Dwarfs on the Bones of Giants

Emperors Hadrian and Charlesmagne compared

The Withering of Culture

Jesus Never Existed – The Criminal History of the Christian Church

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Kenneth Humphreys


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Highs ...

4th century imperial portraits – gold inlaid within glass, decorated with gems.


... and lows

Charlemagne and son. 10th century copy of 8th century Carolingian manuscript.





Wall Builder

Hadrian's Wall

In 120 AD Hadrian ordered a wall built across northern Britain.

73 miles long, 15' high, and replete with turrets, milecastles and forts, the wall defended the frontier for 350 years.





Ditch Digger

Fossa Carolina

In 793 AD Charlemagne ordered a "navigable ditch" be built between the rivers Altmühl and Rezat (intending thus to join the Danube to the Rhine).

7000 labourers succeeded in digging 2 miles of the ditch before the project was abandoned.







Imperial seal of Charlemagne – using the head of a 4th century Roman emperor!



Another seal, also borrowed from an antique engraved gemstone, depicts nothing less than the Egyptian god Serapisobviously after he had become a Christian!












"Thou shalt not make thee any graven image" ?

Gold solidus of Justinian II

692 – and JC arrives on the coinage.

Such adulation of the Lord did not do him any good: overthrown by a coup, Justinian had his nose and tongue slit. To hide his disfigurement he took to wearing a golden nose. Posh.







"The barren and lumbering theology of the Church crowded out the Muses from their earthly walks, and the world became a prison after having been the home of man. One by one the great lights went out; Athens was no more, Rome was dead. The bloom had vanished from the face of the earth, and in its place there fell upon it the awful shadow of a future hell.'"

M. Mangasarian (The Rationalist, May 1915)


With the fragmentation of Europe into a patchwork of barbarous Christian kingdoms public works came to an end. The vast network of roads, the aqueducts, the heated public baths, indoor plumbing, glass windows and so much else invented by the Greeks and Romans simply disappeared. As the cities decayed and were abandoned trade and commerce withered. Currency and standard weights and measures passed out of use, and transportation and communication constantly became more difficult.

In many instances the neglected hulks of antique buildings took on new, degenerate use. For example, in Lucca the amphitheatre saw housing rise on the auditorium; in Arles and Rome theatres and triumphal arches were pressed into service as forts. On the Dalmatian coast the remnant of the town of Salona actually moved into the ruins of Diocletian's palace (which became the town of Split). The Church, in particular, moved adroitly to re-purpose decaying imperial structures and the fine basilicas built by the legions themselves became the very structures pressed into new use as sanctuaries of the Faith.

But most of the grand structures were abandoned to the elements until stone was again required – for the construction of churches and the 'palaces' of barbarian kings. Between the 6th and 13th centuries there were no quarries open in western Europe – 'spoil' from the ruins of antiquity provided a seemingly inexhaustible supply of convenient building blocks.The finest marble sculptures were burnt for lime.


A Tale of Two Emperors:

Emperor Hadrian builds himself a villa in the country


hadrian's villa


Centaur from the ruins of Hadrian's Villa – just one of many hundreds of stunning works of art from paganism's high summer.

Hadrian's 'Villa', Tivoli, north of Rome, a vast complex of pavilions and leisure areas from the early 2nd century AD.


Hadrian's 'theatre' (actually a private sanctuary) on an artificial island.



Villa Hadriani. An estate of more than 30 buildings, including baths, theatres, temples, libraries and audience halls, connected by a network of underground service tunnels. Hadrian, a brilliant, complex personality, designed many of the buildings himself. At 300 acres, the pagan emperor's residence was twice the size of the town of Pompeii.

The grandiose palace estate was used by all subsequent emperors until Constantine – who ransacked the villa for statuary and other valuables for his new city in the east. His vandalism set an example for others to follow. With the arrival of the Christian Dark Age the imperial residence became a quarry for stone, its beautiful marbles burnt for lime.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, European aristocrats – including the Popes – dug several hundred buried works of art from the ruins to decorate their Renaissance mansions. Many of the prized artifacts in the world's museums originally graced this sumptuous palace of the caesars.

• • • • • •



In contrast to the genuine imperial splendour of Hadrian, seven centuries after the death of Hadrian, the Christian Emperor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus), for all his pretensions, ruled his ramshackle 'empire' from the ruins of the Roman spa town at Aachen. He liked the thermal pools and quarried the ruins of the town to build a palace and a church.

The so-called "Carolingian Renaissance" is a fiction. The 7th/8th century conquests of Islam isolated the Frankish lands from the civilising influence of the Mediterranean. Though Charlemagne styled himself "Roman Emperor and Augustus" in reality he broke with Roman tradition.


Emperor Charlemagne refits a provincial Roman spa

The so-called "Carolingian Renaissance"


" Above all, sacred edifices were the object of his care throughout his whole kingdom."

– Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne.

Einhard wrote his sycophantic biography using Suetonius's Life of Augustus as his model!


This desperately crude marble slab chair is purportedly the throne of Charlemagne – the 'Emperor and Augustus' of Europe.

The chair may actually date to a century later and Otto I.


Charlemagne's Palace and Church at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle)– 8th century AD.

The equestrian statue in the courtyard was actually the 6th century Gothic king Theodoric - stolen from Ravenna!

Marble columns, Corinthian capitals, classicising bronze-work – all pillaged from Roman ruins in Italy!

Even the design of the church was almost identical to the Church of San Vitale at Ravenna, built during the time of Emperor Justinian (527–65).

Fitted out with suitable relics sent by the pope in 799, 'Aachen Cathedral' served as Christian HQ in northern Europe for several centuries.

Basilica of the 'Holy Mother of God' at Aachen

WOW! Home of four ‘Great Relics’

• the cloak of the Blessed Virgin,
• the swaddling-clothes of baby Jesus,
• the loin-cloth worn by Jesus on the Cross, and
• the cloth on which lay the head of John the Baptist after his beheading!




Even Charlemagne's sarcophagus was pilfered from Italy!


Tempting Apples in God's garden.

Page from 9th century "Grandval Bible" – primitive cartoons were the best of "Carolingian Renaissance" art.


Miniscule – the Carolingian contribution to civilization.

But the Romans had their own cursive writing a thousand years earlier!

Roman cursiveVindolanda 1st century AD


Great! 'Imperium Christianum' or a world lit only by fire

Charlemagne, Christian hero, is credited with many things – most alarmingly, "the European ideal." Though he did put priestly scribes on the royal payroll and tried hard to read and write, he mainly got on with butchering recalcitrant Saxons. He was very good at that.

On coming to the throne in 768, Charlemagne launched a vicious campaign of evangelism against the Saxons of Germany by cutting down their sacred tree – the World Tree or Yggdrasil – located in the north German forest near present day Marburg. The Roman roads, un-maintained but still serviceable, aided the rapid deployment of his troops.

The Saxons resisted 'conversion' with a passion and in 772, at Quierzy (today an insignificant village on the Oise about a 100 miles northwest of Paris) a frustrated Charlemagne, urged on by his bishops, issued a proclamation that he would kill every Saxon who refused to accept Jesus Christ. From that time on he kept a special detachment of Christian priests who doubled as his executioners. Pagan practices, such as eating meat during Lent, cremation of the dead and pretending to be baptized ("dogs returning to their vomit") were all made punishable by death.

In fulfillment of his vow, in a single day at Verden in 782, Charlemagne had 4500 Saxon prisoners beheaded for slipping back to their old gods. He then went off to Mass and had his dinner. What a guy!

Remarkably, the Saxons resisted Charlemagne's onslaught for more than 30 years.


Degeneration: The Christianisation of Art

"Just as Constantine took an empire and changed it to his design, so the artists of these splendid scenes have subjugated individual figures, placing them in rectangular units. All the free air of their ancient world has gone. The backs of figures are pressed into a thin envelope of space, as if they were up against a shop window.

The classical human figure in all its individual dignity has disappeared." – John Romer (Testament, p 219)


Portrait 2nd/3rd century

(Mummy mask, Fayum, Egypt)


Portrait 5th century, Egypt
(Detroit Institute of Art)

The man has acquired a Christian 'nimbus' but the best we can say of the degraded design is 'abstract tendencies.'

Fresco: Pagan banquet scene

(1st century Pompeii)


Wow! A Jolly Prayer Meeting (Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome)


Primitive, morbid Christian 'catacomb art’ began during the early 3rd century and continued for about a century.

There is no evidence to support the notion that the catacombs were places of refuge for persecuted Christians. Jews and pagans were also intered in the catacombs and the sites were well-known to the authorities.

Professional fossores, dug the tunnels and guided visiting pilgrims.

Rude – but skilful. Pan gets amorous with his goat.

(1st century Herculaneum)

The god who loves everyone. 4th century catacomb version of JC himself.


Powerful, realistic portrait of the pagan caesar Caracalla. Early 3rd century.


Unrealistic, colossal ‘staring’ statue of Constantine. Early 4th century.

A generation later and the Christian monarch Arcadius is quite 'angelic'.




The shift in subject matter from the Classical Age to the Christian Dark Age was stark. The only acceptable works of art were scenes from the Bible or those depicting great 'Christian' events. Art was debased into Christian propaganda – anything not directly relevant to the needs of the Church was ignored.

Even the figure of Jesus Christ was de-judaised – the classic blond hair, blue-eyed hippy Christ originated in Lombardy!


Theodosius II

Theodosius II (408-450) – familiar bulging eyes raised to Heaven. One of the last sculptured portraits from antiquity.


The ever-popular mosaic of the tyrant Justinian from Ravenna disguises the fact that, by 6th century, the the art of sculptural portrait had died.

Within another century the 'iconoclastic' Christians were destroying images wholesale.

726: Emperor Leo III orders all icons in the Byzantine Empire destroyed. Wipes out income of hundreds of monasteries and shrines in the icon business.

843: Empress Irene caves into religious pressure – icons are restored to Orthodox worship.

Business as usual.



After 800 years, sculptural portraiture returns – as morbid tomb architecture! (13th century French knight).

Angelic, of course.



By the 14th century Christian art resembles the efforts of a talented pre-school child.

(The Four Evangelists, Armenian Bible)


Charles Freeman, The Closing of The Western Mind (Heinemann, 2002)
Jenifer Cochrane, The Illustrated History of Medicine (Tiger Books, 1996)
Henry Pirenne, Medieval Cities (Princeton UP, 1952)
John Julian Norwich, Byzantium (Penguin, 1991)
Arthur Ferrill, The Fall of the Roman Empire (Thames & Hudson, 1986)
Friedrich Heer, The Fires of Faith (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1970)
Michael Grant, The Roman Emperors (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1985)




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Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
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