by Hans-Ulrich Niemitz

[Editorial notice: First version 1995-10-02, second version 1997-10-09, minor revision 2000-04-03, translated by Uwe Topper]

Did the early Middle Ages really exist?

This question in itself – and more so the answer ‘NO, the early Middle Ages did not exist’ – is surprising, to say the least. It contradicts all basic knowledge and attacks the historian’s self-respect to such an extreme that the reader of this paper is asked to be patient, benevolent and open to radically new ideas. I shall argue step by step – and, I hope, you will follow. With a group of friends (Müller 1992; Illig 1991; Niemitz 1991; Zeller 1991; Marx 1993; Topper 1994) I have been doing research on this subject since 1990. This is the reason for using ‘we’ or ‘I’ intermittently.

The thesis mainly says, with far-reaching implications and consequences:

Between Antiquity (1 AD) and the Renaissance (1500 AD) historians count approximately 300 years too many in their chronology. In other words: the Roman emperor Augustus really lived 1700 years ago instead of the conventionally assumed 2000 years.

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