Monday, February 3, 2014

Who Is Buried In Charlemagne's Tomb?

Shock shock!  It may actually be the man himself!

Yes, according to SECRET RESEARCH that has gone on since 1988 - like, take your time dudes - conclusion is it is probably Charlgnagne.  Don't you just love that little bit of hedging...

From the (German news in English)

Charlemagne's bones are (probably) real

Published: 31 Jan 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 31 Jan 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00
German scientists have announced after almost 26 years of research that the bones interred for centuries at Aachen Cathedral are likely to be those of Charlemagne.
Researchers confirmed on Wednesday evening - 1,200 years to the day since Charlemagne died - that the 94 bones and bone fragments taken from the supposed resting place of the King of the Franks and founder of what was to become the Holy Roman Empire came from a tall, thin, older man.
Bust of Charlemagne, Aachen Cathedral.
The team first opened the sarcophagus of the first emperor in western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire in secret in 1988 and presented their results for the first time on Wednesday.

One of the scientists studying the remains, Professor Frank Rühli, said: "Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne."
From studying the dimensions of the upper arm, thigh and shin bones, scientists have built up a picture of the man behind the skeleton, and it matches descriptions of Charlemagne.  At 1.84 metres (six feet), he was unusually tall for his time. The team also estimated his weight at around 78 kilograms, giving him a slim body mass index of around 23.  Previous estimates had placed his height at between 1.79 metres and 1.92 metres.

And an account from medieval Frankish biographer Einhard the Frank claiming Charlemagne walked with a limp in old age could well be accurate, as both kneecap and heel bones had deposits consistent with an injury.

No new evidence was found to corroborate accounts that he died of pneumonia as researchers discovered no strong clues as to Charlemagne's health at the time of death.

The greater part of the skeleton was found in the king's elaborate tomb, while parts of the skull were found in a bust of the emperor. One of the shin bones was discovered in Charlemagne's reliquary - a ceremonial container for remains.  While most of the bones are accounted for, it is believed some of those missing were given away as relics at the time of the emperor's death.
While he certainly was a "mighty man" of his time, I'm not so much interested in Charlemagne for who he was and what he accomplished in his lifetime (although it seems more than a bit suspicious that he didn't want any of his daughters to marry, hmmm....) as for his role in Katherine Neville's wonderful novel, The Eight, and the sequel and denouement (or is it?) The Fire, produced more than 20 years later, revolving around a chess set that was rumored to have belonged to Charlemagne, possessed of magical powers!  The chess set was said to have been a gift to him from Caliph Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph. 

One chess set that people have pointed to over the years as "THE" chess set is - not.  That particular set was probably carved sometime in the later half of the 12th century CE as 20th century carbon dating techniques have long-since proven, long after Charlemagne and the Caliph of Bagdad had turned to dust. 

That doesn't make Neville's novels any less entertaining, though, and she never pointed to a specific chess set as being "the one."  I absolutely fell in love with "The Eight" back in the 1980's and never forgot it.  I re-read the novel a few years ago and was as thoroughly entertained by it the second time around as I was the first time, before I knew a damn thing about chess and the history of ancient board games, etc. etc. 

Some folks have written on the internet that Charlemagne never played chess.  But I seem to recall that during some research I did years ago on the subject of the possible gifted chess set, that Emperor C's primary and court biographer of the time wrote that Emperor C did play chess and also received the gift of such a chess set. 

Well, I will leave that kind of research these days to you more energetic of my readers.  I did my part, now it's up to you.  Right now, I'm concentrating on trying to bring a 1980's style petite bath into the 21st century before I die. 

Definitely read Neville's novels "The Eight" and "The Fire" -- they'll give you a good ride for the money and lots of food for thought. 

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