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What happened in AD 570
(the year of "the long beards")
and which Bible prophecies were fulfilled?

Two men dominate late antiquity (the period when Rome became Europe):

  1. In the east: the greatest of all Byzantine emperors, and last truly Roman emperor, Justinian.
  2. In the west: The founder of the medieval church, Gregory.

The catalyst, the event that shifted power from east to west, was the Lombard invasion of Italy, AD 570.

See also:
How Rome gave way to Europe
Prophecies about the "little horn"
More events of AD 570
The loss of "the Holy Grail" in AD 570
The history of Europe, 570-1830
The Celtic Church after 570
The Holy Grail and 570
Jerusalem trodden underfoot: 570 to 1830


Summary

"The Lombard Invasions ended Roman imperial domination of Italy and gave the pope a new independence, ... Fortunately for Rome, and the Roman church, Gregory the Great, pope during the critical last decade of the sixth century was equal to the challenge. .. Gregory's period as pope, by its extension of the pope's authority, marks the transition from the ancient world of imperial Rome to medieval Christendom"

- "The History of Christianity" published by Lion Publishing, Herts, England, 1977. Page 195

Before and after AD 570
second, third century fourth, fifth century mid sixth century AD 570 late sixth century
After the apostles die, total apostasy is inevitable Rome adopts the church; outlying branches struggle to survive Justinian: the height of the Byzantine empire (three of the ten horns are conquered; "man child" flees to heaven) The Lombard invasion Gregory: the origins of the medieval church

In "The End Of Ancient Christianity," the respected scholar Robert Markus traces how the early church gradually became the medieval church. (Read the reviews here and here.) It was a long process of decline, and Markus is naturally reluctant to put a single date to all these processes. But he identifies the key issues:

  1. The end of the secular life provided by Roman culture. "Secular high culture survived till the end of the sixth century"
  2. The dominance of "a narrowly scriptural culture by ascetic bishops by the end of the sixth century."
  3. The inclusion of northern peoples who knew nothing of the Roman civic and cultural institutions. The life of Cassiodorus illustrates this change. "In his last work, written when he was ninety years old, he was not concerned, as earlier Christian thinkers had been, about the influence of pagan ideas on Christians through the reading of classical literature; he wanted to make sure his monks could read at all." (He died circa AD 570)

The last pieces of classical Roman culture in Italy ended with the Lombard invasions of 570.


Who were the Lombards?

As the William Smith Bible Dictionary indicates (based on the early church understanding of 2 Thessalonians), the prophets knew that the Great Apostasy would begin when the Roman Empire lost its secular power over the church. The Lombards were the catalyst in this process.

The principal Germanic tribes Most people are aware that the invading "barbarians" contributed to the downfall of Rome.

The final invasion of Italy, the catalyst for breaking the power of both east and west, was the Lombard invasion of 568-571.

The Lombards are also known as the Langobards - the name meaning "long beards".

http://www.ucalgary.ca/HIST/tutor/firsteuro/imgs/map24.html has a nice big map or Europe after the Lombard invasion, using http://www.ucalgary.ca/HIST/tutor/firsteuro/imgs/A600EU.GIF - If it wasn't copyright I would have reproduced it here.

Why the Lombards are important

"Before Gregory was elected, its [the Papacy's] strength was ebbing fast, because it tried to appeal to the Goths without throwing over the patronage of Byzantium, and the two were irreconcilable. . . . When the Lombards surged forward the Eastern links were cut and from then on the Papacy was to regard itself as an essentially western union." (Lehane p.174 - see the Celtic page for references)

Where the Lombards came from

Let us step back a few years to when Belisarius and Narses subdued the three kingdoms, and when the great volcano erupted. As a direct result of the change in climate, a great nation called the Avars had left their East Asian homeland to look for better pastures. The Avar culture was based on horses. Their empire had been overthrown by neighbours who relied on cattle. Cattle are more efficient at surviving a famine. For more details, see the book "Catastrophe" by David Keys.

The Avars wanted to settle near the Rhine, where the Lombards were living. They were even paid by Justinian to not invade. The Lombards saw this as a good opportunity for themselves to invade instead, so marched on Byzantium and then on to Rome. For more details of how Byzantium invited in the barbarian invaders, see "a history of the Gentiles - part 2".


The Lombards and 570

As noted already, the great sign of the triumph of the little horn was its subduing or conquering three of the ten kingdoms that used to be part of Rome (see Daniel 7:24). But this unified the Roman empire once more. Daniel chapter 2 had made clear that Rome was to remain broken. So what happened?

History shows that the successes of the generals Belisarius and Narses, in reuniting the empire for Justinian, led directly to the rise of the divided states of Europe and the emergence of the medieval church.

Certainly the Almighty did not smile upon what they did in fulfilling the dire warnings of Daniel. It was while they were conquering that the great desolation was poured out on the earth - the biggest volcano in recorded history, which plunged the earth into darkness for two years, bringing famine, plague, and the end of empires around the world. But more on that later.

Unless stated, the following details are from Gibbon's classic "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", volume 8.

The link with Narses

The general who reconquered Italy from the Goths (i.e. from the "barbarians") was Narses. As a reward, he was placed in charge. But though he was a great general, he was not a good politician. He was oppressive and greedy, and nobody felt he was just. Finally, Rome sent an ultimatum to the emperor at Constantinople (Byzantium). They said they preferred life under the Goths, and would revolt unless Narses was removed. They also blamed Narses for the famine and pestilence caused (unknown to them or to Gibbon) by the results of that massive volcano on the other side of the world.

So Narses was recalled back to the capital, and was replaced by Longinus. But Narses did not intend to be humiliated by the emperor, so he retired to Naples instead.

Longinus was a better politician, but he was no good as a general. When the Lombards invaded, thy met almost no resistance. Partly this was because of the common belief that Narses had invited them to attack, as revenge for his losing his position.

The city of Rome in 570

"Rome had reached, about the close of the sixth century, the lowest period of her depression. ...The name of Rome might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital principal, which again restored her honour and dominion. It was on the ruins of Rome's political empire that the Popes built the foundations of a new spiritual empire of which Rome remained the center."

- Smith p.393-394.

So the Lombards won...

So the Lombards won. They took lands right up to the gates of Rome. Rome only survived by making massive compromises with them.

But by far the most important effect of the Lombard invasion was as "the last straw that broke the camel's back". Rome, at its weakest and most miserable, finally realized that it could no longer rely on the Roman (Byzantine) empire for safety. It would have to look elsewhere. The church would have to become a political power on its own. It would need to find strength from the western and northern kingdoms. Gregory the Great set about doing just that, and in doing so he created the medieval church.

And with that church, Europe - including the northern kingdoms of France, Germany and Britain, became undisputed king of the world for the next 1260 years, just as Daniel had foretold.


Justinian, the "man child" of Revelation 12:5, and the Lombards

Revelation chapter 12 seems to link the "church in the wilderness" period with the "man child" going to heaven. As discussed elsewhere, the "man child" draws on the imagery of Isaiah 66. "The woman" is the church (the people) or nation of Israel. She is sometimes righteous (symbolically a bride to Christ, the bridegroom), and sometimes not (when she is not righteous, Israel is accused of "whoring" after other gods). When the church is triumphant and led by the messiah, it produces a righteous people. Thus, the woman gives birth to the man child: the church (or nation) gives birth to the kingdom.

The kingdom - the political organization of righteous saints - is destined to inherit the kingdoms of this world (see Daniel 7, 8, and 12). It will thus rule all nations with a rod of iron, the word of God (Revelation 12:5). For the rod of iron meaning the word of God, compare Psalm 110:2, Isaiah 2:3, Hebrews 4:12 ... and 1 Nephi 8 in the Book of Mormon.

"The law of common consent"

How does the church produce the man child? How does it produce the righteous priesthood? The priesthood authority is given by Jesus himself, not by the church. The only way that the church produces the priesthood is that the leaders come from the membership of the church, and the church members give their approval to whoever leads them. They do this by vote. This is not to choose their own leaders, but to approve (or otherwise). Nobody can lead the church without the consent of the members.

In the church today this rule is known as "the law of common consent". Every new priesthood holder is presented to the congregation for a vote of approval. In this way, the church is prevented from becoming a dictatorship.

If we can discover when this important law was taken away, we can learn when the man child (the priesthood produced by the church) disappeared.

Daniel's conquering of three kingdoms, and the law of common consent:

Daniel notes that the important event in the power that rules for 1260 "days" is when it conquers three of the ex-Roman kingdoms. As noted in the discussion on the origins of Europe,this was fulfilled by Byzantium, as it regained the empire. This happened through the great generals Belisarius and Narses in the sixth century.

But when Revelation talks of THE SAME 1260 "days", it does not talk of three horns being conquered. Instead, it highlights the taking of the man child into heaven as the sign. How are the two events - the triumphs of Belisarius and Narses, and the removal of "the man child" linked?

How Daniel 7:24 led to Revelation 12:5-6

The answer is simple. The sign in Daniel and the sign in Revelation were both methods by which Byzantium controlled Europe. Physically, Byzantium won by conquering. Daniel is more concerned with the political kingdoms, so focuses on this. Spiritually, Byzantium won by stifling the church. Revelation is more concerned with the church, so focuses on that.

"On the recovery of Italy by Belisarius, Justinian adopted toward the church of Rome the same policy by which he had reduced that of Constantinople to subservience. He deprived the people at large of their share in the election of bishops, who were [now] to be chosen by the clergy and principal inhabitants of each city."

Then, once a bishop had been chosen by this new method, the clergy had to ask the emperor for his approval - and this was "to be requested in very submissive terms".
- History of the Christian Church, by Philip Smith (London: John Murray, 1886) volume 1 p.397. (Emphasis added.)

The complete fulfillment of the prophecies

Justinian thus strengthened the control of the emperor over the church. But the prophecies do not speak of the emperor remaining strong. God had decreed that Rome was to be broken up (as ten "toes" in Daniel 2, or ten "horns" in Daniel 7) and stay broken until the Second Coming,

Who was going to control the church once the emperor lost his power? The prophecies said the church would be controlled by the little horn for 1260 years. The emperor could not do that because his empire was to break up. Something had to take his place, something that could remain strong even when Europe was in many pieces.

Question: What took the place of the emperor as head of the church?
Answer: The bishop of Rome.
Question: How did this happen?
Answer: The Lombard invasion of 570 was the turning point.

Justinian had made the western church more dependent on the emperor for a while, "but the invasion of the Lombards loosened their dependence on the emperor, and increased their political importance as leaders in the defense of Italy, and as the possessors of immense wealth." - Smith, p.397


The Byzantine empire in 570

Now Byzantium had done its terrible work, everything began going wrong in 570. Before that time, under Justinian, the Avars (northern barbarians) and Persians (the Eastern empire) had been kept at bay. But in 570 it all started going wrong.

For more about Byzantium, see "A history of the Gentiles" part 2, and the eye witness account of the evils of the emperor Justinian.


Precisely dating the Lombard victories


It is very difficult for historians to be precise over dates from this period. The whole point was that the Roman world was at its lowest ebb, and keeping accurate records was not their priority. All that historians will agree on is that the entire Lombard campaign took place between 568 and 571. But when did the tide turn in their favour?

http://www.boglewood.com/timeline/alboin.html Has a very clear and simple illustrated account of the Lombard invasion. The main cities were in Lombard hands by September 569. So late 569 is the key period. But it is interesting to note that the site says the Lombard king died in 573. Other sources say 574. So perhaps other dates should be moved up a year and late 569 becomes 570? Either way, we are quibbling over a few months. From a broad perspective, 570 is the year of Lombard victory.

Gibbon (the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) makes it even clearer. He does not date the Lombard invasions to 568-571, but simply to 568-570.

570 was the important year.

Justinian and Gregory: a summary

Two men stand at the gate between the ancient world and medieval Europe:

  • Justinian came before 570.
    He was the last great "Roman" emperor. He provided the political strength and the common law that was the foundation for the later kingdoms.
  • Gregory the Great came after 570.
    He looked east and north. He created a church to hold the kingdoms together. He pulled in the northern tribes.

One man represented the last time when the Roman empire was great. The other represents the birth of the medieval world.

The turning point between the two eras was the Lombard invasion, completed in the year foreseen as the key date by the prophets - AD 570.

 

the bottom line

AD 570 was the boundary between the ancient world and the world we know

 

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