Christianity’s Criminal History, 118

Editors’ note: To contextualise these excerpts of a 6-page section of Vol. II, ‘The fall of Rome (410) and the pretexts of Augustine’ in Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 

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Furious at the Roman Catholic massacre, the Germanic soldiers, apparently some thirty thousand men, went over to Alaric’s side. They fled Italy to the sphere of political influence of the Goth king, who had waited in Epirus in vain for the army of Flavius Stilicho. Nor did the Roman soldiers of the West receive their salaries. Thus, Alaric advanced through Pannonia to Italy. On the way, he demanded to Stilicho, by messengers, 4,000 pounds of gold for his march to Epirus; a very considerable sum that the Senate only approved with great reluctance after an intervention of Stilicho, but that later, in view of the changes produced in the government of the Roman Empire of the West, had not paid.

Alaric, who in the meantime had crossed the unprotected Julian Alps and invaded Italy, crossed the Po by Cremona, ravaging everything in his path, and in 408 he presented himself before Rome, which he subjected to siege; hunger and plague took over the city. When promised a gigantic tribute (apparently 5,000 pounds of gold, to which in part contributed images of molten gods, 30,000 pounds of silver, 4,000 silk suits, 3,000 purple-dyed skins and 3,000 pounds of pepper) he retreated to Tuscia after increasing his army with some forty thousand slaves who had escaped the city.

However, Olympius tried to neutralize Alaric’s demands. For this reason, the magister officiorum lost his position in January 409, and although he recovered it after a successful campaign against the Goths in Pisa, Honorius expelled him again at the beginning of that year, now definitively. He fled to Dalmatia, where around 411-412 the magister militum Constantius had him captured, his ears cut off and he was beaten with stakes to death. After a new failure in the negotiations, Alaric marched for the second time, in the year 409, to Rome. This time he named himself a prince. He imposed on the Romans, as a counter-emperor, the prefect of his city Priscus Attalus.

The new Christian and Emperor (409-410), in order to guarantee the supply of grain for Rome, had to send a small contingent of troops to Africa, and he himself went to Ravenna to force Honorius to abdicate. There, the praefectus praetorius Jovius, who directed the negotiations of the sovereign and was the most important man of the court, went to the side of Attalus and proposed to mutilate Honorius.

However, four thousand soldiers returning from Constantinople saved him. Alaric dethroned Attalus because he refused to let the Goths conquer Africa, whose colonisation he feared. The king tried again, in vain, to reach an understanding with Honorius, after which he advanced to Rome for the third time. And on this occasion, on August 24, 410, with the citizens practicing cannibalism because of hunger, the city fell. Through the Porta Salaria, which is said to have been opened from within, the drunken Visigoths of victory entered, while a stream of fugitives spread through southern Italy to Africa and Palestine.

Rome, still one of the richest cities in the world, was subjected to a rigorous pillage for three days, although it did not suffer great devastation, and its matrons and girls were barely touched. Of the majority, according to Gibbon, the lack of youth, beauty and virtue saved them from being raped. Naturally, there were also acts of cruelty. Thus, apparently ‘devout fighters’ or ‘idolaters’ stormed the convents to ‘forcibly release the nuns from the vow of chastity’ (Gregorovius).

Christian voices even claimed that a part of the city was burned down… In fact, by Alaric’s express order, churches and ecclesiastical property were respected, as happened in the sieges of 408 and 409, with the churches of St Peter and St Paul located outside the walls. In spite of this, until quite advanced the modern era it was believed in Rome, where ignorance was not accidental, that the Goths had destroyed the city and its monuments. The fact is that it was not the ‘barbarians’ who ruined it, but the decline of Christians in the Middle Ages, and even some popes.

In the previous eight hundred years, Rome—the city in which, it was believed, Peter and Paul were resting together with innumerable martyrs—had not been conquered. And it fell in the Christian era! The adepts of Greco-Roman culture considered that the cause had been the outrage against the gods. ‘Look,’ they said, ‘in the Christian era Rome has sunk.’ ‘While we were making sacrifices to our gods, Rome remained, Rome flourished’. To all this it was added that, shortly before the fall of the city, on November 14, 408, the exclusive validity of Christianity had been legally forced. Now the followers of the old faith almost threatened to shout as before, before the arrival of all kinds of misfortunes, ‘christianos ad leones’.

The world was deeply shocked, frightened; especially the Catholic orb. Ambrose, who after Adrianople had perceived the general collapse, was no longer alive. However, his colleague Jerome, far away in Bethlehem, saw before him the fall of Troy and Jerusalem: the world is falling, orbis terrarum ruit.

‘If Rome can fall, what is there safe? Why has heaven allowed this to happen? Why has not Christ protected Rome? Where is God?’ (Ubi est deus tuus?) Agustine aired in the years 410 and 411, in several sermons: a question that moved the world.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 117

Editor’s note: Still more retrocognitive visions from the cave of the three-eyed raven that white nationalists, so addicted to their Semitic cult, simply don’t want to see:
 

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At the end of 405 a new group of Germans broke out, more violent, formed mostly by ‘pagan’ Ostrogoths, led by King Radagaisus, from Pannonia, and in early 406 invaded Italy: some two hundred thousand people according to Orosius and even four hundred thousand in opinion of Zosimus, which is nonsense. Be that as it may, panic spread throughout Italy. The Goths besieged Florence, but in the presence of Flavius Stilicho they had to retire to the mountains (Fiesole). There Stilicho surrounded them with a routine strategy, ‘thanks to Divine Providence’ (Orosius), and he rendered them out of hunger; according to Augustine, who attributes it to ‘the mercy of God’, ‘over a hundred thousand men died, without killing a single Roman or even injuring anyone!’

On August 23, 406, when trying to cross the Roman lines, Radagaisus was taken prisoner and shortly after beheaded. His troops capitulated. The number of prisoners turned into slaves was so great that it affected market prices. One by one they were sold for a few gold coins. God has helped, Augustine celebrates, ‘wonderful and merciful’.

Meanwhile, a few years ahead of the events, Alaric threatened a new invasion of Italy. Stilicho was in difficulties. He advised to give in, but the Catholics were opposed. They hated the descendant of a vandal; they hated a man who in spite of all his struggles against the ‘heretics’ had suspended the destruction of the temples, and who had even restored the statue of Victory to the place it occupied in the Senate session room, although not as a cult image but as an ornament. In short, the anti-Germanism of the East was penetrating more and more into the West.

On the occasion of the incursion of the ‘barbarians’ into Italy, the father Church of the Jerome attacked the policy of Stilicho. He saw in the Germans the foreshadowing of the Antichrist, and even considered the Antichrist personified in them.

According to Jerome, the culprit was not the pious Catholic ruler, but Stilicho, to whom the inscription of his statue in the Roman forum immortalized as a participant in all the wars and victories of the emperor (the name Stilicho was now stripped from it). A semi-barbarous traitor had brought the Romans against the Empire with Roman money. In any case, the Roman ‘pagans’, all the anti-Germanic opponents of Stilicho, ‘of the administration and of the Catholic Church’ (Elbern) believed the same thing.

But it was the Catholic Olympius, the leader of the enemy faction of Stilicho in Italy, who most incited the emperor against him. And when, on August 13, 408, Honorius presided over a military parade in Ticinum (Pavia), Olympius, a fervent Catholic ‘of the strictest observance’ (Clauss) who owed much to Stilicho, had Stilicho’s friends’ throat cut off in the imperial entourage.

After having eliminated his supporters and having attacked and killed while sleeping his personal guard, formed by faithful Huns, Stilicho was dismissed. On the morning of August 22, 408, the soldiers removed Stilicho from the church by deception. They swore and solemnly affirmed in the presence of the bishop that the emperor—Stilicho’s son-in-law—had not charged them to go kill him, but to escort him. A letter from his Catholic Majesty gave him more security. However, he had barely left the church, when he was read a second imperial letter, which communicated his death sentence for high treason; the next day his head fell.

Olympius became the strongman. He tortured Stilicho’s friends to death and confiscated all the property of his companions. The anti-Germanic party achieved supremacy with Olympius. Throughout the Western Empire the followers of Stilicho and all the Germans were persecuted. Likewise, by order of the Senate, the widow of Stilicho, Serena, niece of Emperor Theodosius, was killed in Rome. They also killed the husband of Stilicho’s sister, the comes africae Batanarius, and his position was taken over by Heraclianus, who was later killed. At the same time, in all the cities of the country, Italian troops murdered numerous women and children of German mercenaries.

With the fall of Stilicho, not only his son and his brother-in-law were executed, but also his wife… As Augustine writes, the promotion has taken place ‘for his services’. He immediately urged Olympius to make the enforcement of anti-‘pagan’ laws a reality. It was time to show the enemies of the Church what the laws mean! On the side of the Catholics it was believed that a victory over the ‘barbarians’ required as a precondition the annihilation of paganism.

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To contextualise the above excerpts of a 6-page section of Vol. II, ‘Radagaisus, Stilicho’s death and new massacres of Goths’ in Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 116

The non-white Honorius:
one of the children-emperors.

Editors’ note: To contextualise this translation of a 5-page section, ‘Honorius, Stilicho, Alaric and the first incursions of Germanic Christians’ taken from Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 

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At first, in the name of the western emperor Honorius (395-423), crowned when his father Theodosius was already on his deathbed, and who was only eleven years old when he died, the half-vandal and general of the imperial army (magister militum), Flavius Stilicho, ruled.

Son of a Vandal officer, who led a cavalry regiment with Valens, Stilicho was Catholic. He ordered that the golden ornaments to be removed from the doors of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. He also ordered the burning of the very ancient Sibylline books, and prosecuted the ‘heretics’, especially the Donatists, thanks to the intervention of Augustine, and restored the privileges of the Church. […]

In Stilicho’s time the irruption in Italy of the Visigoths occurred, a Germanic tribe that had embraced Christianity prematurely. The Goths became the main missionaries among the Germanic peoples. Soon most of the ‘barbarians’ that had settled since the middle of the 4th century in the Danubian provinces, especially in Pannonia and Messia (where in other times there were already ‘bishoprics’), were no longer ‘pagans’ but Arians. According to the historian of the Church Socrates, impressed by their defeat before Constantine, that is, forced by the sword, the Goths ‘believed in the religion of Christianity’.

These despots eager of power constantly fought against the Romans—in 315, 323, 328—who defeated them, with an especially serious defeat in 332, in which their dead, which apparently included women and children, were estimated at one hundred thousand. The most recent investigations also admit that Constantine’s warlike successes and the political relationship of the Goths with the Roman Empire gave ‘impulse’ to the Christianisation of the latter. Already bishop Theodoret, the father of the Church, said that such policy proved its effectiveness in a curious saying: ‘The historical facts show that war gives us greater benefits than peace.’ […]

According to Eunapius of Sardis (around 345-420), a fervent enemy of the Christians, the betrayal of the monks also allowed the attack of Alaric in the Thermopylae. Be that as it may, Greece had never been so devastated before: Macedonia, Thessaly, Boeotia, Attica. The Thebans were saved by their thick walls. Athens (which was protected by Athena and Achilles, a tendentious pre-Christian tale) was terribly plundered. The rest of the country, its villages, temples and works of art, suffered harsh punishments; Corinth was set on fire, and Boeotia was desolate for decades. […]

Honorius, mounted on the victory cart and with Stilicho at his side, hurried to Rome, for the Milvian Bridge, with the glorious spoils of victory in the escort of Christ, as Prudentius sings.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 115

Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 
Head hunting

Christendom liked to contemplate the heads of defeated enemies; the rulers found pleasure in it and also the governed. It was customary to send throughout the Empire the heads of the notable men who had been punished, as trophies of war. As Mark Twain said in The Mysterious Stranger, ‘They all did their best—to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history—but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognized that all the competent killers are Christians…’

Already Constantine, the first Christian ruler, made that in the year 312, after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, his troops took the head of the emperor Maxentius in the triumphal procession, throwing stones and excrement, and then sent to Africa. Also the head of the usurper Julius Nepotianus, who rebelled probably at the behest of Constantinople, was paraded in the year 350 in Rome, the 28th day of his government.

Three years later, in many provinces of the Empire they could contemplate the head of the usurper Magnentius; as a sign of Christian victory, the heads of Procopius, a relative of Emperor Julian, in 366; of Magnus Maximus in 388, and of Eugene in 394. At the end of the 4th century or the beginning of the 5th century, the heads of Rufinus, Constantine III, Jovin, Sebastian and even, at times, the relatives of fallen persons in disgrace were exposed.

In addition to their hostile policy to the Goths, the governments of Arcadius and Honorius were characterised for persecuting so-called ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’, and for taking even more stringent measures than those of their father, who in 388 still greeted the priests of classical culture in Emona, belonging at that time to Italy.

Published in: on March 2, 2019 at 6:55 am  Comments Off on Christianity’s Criminal History, 115  

Christianity’s Criminal History, 114

St. John Chrysostom exhorting Aelia Eudoxia. Note how the Empress—the spouse of the Roman Emperor Arcadius—, in this painting by Jean-Paul Laurens, has people in her Byzantine entourage who are not whites.

Editor’s note: In a nationalist forum last month a commenter said:

A BS narrative that makes no sense. The idea that Jews created Christianity to subjugate the world is absurd and has no basis in historical fact. Anyone with a basic knowledge of history knows that anti-Jewish Rome and Byzantium spread Christianity—to the Jews disfavour.

It is true that some Jews suffered with the Christian emperors from the times of Constantine, but it cannot be said that the spread of Christianity was unfavourable to them. Quite the contrary: by the time of the reign of Theodosius II only two religions were legal in the Roman Empire: Judaism and Christianity! Not gratuitously I called ‘Apocalypse for Whites’ my translations of Evropa Soberana’s book on Judea vs. Rome.

The mentioned commenter does not seem to understand the double-edged strategy of the Semitic Christians of the Ancient World. Contemporary Jews are capable to withstand the open anti-Semitism of millions of Muslim migrants. Why they do that? Because they want to dilute the blood of the Aryan Man within his own land. In the same way, in the Ancient World they tolerated some repression since Constantine and his successors in order to annihilate the Greco-Roman culture of the Hellenes (i.e., the White culture), their true enemy.

Byzantium took over after the Western Roman Empire collapse. Byzantium had far more riches than Rome and its rule lasted 1,000 years. The Jews were greatly restricted under Byzantium rule. Again, you demonstrate your historical ignorance.

Does the commenter ignore that in the times of Byzantium (Constantinople) a war was fought—a war of ethnic cleansing of pure Whites instigated by St. John Chrysostom? When Karlheinz Deschner writes below about a mood, ‘typical of the anti-Germanism that prevailed in Constantinople’, one must keep in mind that the xenophobic muds of the old Byzantium disliked the blond Nordics and massacred 7,000 of them, women and children included.

Christian readers of the history of Constantinople, even those who comment in Alt-Right forums, usually don’t care about the ethnicity of the residents of the Mud City that Constantine had founded. Not even Richard Spencer has cared about it when he mentions Byzantium in glowing terms. New visitors of this site who have not read Evropa Soberana’s essay should read it now (see sticky post), together with the only histories about the White race, by William Pierce and Arthur Kemp, that have been written.

Karlheinz Deschner wrote:
 

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The massacre of Goths in Constantinople

Arcadius, who was still a boy, was named Augustus in 383 and in 384 became independent sovereign of the East. He was educated first by his mother Aelia Flaccilla, a strict Catholic, and then by the deacon Arsenius, who came from Rome. Although not without training—even a pagan, Themistius, prefect of Constantinople, had been his teacher—, the monarch always depended on his advisors and also his wife Aelia Eudoxia (mother of St. Pulcheria and Theodosius II): a determined anti-German, that pushed Arcadius against the ‘heretics’ and the followers of the old faith, and who largely directed his internal policy. On August 7, 395, the emperor, who was then seventeen years old, censured the negligence of the authorities in the persecution of idolatrous cults.

General Gainas, an Arian Goth, who rose rapidly in the Roman army, had succeeded in the meantime. He was in 394 in the war against Eugenius; in 395, in the campaign of Stilicho against Alaric. Gainas participated next in the murder of Rufinus, and from 396 to 399, under the command of Eutropius, became et magister utrius que militiae. One day they sent Gainas to the leaders of the party opposed to the Germans, their greatest adversary: the consul Aurelian, the consular Saturninus and the clerk John. However, the Goth only touched them with the sword, manifestly implying that they would have deserved death, and sent them into exile.

Now, after an unfortunate operation in the year 399 against the Goth Tribigild, who had risen in arms, Gainas fell into suspicion. Also in Constantinople, as a reaction to the pillages of the Goths, the tributes of war and all kinds of demagogues, a rigorous national orientation had developed, a remarkable anti-Germanism ‘represented mainly by Orthodox Christians’ (Heinzberger). The people, incited with rumours, hated the Germans, the ‘barbarians’ and the Arian ‘heretics’, who even aspired to have their own church in the capital. For this reason, Gainas maintained a lively polemic with patriarch John Chrysostom, who tried vehemently to ‘convert’ the Goths and who had assigned to the Catholic Goths a temple of their own, the church of Saint Paul, thus becoming ‘the founder of a German national church in Constantinople’ (Baur, Catholic).

However, the bishop strictly banned Arian religious services. He protested before the emperor against the requests of Gainas of a church of his own. Expletives against the Arians and the remaining ‘heretics’ were unleashed. He prayed insistently to the sovereign, dominated by Eudoxia, the anti-German fanatic—since the year 400 she was considered ‘August’—who did not allow the dogs to be thrown at the saint. It is better to lose the throne than to betray the house of God. Compare this to the similar advice given by Chrysostom’s colleague, Ambrose. The intervention of the bishop encouraged the citizens, with whom conflicts had already taken place. They rebelled in the so-called ‘hot summer of the year 400’, probably due to xenophobia, the differences between the two peoples. ‘However, what was decisive was the confessional antagonism; the shedding of blood begins, curiously, when Gainas demands for its Argive Goths the concession of a church’ (Aland).

The national party, which had armed the citizens, attacked along with the Roman garrison and the palace guard, the Goth minority. Gainas was saved with a part of his troops on the night of July 12, 400, when the assault took place at the city gate. However, many of their soldiers, along with their wives and children, were killed or burned inside the ‘church of the Goths’, where they had sought refuge; in total, apparently, more than seven thousand people. It occurred ‘at the instigation of Bishop Chrysostom’ (Ludwig), though perhaps to a greater extent at the behest of the later Bishop Synesius. His manifestations as an emissary are typical of the anti-Germanism that prevailed in Constantinople.

The prestige of St. John Chrysostom ‘was reinforced by these disturbances’. Nevertheless, it was not, as the Catholic Stockmeier thinks, because he was ‘above the parties’ but because he was on the side of the victors. The Catholics, who avoided the open struggle, removed the roof of the church and massacred the ‘barbarians’ with a shower of burning stones and beams, killing every last one of them (thirty-four years before, the procedure had already given good results in Rome in the fight between two popes). After the battle, they sang a thanksgiving to heaven and Chrysostom once again praised the man who directed human destinies in his sermon.

The fugitive Gainas, now officially an enemy of the State, went to Thrace to join his people on the other side of the lower Danube. However, after the annihilation of his army, on crossing the Hellespont on 23 December of the year 400, he was killed and his head sent to Constantinople at the beginning of the following year.

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To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 113


 Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

 

The Catholic ‘children emperors’

‘These sovereigns followed the examples of the great Theodosius’. —Cardinal Hergenrother, Church Historian

‘The emperors were also pious Catholics’. —Peter Brown

‘The world is sinking’. —St Jerome

 
The division of the Empire: two forced Catholic states emerge

The year in which Augustine was named bishop (395), Emperor Theodosius I died in Milan. Clerical leaders had repeatedly incited him against the ‘pagans’, Jews and ‘heretics’, and saints Ambrose and Augustine had glorified him. Already in the 5th century, ecclesiastical circles gave the nickname of ‘the Great’ to this man who could pour blood like water. After his death, the Roman Empire was divided between his two sons. The Empire of the West disappeared in 476, while that of the East, as the Byzantine Empire, lasted until 1453.

From the times of this division, no other monarch ever brought the Empire under his command. In Constantinople, Arcadius (395-408), of seventeen years of age, ruled over the East, which remained a gigantic territory: all that would later be Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Asia Minor with the Crimean peninsula, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Lower Libya and Pentapolis. In Milan, Honorius (395-423), eleven years of age, ruled over the West, which was even larger and richer but politically not as important as the East.

Both ‘emperors’, taught by the Church and famous for their piety, continued the religious policies of their father. If Theodosius had fought alone against ‘heresy’—one of the main targets of his attacks—with more than twenty provisions, his sons and successors supported Catholicism with a multitude of new laws. They favoured the Catholic Church legally and financially; increased their possessions, dispensed the clergy from certain jobs, some taxes and military service. Thus the State of Catholic confession terrorised more and more those who had a different faith, although the adepts of Greco-Roman culture would continue to exist, even in high positions.

It is true that in primitive Christianity hatred of the mundane was widespread; that in the New Testament the State is called ‘great whore’ and ‘horror of the Earth’, and that the emperor was considered a servant of the devil. However, since Paul there was also a sector prone to the State, a sector that consciously adapted to the circumstances and that imposed itself, little by little.

In the East and in the West, the Christian government centres presented the same image: ceaseless palace intrigues, struggles for power, crises of ministers and murders. The Catholic ‘children emperors’—Arcadius, Honorius, later also Valentinian III and Theodosius II—lacked independence. They were crowned nullities unable to make decisions, surrounded by a swarm of greedy courtiers, high dignitaries, Germanic generals and, also, eunuchs.

And as often happens in times of ‘decadence’, we cannot overlook some of the women of the imperial house; behind them was an intriguing clergy. The bishops also continued to mingle in the affairs of the officials; already during the 4th century and still more in the 5th, they usurped their faculties. They managed above all to extend the scope of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the episcopalis audientia, the episcopale iudicium, the ‘arbitral functions’ of the bishops.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 112

Editor’s note: Here we see once again some passages on the historical Libanius: a central character in Gore Vidal’s Julian. What Deschner says here about Libanius is splendidly novelized by Vidal in the very final paragraph of his novel.

To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 

The Western world darkens more and more

Culture was highly esteemed in the 4th and 5th centuries. It was one of the legacies of antiquity and enjoyed an ‘almost religious veneration’ (Dannenbauer). Still in the year 360 a law of the emperor Constantius could declare that education was the supreme virtue. And really many noble families of that time, Gallic and Roman, were consecrated to it and particularly in the bosom of the Senatorial proceedings.

But they were already simple custodians of the culture, to which they did not enrich. And everywhere there were circles and social forces of a very different kind, even in the highest positions. The Christian king Theodoric the Great was no longer able to write his own name on the documents: neither could most of the Christian princes. Theodoric wrote the four letters LEGI (‘I read it’) by means of an aureus mold expressly forged for him. The instruction of the Goth children was practically forbidden by him, since, as he seems to have said, he who trembled before the master’s blows would never know how to despise the cuts and rushes of the sword in battle.

In Gaul, apparently, where the school system had flourished from the beginning of the 2nd century until the end of the 4th century, public schools are disappearing over the course of the next century, no matter how much here and there, in Lyon, Vienne, Bordeaux and Clermont there still are schools of grammar and rhetoric in addition to, naturally, the private ones. But all the teachings, at least the literary, served exclusively for the collection of material for sermons and treatises, to deal with the Bible and for the consolidation of the faith. Scientific inquiry was already a thing of the past: it no longer counted or was appreciated. The knowledge of Greek, which for centuries was the requirement of every authentic culture, became a rarity. Even the Roman classics, such as Horace, Ovid and Catullus, were cited less and less.

Libanius, the champion of Hellenistic culture, the most famous professor of rhetoric of the century, complains about the aversion aroused by that profession. ‘They see’, he says, referring to his students, ‘that this cause is despised and thrown on the floor; that does not bring fame, power or wealth but a painful servitude under many lords, parents, mothers, pedagogues and other students, who put things upside down and believe that it is the teacher who needs them. When they see all this they avoid this depreciated profession like a boat the pitfalls’.

In the time of Augustine there are hardly any schools of philosophy in the West. Philosophy is frowned upon, it is a thing of the devil, the original father of all ‘heresy’, and it causes fear to the pious. Even in a centre of culture as important as Bordeaux philosophy is no longer taught. And even in the East, the largest and most important of the universities of the Roman Empire, that of Constantinople, has only one chair of philosophy out of a total of 31.

The knowledge of something that had existed for a long time was lost in almost all areas. The spiritual horizon became increasingly narrower. Ancient culture languished from Gaul to Africa, while in Italy it practically disappeared. The interest in natural science vanished. Also jurisprudence, at least in the West, suffers ‘havoc’, an ‘astonishing demolition’ (Wieacker).

The bishop Paulinus of Nola, who died in 431, never read a historian: a typical attitude of the moment. Whole eras fall in the oblivion, for example, the time of the Roman emperors. The only renowned historian in the late 4th century is Ammianus Marcellinus, a non-Christian. Entire synods forbid the bishops to read ‘pagan’ books. In short: scientific research ceases; experimental testing stops; people think increasingly with less autonomy.

A few decades later no doctor could heal Bishop Gregory de Tours, a man with a mind full of superstitions, but he could miraculously be healed through a drink of water with some dust taken from the tomb of St. Martin.

Only clerics will still read.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 111


 Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

 

Everything a person needs to know is contained in the Bible

Augustine’s intellectual achievements—which are of a theological nature—have been always overrated. With the exception of certain psychological observations, he always wrote under the inspiration of others, and limited himself to ‘converting into a personal experience what he grasped when meditating on the thoughts of others’ (H. Holl). ‘Never in his life did he have the courage to think autonomously’. A historian so enlightening and worthy of being read as H. Dannenbauer is tempted to apply to Augustine the old sentence with which Goethe referred to Lavater: ‘Strict truth was not his. He lied to himself and others’.

Augustine felt genuine addiction for authority. He always had to find shelter under something, to adhere to something: to the Manicheans, to academic scepticism, to neo-Platonism and, finally, to Christianity. In this regard, he only believed in the Bible by virtue of the authority of the Church (which based its authority on the Bible). The authority of the Bible is in turn a guarantee, Augustine thinks, of the truth. What it affirms is true; it is completely infallible. ‘Moreover, Scripture sometimes appears as a criterion of profane knowledge. Of the historical narratives, we should only believe as long as it does not contradict the affirmations of Scripture’.

Already in the time of Augustine both the wealth of knowledge and the quality of education had declined. However, some classical training still counted to the point that, with it, it was possible to make a career in the Roman Empire and get access the high and even the supreme dignities.

The bishop of Hippo had no notion of Hebrew. Also, his knowledge of Greek was flimsy. He could hardly translate Greek texts. He, a rhetor and for several years a professor at several high schools, barely read the Greek Bible.

To the classics, including Plato and Plotinus to the extent that he knew them, and to the Greek Patristics, he read them in a Latin version. And it is likely that most of his quotations were second hand. Only very few come from direct sources: Livius, Florus, Eutropius, perhaps Josephus, but above all Marcus Terentius Varro, the great scholar of ancient Rome, whose Antiquitates rerum humanarum and divinarum (Antiquities of Human and Divine Things) is his only source of information regarding the pagan deities.

Augustine’s scientific and natural training was very weak. Certainly he did not think it necessary to admit the existence of pygmies, of cynocephali, or of people who protected themselves from the sun under their flat feet. He firmly believed, of course, that the diamond could only be broken with the blood of a goat and that the wind from Cappadocia impregnated the mares. He also believed firmly in purgatory. Moreover, he was the theologian who endowed this idea dogmatic entity.

He also believed firmly in hell, being himself the one who depicts it for us as real physical fire, and who teaches that the intensity of heat is governed by the gravity of sins. On the other hand, he does not believe that the Earth is spherical (nulla ratione credendum est, ‘there is no reason to believe that’) even if it had been demonstrated centuries ago.

The natural sciences, according to Augustine, are opinions. The investigation of the world is at the most investigation of a world of appearances. This applies to the theatre as well as to natural science or magic—eagerness for shows, curiosity, that’s all.

Profane knowledge and culture do not have any value for themselves. They only acquire value in the service of faith and have no other purpose than to lead to holiness, to a deeper understanding of the Bible. Philosophy, that in his old age seemed to him ‘subtle charlatanism’ (garrulae argtiae), has no other value than mere help to interpret the ‘revelation’. Everything thus becomes a resource, an instrument for the understanding of Scripture. Otherwise science—any science—is alienation from God.

The curiosity, the eagerness to know always created suspicions in Christianity. Tertullian had already fought it with crudeness and Augustine, more fiercely, attacks almost systematically curiosity and the longing to know, which leads him to anathematize science.

Painting, music and sculpture are also superfluous. Medicine, architecture and agriculture deserve the same judgment, unless they are to be practiced professionally. This bishop saw in the Church the Schola Christi (Christ’s School) and all the sciences outside it were suspect. Ultimately, everything a person needs to know is in the Bible and what is not there is harmful.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 110

(Iconic image of Tatian)

Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.
 

Natural Science

Even geometry seemed disgraceful to Christians. Still at the beginning of the 4th century they refused to make bishop the Christian Nemesius of Emesa because he was dedicated to the study of mathematics.

Geometry and other scientific occupations were considered little less than impious activities. The historian of the Church Eusebius attacked these ‘heretics’ with these words: ‘Neglecting the Sacred Scriptures of God they were occupied with geometry; for they are earthly men, they speak earthly and do not know Him who comes from on high. They eagerly study the geometry of Euclid and admire Aristotle and Theophrastus’.

The natural sciences were the subject of particular condemnation on the part of Christian theology. The repercussions of that condemnation lasted for a long time and even led some researchers to the stake. In the usual school education on the natural sciences (and history) did not find a place until very early in the Modern Age. In the very universities they were not imposed as independent disciplines until the 17th century. Already in the last days of the ancient age, medicine experienced a strong decline—except perhaps in Mesopotamia—in favour of the predilection for the occult. The patriarch Severus of Antioch, for example, and also the Armenian Eznik of Kolb insist on the existence of demons in man and reject any attempt at naturalistic explanation by physicians.

Already the apologist Tatian, disciple of Justin, reproves medicine and makes it derive from the evil spirits: ‘Namely, the demons separate with their cunning men from the veneration of God, persuading them to put their trust in herbs and roots’.

These words exude that deep aversion, so typical of the ancient Christians, about nature, the here, and the earthly. ‘Why do people place their trust in the powers of matter and do not trust God? Why don’t you go to the most powerful of the lords and prefer to be healed by herbs?’

In this way medicine as a whole was reduced to diabolical work, the work of the evil spirits. ‘Pharmacology and everything related to it comes from the same workshop of lies’. Analogous is the opinion of Tertullian, who made fun of doctors and researchers of Nature, and that attitude continued throughout the Middle Ages and even later. It was natural for Tatian to have no esteem for science as a whole:

How to believe a person who claims that the sun is an incandescent mass and the moon, a body like the Earth? All these are no more than debatable hypotheses and not proven facts. What utility can research report on the proportions of the Earth, on the positions of the stars, on the course of the sun?

The purely scientific explanations do not count anymore. Those people who, in the 4th century, were looking for a geophysical explanation of earthquakes (instead of considering them caused solely by the wrath of God!) were inscribed in the list of ‘heretics’ by the bishop of Brescia.

Since the supreme criterion for the reception of the scientific-natural theories was that of its degree of compatibility with the Bible, science not only stagnated: the very knowledge accumulated since time immemorial was discarded. The prestige of science waned to the same extent that the Bible ascended.

The theory of the rotation of the Earth and its spherical shape goes back to the Pythagoreans of the 5th century BC. The Christian Church renounced this knowledge in favour of the Mosaic story of creation and the biblical text preaching that the Earth was a disk surrounded by the seas. European students did not know about its spherical figure until a millennium later, in the High Middle Ages, through the Arab universities of Spain!

Lactantius defames natural science by calling it pure nonsense. The Doctor of the Church Ambrose reproves it radically as an attack on the majesty of God. He is not interested in the least about the question of the position of the Earth. That is something without any relevance for the future. ‘It is enough to know that the text of Sacred Scripture contains this observation: He suspended the Earth on nothingness’. St. Ambrose’s notion of natural philosophy is illustrated by the heartfelt affirmation that ‘the gospel according to John contains all natural philosophy’.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 109

Editor’s Note: The spirit of Jorge of Burgos

There are two ways to learn about the history that the school hid us. The most enjoyable is to read novels like Julian by Gore Vidal, located in the 4th century AD; the other to study arid scholarly treatises by dissenters like Karlheinz Deschner.

What Deschner says below (to contextualize it see the English translation of his first volume) reminded me Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose, which by the way differs a lot from the movie starring Sean Connery. I refer to the character Jorge of Burgos, one of the oldest monks in the abbey: the gatekeeper who took care that the Greco-Roman wisdom in one of the greatest libraries of Christendom never reached the popular mind. Deschner wrote:

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Just as Christians are scarce among intellectuals—for, in general terms, the more a person knows, the less he believes—also in the 4th century it was still the case that the new religion reaped its most diminished successes among the scholars and the aristocrats.

The followers of the old faith among these social strata continued to consider, in their great majority, Christianity as a faith for coalmen, as a religion of people of little faith, totally incompatible with ancient science. But the Church needed precisely the scholars. That is why at that point, too, it thoroughly reviewed its thinking and began to open up to those who until then it had quarantined or even fought. And since the new religion was a good starting point for a career, the proceres and the scholars were now driven to conversion.

Soon the time came when the bishopric seats were almost exclusively covered by people from the upper layers. At the turn of the 5th century, the Greco-Roman world enters a slow agony. The representatives of the Christian cultural milieu ended up being clearly superior to the ‘pagans’ that still remained, if we do without Ammianus Marcellinus. This happened, naturally, using the means of the ancient culture, which, at least partially and with enough reluctance, was bequeathed to the Middle Ages.

This development is certainly in opposition to the basic teachings of the New Testament: the Gospel was not announced to the wise or the learned. On the other hand, it had been a long time since Christianity had taken a decisive step to leave the Jewish world of Jesus and the apostles. Paul himself was already a Roman citizen and the son of a Hellenistic city. And Judaism itself was already Hellenised for centuries, so that Christianity was absorbing more and more the wisdom of the Greco-Roman world, becoming a typical hermaphrodite.

Until the 6th century the new religion did not have a school of its own. It is true that Christians hated the classical heritage, but they did not create their own school or make any attempt at it: they lacked all the requisites, the very foundations for it, and they also found it impossible to compete with them.

There was a widespread maxim, advocated by both Tertullian and Pope Leo I: Christians must certainly appropriate worldly knowledge, but never teach it. The Statuta Ecciesiae Antiqua [statutes of the ancient Church] only allowed lay people public teaching with a special authorisation and under ecclesiastical control.

Later, knowledge and culture were tolerated as a kind of necessary evil, turning them into an instrument of theology: ancilla theologiae.