Phantom time hypothesis

The phantom time hypothesis is a historical conspiracy theory asserted by Heribert Illig. First published in 1991, it hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retrospectively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history[1] to legitimize Otto's claim to the Holy Roman Empire. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.[2] According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a "phantom time" of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages.

Heribert Illig[]

Illig was born in 1947 in Vohenstrauß, Bavaria. He was active in an association dedicated to Immanuel Velikovsky, catastrophism and historical revisionism, Gesellschaft zur Rekonstruktion der Menschheits- und Naturgeschichte (Eng: Society for the Reconstruction of Human and Natural History). From 1989 to 1994 he acted as or of the journal Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart. Since 1995, he has worked as a publisher and author under his own publishing company, Mantis-Verlag, and publishing his own journal, Zeitensprünge (Eng: Leaps in Time). Outside of his publications related to revised chronology, he has ed the works of Egon Friedell.

Before focusing on the early medieval period, Illig published various proposals for revised chronologies of prehistory and of Ancient Egypt. His proposals received prominent coverage in German popular media in the 1990s. His 1996 Das erfundene Mittelalter (Eng: The Invented Middle Ages) also received scholarly recensions, but was universally rejected as fundamentally flawed by historians.[3] In 1997, the journal Ethik und Sozialwissenschaften (Eng: Ethics and Social Sciences) offered a platform for critical discussion to Illig's proposal, with a number of historians commenting on its various aspects.[4] After 1997, there has been little scholarly reception of Illig's ideas, although they continued to be discussed as pseudohistory in German popular media.[5] Illig continued to publish on the "phantom time hypothesis" until at least 2013. Also in 2013, he published on an unrelated topic of art history, on German Renaissance master Anton Pilgram, but again proposing revisions to conventional chronology, and arguing for the abolition of the art historical category of Mannerism.[6]


The bases of Illig's hypothesis include:[7][8]



Publications by Illig:

See also[]


  1. ^ Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist? pp. 9–10.
  2. ^ Fomenko, Anatoly (2007). History: Chronology 1: Second Edition. Mithec. ISBN 2-913621-07-4.
  3. ^ Johannes Fried: Wissenschaft und Phantasie. Das Beispiel der Geschichte, in: Historische Zeitschrift Band 263,2/1996, 291–316. Matthias Grässlin, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 1. Oktober 1996
  4. ^ EuS 1997 Heft 4. Theo Kölzer (Bonn University) refused to contribute, and the journal printed his letter of refusal instead in which Kölzer criticizes the journal for lending credibility to Illig's "abstruse" idea. A favourable review was published by sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn, which later led to a collaboration between Illig and Heinsohn until 2011, when Heinsohn left the board of ors of Illig's journal and published his rejection of Illig's core idea that the figure of Charlemagne is a high medieval fiction.
  5. ^ Michael Borgolte. In: Der Tagesspiegel vom 29. Juni 1999. Stephan Matthiesen: Erfundenes Mittelalter – fruchtlose These!, in: Skeptiker 2/2001
  6. ^ Meister Anton, gen. Pilgram, oder Abschied vom Manierismus (2013).
  7. ^ Illig, Heribert (2000). Wer hat an der Uhr gedreht?. Econ Verlag. ISBN 3-548-75064-8.
  8. ^ Illig, Heribert. Das erfundene Mittelalter. ISBN 3-548-36429-2.
  9. ^ Pliny the Elder. Natural History (Book II) Archived 2017-01-01 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 14 June 2017
  10. ^ Photius. Epitome of the Church History of Philosturgius, accessed 4 May 2016
  11. ^ Dieter Herrmann (2000), "Nochmals: Gab es eine Phantomzeit in unserer Geschichte?", Beiträge zur Astronomiegeschichte 3 (in German), pp. 211–14
  12. ^ a b Dutch, Stephen. "Is a Chunk of History Missing?". Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  13. ^ Fößel, Amalie (1999). "Karl der Fiktive?". Damals, Magazin für Geschichte und Kultur. No. 8. pp. 20f.
  14. ^ Karl Mütz: Die „Phantomzeit“ 614 bis 911 von Heribert Illig. Kalendertechnische und kalenderhistorische Einwände. In: Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte. Band 60, 2001, S. 11–23.
  15. ^ Adams, Cecil. "Did the Middle Ages Not Really Happen?". Retrieved 9 July 2014.

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