimate son belong to the real events of the time line.) But this boy has no saying in the state’s matter until the age of 24. In this perspective bares resemblance with Constantine III, who also was crowned as coemperor at a young age and only could take the state’s power into his hands much later on. So who do you think was the illegitimate son of Emperor Leo from the 10th century? Well, none other then Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos!

 

The similarities are too remarkable between the life of Constantine III from the 7th century and that of Constantine VII from the 10th century. Worthy of note is the matter of the regaining of the True Cross from the hands of the Persians. It is not by mistake that Constantine VII has put it on the account of Heraclius, by doing this he did nothing else but paying homage to his own father’s memory. For Heraclius in first of all not only being the father of Constantine III from the 7th century, he was also the father of Constantine VII of the 10th century! On top of all Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos arranges the beginning of the real history in a way that would start with his own coronation!

 

In similarities not only the characters of the two emperors show resemblance, but also the foreign policies of the Byzantine Empire of the 7th and 10th century. As we’ve seen, in the 7th century the empire was troubled from the north by the Avaric advancements, meanwhile, in the southeast by that of the Persians. In the 10th century events repeat with different characters: in the north the Magyars trouble the empire, while in the southeast the Arabic expansion does the same. At this point one pauses for a brief moment and asks himself: isn’t it possible that the Avars of the 7th century are no more then the Magyars of the 10th century? And the Arabic expansion of the 10th century is likely to be the Persian expansion of the 7th century? So, if the Byzantine Empire was troubled in the 7th century by Persians and Avars, in the 10th century these become Arabs and Magyars!

Advertisements

One thought on “Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s