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3. History of Civilization (3.13-3.14)
Written by Messiah   
Thursday, 06 July 2006

3.13    Carolingian Empire

In the present regions of Spain and Portugal, the so called “Moors” lived in the 8th century. They were Muslims and became defeated by the Christian Frank Charles Martel at Poitiers in year 732. This was the raise of the Carolingian Empire which by time gained gratitude from leading Franks as well as the Popes of Rome.

The Carolingians displaced the last Merovingian king, Childeric in 751, whose house had ruled today’s regions of France and Germany between 5th and 8th century. The son of Pippin “The short”, Charlemagne (Latin: Carolus Magnus, adjective form: "Carolingian"), became King of the Franks and the founding Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, crowned by Pope Leo III in year 800. The Carolingians (also known as the "Carlovingians") were a dynasty of rulers that controlled the Frankish realm from 8th to the 10th century.

Charlemagne was buried in his own Cathedral in Aachen after his death, 814. He was succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious, who later divided the Empire into three kingdoms, for his own sons to rule. The West parts became today’s France, middle parts became the short-lived kingdom of Lotharingia and the East part became the kernel of the Holy Roman Empire.

The last of the Carolingians, Louis the Child, born in Bavaria, died in the year 911 and was eventually succeeded by the dukes of the stem duchies also referred to as the “Ottonians”. The Ottonian dynasty sometimes is regarded as being the first dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire, but Charlemagne still is known as the original founder.

3.14    India’s enlightened gift to the world

The part of Asia which today is India was early in terms of science and logic. Enlightened Hindus in around 400 BC initiated our today used numerals. Why should this be seen as a big thing? Well, major parts of the western civilization used Roman numerals, which wasn’t a good system for greater calculations. In fact the early Indians did calculate the mass of the sun about 1000 years before Copernicus.

The Indian numerals were introduced to the Arabs in the late 8th century. The Arabs adopted them and thereby became fast and precise mathematicians. As the Arabs also were more “mobile” than the Indians, Indian numerals became known as the “Arabic numerals” and still are. The Arabs expanded mathematics with algebras and fractions and used their skills to become the time leaders in science and logic. Economic calculations also were essence in trades and the Arab way was a lot better than the European methods.

Of course this became a major issue as the Romans considered their own civilization to be the most advanced and intellectual that existed. When the Arabs showed better intellectual skills, the Roman Empire became weakened as many by time lost their faith in the Roman proclaimed supremacy. The digit “zero” was especially seen upon with great suspiciousness. How could a definition of nothing mean so much? The Arabic “sifr”, a literal translation of the Indian Sanskrit “śūnya” meaning void or empty became “zefiro” in Italian and “zero” in the Venetian dialect, giving the modern English word. The western suspiciousness of the zero also became the root to the modern English word “cipher”, which is the name of algorithms that are used to encrypt information. This of course should be included as one the reasons why the Roman Empire collapsed and also as one of the reasons why the Roman Emperor Constantine created the Byzantine Empire – were alternative ideas and religious transparency was encouraged.

In fact reading about pope Silvester II, known as Gerbert d'Aurillac (year 950 – 1003) one can discern relations between Constantine the Great, the Arabs and conflicts within the Roman Catholic Church. Gerbert was a very successful monk and mathematician, who studied in the city of Barcelona, Spain and possibly also in the Islamic cities of Córdoba and Seville. As a tutor to the young Otto II, who later became King of Italy and Germany and also a Holy Roman Emperor (year 973), Gerbert became more of a politician than mathematician. He was involved when Hugh Capet became king of France in year 987, ending the Carolingian line of kings. Gerbert became archbishop of Reims, year 988, and after being the teacher of Otto III, and Pope Gregory V he became pope in year 999. He took the name Silvester II in relations to Pope Silvester I who was the advisor of Constantine the Great. Interesting knowledge regarding Otto III was that he devised a dream of restoration of a universal Empire formed by the union of the Papacy, Byzantium and ancient Rome with himself at the head of a theocratic state. However as soon as Otto left Rome the city magnate Crescentius II and the nobles of Rome deposed Gregory and installed a so called antipope named John XVI. This revolt was suppressed, when Otto marched upon Rome and restored order. Crescentius was degraded in public and got his nose, ears, tongue and eyes cut of/out. Then he was sent to the monastery of Fulda, in Germany, where he lived for another 15 years. Both Otto and Gerbert (Pope Silvester II) had to flee as the Roman populace revolted against their rule in year 1001. They both died when trying to regain the power of Rome. According to the Legend, Gerbert was a sorcerer in league with the Devil and actually won the papacy by playing dice with him. Well, this kind of legends seems too follow enlightened individuals that get into high level conflicts with the Roman Catholic Church. Even if Gerbert tried to introduce the Arabic numerals along with the more advanced mathematics, Europe didn’t seem to be mature enough to use them at the time.

The Arabic numerals did not become generally used in Europe until after year 1202 when the Italian Leonardo Pisano, known as “Fibonacci” published the “Liber Abaci” (Book of Calculation). This book contained what he had learnt about the Arabic numerals during his time a trading post in North Africa were trading with Arabs were common. Commercial bookkeeping, conversion of weights and measures, the calculation of interests, money-changing, and numerous other applications exploded after the understanding was spread over Europe using this book.

The original Indian numerals, enhanced by the Arabs, are probably the world’s most common used language that exists today. This enlightened gift from the ancient Indians has become of immeasurable value for the world of today.

 

 


 
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