Anyway, I was reading about the fall of the Roman Empire and came across the weird claim that Classical civilization was destroyed by Muslims, a neat trick since the Classical world had faded away at least a century before Islam. In order to make this hypothesis work, John O’Neill claimed that Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, had added 297 years to the calendar. By removing them, Muslims are suddenly at the gates of the Classical world, threatening Greco-Roman culture, and absolving Christians and barbarians alike of responsibility for the Dark Ages.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Anatoly Fomenko proposed a modified form of this to pretend the Middle Ages never happened in order to promote Russo-centric history, with Russia as the legitimate successor of Rome. Jean Hardouin had similarly claimed in 1685 that all of Greco-Roman antiquity was a fraud created by the Church.
Obviously, there are immediate problems with this hypothesis, the same ones that dogged the Fomenko theory, as I discussed years ago: Where did the coins come from depicting rulers from the imaginary period? Why can we use dendrochronology (tree rings) to count the years of history with no missing period? Why do ancient and medieval records of astronomical events, such as eclipses, supernovas, and conjunctions, agree with the standard chronology but not the new one?
I’d never heard of this missing time theory; it’s apparently more popular in Germany, as it was originally proposed in German language publications. But it still amazes me how much people want the past to be different than it is.