And Then...

David Cowles

Apr 19, 2022

This was perhaps the last time we could say, “God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world.”

Back to the year 1000 AD! Millennial years are special years…I mean they only come once every thousand years or so…so they’re pretty rare. Most folks never experience a change of Millennia during their lifetimes. I did, and no doubt many of you did too.


Think back to the year 2000 AD! Planes fell from the sky, the power grid collapsed, virtually all electronics, including computers, failed.


Except, of course, none of these things actually happened. December 31 went, and January 1 came…thud.


December 31, 999: it is likely that the majority of Western Europeans believe that the world would end in the coming hours. Huge crowds filled the Vatican and the streets of Rome; they awaited the Apocalypse.


But AD 1000 is important for other reasons. Otto III, the boy king, is Emperor. Riding into battle at the age of 6, leading an army at the age of 12, crowned king of the Germans at 14 and Holy Roman Emperor at 16; Otto was still only 20 years-old in the year 1000.


Otto’s lifelong tutor and mentor, Gerbert, sits on the Papal Throne, reigning as Pope Sylvester II. Gerbert was pope, but he may have been better known as the leading scientist and mathematician of his age.


This was perhaps the last time we could say, “God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world.” Church and state, the sacred and the secular, science and religion, faith and curiosity all flowed together and co-existed peacefully. And then…

Image: Otto III from The Gospels of Otto


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