So, Coconut-CocaCola proposed us to make some news on archeology, History or mythology, for everyone could know incredible archeological discoveries or awesome historical places, towns, etc. ... Thank you for this very good idea, and we are now beginning with our first journal!
We’ll post a journal every month, me or RaynalJacquemin, and it will be divided in two parts:
- the first part will talk about archeological discovery or mythology
- the second part will talk about History or historical figures.
This “newspaper” is created so that everyone can learn more about numerous civilizations or historical periods. I hope that you will like this journal and it will be a good way for sharing knowledge and passions, with the best respect for others, of course.
As the founder of this group, I begin this journal with events of my city!
PS: I don’t own any pictures.
ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY AT AURILLAC: ABBEY’S REMAINS EMERGE
On Wednesday 13th November 2013, in Aurillac, capital of the Cantal (Auvergne’s department), in France, archeologists discovered incredible ruins near abbey church Saint Géraud d’Aurillac (Saint Gerald of Aurillac). This abbey was founded in IXth century by Count of Aurillac, Gerald of Aurillac (or Saint Gerald, born in 855 in Aurillac and died in 909 in Cenezac).
Preventive excavations, required before to build a new underground parking in this place, revealed remains of the Benedictine monastery, destroyed and buried during many centuries!
According to archeologists, the ruins are ancient dormitories, scriptorium*, or refectory, with cloister.
However, it’s not the original abbey of IXth century which was discovered, because it was in wood; but it’s that of late XIth century. Indeed, the abbey and the church were undergoing many renovations (above all the church).
Ruins are significant, because we’ve discovered walls (1.5 or 2 meters of elevation), vaults, and floors in perfect preservation. Cluny, Benedictine abbey, was founded in 909-910 and using as model Saint-Gerald of Aurillac, her “old sister”. Cluny’s remains are less important than Saint-Gerald, according to French archeologist Nicolas CLEMENT, director of excavations at Aurillac. Indeed, Cluny’s ruins are only composed of abbey bedrocks, contrary to Aurillac. Experts plan to register these ruins in Historical Monuments of the region (Auvergne).
Aurillac’s mayor and specialists are enthusiastic about this discovery and want to develop these ruins in order to enhance city’s prestige. Indeed, in Middle Age, the town had a large cultural influence in Europe; and Gerbert of Aurillac (pope Sylvester II) had studied in this monastery. It was also said that’s a property of the Pope since IXth century; but during French Wars of Religion, Protestants invaded Aurillac and sacked Saint-Gerald’s church. Abbey was gradually abandoned and in the Napoleonic era, stones of monastery was used for others constructions. Since this period, gardens overlaid building.
Excavations will continue in May 2014 and Aurillac inhabitants are very interested in this, asking archeologists many questions and participating in conferences about remains.
*Scriptorium : room in monasteries where monastic scribes copied manuscripts of Antiquity.
For these who want to see in French with a video: PAGE OF THE NEWS
GERBERT OF AURILLAC (POPE SYLVESTER II)
Gerbert of Aurillac was born between 945 and 950 in Belliac (Map), near the commune of Saint-Simon and near town of Aurillac, Cantal, in France and died on the 12th May 1003 in Rome.
He wasn’t a noble and he wasn't ashamed to say it. He was an excellent student, scholar and teacher in philosophy and mathematics, whether in France, in Spain or in Holy Roman Empire or Rome. He’s known with the name Sylvester II, the first French Pope of History, from 2 April 999 to his death, on 12th May 1003. Legend said he was the first to introduce the Arabic numerals in Europe, with the decimal numeral system.
Some legends circulate about Gerbert by his enemies. For example, he was accused of having studied astrology and magical arts at Córdoba, Seville (Islamic cities) and at the University of Al-Karaouine in Morocco. Plus, he was accused to having made a pact with Devil in order to become Pope. He was supposed to have brazen head, which he had built, a strange head would answer every question with “yes” or “no”. This object was destroyed after his death.
Around 963, Gerbert entered the abbey of Saint Gerald of Aurillac. It was rumored that the monks of this monastery spotted him while he was using a stick to observe the sky and stars. He learned the liberal arts. Later, in 967, the Count of Barcelona Borrell II (947-992) visited the abbey for worship Saint Gerald's relics and abbot of Saint Gerald proposes to Borrell II to take Gerbert to give the boy a chance to study mathematics and some knowledge of Arab science. The future scientist studied with Bishop of Vic, Atto, in Spain, and probably also at monastery Santa Maria de Ripoll, a very important place at this era. Gerbert was very interested by ancient culture and authors like Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil or Boethius. For this, Gerbert was considered like a humanist, well before Erasmus and the Renaissance. He learn about decimal numeral system, used by Arab merchants, and reintroducing abacus*, the “abacus of Gerbert”.
In 969, he made a pilgrimage to Rome with Borrell II, met Pope John XIII (965-972) and the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I the Great (936-973). The Emperor employed Gerbert as tutor for his son, the future Otton II (973-983).
In 972, Gerbert went to Reims and Adalberon, the Archishop of Reims, allowed him to become a teacher. There, Gerbert stood out for his scientific knowledge and reintroduced some lost tools after Vikings and Saracens invasions: abacus, armillary sphere*, hydraulic-powered organ… He had prestigious students like Robert the Pious (future Robert II of France) or Fulbert of Chartres. With Adalberon, Gerbert worked to restore the European empire like Charlemagne’s empire.
In 982, Gerbert became abbot of Bobbio (Italy) by Otto II to avoid Italian aristocrats to control monasteries. There, he managed the richest library in the Western Europe.
But after the death of Otto II in 983, Gerbert was involved in politics, and was expulsed of cathedral school of Reims by monks who didn’t support Benedictine rule. He supported Otto III (983-1002) against Lothair of France’s (954-968) and with the Archbishop of Reims, he participated in the election of Hugh Capet, King of France.
However, after the death of Adalberon of Reims, Gerbert elected his successor after deposition of Arnulf, Lothair’s illegitimate son. But Pope John XV and Hugh Capet chose Arnulf in a synod, forcing Gerbert to leave Reims. So, he taught Otto III and Pope Gregory V chose him as the Archbishop of Ravenna in 998.
Finally, with the Emperor’s support, Gerbert was elected Pope in 999, taking the name of Sylvester II, commemorating the advisor to the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine I (324-337), Sylvester I, Pope from 314 to 335. He fought against simony* and concubinage of the clergy.
But in 1001, the Roman populace revolted against Otto III and Sylvester II fled. After the Emperor’s death, Pope returned to Rome and died a little later. Sylvester II was buried Saint John Lateran. According to the legend, water destroyed the sarcophagus just when Pope died, but in 1648, during reconstruction of Saint John Lateran, the sarcophagus was opened to verify Sylvester II's reputation as a wizard. However, once the corpse perfectly kept was exposed to air, he was reduced to ashes.
The mystery around Pope’s death continues to live. Indeed, after the first attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, Romans was reassured about the Pope’s health because Gerbert’s sarcophagus didn’t trickle.
*Abacus: calculating tool using centuries by merchants.
*Armillary sphere: spherical frameworks of rings, centred on Earth and representing lines of celestial longitudes and latitudes.
*Simony: offence against the law of the church. It concerns every forms of trafficking for money in sacrament or ecclesiastical benefice.