Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh

Image result for heraclius and battle of nineveh

 by

Damien F. Mackey

  

‘Something is very rotten in the state of’ a part of our conventional AD history.

 

 

Introduction

 

What! What! What! The Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (reign, 610 to 641 AD), fighting a “Battle of Nineveh” in 627 AD!

And here I am mistakenly under the impression that the city of Nineveh was completely destroyed in c. 612 BC, and that it lay hopelessly dead and buried until it was archaeologically resurrected by Layard in the mid-C19th AD.

But perhaps I am not alone in thinking this. For, according to: http://www.bible-history.com/assyria_archaeology/archaeology_of_ancient_assyria_nineveh.html

 

Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient [Assyria] and one of the mightiest cities of all antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.

 

Genesis 10:11

11 “From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh.”

 

The ancient Hebrew prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:

 

Nahum 2:8-10

“Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. ‘Halt! Halt!” they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color.”

 

In fact Nineveh was so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.

 

[End of quotes]

 

————————————————————————————

“The importance of Heraclius‘ reign as a historical watershed was recognized

by Gibbon two hundred years ago”.

————————————————————————————-

 

That there is something quite rotten about our historical perception of this so-called “Dark Age” era is apparent from the research of German scholars, Heribert Illig and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, the latter of whom has written, in “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/volatile/Niemitz-1997.pdf

 

The easiest way to understand doubts about the accepted chronology and ‘well-known’ history is to seriously systematize the problems of medieval research. This will lead us to detect a pattern which proves my thesis and gives reason to assume that a phantom period of approximately 300 years has been inserted between 600 AD to 900 AD, either by accident, by misinterpretation of documents or by deliberate falsification (Illig 1991). This period and all events that are supposed to have happened therein never existed. Buildings and artifacts ascribed to this period really belong to other periods. To prove this the Carolingian Chapel at Aachen will serve as the first example. ….

[End of quote]

 

Revisionist historians are well aware of the so-called “Dark Ages” period (c. 1200-700 BC) that has been artificially imposed upon, say, ancient Hittite and Greek history, and well exposed by Peter James et al. in Centuries of Darkness. In the same year that this book was first published, in 1991, German historian Heribert Illig wrote his “Phantom Time Hypothesis”. Just as Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky had pioneered a revision of BC history, so have these German writers, Illig and Niemitz, done the same for AD history. And I believe that both efforts were necessary, though I am far from accepting, in either case (the BC or the AD revision), all of the details of these pioneering works. And this last comment leads me to mention another enthusiastic reviser of ancient history, Emmet Scott, who has now also become vitally interested and well-informed about the AD revision. I neither accept all of Scott’s efforts in BC or AD, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading his helpful A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age, at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=lIpYAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=emmet+s

For an English speaker, such as I, it is easier reading than the above-mentioned German efforts, and Emmet manages to fill in some areas that they may have left untouched. I thoroughly recommend the reading of this book, though with those reservations to be kept in mind.

 

Nineveh

 

But, getting back to Nineveh, it figures again in the biography of the prophet Mohammed, whose period of floruit, from his first supposed revelation until his death (610-632 AD), is practically identical to that conventionally assigned to emperor Heraclius (610 to 641 AD). Mohammed, I have argued (and others who have written somewhat similarly, e.g., E. Scott), was by no means a true historical character but something of a biblical composite. See my:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

https://www.academia.edu/12500381/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History

 

There we learned that Mohammed had supposedly encountered a young man from Nineveh – quite an anomaly. And the pair are said to have discussed the prophet Jonah, whom Mohammed called his “brother”.

I followed up this Part One with:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

https://www.academia.edu/28216595/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

 

Strangely, then, we are finding that the ancient city of Nineveh, destroyed in the late C7th BC, and not uncovered again until the mid-C19th AD – a period of approximately two and a half millennia, according to conventional estimates – experienced an eerie phase of ‘resurgence’ in the C7th AD, roughly halfway between these two cut-off points.

This is clearly a pseudo-history.

Again, Mohammed supposedly was contemporaneous with a Jew, one Nehemiah, who is like the BC biblical governor of that name strangely resuscitated in ‘another Persian era’. See my:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

It all makes us have to worry, then, about Heraclius himself.

We read in a review of Walter E. Kaegi’s Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge University Press), that this Byzantine emperor was a ‘most strange and incoherent figure’ http://www.historytoday.com/charles-freeman/heraclius-emperor-byzantium

 

Heraclius still appears to be one of the strangest and most incoherent figures that history has recorded. His reign is still considered as alternations of wondrous actions and inaction. It is this inadequate conclusion from a biography of 1905 that Professor Kaegi seeks to confront in this full and detailed life of the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. It is a major challenge. The sources for Heraclius’ life are diverse and discordant and remain virtually silent on his personality. He offended as many as he impressed and his defeats were every bit as spectacular as his victories. ….

[End of quote]

 

The intrigue continues.

The advent of Heraclius upon the ‘historical’ scene coincided perfectly with that of Illig’s “phantom time”, as Scott has well observed:

 

It was Heraclius, of course, who first came into military conflict with the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Persians, in 614, a date which, according to Heribert Illig, marks the commencement of the phantom time.

….

The importance of Heraclius’ reign as a historical watershed was recognized by Gibbon two hundred years ago. In Chapter 48 of the Decline and Fall he wrote: “From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople”.

Darkened and contracted indeed. Gibbon relied only upon written history, but that picture of contraction and darkening has been fully confirmed by archeology, which, in the past half century, has been unable to cast any fresh light upon the next three centuries of Byzantine history. On the contrary, excavators have been astonished by almost the complete absence of almost all signs of life during the latter seventh, eighth, ninth, and early tenth centuries.

The same darkness manifests itself in the West.

[End of quote]

 

We may need to do some unlearning

 

“Unlearning the Dark Ages” is the title of this review of another book by Emmet Scott, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy. Once again, whilst I accept the basic thrust of this, I would not necessarily espouse every single idea presented here (https://didactsreach.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/unlearning-dark-ages.html):

 

Unlearning the Dark Ages

 

The best thing about reading iconoclastic, revisionist historians is that, in the process of reading and understanding their works and their ideas, you learn just how badly your schooling has let you down. Such was certainly the case when I read the truth about the Great Depression through the work of Amity Shlaes and her outstanding The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Such was true of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which proved to be a thorough demolition job of the “standard” understanding of the (minimal) differences between fascism and communism. Such was the result of reading Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln.

 

And now, to that distinguished list, I must add a new book: Emmett Scott’s superb precis analysis of one of the most controversial theories in the field of classical and post-Roman history, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy.

The book looks at the groundbreaking work and analysis of French historian Henri Pirenne, who came up with what was at the time the most radical rethinking of the history of the Dark Ages ever proposed. And to understand just why his proposal was so strange and so difficult for mainstream historians to digest, we need to briefly look at the “accepted” view of the way that the Dark Ages came about, how they led to the Middle Ages, and finally how the Renaissance came about.

 

The “Received Wisdom”

 

If your schooling was anything like mine, you were taught that the period following the fall of the Roman Empire, up until the advent of the Carolingian Age (i.e. the age of Charlemagne and his descendants) was a true “Dark Age”, in which the wisdom, literacy, and artistic accomplishments of the Roman Empire decayed and disappeared as civilisation itself retreated and, at certain points, was in danger of dying out completely. You were taught that the 6th through to the 9th centuries were a time of backwardness and decay, and that during this time the great cities of antiquity withered and died as the empire that the Romans had spent centuries to build up, crumbled into dust in the West and was tenuously guarded in the East by Byzantium. You were taught that the Church became an instrument of terror and repression, suppressing knowledge and condemning those who pursued forbidden topics as witches and heretics.

 

You were even perhaps taught that the Islamic world flourished into a true Golden Age as Europe retreated into backwardness and squalor. You were told that it was the Islamic world’s preservation of ancient Greek and Latin texts that saved European civilisation; when Arabic and Persian scholars took those same books, translated centuries earlier into Arabic, back to Europe to be translated right back into European languages, the resulting transfer of knowledge kicked off the great rebirth of the Renaissance and eventually culminated in the Enlightenment.

All told, you were taught to think that the period from about 550AD (or thereabouts) to very roughly 850AD or 900AD was a three-century-long period of barbarism and backwardness so terrible that it very nearly destroyed what was left of Europe.

 

An Easily Believed Yarn

 

Obviously, I am skipping over certain key details here, but that is very broadly the historical consensus that existed before Henri Pirenne walked onto the scene. Both Edward Gibbon and J.B. Bury, perhaps the greatest historians the world has seen since Herodotus and Plutarch, argued convincingly, based on the evidence available to them at the time, that the disappearance of Roman civilisation from Western Europe resulted in a truly terrible Dark Age, and that it was Islam that saved the West. And that meme has persisted down to the present day, to the point where it is taught as near-Gospel in high schools and universities the world over.

There is just one problem with the entire theory: it is complete and arrant nonsense.

So said Henri Pirenne, who attacked the consensus understanding of the history of the period on every front. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries made up to that point, and looking carefully at geological, climatological, and contemporary source data, his conclusions were starkly at odds with the prevailing wisdom:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the barbarians who settled the territories once occupied by Roman legions rapidly became Christians and Romanised all on their own, and quickly re-established a civilisation that was in many ways even more advanced than the one it had replaced;
  • Trade between Europe, Britain, North Africa, and the Eastern Roman Empire flourished between 476AD and 650AD, creating massive prosperity and economic growth;
  • The population of Europe did NOT shrink gradually but in fact entered a boom period, which abruptly cut off when the true Dark Age descended upon Europe;
  • Most crucially, the specific reason why a Dark Age hit Europe was Islam itself                The answer can be summed up in one word: Islam.    
  • There is far, far more to this remarkable book than I can possibly do justice to here. But I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in the history of Islam’s interactions with the West. It is a scholarly work of the first order that is as readable as any best-selling thriller, and as thought-provoking as anything that Thomas DiLorenzo has ever written. It will make you sit up and think; it will shock and amaze you; and you will very likely walk away from it with your entire understanding of the post-Roman era of history turned upside-down.
  • The true face of the Arabic Islamic empire of the time was in fact remarkably similar to what we see happening with ISIS today. It was backward, intolerant, abusive of Jews and Christians alike, utterly ruthless in dealing with pagans, violent, intolerant, and totally incapable of responsible governance over the territories that it conquered- which were once the wealthiest and most advanced creations of the children of the Roman Empire.
  • In reality, whatever advances that the Islamic world made during the Dark Ages, which it created, were due to the works of far greater philosophers and authors from the Roman and Byzantine eras. In fact, the greatest findings attributed to “Arab” mathematicians and philosophers were actually Persian in origin. Indeed, the great advances in mathematics, such as the “Arabic” numbering system and the “Arabic” concept of zero and the “Arabic” method of algebra, are all Indian and Greek discoveries given a fresh coat of paint by Persian philosophers.
  • This is almost all complete BS.
  • Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Mr. Scott’s work is his analysis of the much-ballyhoed “Islamic golden age”. This is another standard trope that we are all taught in school. We are taught to believe the politically correct lie that Islam was an enlightened religion of peace, which fostered scientific advancement, mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and literature at a pace never seen in the West.
  • A Myth Debunked
  • And anyone who knows anything about Islamic doctrines regarding warfare, piracy, the taking of slaves, and the division of the world into dar al-Harb and dar al-Islam will know that Mr. Scott is talking perfect sense when he points out that it was the rapid expansion of Islam that caused Mediterranean commerce and prosperity to come to a crashing halt almost overnight.
  • In the latter quarter of the book, Mr. Scott presents a powerful analysis of the Islamic doctrine of war and shows that the canonical origin story of Islam, already highly suspect, is basically garbage. He further points out that the reason why the Arabs were able to expand so rapidly is not because of any great military skill on their part; the Arabs, a nomadic and squabbling people, were hugely outnumbered and outclassed in every way by the Byzantine Empire. Instead, it is far more likely that they made an alliance with the Sassanid Persians, and that the early victories of “Arab” Islam were in fact backed and financed by the vast wealth and power of the Persian empire in the East.
  • The archaeological and historical evidence that Mr. Scott presents shows beyond a doubt that the extremely sudden reversal in Europe’s fortunes coincides perfectly with the beginnings of the first wave of Islamic expansion, following the “prophet” Mohammed’s establishment of a power base in Medina as a warlord.
  • We know what the Middle Ages were like- or at least, we think we do. In reality, what we were taught in school about the Middle Ages is also basically wrong- in reality, the Middle Ages saw the advent of another advanced civilisation which was brought to its knees by the Plague. But that is not the era with which Pirenne or Scott concerned themselves. They were interested in the reason why an age of progress and expansion collapsed so quickly.
  • And so the situation remained, until the Carolingian Age was well and truly established, and mediaeval Europe came into existence.
  • From the second half of the 7th Century, the evidence tells us that something happened which irrevocably changed Europe’s fate. The advances of the previous two hundred years came to a screeching halt. Thriving metropolises were wiped out almost overnight, never to be resettled. Population growth crashed; trade across the Mediterranean collapsed; the fortunes of the Byzantines lurched from disaster to catastrophe with almost monotonous regularity for the better part of three hundred years.
  • Rupture
  • And then, suddenly, it all went horribly wrong.
  • Within and through it all, the Holy Church spearheaded the revival and revolution. The Benedictine order of monks proved instrumental in preserving, recording, and building upon the knowledge of the ancients. As Mr. Scott points out, there is no other group in all of human history that has done more to advance the knowledge and happiness of our species, and there is no institution in history that has ever done more for Mankind than the Church of Christ.
  • Mr. Scott presents a true mountain of evidence showing that there was no Dark Age in Europe, right up to the middle of the 7th Century. In its place was an advanced culture in which art, science, and literature flourished at a rate not since since the days of the Rome of Marcus Aurelius. Not even the great plague of the Emperor Justinian’s time, in the mid-6th Century, could put a stop to Europe’s rapid pace of development.
  • From Spain in the west to Carthage in the south to Byzantium in the East, a true Mediterranean civilisation began to take shape. The existence of expensive and expertly crafted African Red Slip pottery was proven well into the 7th Century in the northern reaches of former Roman territories, including Britain. In the East, the Byzantines held the line against the Persians, but were strong and flourishing in their own right.
  • The Visigothic kingdoms of Spain emerged into a true Golden Age. In Gaul, the Merovingians consolidated and united the Gaulish tribes into a true nation and began building upon the centuries of accumulated wisdom of the Romans and the Greeks. England, a frontier outpost long abandoned by the Romans at that point, rebuilt a true Christian civilisation; Caledonia (Scotland) and Hibernia (Ireland), dreary and miserable islands that they were, also began to experience rapid social, technological, and spiritual progress, thanks in no small part to the introduction and rapid uptake of the Christian faith to those benighted lands.
  • But then something remarkable happened. The “barbarians” began to civilise. And they did so at a truly astonishing pace.
  • As Mr. Scott points out, the fall of the Roman Empire was not in fact quite the rupture that we are taught it was in school. It was actually basically a simple transition; the last Roman emperor simply stepped off the throne and handed the crown to the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. At that point in time, the population of the Roman Empire had indeed been in long-term decline; the stock of “ethnic Romans” had dwindled significantly, hence the reason why barbarian Germanic and Gothic tribes were allowed to settle within Roman territories in exchange for their service to the Empire. And that downward trend in population did continue into the early 6th Century.
  • The history in this book reads like a detective story- and what a fascinating story it is. His tale is the forgotten history of a Europe that we are only now beginning to see and understand.
  • He starts with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire itself, and carries on with his analysis all the way through to the latter 11th Century, when the Middle Ages were well and truly established. And his analysis, presented calmly, clearly, and in considerable yet fascinating detail, is extraordinary.
  • Yet the evidence itself is beyond dispute. And Mr. Scott presents that evidence in a book that is a true pleasure to read.
  • As can be imagined, such a radical revision of accepted historical narrative was a huge shock to most of Pirenne’s contemporaries. In his analysis of and expansion upon Pirenne’s work, Emmett Scott notes that even today, most historians find Pirenne’s conclusions so difficult to swallow that they force themselves through all sorts of contortions of logic, evidence, and fact to avoid the extremely uncomfortable realities that those ideas would lead to.
  • A Controversy Revisited
  • That last conclusion is by far the most unsettling. Henri Pirenne did not deny that a Dark Age did indeed descend across Europe; what he contested was the specific dates which were accorded to the period. And his analysis showed that the true Dark Ages corresponded virtually perfectly with the first great wave of Islamic expansion.

 

Part Two:

A composite character to end all composites

 

Heraclius seems to have one foot in Davidic Israel, one in the old Roman Republic, and, whatever feet may be left (because this definitely cannot be right), in the Christian era.

 

What a mix of a man is this emperor Heraclius! What a conundrum! What a puzzle!

I feel sorry for Walter Emil Kaegi, who has valiantly attempted to write a biography of him: Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium.

 

 

The accomplishment of this scholarly exercise I believe to be a complete impossibility. And I could simply base this view on what I read from Kaegi’s book itself (pp. 12 and 13):

 

The story of Heraclius, as depicted in several literary historical traditions, is almost Herodotean in his experience of fickle fortune’s wheel of triumph and tragedy, of ignorance or excessive pride, error, and disaster.

 

Mackey’s comment: To classify the story of Heraclius as “Herodotean” may be appropriate. Herodotus, ostensibly “the Father of History” (Cicero), has also been called “the Father of Lies” by critics who claim that his ‘histories’ are little more than tall tales.

Heraclius, as we now read, is spread ‘all over the place’ (my description):

 

At one level his name is associated with two categories of classical nomenclature: (1) ancient classical offices such as the consulship, as well as (2) many of the most exciting heroes, places, precedents, and objects of classical, ancient Near Eastern, and Biblical antiquity: Carthage, Nineveh, Jerusalem, the vicinity of Alexander the Great’s triumph over the Persians at Gaugamela, Noah’s Ark, the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, Arbela, the fragments of the True Cross, Damascus, Antioch, perhaps even ancient Armenia’s Tigra- nocerta, and of course, Constantinople.

 

Mackey’s comment: According to a late source (conventionally 600 years after Heraclius): “The historian Elmacin recorded in the 13th Century that in the 7th Century the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had climbed Jabal Judi in order to see the place where the Ark had landed”. http://bibleprobe.com/noahark-timeline.htm

At least the correct mountain may figure here. See my:

Mountain of Landing for the Ark of Noah

 

https://www.academia.edu/19675406/Mountain_of_Landing_for_the_Ark_of_Noah

 

Biblically, Heraclius has been compared with such luminaries as Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and even with Jesus Christ.

And no wonder in the case of David! For we read in Steven H. Wander’s article for JSTOR, “The Cyprus Plates and the “Chronicle” of Fredegar” (pp. 345-346):

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291381.pdf

 

…. there is one episode from the military career of Heraclius that bears a striking similarity to the story of David and Goliath.

Byzantine chroniclers record that during his campaign against the Emperor Chosroes in 627, Heraclius fought the Persian general Razatis in single combat, beheading his opponent like the Israelite hero.6 George of Pisidia, the court poet, may have even connected this contemporary event with the life of David. In his epic panegyrics on Heraclius’ Persian wars, he compared the Emperor to such Old Testament figures as Noah, Moses, and Daniel; unfortunately the verses of his Heraclias that, in all likelihood, dealt in detail with the combat are lost.6

 

[End of quote]

 

That fateful year 627 AD again, the year also of the supposed Battle of Nineveh said to have been fought and won by Heraclius!

According to Shaun Tougher, The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People: “Heraclius … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”.

Likewise, in the case of Charlemagne, as I noted in my:

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

https://www.academia.edu/24342059/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

…. Charlemagne has indeed been likened to King Solomon of old, e.g. by H. Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 395), who calls him a “witness of God, after the style of Solomon …”, and he has been spoken of in terms of the ancient kings of Israel; whilst Charlemagne’s father, Pepin the Short, was hailed as “the new king David’.

 

[End of quote]

 

So it appears that Heraclius may have some strong competition from the West in his ‘aspiring’ to be either the new King David or the new King Solomon!

Kaegi continues:

 

He and his writers sought to associate his name with famous names from antiquity: Alexander, Scipio and Constantine I, and with the Biblical Moses and David. Yet he will have to compete with a new name: Muhammad.

 

Mackey’s comment: He is up there with Scipio and Hannibal (another most dubious ‘historical’ character as well).

Thus we read at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius

 

Edward Gibbon in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

 

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. […] Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire.[52]

[End of quote]

 

As for “Muhammad” (Mohammed), we have found him out to be a massive biblical composite.

Given all the biblico-historical baggage with which emperor Heraclius has been fitted down through the centuries, it is little wonder then that, according to Kaegi:

 

No preceding or subsequent Byzantine emperor saw so much: the Araxes, the Khabur, Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias).

….

Heraclius was controversial while living and is controversial today. ….

 

Mackey’s comment: That last is putting it mildly.

But how can one such as Kaegi possibly (and all credit to him for trying) write a biography of Heraclius when, according to Kaegi’s own testimony:

 

Lacunae exist in our knowledge of Heraclius. First of all there are doubts about basic chronology, sometimes due to conflicting reports in the sources, at other times due to omissions of information about certain of his activities. Heraclius and his advisers left no diaries, memoirs, or personal letters. There are no archives of original documents. It is impossible to know biographical details about him that might be standard for nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures. The chronology is inexact for some important events.

 

Mackey’s comment: Phew! Yet, despite that horrific sequence of negatives:

 

… it is not the worst-documented period of the Byzantine Empire, for there is more documentation than for some other reigns of the seventh century, and for many of those of the fifth century.

 

Mackey’s comment: God help us!

Kaegi again:

 

Mysteries abound. The ultimate goals of Heraclius remain obscure. What did Heraclius really want? ….

 

 

I don’t think that we shall ever know.

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