The Apocalyptic Year 1000: Then and Now
[This article appeared in The Year 2000, ed. Charles Strozier and Michael Flynn (Rowman and Littlefield, London);
please excuse the notes at the end, which have yet to be edited for HTML]
The year 1000. What a host of images it calls forth. Signs and wonders in the heavens; ghastly plagues and famines on earth; the populace -- from the highest to the lowest -- on their knees in dread, in churches, in fields, terrified at the coming Judgment when this Day of Wrath turned into a Day of Doom, and man con- fronted his eternal destiny. With such brushstrokes did the Romantic historians of the mid-19th century paint their lurid pictures of a world febrile with expectation in the tenth century and energized with relief in the eleventh.1 To this day, the guides who take us through the churches of France tell us that the potentes of those years, fearing for their souls, gave large portions of land to the clergy, especially to the monks, thus triggering the great explosion of church-building that Rodulfus Glaber, the historian of the millennium describes in such poetic terms: "It was as if the whole world had shaken off the dust of the ages and covered itself in a white mantle of churches."2
No! said the new professional school of historians at the end of the nineteenth century: nothing of the sort. First of all, there is no scriptural basis for the year 1000: it represents not a date, but a period (Revelation 20:7). Second, we have almost no evidence for such a picture: half the lurid texts about 1000 are either outright fakes from the sixteenth century, or describing events at a different date: 909, 950, 1010, 1033. Indeed, given how rarely documents even use Anno Domini, it seems that con- temporaries neither knew nor cared about the date. And if, per-chance, some few did evince an interest, they could not be certain when it came due. There are no serious documents indicating that people were "paralyzed by the terror" of the Coming Day of the Lord in the year 1000.3 When all is said and done, the careful historian is left with a small handful of texts of doubtful significance, which pale in comparison with the overwhelming majority of the documents fromt he period showing no interest whatsoever in eschatology. The big picture of contemporary documentation suggests that the famous "terrors" spring not from the documents of 1000, but from the fevered brain of the Romantic historians who have contaminated our understanding of our past with their unrestrained imaginations, leaving us not real history, but legends.4 Contrary to this novelist's reconstruction, Positivists depict a year 1000 that passed amidst widespread indifference, in many places unnoticed... a year like any other. If you do a survey of media pieces on 2000, say since the Le Monde article in 197? entitled "2000 semaines jusqu'Š l'an 2000": some (I suspect a minority) refer to the Romantic notion of the terrors before rapidly moving on to our own times. Some, bowing to the experts, dismiss it. In both cases it plays little part in the narrative or analysis of 2000: most often it serves as a kind of contrast. Then, they were superstitious and thought God would put an end to the world; now we no longer believe in a God who intervenes in history... on the contrary, it is not God but humans with the immaturity and massive technological abilities who threaten the planet. In the final years running up to the year 2000, with the flood of books hitting the market on the subject, such "glances" become more lengthy if not necessarily more penetrating.5 And what are the causes and consequences of these two, radically different views of the last turn of the millennium in European (also Christian, also Western) history?
Why, whether one follows the Romantics or the Positivists, is there so little connection between 1000 and 2000? Partly, I would argue, because since the late nineteenth century, when the Positivist position first dismissed the year 1000 as a myth, little work had been done on the eschatological thinking of the period; as a result major debates, like the one about the "so- called" mutation de l'an mil,6 or the one about the origins of popular heresy,7 are carried on without a mention of apocalypticism as a potential actor in the course of events and developments. And if this is true of the key issues at the turn of the millennium, it is all the more so about subsequent events, in that century, in later ones.8 This in turn is partly due to the Augustinian fallacy of the historically correct: because every apocalyptic believer in an eschatological year 1000 proved wrong, it does not really matter whether many or few so believed; they were not particularly significant. Not then, and surely not now, at the distance of almost a millennium. Such a conclusion is the result of what I call capstone historiography -- i.e., a widespread tendency among medievalists to succumb not only to the quantitative impression of the sources (as Ferdinand Lot put it: few texts, few beliefs), but also to accept the texts at their face value: to believe, for example, what a writer says about the way he (far more rarely she) and fellow contemporary interpreted events.9 What escapes us when we take this approach is that in most cases, our texts are written retrospectively, with the same knowledge that we have (i.e., the expectations proved false). This neglect of the temporal perspective in considering our sources -- no belief is more subject to dramatically different interpretation than one about the immediate future (what we call 20/20 hindsight and what I call the fallacy of the historically correct) leads us to neglect the fact that the retrospective narrative is not only historically accurate, but also (in terms of our exclusively clerical composers), politically correct. Those scribes who preserve, copy, compose, erase, and edit the wealth of manuscripts they inherit, are not scientists dedicated to preserving the record; they are committed believers, trained in the Augustinian tradition which says that one cannot know the end, must not interpret current events in terms of an apocalyptic scenario, and must interpret 1000 as an allegorical number symbolizing perfection, not as a fixed number of years before the parousia.10 With their knowledge of what should have been, they could and did "correct the record," sparing their heroes -- the founders and benefactors of the institutions they lived in -- the embarrassment of so grievous a slip in the Augustinian norm. These men were no more likely to preserve evidence that the great figures of the day -- King Robert, Emperor Otto, Pope Gerbert, Abbot Odilo of Cluny, William of Dijon, Abbo of Fleury -- were subject of apocalyptic concerns than historians of modern science are eager to dwell on Isaac Newton's fascination with apocalyptic calculations based on the Book of Revelation.11 Their work as composers and archivists is not to be taken at face value. If there were a brief moment when some of the leaders of Christendom openly embraced an apocalyptic year 1000, sponsoring the kinds of extraordinary and often dangerous or (retrospectively) ridiculous behavior that such beliefs entail, it would be too much to expect them to tell the story faithfully. It would be like arriving the day after the emperor had paraded naked before the entire town and asking the courtiers what happened. You might get the real story in the street; but historians, unfortunately, are stuck with primarily the "official record" of the courtiers.12 Starting from this revised record, Henri Focillon (one of the few historians of the period to grant significance to the approach of 1000), made a key distinction between the enlightened elites and the superstitious commoners. These latter may have been swayed by such foolish fears, but certainly not the great figures who built Europe. They were almost like two different races of men.13
This approach has a number of characteristic analytic tendencies which, in the case of apocalyptic beliefs, tends to (dis)miss the significance of the documentation. Thus, they interpret the relatively few documents from thsi period that are actually dated Anno Domini as a sign of indifference among contemporaries, and consider the learned discord over the date as a sign of that age's limited scientific abilities and general confusion. But one can read this data in precisely the opposite fashion and draw a picture of a generation acutely aware of the date, whose (relative) silence in certain documents indicates anxiety rather than indifference. First, consider the Easter Tables then in use: every single religious establishment which owned even half a dozen codices would have tables first drawn up by Bede (724) and spread in the following generation by the Carolingians. These tables all used AD dating in their first column, followed by all the information necessary to determine when to celebrate Easter that year.14 In other words the assumed knowledge, the point of entry into the Easter material, was the date.
No one could make the most vital liturgical determination in Christendom without knowing the year. Indifferent to the meaning of 1000 or not, there is no possibility of arguing ignorance of the date. But, we are told, the year 1000 had no eschatological meaning.15 It appears in the famous (and explosive) passage of Revelation in reference to a future period of time, a millennium to begin at some point, rather than a period to end. This is true, and would hold as an argument were we dealing with the millennial expectations of the early Christian centuries. But starting in the third century, the coming millennium was linked to a scheme of seven millennia from creation: the sabbatical millennium of peace and justice and plenty would come at the end of this sixth and last millennium of travail and darkness.16 The year 6000 was variously dated to 500 and 801 AD by successive generations of Christian chronographers; and at the approach of each date, some chronographers engage in a "countdown" of years from their day "to the completion of this millennium." Moreover, with the pas- sage of this second millennial date, evidence suggests that the new focus of the end of the millennium was retargeted to 1000.17 Finally, and perhaps most ironically, this millennial calculation, which Augustine had done so much to drive out of the Church, and whose "marginal" appearance in the documentation led the specialists of Christian chronology to miss its significance, was reinforced by Augustine's own insistence that the current millennium, since the time of Christ, marked the period of the (invisible) millennial reign of the saints, thus giving either 1000 or 1033 a different, but no less eschatological significance: rather than awaiting the beginning of the millennium of Revelation 20:1-6, mankind awaited its end (20:7-14) in a cosmic battle between good and evil. The widespread knowledge of AD among clerics, and the eight- centuries-old tradition of counting down to an eschatologically significant "fin-du-mill–naire", sheds a different light on the scholarly "confusion" concerning the precise date of 1000. On the contrary, all of the dates offered by the "anti-terreur" historians as "alternative" dates for 1000 -- 968, 979 or 1033 -- reflect not a variety of equally plausible dates in circulation, but a series of efforts either to speed up the millennium's arrival,18 to postdate it,19 or to salvage a coming millennium after its passage.20 The disagreement, then, which crops up only in the final generation before the year 1000, is not a sign of confusion, but of either anxiety or enthusiasm about an approaching eschatological deadline. Nor did it have any serious impact on the widespread acceptance of the common date AD, still in use.
As for whether the lay populace also knew the date, that is obviously a matter of sheer conjecture. We have precious little on what they knew, and that is so spotty that it would be hard to confidently generalize from it. But conjecture we must, and it is better to do so in an informed manner than merely by asserting conclusions based on the principle that peasants are illiterate, stupid, and insignificant (what our clerical sources call "dumb" or "hornless" oxen). The first issue, then, is to ask whether they wanted to or not. If the date were meaningful to them (a question to which we shall return), then there were certainly channels to find out -- the sources are full of stories about wandering holy men, monks who jump the monastery walls (like Glaber), religious leaders who reject any kind of ecclesiastical discipline. Like children with watches, the rustics may have wanted to know just how much longer to wait. If Bede could complain of rustics who importune him over how many years remain in the millennium (i.e. at the approach of 6000 AM II),21 one can easily imagine that the crowd in Paris who, in 970, heard that Antichrist would come in the year 1000, might be equally insistent on knowing when that date might come. Having questioned the basis of an "insignificant year 1000", one needs to go further. What are the historiographical consequences of the kind of capstone historiography that has given us this "year like any other" and effectively atrophied our ability to think about an apocalyptic year 1000. Above all, such a view disconnects the year 1000 from any discussion of the great issues -- millennial or social -- of the past thousand years of Western Civilization, indeed it has even disconnected it from develop- ments in the very century it inaugurated, those revolutions of agriculture, of commerce, of urban and rural freedoms, of church reform, of law, of knightly piety, those mutant forms of behavior which produced, by the end of the eleventh century, the communes, the Investiture Conflict, the Crusades.22 However he or she cuts it, the medieval historian describing the large sweep of the story, must somehow start the tale of the High Middle Ages some- time around 1000 (950-1050). Those who start their tale in 950 invoke slow, imperceptible changes and begin discussing the visible changes in the mid-eleventh century;23 many simply start ca. 1050, or a year before, when the reform Pope Leo IX had lifted the relics of Saint Remi, and demanded that all simoniac bishops (i.e., all of those assembled), come and resign their office for having polluted it with their lucre. None of this, generally is associated with the year 1000.
To the contrary. Looking at the documentation of 1000 in the context of the longer tradition of apocalyptic thought and preaching within the church -- from its origins in the Gallilean and Judean hills, through the conversion of the Roman emperor himself, to the conversion and ascendance of these barbaric tribes to the true faith and, under the name Charlemagne, to the imperial title -- in this longer trajectory, I would argue, the year 1000 stands out as a year of outstanding eschatological importance to high and low alike. And its passage, far from exposing some foolish fantasy that soon dissapated, had immense consequences for the shape and direction of European culture. As the end of the second Christian millennium approaches, we are in a position to understand what happened at the approach and passage of the first. Background to 1000: On the Nature of Christian Apocalyptic Thought Christianity begins with the announcing of the good news, that is "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Whether that kingdom was meant as the chiliastic reign of the saints in this world, or some eschatological Last Judgment, it promised an imminent and public release from all the pain and suffering that the righteous suffer in this world where power is wielded by the brutal and immoral. It is important to keep in mind that for the believer, the promise of this final deliverance from evil lay at the core of much Christian thought: the Day of the Lord was, for the true believer, not one of fear but hope, not one of terror but of vindication. One has only to read the Book of Revelation to get a sense of how powerful -- indeed violent -- the dreams of final deliverance might become.24 However often Christians might cite the principle that "The Kingdom of Heaven is within", they continued to look for the Parousia. Bishop Hesychius, convinced that the End had come, and criticizing Augustine for his insistence that we cannot know the time, argued that the hope of the imminent Parousia was the food with which he nourished his flock.25 Especially for the meek, who awaited to inherit the earth, the moment was eagerly awaited. But it never came. (Or has not yet... for the historian this is the key.) And in the meantime, each generation had to deal with both its hopes and disappointments. In time there emerged two different positions: the Augustinian and the Hesychian, or what I would call the owls and the roosters. The roosters crow about the imminent dawn of redemption, of a public settling of accounts, exciting their flocks to extraordinary efforts of self- sacrifice, to the white hot fervor of a full-blown Sermon on the Mount; the owls try and hush the roosters, arguing that only mischief, disappointment, and loss of credibility can come from such hastiness, emphasizing that in this perduringly fallen world the kingdom of Heaven can only lay within, and that precious few are capable of a full embrace of ethics so glorious as those Jesus enjoined upon the faithful. At times of great uncertainty and unrest -- when the sky filled with signs and wonders, when famines, plagues and wars devastated the countryside, when rumors of prodigies and marvels spread, when long-awaited eschatological dates reached their term -- the roosters crowed loudly and the owls were helpless to resist. When, as they always did, things quieted down, the owls gained the upper hand. And it is they who control our documentary record. Thus the capstone historians who dismissed 1000 as a "year like any other" overlooked a key variable: the end is not merely paralyzing terrors, it is also extravagant hope; hope to see an end to the injustice of suffering in this world, hope for a life of ease and delight, hope for the victory of truth and peace. In this perspective, some of the very things that in one argument appear as "life as usual" appear in this perspective rather differently. The massive effort and success of imperial missionaries from Germany and Byzantium to convert the pagan peoples -- Scandinavian, Slav, Hungarian -- is not "proof" that people did not just freeze in terror, it is, on the contrary, an illustration of millennial enthusiasm: at once massive in scope and successful in endeavor. Similarly (a point to which I shall return), when the high aristocracy began to gather the commoners into large open-field assemblies to establish a social peace, this was not signs of a confidently determined church keeping the social machine finely tuned, but of a fundamental social crisis and a (shocking) appeal to the most profoundly chiliastic hopes of the masses to resolve it.
Let us approach the year 1000. In 750 the Carolingians adopted Bede's Anno Domini in historiography, computus, and some diplomatics, thus enabling them (as Bede had intended) to avoid mentioning the approaching of the year 6000 Anno mundi.26 Thus on the first day of AD 801 (=6000 AM), Charlemagne received the imperial crown in Rome. Everyone knew; no one wrote about it. Did anyone speak openly about 6000? Were references to this date in the ceremony? Did anyone pass from the coronation as a continuatio imperii Romani -- Rome stands, the Antichrist cannot come -- to something about a messianic emperor, a new and final Christian millennium? We are forced to conjecture, because for the second time, Christian scribes have proved capable of maintaining a strict and disciplined silence about an apocalyptic year. Using AD permitted not only to leave-off discussion of the ever-more apocalyptic year 6000, it permitted focus on one still comfortably off in the future: 1000. When Thiota the pseudo- prophetess (note, her very title is retrospective) came to Mainz in 847 announcing the end of the world for the following year and gathering a large and devoted following of commoners and even clerics,27 the official rejoinder to her apocalyptic calculation was (as it had been for the last 600-700 years), that still 152 years remained until the year AD 1000.
The Approach of 1000: The first millennial generation (960-1000) About 950, Adso of Montier-en-Der wrote a politically conservative treatise on the Antichrist addressed to the West Frankish queen, Gerberga, in which he made three key points about the contemporary scene: First, although great Antichrist would be born in the East of the tribe of Dan, he would be preceded by many antichrists, who would rebel against their place in the social order. Second, the Antichrist could not come until the Roman Empire had fallen, and as long as there were Frankish kings who "ought to be emperor" that empire was still "standing." And third, one variant current among our "learned ones" (doctores) foresaw a mighty emperor who would unite the entire world in his Christian peace for a century or more and then, go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem where, in laying down his crown, he would voluntarily put an end to the Roman empire and inaugurate the final, eschatological scenario.28
Adso's text became immensely popular, read, copied, sent as a present to Heribert when he first rose to the episcopal see of Cologne in 999 with a new preface, advising him to read it carefully as a guide to the times.29 It was attached to a treatise on the Vices and the Virtues which urged a deep and abiding penitence, and a struggle with one's old ways. Although capstone historians are likely to read the manuscript history of the text as evidence of a purely literary phenomenon, the likelihood is greater that behind every written text lay ever-widening gyres of readers, auditors, reciters and embellishers. If so erudite an apocalyptic calculation as the years in which the Annunciation and Crucifixion coincide could spread "throughout almost the entire world", then the mythical narrative that Adso gave voice to could easily move from the world of written to that of oral discourse. If Brian Stock can speak of "textual communities" in the early eleventh century who take the apostolic verses as their source of bonding,30 then one can certainly imagine that such communities, drawing on Revelation and Adso's Vita Antichristi, could have formed in the generation before the year 1000. The immense impact of Adso's work on the subsequent eschatological imagination of the West for two centuries attests precisely to such oral popularity. Let us, then, read the treatise as roman Š clef. To Adso in 950, the line which "ought to" produce a Frankish emperor was Gerberga's husband Louis IV of the western Franks, the last direct descendent of Charlemagne's royal (millennial) line. He was not thinking of her brother, king Otto of the East Franks, a Saxon from dynasty whose royal pretensions had only arisen in the course of the tenth century. Within a generation all would change: by 962, Otto had become emperor, and by 987-91, Louis' family had lost the throne to a new and local aristocratic dynasty. As we approach the year 1000, therefore, Germany and France go in exactly opposite directions in playing out the eschatological scenario Adso had laid out. In the East, the Ottonians pursued a grand and triumphal strategy in which all the symbols of Apocalypse and imperium were combined: convering the pagans (far more successful than Charlemagne), renewing the Roman empire in Rome, reforming the papacy (Gerbert the peasant scientist), opening the tomb of Charlemagne (emperor of 6000) on Pentecost of 1000. Although he was not of the imperial blood, Otto III was nonetheless emperor; and a close look at his "over- heated mysticism" suggests that he conceived of himself as that messianic emperor spoken of by those doctores Adso mentioned.31 In the West, everything fell apart. The constant pressure of local strongmen to assert their dominion over the population (potentes vs pauperes), already strong under the last Carolingians, broke its bounds. In every place where the ruler did not assert constant vigilance, new castles went up... not to protect against invaders, but to dominate the countryside. Castellans and their bully-boys, the milites, asserted a new kind of peace, one in which the difference between an armed bellator and an unarmed laborator was clear; and the advantage went to he with arms and control over the local courts. Not only was the church helpless to reign in these newly-powerful, these nouveau puissants, not yet socialized to the exercise of that which they so ruthlessly laid claim to, she was often enough their victim. To the victims of this revolution in social relations, the new men could not help but seem like so many antichrists, rebelling against their place, intensifying warfare and pillage, embittering the life of the peasants whose produce they lived off. Especially in the south, the fall of the Carolingians meant the end of the monarchy -- many dated their charters by Anno Domini with Christ reigning; and the new dynasty got off to a difficult start. In the year 1000, accused of incest by the church, excommunicated by his own teacher, Gerbert the pope, King Robert stood as the symbol of royal impotence. Whereas the Ottonians rode the top of the wave of apocalyptic hopes and fears of 1000, the Capetians wiped out early.32 Sign and wonders, disasters and omens gave rich body to this apocalyptic political and social picture: famines, plagues, invasions by the Danes, beached whales, monstrous births, a bright Halley's comet in 989, widespread outbreaks of sacerignis, earthquakes, eclipses of the sun and moon. The roosters were crowing continuously. As early as the 960s, Lotharingian computists were predicting the end for the year 970, when the Annun- ciation and the Crucifixion coincided: Friday, March 25, when Adam was created, Isaac sacrificed, the Red Sea crossed, Christ Incarnated, Christ Crucified, and the Archangel Michael would defeat Satan. Against this rumor, a Paris preacher urged the classic Carolingian response: "not now, in the year 1000." Abbo, a very smart and energetic young man, who would have to live with that delayed promise some 30 years off, objected strenuously, emphasizing Augustine's radical agnosticism. "We cannot know," he would have argued, "these texts are not to be taken literally; we must look within and do penitence." The fact that Abbo was right did not put an end to the issue: the coincidence happened again in 981 and again in 992.33 However big or small we imagine them (Abbo spoke of a rumor spreading through almost the entire world), these waves of date- based apocalyptic expectation were only dress-rehearsals to the year 1000.34 Here the evidence seems quite powerful: we have a dozen chroniclers and annalists who specifically speak of the passage of 1000 (again retrospective), another dozen surviving examples of Easter Tables that either end in or begin in 1000 (in the middle of a 19-year cycle), another half-dozen texts which explicitly link the year 1000 to apocalyptic behavior. Perhaps the single most spectacular text, written in a contemporary hand, in the margins of a Bedan Easter Table, describes a tremendous earthquake, "sign of the sure completion of all the prophecies and the imminent fulfillment of all our hopes."35 We also know how Christians met these moments of crisis: public processions, often with relics, gathering the entire populace in acts of penitential contrition. Such moments may not last, but their memory does (they are, I would argue, depicted on the bottom stratum of the tympanum at Autun); and it is up to us to figure out how it influenced events. One can, therefore, with little difficulty, draw a text-based picture of an apocalyptic year 1000, one filled with both long- term eschatological projects Otto III) but also specific and public apocalyptic moments when, as the Romantics claimed and the Positivists mockingly dismissed, people literally stood in fear and trembling. The important point for the historian is to go on. What happened after? After the catharsis of public penitence? After (even the most committed began to realize that) the end did not come? After normal time resumed?
Historians who like to categorize the phenomena they study tend to miss the full range of apocalyptic behavior because they look for only one kind of manifestation -- generally extravagant and often destructive behavior. Thus when confronted with the case of public apocalyptic moments -- vast assemblies of people convinced by some combination of signs, wonders, disasters, prophets, and times, that the end is upon them -- the historian tends to believe that, with the passage of time, they realized that they were wrong in their fears, and, with a huge sigh of relief, they returned to their former lives. This approach misses the key transformation provided by apocalyptic beliefs. The approach of the Apocalypse calls for all sinners to, in this final moment, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." If large numbers collectively feel this imminence, if a plague or an earthquake or a sign in the heavens shakes the confidence of even the most determined and powerful members of a society, if people gather in vast assemblies and engage in penitential activity, reaching unimagined heights of confession and renunciation, then the fear can and will pass, not only because the end fails to come, but because the collective penance can produce a massive change of "atmosphere" in which people embrace their enemies in tears of mutual forgiveness.36 Thus the delay of the end might be viewed not merely as a reprieve, but as the salvation of God, bestowed on his chastened people; not the continuation of the world as we know it, but the inauguration of a new age in which the peace of men, the peace of iron, gives way to the pax Dei.
The Aftermath of 1000, the Approach of 1033: The Second Millennial Generation.
Things did not, I would argue, return to "normal." Capstone historians, with their unidimensional caricature of terror-filled apocalyptic beliefs, tend to look for relief, a sentiment one might well expect from clerics like Abbo who had been saddled with this volatile eschatological promise by his Carolingian predecessors. And indeed we find it: Adam of Bremen, writing a chronicle on the north-eastern frontier of Christendom, gratuitously noted that the year 1000 from the incarnation had been completed feliciter.37 But I think the more significant sentiment to follow is hope, and its post-apocalyptic sister, disappointment. Here one finds some of the most pregnant activity -- the first and vigorous stirrings of a popular Christian culture of vast movements, of radical dissent and reform, of widespread pilgrimage, of collective actions. The key to these developments is to be found in the apocalyptic dynamic itself, which goes through some fairly predictable stages. Let us begin with the penitential movements, which most closely fit the stereotype of apocalyptic fears. These public outpourings of confession and remorse have an electrifying effect on people, unleashing the full force of the apocalyptic ethics of the sermon on the mount, leading them to beg forgiveness for crimes from neighbors and enemies, to swear off a life of evil and turn with an open heart to God. Again, granted, the texts describing such moments often go on to give us the retrospective perspective, in which promises are broken and evil ways return. But it is in the transformation of penitence to joy that new social bonds are made; that vendettas are abandoned, that feuding enemies embrace, that weapons are laid aside. It is in this atmosphere that a Christian peace first emerged, most notably in the south of France, where royal authority was non-existant. Here we have the mutation of Rogations-like penitential processions into a full-fledged chiliastic movement in which the elites and the populace met on the same terrain -- one favorable to the populace -- and attempted to inaugurate God's peace on earth.38
The peace started in the south, where royal power and authority were close to non-existent. It constituted an effort by the highest aristocracy lay and clerical (dukes, counts, abbots, bishops). It combined all of the most passionate and populist elements in the ecclesiastical repertory -- major relics and the huge religiously enthusiastic crowds they drew, collective oaths, messianic rhetoric, and, of course, the self-abasement of the participating warriors who, swords sheathed, openly participated in the infectious deeds of contrition and mutual forgiveness, mutually swearing to renounce their ways and to leave the non- combattants alone. At the least, it was an oath renouncing terrorism (a standard form of warfare); at the most, it was an oath to live in a society where to shed the blood of a Christian was to shed the blood of Christ. Some of the early assemblies, like the one in Limoges in 994 were clearly undertaken in a dramatic, indeed apocalyptic atmosphere of crisis: the detailed and lurid descriptions of the plague of sacer ignis, of the penitential fast, of the vast crowds accompanying the saints -- like the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea and following Moses to the Promised Land -- the miraculous healing and joyous celebration, and the ensuing pact of peace and justice sworn by the warrior elite. This is the most striking expression of apocalyptic sentiment at the approach of the millennium: it contains both the fears and the hopes so characteristic of such beliefs; it spreads with great rapidity through most of the south during the final decade of the millennium; it mobilized an entire culture. It also probably stepped over the bounds of Augustinian eschatological discourse. It has clearly chiliastic elements -- the very notion of the rule of God's peace on earth, brought about by voluntary rather than forced restraints, by mutual love and forgiveness rather than fear of retaliation, all this suggests a kingdom of the saints. Whether the clerics at these assemblies were openly roosters and explicitly invoked millenarian themes is difficult to gauge.39 Like Charlemagne's coronation, we cannot look to the written record for a clear sense of what went on. They surely invoked God's wrath and imminent Judgment as a reason for the evil-doers (here the warrior aristocracy) to repent: as Hesychius had said, that was part a fundamental part of preaching. Indeed, if we need an example of terrified paralysis at the advent of the year 1000, we might see it, as Michelet put it, in the sword hand of the warriors who attended these Peace assemblies. Nor need one be explicit to raise hopes; much of the symbolism -- from the name of Pax Dei to the presence of the saints [relics], to timing -- certainly allowed participants to believe that they were participating in the descent of the heavenly city to the earthly city. Of course they were participating in nothing of the sort. Within a relatively brief time (indistinguishable in the texts) the warriors were back at it, building their castles, coercing their own peasants, fighting their wars, pillaging churches and burning their enemies' villages and crops. Conventional historians tend to treat this outcome as decisive: the Pax Dei failed in its effort to instaur peace; it was eventually replaced by more pragmatic institutions, enforced by arms. It appears often as a footnote in a survey, an illustration of how bad feudal anarchy could get. Given the widespread assertion that the economic revival of the eleventh century was due to the return of peaceful conditions to Europe, this is, in a left-handed way, an admission of the messianic pretensions of the movement: only in terms of a messianic program of "complete peace" does the movement fail. But the dismissal does not take such pretensions seriously. We know that the extravagant hopes aroused by apocalyptic expectations rarely dissipate with their failure, especially when they spawn large and (at least momentarily) successful movements. Disappointment triggers not discouragement, but renewed efforts to reignite the apocalyptic flames that had made the movement possible. The annals of modern apocalyptic movements is filled with the efforts to overcome the cognitive dissonance of a belief so powerful it had moved mountains (in this case, the warrior lords to the peace assemblies) but had not delivered its full (absolute!) promise. In fact, the Peace movement is a genuinely radical anomaly: the normal means for dealing with the complaints of the peasantry in this period was either slaughter (as in Francia in 859) or a more purposeful cutting off of hands and feet (as in Normandy in the late 990s). The very calling of assemblies represented a major concession to the populace. It gave them a voice.
If this represents the kinds of "concessions" that commoners could expect from an aristocracy frozen in terror at the thought of the Last Judgment, as Michelet would put it, their eagerness to see the approach of the year 1000 is perfectly understandable. Nor should come as a surprise then, that in the case of the apocalyptic year 1000, they preferred to recalculate the end rather than shrug their shoulders and go back home. And we find precisely this recalculation: from the millennium of the Incarnation to that of the Passion (1033). As Glaber put it: after the passage of all the wonders and prodigies around 1000, there were no lack of sagacious men who predicted no less for the millennium of the Passion. And as that second millennium approached, we find the same revival of peace councils at which popular participation became increasingly prominent. It is to this millennial generation that we need to turn if we would understand the period and its significance. Here in this 33-year span we have a generation steeped in apocalyptic hopes -- those disappointed mass movements of the previous generation, now openly discussing apocalyptic themes. This overheated atmosphere gives us many of the themes which will over the next centuries, give us the profoundly creative and deeply conflicted culture we have labelled the High Middle Ages -- communal movements, pilgrimages and church building, revolutionary church reform, colonial warfare, radical religious dissent, execution of heretics and pogroms against the Jews. Thus, in 1010, when Al Hakim destroyed the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, partly as a reaction to the increased fervor and numbers of Christian pilgrims there, it was greeted in the West with apocalyptic dismay: chroniclers speak of him in tones reminiscent of Antichrist; the pope called for crusade, the reforming monks blamed the Jews, and the frustrated and frightened populace gave them the choice of conversion or death.40 Perhaps the single most enduring effect of this millennial generation was the development of a process of apocalyptic reform, in which movements like the peace, which were launched at times of intense apocalyptic expectations, become, upon "reentry" into normal time, institutionalized as "reform" movements. Thus, the entire eleventh century is known as a time of fervent reform, beginning the with monastic orders (especially Cluny), moving into the secular clergy with the reform of the canonical houses, finally becoming a full-fledged church reform in the second half of the century under the tutelage of the popes. Behind these clear and well documented movements lie a more charismatic impulse, that of the apostolic life, that of the effort to live the ethics of the sermon on the mount in a committed community.
One can detect all these elements clearly in the millennial generation -- from the popular heresies which were apostolic movements too radical for the clergy, to the vast movement of church building and parish organization. Indeed, Radulfus Glaber's famous passage about Western Christendom "shaking off the dust of the ages and covering itself with a white mantle of churches" specifically in 1003 suggests that within the millennial generation, church reformers like his patron William of Volpiano viewed the remarkable renewal of Christian life a sign of a new age. Thietmar, bishop of the German town of Meerseburg in the north wrote about a new dawn spreading over Europe.41 Both these exceptional characterizations of an optimistic future-oriented Europe are written around 1020, and refer specifically to the year 1003/4, the period immediately after Antichrist's reign. Reform is the post apocalyptic form of the spiritual renewal that the advent of the millennium brought. At the approach of 1033, the prognosticators proved correct. The Peace movement once again gained momentum, starting in the 1020s, this time in both north and south, and under the auspices of the king of France. Even the German emperor met with King Robert in 1023 to declare a universal peace. In 1028 a rain of blood fell on the Aquitanian coast, prompting a worried exchange of letters between the duke, the king, and two of his most trusted ecclesiastical advisors about what it might portend. Soon there- after, a devastating famine struck the entire land for three years and a exodus of pilgrims to Jerusalem began to swell. Glaber describes how in the year 1033, both of these gathering waves of popular religious activity -- the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Pax Dei -- reached their peak. Innumerable pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives [traditional site of the parousia], prompting wonder among their neighbors and disapproval from the ecclesiastical hierarchy.42 Meanwhile those who stayed were not idle: the Peace swept France from the south to the farthest reaches of the north, gathering people in vast assemblies.43 Some bishops even claimed that they were instructed to proclaim a universal peace by a letter sent from Heaven.44
Glaber's description of these councils will serve as a good basis to reflect on both the meaning of the millennial generation and on the its subsequent impact on European culture right up to the present. At the height of the enthusiasm aroused by these peace assemblies, he describes how the entire people raised their palms skyward and shouted "Peace Peace Peace." They believed, he tells us, that they were making (Glaber uses spondo = to marry) a covenant (pactum perpetuum) with God. This is an extremely rare passage, one that tells us how commoners thought (they are so rare, most medievalists have given up on even guessing what they thought), how they perceived their actions, how they identified themselves; and it is no accident that it describes the peak moment of millennial expectations associated with the year 1000.
Rather than a church filled with quaking and superstitious fools, we find the advent of the millennium energizing the entire culture, leading them to a full-hearted acceptance of a Christian covenant with God. This marks the moment when the commoners became genuinely enthused about Christianity (it had previously been largely an imposition from above). It marks the point where Europeans first thought of themselves as God's New Chosen People. I would compare this moment with the previous case of a Chosen People, the covenant at Mount Sinai; the Peace, in its two millennial decades of the 990s and the 1020s/30s, constituted the defining moment in European cultural identity, the key moment when European Christians first developed a sense of mission and of religious unity. This "reading" poses several problems: first, I have imperceptibly shifted from France to Europe; second, the Peace plays a very small role in the history of Europe, far from the centrality of the Exodus in Jewish self-identity; and third, if, as Glaber himself admits, and the documentation of the following centuries repeatedly confirms, the aristocracy broke their promises and went back to their bellicose and oppressive ways, what can the significance of a moment, no matter how exalting it may have seemed, be in the long run? Let me answer these questions in reverse order. First: as Glaber says, it was the potentes who broke the oaths. The populace may well have been "returned to their plows", subjected to the "evil customs" of their lords, enserfed for centuries; but that does not mean they either liked it or accepted it. Just because our sources reflect the perspectives of the aristocracies (Glaber is quite daring here in blaming the elites), does not mean that the commoners ceased to think, to protest, to organize, to take action. When seen in this light, all of the most revolutionary activity of the 11th and subsequent centuries -- from the "Gregorian Reform" (really a papal revolution) and the Crusades to the urban and agricultural revolutions (the communes), to the heresies and pilgrimages -- feature an unusually active popular participation. Indeed, I would argue that the dynamic of modernity, which we tend to identify with the period following the Renaissance, actually began in the 11th century. We have missed it because we think of modernity purely in secular terms. But secular modernity is really the second phase; the first began and developed in a profoundly religious, biblical idiom. Religion as the opiate of the masses is only one side of the story.45 Second: the reason that the Peace plays so small a role in European history is the product of capstone historiography. Obviously, if the elites turned against the restrictions of the Peace movement (as Glaber tells us explicitly and our other sources confirm implicitly), then they were not interested in dwelling on what they had rejected. Just as the French revolutionary aristocracy, which had renounced their "feudal privileges" in an emotional oath on the night of August 4, 1789, proceded to water down the concessions in subsequent (written) publications of the oath, and to pass the incident over in silence after the Restauration of the monarchy in 1815, so the clerical elite tended to invoke the Peace only on certain restricted occasions. Thus, after 1033 there are few councils until the end of the 11th century, and no historian gives the movement the prominence that those of the millennial generation did.
Capstone historians, accepting the documentation as a reasonable reflection of the age, have confirmed the spin that aristocratic sources have given the movement: even in cases where the elites invoke the Peace of God in sweeping terms (Pope Urban and the Crusade), there is little close analysis of what kind of popular appeal is involved in such an invocation. Rather than dismiss the analogy with the Israelites because of the contrast, I would pose the following question: why, and with what consequences for the shape of their respective cultures, did the Israelite reli- gious elites remember their moment of covenant as central to their people's identity, whereas European Christians forgot it? Finally, what about France. Were you, in the year 999, to bet on France or Germany as the leader of Europe in the coming centuries, you would have been crazy to choose France.46 Germany was ruled by the most powerful and competent dynasty in Europe; it had solved the problem of invasions, exercised control over the papacy; had a court and culture to rival, indeed surpass that of the Carolingians. France was leaderless, in a state of anarchy, attacked from within and without; its most energetic people entering into a monastic movement that prized a continuous round of prayer as the height of piety. And yet, a century later, the situation is completely reversed despite the fact that the French king was, in 1100 as in 1000, excommunicated by the pope. By 1100 France is the undisputed cultural powerhouse of Europe and would remain so for at least another century. All the great religious movements -- monastic and canonical reforms, popular "heresies," even the church reform -- started in France and spread over Europe; so did the architectural and artistic styles known as Romanesque and Gothic; university culture was most varied and influential in France; and, of course the Crusades (which are only the most dramatic part of a larger phenomenon of invasion and colonization which continued well into the twentieth century) are so much a product of French culture that, to the Muslims, the term for European was Frank. Why is this? I would argue that all of these cultural and social developments are in some way the product of the peace movement, itself a chiliastic millennial movement: in a pattern that is typical of the paradoxes of apocalyptic movements, rather than in the regions in which the leadership kept control (Germany), it is precisely where they lost control and were forced to tap into popular elements that the most creative social developments emerge. These movements do not disappear, especially ones of the unprecedented scope and intensity of the Pax Dei. (I cannot think of a millennial movement to compare with it: over 40 years long, involving the entire society, spreading over a sizeable region.) However disappointing the results may have been (I am not sure they were as paltry as conventional historians would have us believe -- these same historians then talk about the "peaceful conditions of the eleventh century" to explain the urban and commercial revolutions), they were not forgotten. And the trace of both the memory, and the effort to recreate the paradise lost, is to be found in the central role that various kinds of apocalyptic expectations played in subsequent European history.
In fact Michelet's invocations of the year 1000, replete with references to the serf standing in his ploughed furrow in the shadow of the odious tower, letting out a terrible laugh as Doomsday struck, can be understood as an effort to revive the revolutionary fervor of France in the midst of the reactionary consolidations of the nineteenth century. For Michelet, the Revolution came when the French people could no longer wait for a God who tarried interminably.47 Nor is it a coincidence that the violent reaction of the positivist school to this reading comes immediately after the commune of 1871.48
From the millennial generation onwards, one can trace a continuous, if periodic, presence of widespread apocalyptic expectations of an eschatological date: 1065, 1096-1100, 1147-50, 1166, 1179-86, 1200, 1212, 1233, 1260, 1290, 1300-1304, 1333, 1356-60, and so on. Indeed, preliminary investigation suggests that each century's end is marked by an apocalyptic generation which stretches from the final 90's to the 30's (this is especially true of 1200-1233, 1300-1333, 1500- 1533). Once we have paid attention to these moments, all of which elicit vast outpourings of social and religious activity among the commonfolk, we will begin to restore to our own history this vital dimension. In the process, I think that we will find that much of what we call modern is actually a phenomenon which started out apocalyptic and, in mutating to adjust to the failure of expectations, took on its more stable and recognizable forms. As opposed to the capstone historiography which affirms -- even finishes -- the work of our distorting sources, I propose a genealogical approach, one which restores the mistaken but power- fully consequential apocalyptic origins of much that makes us what we are today. What does this mean for this coming millennium? Here I, as one who spends more time with eleventh century colleagues than con- temporary ones, cede to those who can discuss it more specifically. But before doing so, let me touch on three points:
First, I think that for the last millennium, European (and, in the last half a millennium, Western) culture has had a powerful, if textually "marginal," strain of millennial thought, which has been repeatedly triggered by apocalyptic expectations. Among these, dates have played a significant role in creating widespread and long-lasting apocalyptic moments.49 Thus, I think it is a safe bet to predict that while God (probably) will not bring History to an End and redeem/punish mankind in the year 2000, there will be no lack of people to predict and to believe that S/He will. And if one can predict prodigious and exceptional developments for the years surrounding 2000, one can expect no less for the bimillennium of the Passion. Indeed there is a curious irony at work which revitalizes apocalyptic thought just when, as a cultural elite, we imagine it has faded. As opposed to those who feel that the coming year 2000 will just be a party hyped by the media, I think we are in for another millennial generation.
Second, the difficulty that modern intellectuals have in dealing with apocalyptic beliefs (and here I speak specifically of historians, but suspect it applies to many others as well), is a function of the literary culture that we have inherited. Despite all the efforts of modernity to liberate itself from the confines of religious discourse, it has been least successful where apocalyptic discourse is concerned on two counts: First, apocalyptic rhetoric is one form of religious communication which has not been slowed by the advent of an atheist/agnostic intellectual culture; quite the contrary, one might argue it has increased. Second, we have yet to really appreciate its power. Partly because we, as an elite culture dedicated to dismissing superstition, have an inbred sympathy for the Augustinian position, partly because we are repeatedly reminded of the mischief that apocalyptic prophecies can bring on (the secular forms of the twentieth century -- Marxism and Nazism have proved staggeringly destructive), we tend to fear and, whenever possible, ridicule the belief. In this, we are the direct inheritors of those elite and highly educated ecclesiastical figures like Augustine and Jerome, who heaped contempt on the superstitious folly of the masses. Thus, most academics and intellectuals are unaware that Hal Lindsay has become the best-selling living author for writing books that do precisely what Augustine forbade, reading contemporary events as the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation.
The problem may even go deeper than that. We are part of an intellectual culture peculiarly given to both retrospective disguise and prospective unmasking. Christianity is only the first, paradigmatic, example of such apocalyptic revision and revelation; and modernity and "post-modernity" are only the most recent examples of its protean ability to take secular as well as religious shapes. The fact that in our own days, volume upon volume denying the apocalyptic origins of Christianity can be written by the most sophisticated practitioners of all the latest intellectual techniques of deconstruction and sociological analysis, illustrates the point with special poignancy: our apocalyptic past and future remain dangerously threatening territory. As exegetes like Derrida have argued, much of our discourse denies through an eloquence that masks a silence; our most agile narratives and analyses impart a systematic spin, a brilliant cloth with which to cover our nakedness.
However these insights of deconstruction may or may not apply to other dimensions of our culture, one could not hope for a more penetrating approach to the textual silences about apocalyptic matters that lies at the heart of so spectacular and consequential an event as the coronation of Charlemagne in 6000 annus mundi, or the (rather less complete) textual silence concerning the advent and passage of the first Christian millennium. The real question, the real challenge to our current historical culture, is to stop assisting in this challenge, to stop interpreting it as an index of indifference and assuming that it corresponds, grosso modo, to the contents of oral discourse. Once we begin to retrieve the apocalyptic genealogy of our own past, we begin to understand how so many fundamental yet surprising elements of our own culture owe their past to an apocalyptic pro- ject that managed, despite the failure of its initial hopes, to become a functional element within "normal" time. Jesus, no matter how brilliant, charismatic, and great-hearted, was also wrong; so was Charlemagne, so was Francis of Assissi, so was Bacon and Newton, so was Marx, and so was Hitler. The error has been no impediment to their ability to shape our culture, only to our understanding of what motivated them and their followers. And once we understand this, we can begin to look at the approaching year 2000. As looney and discredited as "Apocalypse 2000" may seem to us at this point (many who believe in an eschatological year 2000 would not [now] openly avow such beliefs precisely for fear of ridicule by a public consensus which will not take such a discourse seriously), that does not make it less significant. The belief that the end is at hand is one of the most powerful and radical motivators in the human psyche, combining the most urgent passions with the most deep-seated megalomanic tendencies. It is the adrenalin rush of religious beliefs. People in the grip of such beliefs are capable of extraordinary deeds, and immune to the kind of skeptical logic with which we insulate ourselves from the appeal of apocalyptic time.
We ignore such sentiments at our own risk, and even, I might add, at the risk of our own impoverishment. For apocalyptic beliefs need not be purely violent, sectarian, dualistic, and self- destructive. Some of the most extraordinarily generous and noble expressions of the human heart are the product of an irenic belief that the kingdom of God will usher in an era of genuine mutual affection and joy, that the instruments of war will be beat into those of peaceful labor; that the predators will cease to prey on those who cannot fight back; that nation will not lift up sword against nation.... Indeed, the very foundation of Christianity, the preachings of one Jesus of Nazereth, seem to be just that: Peace on earth; goodwill towards men. As the Peace of God movement illustrates, millennial moments have the ability to mobilize large numbers of people, and to give their emotions a collective force. And over the long run (the eleventh century in this case) it can produce both the most exceptional cases of civil society (the communes) and the most violent cases of savagery (the knightly crusade).
At a time when one culture critic after another speaks of Western and global culture as having reached profound and urgent social, technological, natural, and political crises, we need not only the genius to find solutions, but also the social will to implement such solutions. Those who try to mobilize large numbers to accept new paradigms of social interaction (like the environmentalists) will inevitably, like the Pope, use apocalyptic rhetoric, even when they might deny its origins. Not to do so, would be to neglect a major force of social transformation, and those owls who chastely restrain themselves will likely be drowned out by those roosters who do not hesitate to act. It can be argued that hope is one of the most sublime human emotions, one that sets us squarely in the time of past and future, that sublimates our passions by reorienting us from present gratification to future enjoyment.50 It has been shown that optimists are wrong more often than pessimists, but accomplish more.51 We are, I would argue, a particularly accomplished and vigorous culture precisely because of our roosters.52 We should not disown them. On the contrary, on the eve of the third Christian millennium, we should acknowledge such impulses as a fundamental part of our world, and seek ways to help those "ridden" by these passions to reenter "normal time" with irenic contributions to civil society, rather than with the savage violence of suicidal destruction.
Department of History Boston University Center for Millennial Studies
1. Amalvi, Christian, "L'historiographie francaise face a l'avenement d'Hugues Capet et aux terreurs de l'an Mil: 1800-1914," De l'art et la maniere d'acommoder les heros de l'histoire de la France. Essais de mythologie nationale (Paris: Albin Michel, 1988), pp. 116-45.
2. Radulfus Glaber, Quinque libri historiarum, 3.4.13; ed. and tr. John France, Rodulfi Glabri Opera omnia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp.114- 117.
3. This the the main theme of articles "debunking the terrors" from Dom Plaine ("Les pretendues terreurs de l'an mille," Revue des questions historiques, 13 , 145-64) to Ferdinand Lot ("Le mythe des 'Terreurs de l'an mille'," Mercure de France, 300 , 639-55) to the most recent repetition of this argument by Peter Stearns, Millennium III, Century XXI: A Surviver's Guide to the New Millennium (Westview, Denver, 1996), chap. 2.
4. The distaste of the "positivists" for the "romantics" is almost palpable; indeed one might even argue that it is a matter of "taste." Ferdinand Lot had nothing but contempt for the older school: "This scholarly rhetoric [referring to the writing of Emile Gebhart], no less than the dilerious ramblings of Michelet, which one could even suspect of insincerity provoke in us nothing more than an overwhelming disgust" ("Le mythe," p.413).
5. Compare the chapter on the year 1000 in Damian Thompson's The End of the World (Sinclair-Stevenson, London, 1996), chap.2, with that of Peter Stearns (above n.3).
6. Using a variety of terms, from revolution to transformation to mutation, various historians have described the period around the millennium as one of profound and far-reaching change: Georges Duby, The Three Orders (U. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1980); E. Bournazel and J.-P. Poly, The Feudal Transformation (Manchester U. Press, 199?); Fossier, R., L'enfance de l'Europe: Aspects economiques et sociaux (Nouvelle Clio 17, 2 vols., PUF, Paris, 1982); culminating in the much criticized La mutation de l'an Mil by Guy Bois (The Tranformation of the Year 1000, Manchester, 1993).
7. Janet Nelson, "Society, Theodicy and the Origins of Heresy: Towards a Reassessment of the Medieval Evidence" in Schism Heresy and Religious Protest, Studies in Church History, 9; ed. D. Baker, (Oxford, 1972) pp.65-77; Talal Asad, "Medieval Heresy: An Anthropological View," Social History, 11 (1986), 345-62; R.I. Moore, Origins of European Dissent (New York, 1977); Formation of a Persecuting Society (Oxford, Blackwell, 1987);
8. Remarks by Paul Boyer in When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Belknap, Havard U. Press, 1992), pp. 1-20.
9. This will be one of the main themes of my upcoming, While God Tarried: Disappointed Millennialism and the Genealogy of the Modern West (Houghton- Mifflin, 1998, 1999), which, in its currently planned format will have an appendix in which each chapter will have a detailed analysis of at least one historian's treatment of the material with the characteristic rhetorical and analytic approaches that I term "capstone." For a preview of this kind of critique, see "On Owls, Roosters and Apocalyptic Time: A Historical Method for Reading a Refractory Documentation," Union Seminary Quarterly 49 (1996), pp. **-**.
10. For the best treatments of Augustinian eschatology, see Robert Markus, Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of Augustine, and Paula Fredriksen, "From John of Patmos to Augustine," Vigilia Christiana, Vigiliae Christianae, 45:2 (1991), 151-83. Augustine's impact on subsequent scribal production was so immense that historians have concluded that millennialism disappeared in Christianity from his day to that of Joachim of Fiore (end of twelfth century); I argue that his impact was primarily on scribal production and not on Christianity as a whole (see Landes, "Millenarismus absconditus: L'historiographie augustinienne et le mill–narisme du Haut Moyen Age jusqu'en l'an Mil," Le Moyen Age, 98:3-4 (1992), 355-77; 99:1 (1993), 1-26).
11. On Newton, see Frank E. Manuel, ed., The Religion of Isaac Newton (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1974); on Focillon, see below, n.**.
12. For an excellent analysis of the multiple layers of "transcripts" that emerge from various elements within a culture, see James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1991). Briefly put in his terms, the historian almost always has access only to some variant of the public transcript.
13. Focillon, one of the few historians in the last century to argue that the year 1000 did have apocalyptic significance to contemporaries, is aware of the Augustinian tendency to repress apocalyptic documents. He only followed through the implications for activity among commoners, and drew the line at the inthinkable suggestion that the elites might have been subject to such supersitions: "It may be said that there are two races of men at work, at the same time and in the same places, but working wholly different lines... [these years around the millennium] show the most energetic builders of the West at work, sound and clear minds filled with ideas that are both large and con- crete... great princes, great prelates, heads of religious order... below it there are shadowy zones, enormous strengths and weaknesses, waves of faith, courage, despair and fear." L'an Mil (Paris, 1952; DenoĀl, Paris, 1984), p.67; The Year 1000 (Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1971), p.63.
14.See the long list of manuscripts in Charles W. Jones' edition of the De temporum ratione for the Corpus Christianorum series latina, 123B, including his remarks on the number of worn fragments that bear eloquent witness to how often and hard ecclesiastics used these tables (p.241).
15. Ferdinand Lot, "Le mythe," p.398 and n.1. This argument is taken one step further by George Lincoln Burr who, in 1901, first introduced the anti- terrors argument to the American historical community. There he argues that not only was the date lacking any religious significance, it also lacked the kind of meaning that the Arabic numeral system, then unknown, gives such "round numbers" in our day. "With it's I's, V's, X's and C's,..." ("The Year 1000 and the Antecedents of the Crusades," American Historical Review, 6 (1901), p.436). But a glance at the Easter Tables of the day suggests that in Roman numerals, 1000 was actually more dramatic as a round number than 1000: from DCCCCLXXXXVIIII to M.
16. See Landes, "Lest the Millennium be Fulfilled: Apocalyptic Expectations and the Pattern of Western Chronography, 100-800 CE," The Use and Abuse of Eschatology in the Middle Ages, ed. W. Verbeke, D. Verhelst, and A. Welken- huysen (Katholieke U., Leuven, 1988), 137-211.
17. See below. A particularly nice example comes in the work of a ninth- century copyist, working in the first century of the seventh millennium by the annus mundi of the Carolingians, copying a manuscript written in 738 (i.e. 5937 AM II), changed the figure in the countdown from "63 years to the completion of this millennium" (i.e. 6000 AM II), to "263 years" (AD 1000), see Landes, "Lest the Millennium," p. 19?.
18. In annals written in Anjou shortly after recording a set of apocalyptic prodigies for 965, a chronicler wrote mille anni a nativitate Christi in the margin opposite 968, attesting to a mistaken) belief that the Easter Tables he was dealing with started with the Passion, not the Incarnation (Halphen, Annales angevines, p.58 n.2, 116 n.6).
19. Abbo of Fleury, in the thick of a series of battles with apocalyptic preachers, tried -- with no success whatsoever -- to correct Dionysus and Bede's dating of AD, placing the Incarnation some 21 years earlier, thus redating the present year (983) to after the millennium (1004) (see Landes, "Millenarismus absconditus," part II, pp. 21-22. This is characteristic of conservative chronographers at the approach of a millennial date (see Landes, "Lest," pp. 163, 174). Everytime some pedant writes a letter to the newspaper pointing out that the new millennium starts in 2001, not 2000, we have a modern example of a similar effort: the technical millennium may begin in 2001, but the psychological (and computer) millennium begins in 2000.
20. According to a pattern long familiar among students of modern apocalyptic movements, the failure of a date leads to resetting the calendar; in the mil- lennial generation of 1000, the obvious, Augustinian target was 1033, attested to by a contemporary chronicler in almost explicit terms: "After the many prodigies which had broken upon the world before, after, and around the millennium, of the Lord Christ, there were plenty of able men of penetrating intellect who foretold others, just as great, a t the approach of the millennium of the Lord's Passion, and such wonders were soon manifest" (Glaber, Quinque libri, 4.1, p.170-1).
21. Landes, "Lest," p.000.
22. George Lincoln Burr specifically presents the his non-apocalyptic year 1000 as a means of disconnecting the early eleventh century from the Crusades at the end (438-9).
23. This is particularly true of economic and social historians from Roberto Lopez, The Commercial Revolution in the Middle Ages, 950-1350 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1971) to Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (Princeton, 1993).
24. For two of many historians' readings of the Book that are sensitive to its appeal, see John Gager, Kingdom and Community (Prentice Hall, 1964), chap. 3; and Adela Y. Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Philadelphia, 1984).
25. Hesychius, Letter to Augustine, edited in Augustine's collection, no.198.
26. Landes, "Lest," pp.186-211.
27. Rudolf of Fulda, Annales fuldenses, ad an. 847, MGH SS 1.365; tr. Timothy Reuter, The Annals of Fulda (Manchester University Press, NY, 1992), pp.26-7.
28. Libellus de Antichristo, ed. Verhelst, CCCM 45 (Turnhout, 1976). On the apocalyptic atmosphere to which Adso was responding, see Verhelst "Adso van Montier-en-Der en de angst voor het jaar Duizend," Tijdschrift voor Ges- chiedenis, 90 (1977): 1-10; to be published in English translation in The Apocalyptic Year 1000, ed. Richard Landes and David Van Meter (Oxford U. Press, 1998). Anti-terror historians consider the non-polemical tone of this letter, "addressed to the theological curiosities of the queen rather than to refuting some error that had seized her in its grip," a "devastating silence that voids all relevance of this letter for the argument about the year 1000" (Pognon, L'an Mille [Paris, 1949] p.xiv); similar arguments from Plaine, "Les pr–tendues," p. 152, Lot, "Le mythe," p. 400; et al.
29. See Verhelst edition (above n.28), pp.55-88.
30. Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy (Princeton, 1983) chap. 2.
31. For the basic details, see any study of the period, e.g., Christopher Brook, Europe in the Central Middle Ages (Longman, London, 1964, 1987); for an elaboration of the thesis here, see Landes and Van Meter, The Apocalyptic Year 1000.
32. The larger issues are hotly debated as I write. I give a narrative summary of the "castellan revolution" with references to the larger debate in Relics, Apocalypse and the Deceits of History: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034 (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), chap. 2. For a rebuttal, see the upcoming article in Cahiers de civilisation m–di–vale, by Dominique Barthlemy on the Peace of God.
33. See Landes, "Millenarismus absconditus," p.19-21; Relics, pp.292-94.
34. Whereas capstone historians assume the belief faded with its first failure (Lot et al.), the historian alert to the significance of 1000 and the dynamic of apocalyptic expectation would expect believers to place still greater hope in the next one, especially as it approached the year 1000 (i.e. 981, 992). The fact that the coincidence continues to arouse massive apocalyptic expectation in 1065 (the first time after 1000 that it occurs) suggests that this is the case. There is an interesting analogy here: on June 6, 1996 there was a panic in Bogota of parents seeking to baptize their chil- dren because on that date (6-6-96) the Antichrist would rise to power. Obviously 6-6-66 would have been a more appropriate date, but the proximity of 2000 gave the '96 date its significance (3ę years to 2000). Note also the sophistication of this rustic and superstitious population: 6-6-96 is a highly urban form of annotation. The presence of highly successful evangelical (and apocalyptic) Christians in Latin America, again at the approach of 2000, must be considered a key here.
35. Annales Elnonenses, ad an. 1000; Biblioth…que de Valenciennes, 343, f.47v (contemporary hand); ed. MGH SS 5.12; more recently ed. P. Grierson, Les Annales de Saint-Pierre de Gand et de Saint-Amand (Bruxelles, 1910), p.153.
36. For a good description of such a movement (in which the apocalyptic ele- ment is dismissed by the historian) see Augustine Thompson, Revival Preachers and Politics in Thirteenth Century Italy: The Great Devotion of 1233 (Clarendon, Oxford, 1992).
37. Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum, 2,
40; ed. MGH SS 7:320; tr. F. Tschan, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen (Colum- bia U. Press, NY, 1959), p.83 [late eleventh century].
38. The Peace of God: Social Violence and Religious Response in France around the Year 1000, ed. Thomas Head and Richard Landes (Cornell U. Press, Ithaca, 1992); upcoming critique by D. Barthlemy (see above, n.32).
39. My book on Ademar of Chabannes (Relics) argues that he was a trained owl who ended up flirting with an ecclesiastical form of rooster, impressario of the relic cult, if you will, he tried to surf a huge wave of apocalyptic expectation on the board of a relic cult and wiped out.
40. "The Massacres of 1010: On the Origins of Popular Anti-Jewish Violence in Western Europe," in From Witness to Witchcraft: Jews and Judaism in Medieval Christian Thought, ed. Jeremy Cohen (Wolfenb™ttel: Wolfenb™ttler Mittelalterlichen-Studien, in press).
41. Chronicon 6.1; ed. Holtzmann and Trillmich [Darmstadt, 1957], p.243 and n.7).
42. Glaber, Quinque libri, 4.6.18; ed. France, pp. 199-205; for an analysis of this passage, see Landes, "Owls and Roosters," pp.00-00.
43. Glaber, 4.5, ed. pp. 194-99.
44. The text referring the letter is the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium, 3.52; MGH SS 7.585; tr. in Peace of God, p. 336-37; the date of the council has recently been placed specifically in 1033 by David Van Meter, "St. Adelard and the Return of the Saturnia Regna: A Note on the Transformation of a Hagiographical Tradition," Analecta Bollandiana 113 (1995), pp.301-11.
45. This is the essential argument of the second volume of my work in progress, While God Tarried: Disappointed Millennialism and the Genealogy of the Modern West (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998, 1999).
46. I thank my professor, Patrick Geary, for introducing me to this particular thought-game.
47. History of the French Revolution (Chicago, 1967), pp. 21-30.
48. See Amalvi (above n. 1) on this aspect of the phenomenon.
49. See Hillel Schwartz, Century's End: A Cultural History of the Fin de Siecle from the 990s to the 1990s, Doubleday, 1992; Stephen O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric (New York, Oxford U. Press, 1994).
50. N.O. Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History (Wesleyan University Press, 1959, 1985); Henri Desroches, Sociologie de l'esp–rance (Calmann-Levy, Paris, 1973).
51. 52. See, While God Tarried (n.45).