HE Antonio Paris, Master Emeritus OSMTHU, has received the Gran Cross of the Order of Saint John – Knights of Malta, during a ceremony in the Palace of the Order in La Valeta, from the hands of Grand Master Don Basilio Cali. The Grand Cross is the highest distinction given by the Order.
The Order of Saint John is one of the branches of the Order of the Hospital, that had headquarters in the Hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem at the times of the crusades.
This acts inaugurates a new cycle of cooperation and amity between the OSMTHU and the Order of Saint John, bringing, at the same time, Master Antonio Paris to the forefront of the Templar activity, after a few years of quiet retirement.
The Templar Globe congratulates Master Paris on this happy occasion.
The Shroud of Turin is stained with the blood of a torture victim, scientists have claimed.
Analysis of the linen cloth, purportedly used to bury Jesus after his crucifixion, contains “nanoparticles” of blood which are not typical of that of a healthy person, according to researchers.
Institute of Crystallography researcher Elvio Carlino, one of the authors of the report, said the particles are conducive with someone having been through “great suffering”.
“Our results point out that at the nanoscale a scenario of violence is recorded in the funeral fabric,” authors wrote in the scientific article, published in PLOS One.
“The consistent bound of ferritin iron to creatinine occurs in human organism in case of a severe polytrauma.”
Researchers believe the particles show a “peculiar structure, size and distribution”, which corroborates the theory that it was used as a burial cloth.
They also believe it contradicts previous theories that the shroud was made in medieval times.
Professor Giulio Fanti, one of the author’s of the research, said: “The presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud.”
The cloth’s authenticity is highly contentious and divides religious opinion.
Some Christians believe the fabric – which is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin – is the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazereth, dating back over 2,000 years.
But previous scientific studies have suggested the cloth, which appears to be imprinted with the face of a man, may in fact be from the 13th or 14th century – centuries after Jesus is believed to have died.
One study found the cloth had been manufactured in India.
The research was published in US scientific journal PlosOne and is titled: “New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud.”
On the morning of the 31st March, 1282, the Sicilian Vespers came to an end. The night of rioting and massacre which had started on Easter Monday proved crucial in the history of Sicily and also had a significant impact on the broader history of the Mediterranean in this period.
The revolt, which gets it name from the Hour of Vespers ceremony where it supposedly began, started on the 30th March and is believed to have been triggered by an Angevin soldier stopping a Palermitan woman outside the church of Santo Spirito di Palermo, to search her for weapons. Although details of the event of course vary depending on the source, it seems the soldier somehow offended the woman, triggering a riot against the Angevin-French among the local community.
Reflecting the deeply ingrained tensions in Sicily’s multicultural society, the rioting spread through Palermo and then the whole of the island. The local Sicilian population attacked and killed Angevin people wherever they could be found, going as far as murdering monks and nuns. The rioters supposedly used a simple test to determine the Sicilian population from Angevin. Anyone believed to have originated from Anjou was asked to say the word “ciciri”, something native French speakers could not do in a convincingly Sicilian accent.
In the annals of Medieval history, the revolt was a unique event. A spontaneous, popular uprising which affected political change. Following the night of the 30th to the 31st March the Angevin-French fled Sicily, and the people of the island eventually secured the support of the King of Aragon who sent troops there in August 1282. Although the revolt seemed to have occurred without any pre-planning, it is important to acknowledge that the uprising against the Angevin-French rulers was not completely without premeditation.
Since 1266 Charles of Anjou, with the support of the papacy, had ruled Sicily from Naples. Deeply unpopular in Sicily, Charles’ strict rule incurred the wrath of normal Sicilians, but his unpopularity in a broader context was just as significant. A group of Italian nobles, known as the Ghibellines, supported the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor rather than that of Charles and the papacy. Peter III of Aragon, a rival of Charles for the Neapolitan throne and one of the main beneficiaries of the uprising, also had a clear interest in altering the status quo on Sicily. The Night of the Sicilian Vespers may have been a demonstration of popular dissatisfaction at Charles’ tyranny, but there were a diverse range of groups with an interest in ending the Angevin presence on Sicily.
The revolt was followed by series of sea skirmishes and land battles between Angevin and Aragonese forces, sometimes referred to as the War of the Vespers. The fighting finally came to a close in 1302, with the Peace of Caltabellotta. The treaty saw Charles II, the son of Charles of Anjou, concede Sicily to King Frederick, a relative of Peter of Aragon. Sicily was now firmly under the sphere of Spanish influence, a situation which would persist for another five centuries.
Historians have since argued that the Sicilian Vespers, and the subsequent war, proved crucial in the failure of the crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean. Charles of Anjou and the Vatican had been planning to send troops to take Constantinople when the uprising started. The need to divert resources to Sicily put this campaign on hold. Although one of many factors which ultimately led to the failure of the crusades, it is not a coincidence that the fall of Acre in 1291, a pivotal defeat for Christians in the Middle East, took place during the War of the Vespers.
Indeed, the significance of events in Sicily in the broader context of Mediterranean history in this period can be seen in the theory that the Aragonese and Sicilian forces received financial support from Byzantine. Although the scope and nature of this support cannot be confirmed, it hints at the complex political workings of the period.
The Sicilian Vespers revolt was an expression of popular dissatisfaction at the harsh rule of Charles of Anjou over Sicily. This moment of rebellion by Sicilians however, can only be truly understood in the broader context of Medieval history.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: Enzian44
By: Daryl Worthington in newhistorian.com
Originally dictated in a Genoese prison cell, ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ straddles the line between travel literature and adventure story. The teller of the story, Marco Polo, claimed that the work was based completely on fact, compiled from his travels around the world. The book was hugely popular in Medieval Europe, despite being widely referred to as ‘The Million Lies’.
Marco Polo was not the first European to venture into Asia, but he traveled much further to the East than any before him, and, according to the book at least, became much more integrated into the cultures there. The real key to the work’s success is the imagination and energy put into the descriptions of Asia, Africa and the Mongol Empire. The work often seems fantastical, partly because some of the things Polo described were indeed made up, but also because the language used is so colourful it seems unbelievable.
The adventure to the East actually started when Nicolo and Maffeo Polo, Marco’s father and uncle, set off for Constantinople in 1260. From this journey they ventured into the lands of the Mongolian tribes, eventually reaching the court of Kublai Khan. The Polos returned to Europe, eventually arriving in their home city of Venice in 1269. Upon his return, Nicolo discovered he had a son, Marco Polo. The Polos, who had promised Kublai Khan they would come back to Mongolia with Catholic missionaries, eventually set off on their return to Asia with Marco and two Catholic friars, in 1271. Although the friars eventually gave up on the journey, the Polo’s returned to the Khan’s court, where Marco became a confidant of Kublai Khan.
Marco Polo remained in the Khan’s court for seventeen years, and was sent on a variety of missions and errands, allowing him to travel in previously uncharted territories. Through his service he explored much of what is now China, as well as venturing into India, and crossing over to Sri Lanka. A recently revealed map, attributed to Polo and signed for authenticity by his three daughters, is believed to sketch out the coast of Japan and Alaska. The origins and veracity of the map have not been confirmed, but some researchers have claimed that it proves Polo’s travels actually took him as far as the shores of North America.
‘The Story of Marco Polo’ details his experiences in this period of his life. It includes descriptions of the journey from Acre (in what is modern day Israel), through Persia and then onto the Khan’s palace in what is now Beijing. The Polos traveled over a series of overland trader’s routes, what would eventually become known as the Silk Road. As well as providing detailed descriptions of Polo’s experiences in the Khan’s court, the book is just as crucial for its depiction of the journey along the Silk Road, providing information on the cultures and landscapes the Polo family encountered.
Some critics question the validity of the text, pointing out that there is no mention of Polo in the detailed records of the Khan’s court from the thirteenth century. They also point out that despite Polo’s extensive stay and travels in Asia, he never made reference to major landmarks, such as the Great Wall, or distinctive cultural traits, such as eating with chopsticks or foot binding.
Polo himself eventually returned to Europe in 1295. He became involved in a conflict between Venice and Genoa, during which he was captured and imprisoned. While incarcerated he met Rustichello, a writer from Pisa who started to write down Polo’s stories.
Whether these stories were a complete fabrication, or just heavily embellished by Polo or Rustichello, they remain a fascinating document. The book was pivotal in shaping opinions on Asia and the Mongol Empire, long after its publication. Whether the book is factually accurate or not, it cannot be denied that the stories within, as well as the history of Polo himself, make it a fascinating read.
By: Daryl Worthington in newhistorian.com
Starting January 1st, 2016, Fr+ Roman Vertovec is ceasing functions as the Visitor General of the OSMTHU. It’s with a great sense of pride that the Magisterial Council acknowledges the high quality of its members, frequently chosen to lead Templar initiatives and groups elsewhere in the neo-Templar world. The Magisterial Council was informed that Fr+ Roman will lead a new group composed of the Priory of Italy (Napolitan branch), the Priory of Croatia and the Priory of Bulgaria, having already been installed as the group’s leader in Zagreb.
The OSMTHU and the Magisterial Council wishes Fr+ Roman Vertovec the best in this new courageous task. God, undoubtably, will bless all those who act with a pure heart.
Luis de Matos
Chancellor and Interim Master
For more information on the OSMTHU, please visit the official site at: templarsosmthu.wordpress.com
In 1087, a joint Pisan and Genoese force attacked the North African town of Mahdia, located in modern-day Tunisia. Christian forces returned to Italy triumphantly and used their spoils of war to construct commemorative churches.
A number of Arabic and Latin sources from the time testify to the events surrounding the raid of Mahdia.
One of the most important Latin sources is the poem Carmen in Victoriam Pisanorum, ‘Song for the Triumph of the Pisans’. The Carmen, written by a Pisan cleric only months after the raid, commemorates the expedition.
It has often been argued that the raid on Mahdia – conducted under the banner of St. Peter against a Muslim ruler – was a direct precursor to the First Crusade which followed eight years later. The Carmen is often viewed as providing context for the development of a crusading ideology in the eleventh century.
A pioneering new study has taken a fresh look at the Carmen. Matt King, a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota, has been studying the Carmen as a means of understanding Christian perceptions of Islam.
“An examination of this text will allow historians to consider Latin Christian perspectives on Islam and its adherents during the period immediately preceding the First Crusade,” King writes in his article, published in Hortulus, a graduate journal on medieval studies.
It is usually suggested that Pisan interests in North Africa were primarily commercial, with military activities receiving less attention. King argues that there was a certain level of coexistence and cooperation between Pisa and Islamic states, while the Carmen reveals a different side of the story where religiously-charged rhetoric could be applied to justify violent ends.
The Mahdia raid can be located in a wider context of Pisan military activities in North Africa. Pisa had been involved in military actions against Muslims throughout the eleventh century; briefly seizing the city of Bone in 1034 and helping the Norman Robert Guiscard in his conquest of Sicily in 1063.
“The author of the Carmen was thus writing in the midst of conflicts between burgeoning Italian commercial powers and Muslim states in the Mediterranean,” King notes.
Importantly, the Carmen makes frequent Old Testament references in an effort to locate Pisan activity in a Biblical tradition. Within this framework, the inhabitants of Mahdia take the form of Old Testament villains who feel the wrath of God. In contrast, King argues, the Pisans are a Gideon/David/Moses combination who, through the favour of God, are able to defeat their adversary.
“Such a description makes clear the deep religious roots that run throughout this story,” King notes. “In this narrative, it is impossible to separate the sacking of Mahdia or the author’s perception of Islam from this ancient narrative.”
The portrayal of Islam in the Carmen is a multi-faceted one. Pisan attacks are understood as an epic confrontation, similar to the Old Testament and classical tales. Further, the doctrine of the Muslim inhabitants of Mahdia is portrayed as a form of heretical Christianity. Taken together, these depictions of Muslim Africa reveal a medieval Latin understanding of the area as a place and people of the utmost evil.
King notes that the Carmen is, however, a triumphant poem. The author is consciously contextualising the Pisan-Genoese raid in a tradition of God-willed triumph. Simply taking the Carmen’s portrayal of Islam at face value, therefore, may misrepresent the Latin understanding of Islam.
“If we cautiously take the Carmen as indicative of general trends in Pisan perceptions of Islam and Africa,” King concludes, “we thus can see an image of Pisa as a city with some knowledge of medieval Ifriqiya and as one that used this knowledge to nurture some image of righteous war against Muslims.”
For more information: www.hortulus-journal.com
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: DrFO.Jr.Tn
By: Adam Steedman Thake in newhistorian.com
The grand Roman Colosseum, one of the most iconic remains of Ancient Rome, transformed from being a land that hosted blood and gore shows to being a land that hosted condominiums in the medieval era. According to the latest archaeological investigations made by experts from the Toma Tre University together with students from the American University of Rome, new evidence now shows that the Romans used to live in the Colosseum from the 9th century until the year 1349 when the iconic monument was terribly damaged by a major earthquake.
This fact was uncovered after a 3-week excavation that uncovered a few arched entrances which lead into the arena. Archaeologists discovered the foundations of a 12th century wall that was used to enclose a particular property in the Colesseum, potshards and terracotta sewage pipes. According to Rossella Rea, the Director of the Roman Colosseum, these excavations allowed archaeologists to identify a complete housing lot from the Medieval era. It is believed that this unusual condominium also consisted of workshops and stables and that area within the Colosseum was rented out by friars of the Santa Maria Nova Convent who had control of the monument.
Further research also indicated that all houses opened onto the area where the gladiators once used to fight. Professor Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani, teaching medieval archaeology at the Roma Tra University, believes that the area that once hosted glorious gladiator battles was transformed into a common space for the Romans living there in the medieval era. It is believed that this courtyard was buzzing with goods, animals and people. Archaeologists also uncovered cooking pottery along with the figurine of a tiny monkey that was carved from ivory. It is believed that this piece was used as a pawn in a chess set during the medieval era.
The Roman Colosseum dates back to the year AD 72 when it was built by the great emperor Vespasian on the bed of a drained lake. It is considered to be the most popular remains of Ancient Rome. Many might not know this, but the Amphitheatre was actually opened in the year AD 80 by Titus, Vespasian’s son. This amphitheatre was inaugurated with a festival that lasted for 100 days and consisted of naval battles, fights and gladiatorial combats.
Another reason why the Colosseum became so popular over the centuries was the fact that it survived 3 major earthquakes as well as a huge fire. It transformed into a garbage dump after emperor Honorius banned bloody gladiatorial combats as well as a stone quarry for buildings such as the St. Peter’s Basilica. The recent excavations have uncovered yet another piece of history for the Roman Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum is currently undergoing a $43 million restoration and cleaning project, the cost of which is being sponsored by Tod’s, a popular leather bag company in Italy. According to Rea, the dig should continue in the year 2015 when the second phase of the cleaning and restoration starts. More and more mysteries pertaining to the most visited monument of Italy are expected to be uncovered during the second phase of excavations.
By: Tajirul Haque in newhistorian.com