The Apocalyptic Dossier: 967-1033


The selection has been divided according to period during which events are reported to have occurred, with notes on time of actual composition. The selection follows the following criteria:

Those passages that speak of widespread belief in the coming end of the world (a fairly unusual mention) are written in bold.

I. Pre 1000:

1) c.950 Acrostic on the end of the world, predecessor of Celano's "Dies irae," found in a ms. from Aniane (second half of the tenth century, ed. Paulin Blanc,"Nouvelle Prose sur le Dernier Jour, Composée avec chant noté, vers l'An Mille..." Mémoires de la Société Archéologique de Montpellier, 2 (1850), 451-509, second copy located by Michel Huglo: BN lat. 1928 f.178, Fécamp c.1040).

2) 950-80: Letter on the Hungarians that speaks of widespread apocalyptic reactions among the population,

R.B.C. Huygens, "Un témoin" [n.11], p.231, lines 94-106; letter from the bishop of Auxerre to the bishop of Verdun (commentary by Huygens, p.236f). Dated variously early tenth century, or, according to Huygens, to second half of the tenth ("Un témoin de la crainte de l'an 1000: La lettre sur les Hongrois," Latomus, 15 (1956), 224-38); considered the background of Adso's treatise (see below #3).

3) c.950 "Treatise on the Antichrist" by Adso of Montier-en-Der, c.950, a response to a variety of crises at mid-century that provoked widespread apocalyptic disquiet, and rapidly become a central text in the European eschatological literature (ed. by Verhelst, CCSL, Cont. med. aeui 40; study in the context of 1000, by Verhelst, "Adso van Montier-en-Der en de angst voor het jaar Duizend," Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 90 (1977), 1-10); and C. Carozzi, La fin des temps: Terreurs et prophéties au Moyen Age (Paris: Stock, 1982), pp.186-94. See below # .

4) 964: "Dum saeculum transit finis mundi appropinquat..." [As the saeculum (century?) passes, the end of the world approaches.] Cartulaire de Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes, pp.1, 11, 17.

5) c.965: Abbo hears a preacher in Paris announcing the unleashing of Antichrist for 1000 AD and the Last Judgment for shortly thereafter (see below # 7, 17).

6) 968: Panic in Otto's army at an eclipse the soldiers took to portend the end of the world (Gesta episcoporum Leodensium, MGH SS IX, p.202)

7) 968-9: Annalists note in the margin of Easter tables: mille anni a nativitate Christi, based on a "misreading" of the base year in the Easter Tables as Anno passionis. Three years earlier unusual events with apocalyptic tonality (fire from heaven, release of demons) occur. (Annales de Saint Florent de Saumur, et de Vendôme, Halphen Recueil d'annales angevines, p.58 n.2, 116 n.6.) Note that, in typical capstone style, Halphen does not include the note, with its millennial consciousness in the text of his edition, nor even in a footnote to that year, but appended to a footnote for another year, and explained away as a mistake.

8) 969 and/or 980: widespread apocalyptic expectation in Lotharingia at the coincidence of the Annunciation and the Crucifixion agaist which Abbo writes a letter.

9) 979: Igneae acies visae sunt in caelo per totam noctem 5 Kalendas Novembris. Hoc anno complentur mille anni a nativitate Christi, secundum veritatem evangelii, qui secundum cyclum Dionisii anno abhinc 21 finiuntur; sicque in anno domincae passionis veritati evangelicae contraitur. Sigebert of Gembloux, Chronicon universale c.1114, PL 160 c.194 (here using Abbo's correction of the date AD; see next item).

10) 983-4: Abbo redates the year 1000 four years into the past (true AD 1000 = Dionysus' 979) using the apocalyptic beliefs above (#7, see also #17) as the basis of his calculations.

11) 987-91: The last Carolingian dynasty (the final hindrance to the arrival of Antichrist according to Adso) falls; the capture of the last potential ruler occurs under most dastardly cirumstances. Southern charters begin to date AD, with Christ reigning, a traditional interregnal formula with apocalyptic antecedants (Kantarowicz, The King's Two Bodies, p. ).

12) 989, August: Halley's Comet appears, cited in Annales divionenses, MGH SS V, p. ; and Annales Quedlinburgenses MGH SS III, p.68; Thietmar of Mersebourg, Chronicon IV, 10; (also Glaber III, 3? acc. to France, p.110-11, and n.4, but see below under 1006, #29); P. Moore and J. Mason, The Return of Halley's Comet (Cambridge, 1984), p.46)

13) 989-1000: First wave of peace councils in the South (see below).

14) 992: Coincidence of Crucifixion and Annunciation; Nouaillé begins its charters for the next decade with "Appropinquante finem mundi..."; Adso, an old man, leaves on a one-way pilgrimage to Jerusalem; German chronicles report light from north at dawn like the sun, rumor among many that 3 suns, 3 moons and stars were fighting, indicating heavy mortality and famine (Thietmar IV, 19; An. Quedl. ad an. 993, MGH SS III, 69; Annales Augustani, ibid. p.124).

15) 990s-1010s: Preaching of Aelfric and Wulfistan, filled with images of Last Judgment, explicity linked at points to the year 1000 and the unleashing of Antichrist (Gatch, Milton McC., Preaching and Theology in Anglo-Saxon England: Aelfric and Wulfstan (Toronto, U. Press, 1977).

16) 994-1000: Outbreaks of sacer ignis throughout France, associated in Limoges with the Peace of God.

17) 994-5: various signs (including a monstrous child), famines, plagues and mortality in Saxony, referred to as the biblical "tria iudicia pessima" (Annales Quedlinburgenses, MGH SS, III p.94; also Thietmar IV, 17; Annales Augustani, MGH SS III, 124).

18) 994-6:

Abbo of Fleury, Apologeticus ad hugonem et rodbertum reges francorum, London, BM 10972, f.22v; PL 139 c.471-2; dated before 996 by Vidier (p.105- 7); 994-5 by Mostert (p.48-51).

19) late 990s: mention of apocalyptic beliefs leading to violent seizure of church property at St. Hilaire.

20) 994-999: Otto III engages in elaborate program of renovatio imperii romani that, from the apocalyptic scenario, would reaffirm the existence of the "barrier" to Antichrist, particulary important given the demise of the last of the Carolingians in the previous decade (see above # 3, 9). In this he recapitulated many of Charlemagne's responses to the coming of the year 6000 (see below # 14, 17).

II. Year 1000

21) Annales Elnonenses, ad an. 1000; MGH SS V, p.12; contemporary hand; noted in mid-11th century by the Annales Laubienses and Leodinienses, MGH SS 5, 18.

22): Sigebert of Gembloux, Chronicon universale c.1114, PL 160.198; MGH SS 6.353-4

23) Otto returns to Aachen where he exumes Charlemagne's body on Pentecost of the year 1000.

24) Gerbert/Sylvester and Otto III carry out an unusual procession on August 15, 1000: "In assumptione sancte Mariae nocte quando tabula portatur" (Bamberger manuscript from 1067 published in Giesebrecht, Geschichte der Deutchen Kaiserzeit II, Documents; also see Lausser, Gerbert, p.325; Molinier II, Mabillon II, 226, 334; Histoire littéraire XIII, 600;

25) Outbreak of heresies in France, Italy, south-west Mediterranean that Glaber interprets as the unleashing of Satan according to Revelations (Historiarum, II, 22-23; ed. France, p.88-93).

26) All the references, still poorly known, from computist texts that privilege the year 1000, which, coming in the middle of a 19 year cycle (988 1006) should neither begin nor end any Easter table: cf. Vat.reg.lat.1127 f.10v, from 920 to "MILLE"; St. Gall 902, 817-999; St. Gall 387, 1001-1129.

27) "Tertio Ottone imperante. Millesimus annus supercrescens statute computationis numerum, secundum illud quod legitur scriptum: Millesimus exsuperat et transcendit omnia annus." Annales Hildesheimenses III, Préface (MGH SS III, ), written c.1040.

28) "Interea millesimus ab incarnatione Domini annus feliciter impletus est et hic est annus archiepiscopi 12." Adam of Bremen, Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum (II, xl; MGH SS 7.320) late eleventh century.3

29) "Iste fuit Girbertus, tempore cuius inpletus est annus millesimus ab incarnatione Domini." Annales Pragenses ad an. 999, MGH SS III, 120.

30) "Data mense augusto, regnante Rotberto rege, anni ab Incarnatione Domni nostri Jesu Christi usque in presentem diem mille et I." (Charter of Saint- Hilaire of Poitiers, ed. Redet, #67, p.76).

31) references to 1000 taken from Sigebert in later medieval chroniclers: see the collection in Bouquet, Historiens des Gaules de de la France, 10.xcix, 28de, 28de,197b, 205b, 217c, 271c, 282a, 290b, 291a, 299c, 319b.

III. Post 1000:

32) 1002, December:

33) 1003: Annales de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, [= 1000 + 3,5 years of Antichrist] (BN lat. 5543, f.22; ed. MGH SS II, p.255; PL 139 col.583, cf. Augustin, De civ. Dei, XX, 13. See also Miracula s. Benedicti, III, 9; ed. de Certain, p.150-53. Note that this text is evidence of how little impact Abbo's efforts to correct Dionysus Exiguus (above #10) was: even his own disciples ignored his proposed calculations.

34) 1003-: According to Glaber Europe covers self in white mantle of Churches (Historiarum III, 4; ed. France, p.114-17)

35) 1004: Post salutiferum intemerate virginis partum millenarii numeri linea consummata et in quinto cardinalis ordinis loco et in eiusdem quarte ebdomade inicio clarum mane illuxit seculo (Thietmar de Meersebourg, Chronicon VI, 1; ed. Holtzmann and Trillmich, p.243 and n.7). cf:

36) 1005-1006: Terrible famine throughout Europe, associated with apocalyptic portents in several texts: Annales Sangallienses by Hepidannus "Ecce fames qua per secla non saevior ulla" (MGH SS 1.81); Annales Leodinienses and Laubienses, MGH SS IV, p.18; Annales Quedlinbourgenses ad an. 1009 MGH SS 3.80; Annales Hildesheimenses, ad an.1006); Glaber, Quinque libri, 2.9 (5 years ca. 1001-1006); Hugh of Flavigny (based on Glaber); Chronicon Turonensis ad an. 1006; Sigebert of Gembloux ad an. 1006);

37) 1006, May: New star sighted in heavens (Super Nova of 1006), at same time a chapelain of the Emperor converts to Judaism (Albert of Metz, De diversitate temporum, I, 6-7; II, 22-3 ed. MGH SS IV, p.704, 720-3; Annales Leodinienses and Laubienses, MGH SS IV, p.18; Annales Mosomagenses, MGH SS 3.161; Annales Beneventani, ibid., p.177; probably Radulphus Glaber Quinque libri 3.3.9; Chronicon Venetum, MGH SS 7.36). B. Goldstein, "The Supernova of A.D. 1006," The Astronomical Journal 70 (1965): 105-111.

38) Rain of blood; sun turns red and fails to shine for three days; plague and death follow (Annales Quedlinbourgenses ad an. 1009 MGH SS 3.80).4

39) 1009-10: Destruction in Jerusalem of Holy Sepulchre by the chiliastic Moslem caliph Al Hakim, apocalyptic reaction in West including violent anti- Jewish outbursts (Glaber, Ademar, Annales Lemovicenses, ad an. 1010; Annales Beneventani, ad an. 1010, MGH SS III, p.177;

40) 1010: Brythfird commentaries note that the 1000 years of the Apocalypse are completed according to human calculations, therefore supporting Augustine's allegorical reading

41) 1011-1012: apocalyptic vision of monk at St-Vaast recorded by Richard of Saint-Vanne (Hugh of Fleury, MGH SS 8.***)

42) 1012-1014: Various prodigies and natural disasters provoke the expulsion of the Jews from Mainz and lead some to believe that the world was "returning to its original chaos." (Annales Quedlinburgenses, MGH SS, III p.82-3.

43) 1018: Pre-dawn panic and trampling at St. Martial followed by outbreak of heresy throughout the south, seen as agents of Antichrist by Ademar of Chabannes (Historia 3.**, ; see below II-8).

44) first third eleventh century: Heribert the monk reports a heresy from the Perigord, apocalyptic tone to the letter (see Head and Landes, Peace of God, pp. 347-50)

45) 1022: Burning of heretics at Orléans, described in several texts in apocalyptic tones (John of Ripoll, Ademar of Chabannes, Radulphus Glaber; cf. I Corinthians)

46) 1024?: Letter from heaven calling for Peace Councils circulates throughtout Northern France (Gesta episcoporum cameracensium, II, 52; MGH SS V, p. .)

47) c.1025: Radulphus Glaber begins a world history that, under the guidance of William of Volpiano, explicitly makes the year 1000 the focal point: "Ipsius namque imperio maxima iam ex parte eventuum ac prodigiorum, quae circa et infra Incarnati Salvatoris annum contigere millesimum, descripseram." (Vita Willelmi Divionensis of Radulphus Glaber, 28; ed., PL 142, col. 718; Niethard Bulst, Deutsches Archiv, 30 (1974), p.485; France, p.294-7).

48) c.1025: Adémar de Chabannes begins a world history whose major theme from 1010 on is apocalyptic signs and prodigies (Historia 3.46-7, 49, 52, 56, 59, 62; see Landes, Relics, chap. 6).

49) 1026-7: Large collective pilgrimage to Jerusalem led by Richard of St. Vaast.

50) 1028: Rain of Blood (classic apocalyptic sign) on the Aquitanian shore provokes letters from William V to Robert, Robert to Gauzlin of Bourges and Fulbert of Chartres on their opinion (correspondance of latter two in Bautier Vita Gauzlini, p.159-67; see treatment in Fried, "Endzeiterwartung," pp.385-87)

51) 1029-32: Ademar of Chabannes produces some 500 folios of historical fiction in which apocalyptic themes play a major role.

52) 1030-33: terrible famine throughout France (Glaber, Ademar, et al.)

53) 1031-3: wave of peace councils throughout France, starting in Aquitaine (documents from Vich, Poitiers, Limoges, Burgundy, Arras?), associated with millennium of Passion by Glaber IV, 4.

54) 1033: prodigies, eclipse, ignis ardentium, massive earthquake etc. leads to penitential procession in Jouarre-Rebais, dated millennium of the Passion, Miracles de Saint-Ayeul (Miracula sancti agili abbatis, 1, 3; AA SS Août VI, p.588);

55) 1033: Mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem noted in Ademar and Glaber (who associates it with apocalyptic expectation)

56) 1033(-6): Deacon of Orleans leaves for Jerusalem on pilgrimage out of apocalyptic expectations.

57) 1030-46: Mention of heresies throughout Christendom (Italy, Gaul, Greece, Hungary) by Gerard, bishop of Csanád (Deliberatio supra hymnum trium puerorum, IV, ll.447-75 (associated in his commentary with Revelation 19:17- 21 (ll. 489ff); ed. G. Silagi, CCSL Cont. med. aeui, 49, pp.50-1; cf. also VI, ll.704ff, where similar anti-ecclesiastical phenomena are associated with Revelation 20:7; ed. p.96f).