The Gregorian Calendar Reform
Uwe Topper & Ilya U. Topper
Ponderations on calendar developpement demonstrate that the calendar reforms of Julius Ceasar and Gregor XIII hide uneven movements of the earth.
(This is an abridged translation of the article published by Uwe Topper and Ilya U. Topper in German language in: Efodon-Synesis N° 4, July 2004, Hohenpeissenberg, Germany).
Attention: This artice is slightly outdated. The authors stick to the theory of Precession Leaps as shown in Figure 1 below, but have simplified it. Figure 3, the accompanying text and the schema at the end of the article do not longer represent the authors' views. See their new article
According to nordic tradition (see Reuter), midnight had always been the daylimit, and midwinternight the start of the year. Prokop (Byzantine writer located in the 6th century AD by traditional chronology) stated this when questioning some northern people about their customs of limiting the day and the year.
Beda Venerabilis ("8th century" England) held the same to be true: the year of the pagans starts on wintersolstice. He noted this to be December 25th, a date that by modern writers is marked as an error, because wintersolstice should have occured seven to eight days earlier, if mathematics applied to actual chronology is used. However, Beda could hardly have made a mistake as grave as that. His statement must contain some truth.
There are more indiactions to the fact that the northern direction and midnight had been the rule to measure any time sequence in northern Europe and Asia. Midnight celebrations have been preserved in catholic rituals like the one on Easter night with distribution of the sacred fire (which has no connection to the scriptural history of Jesus) and christmas midnight celebration. As for the northern direction taken as pivot we have to acknowledge that there could not have been any other measure because of the great alternation of the day's length and the wide deviation of sunset and sunrise. A calendar was urgent for the northern dwellers and had to be based on a fixed line which only could have been the meridian, the line north-south.
In the mediterranean area it was quite different: Hipparch noted that solstices were extremely difficult to observe as the sun moves very little during the forty days near each solstice. So the east-west line proved to him to be a better means of measuring the year: when the sun rises exactly in the east, the year starts, this could be a good enough definition.
When religious activity in Europe changed to mediterranean or oriental terms by way of christianization, the direction north-south was changed to east-west as well. In northern Eurasia the easterly direction had only been seduced by taking half the angle of the extreme sunrise positions, a rather mathematical operation. From now on religion prescribed the easterly direction and barred the entrances of the churches which had formerly been to north and south, openinge new accesses at the western front to go straight to the eastern altar where the mystery was enacted. From now on the days of the equinocts were important: the day of the Exaltation of the Cross (in autoumn) and the day of crucifixion (Easter, in spring).
There is a rather curious question that puzzles a number of writers: why does the year start on January 1st (as likewise even Scaliger assumes the 1st of January to be the starting date of the world)? In my first book in 1977 I published a sketchy proposal that there could be a connection to the perihel of the earth, i.e. the moment one sees the sun at its nearest point. But apart from the very unlikely ability of early peoples to detect this by observation it is wrong, as I learned later, because fluctuations of the distance sun-earth are not linked to any calendar we know. So I had to skip this proposal and found a new one.
The only solution acceptable to us now is: January 1st must have been midwintersolstice when the calendar was inaugurated. That is exactly what all traditions of northern peoples amount to.
Now, if Beda equals the 25th of December to this event, then we must presume that a certain change had taken place without notice and had not been corrected. We still have the most important feast of the year on christmas night, December 25th. How can this be explained when it is neither year's start nor solstice?
The days of the year, and so wintersolstice, must have been transferred, either by cultural manipulation or by a cosmic event. We prefer the second answer by presuming that around a certain date which should be ascertained by further calendar calculation a cosmic event took place that moved the axle of the earth in a slightly different direction so that solstice was reached a week earlier.
Figure 1: The Earth's Precession Leap
By this abrupt movement which had a so far unknown origin - be it interplanetary or inherent in the earth's characteristics - the direction of the axle of movement of the earth jumped in the sense of the precession, but did not alter notably its speed nor its inclination towards the ecliptic (see the drawing on the left). Similar jumps may have occurred in the earths life time quite often but those jumps can only be detected since the time man records the days by means of a calendar.
The survivors of such a jolt may soon have noticed what had happened. First of all the day (or night) on that certain occasion was longer than usual, of which we have vague notices by the Roland's epic and berber-sufic traditions and a somewhat made-up quotation in the Josua-book in the Old Testament (see U. Topper 1995 and 1998a). Also, the difference of the solstice may have been detected in the course of the year, and the slightly different position of the zodiac sign in the sky, as well.
Since the difference of dates between the original calendar (which we might call Jul-calendar, it had so far always been corrected by common agreement) and the new situation amounted to seven days, we presume that the lapse of those seven days was taken as an important measure of time and introduced universally as rule, "week" signifying a precise measure of time. In Latin we say vigilia which means the same: limited lapse of time.
For a number of years following the jump certain irregularities in the earths movement may have been noticed and were reported in rare documents like those of Cusanus or Regiomontanus (both 15th century), refering to earlier arab documents, but grosso modo the earth behaved orderly which makes calculations for us trustworthy as regards the last seven centuries.
The week has always been connected to dooms-day calculations starting from genesis when the world was created in seven days and ending in apocalyptic interpretations of the span of time allotted by the creator to life on earth: six days corresponding to one thousand years each plus a seventh day of the last millennium, etc. One of the most famous of such predictions is that of Joachim of Fiore (Calabria, Italy, early 13 th century) who proposed 1260 AD to be the date of the Last Judgement, and although we are not sure what he really wrote - his texts were only preserved in a ms. of his disciple Gerard of San Borgo ("Eternal Evangile") who was imprisoned for 18 years on account of this prophecy - we might retain the given date as an indicator of such a cosmic event as a jump of the solstice. By another line of thought I previously reduced 1260 AD to ERA 1000, a true millennium, which makes sense for ecclesiastic computing habits, yet it would lead to far away to go into detail here (see Topper 1999).
If solstice jumped from January 1st to December 25th on that occasion, the latter might have been proposed as the date of the annual julfestival as usual, announced to all cultured peoples of Europe. Hence our christmas celebrations on that day. But the Julian Calendar then in use was no longer corrected as had been the costum before the event. By its excessive length of 11 minutes per year in regard to the tropical year the Julian calendar advances in 128 years by one day, which amounted to roughly three days between 1260 and 1582. Solstice fell back to December 22nd and accordingly spring equinox from March 25th - the immaculate conception of Jesus - to March 21st. There remains always an uncertainty of one day in the allotted saint's days of the church which we have to neglect here as their first fixation is not always datable.
The nordic calendar had been very simple: it consisted of twelve months of equal length of thirty days each, plus five or six additional days at years close which are known to us as the Saturnalias in roman tradition. Solstice as year's starting day was announced after sun observation by a big fire ritual which could be watched from hilltops to valleys all over the inhabited area and thus be communicated to the farthest regions. Thus no gliding of namegiving days through precession was possible as had happened later after fixing a strict leap rule.
This leap rule is said to be the work of Julius Caesar who ordered a special day to be intercalated every four years which made sun observation unnecessary. He distributed the five Saturnalian days to certain months, set year's head on March 1st and the leap day at the end of February. Although Gregor later returned the year's start to January 1st he retained February 29th as leap day. Caesar also fixed the names of the second half of the years months September (seventh), October (eight), November (ninth) and December (tenth) which we still use today along with the unequal length of the months.
As the calendar has not substantially changed since Caesar's reform and is widely still in use in the northern hemisphere we suppose that it had been introduced shortly after AD 1260.
When pope Gregor XIII ordered the calendar to be reformed again and given an everlasting mechanism of leap years that would preserve the dates of Easter and the saints, he had to take into account that solstice (a century earlier fixed as Sta. Lucia) in his time took place on December 12th and likewise spring equinox (corresponding in the 15th century St. Gregor's day) on March 11th.This meant a difference of ten days to the dates he proposed, i.e. the dates which had been marked by the Julian calendar.
Figure 2: Four important saints were fixed in the 15th century to mark the year's 'corners'
Therefore Gregor ordered to jump ten days ahead - from octobre 4th to 15th 1582 and so retrieved the solstices and equinoctial dates that where supposed to have been observed at the foundation of the church (the first Eucumenical Synod at Nikaia). In the Bulla to this effect it was not, however, mentioned that such a fabulous event as the said Synod would have taken place 1250 years ago as was assumed by later commentators.
If we accept that the Julian calendar had been used from the 13th century onward without failure we must reach the conclusion that the observed ten days jump (another cosmic jolt) had occurred in the time lapse between the 13th and 16th centuries. We propose the enigmatic years around AD 1350 when a great number of catastrophic events had happened (see Christoph Marx).
So we have found two dates for cosmic jolts of the earth's movement, the oldest retrievable by calendary calculations being reflected in the reform of Julius Caesar near about the middle of the 13th century (shortly after the proposed date AD 1260 according to Joachim of Fiores prediction) and the latest one near AD 1350 when catastrophic events have been recorded abundantly in chronicles. The first one mentioned amounted to seven days and was the cause of the transfer of solstice (and for certain cultural groups of year's start) from January 1st to December 25th.
This was the reason for the introduction of the seven day week in many culture groups around the old world; the position of important days in the saint's calendar does still reflect this jump.
The second jolt amounted to ten days and originated pope Gregor's correction of the calendar by jumping the same number of days ahead.
Attention: This schema is not longer accepted as valid by the authors
Scheme of the development of the European calendarsJul-Calendar until 13th century
It is a common sun calendar of 365¼ days with 12 months of 30 days and 5 (or 6) holidays at the end.
Wintersolstice on January 1st, summersolstice on July 1st.
This calendar is regularly corrected by observation
Cosmic catastrophy ("1260 A.D.")
Solstice takes place 7 days earlier
The week is introduced. The sequence of days is counted without interruption.
Last moment for the the jul festival to be fixed universally on December 25th.
Caesar orders the year's start to be on March 1st.
Leap day falling on February 29th and unequal length of months is retained until today.
Last cosmic catastrophy ("1350 A.D.")
Solstice is jumping abruptly to 10 days earlier: on December 14th.
The high culture of correcting the calendar every year is broken.
100 years later solstice falls on December 13th. 1435 A.D.: Kusanus calculates the solstices and equinoxes:
13.12. Sta. Luzia; 12.3. "St. Gregor" (Easter); 13.6. St. Antonius; 14. 9. Exaltation of the Cross.
1582 A.D.: pope Gregor XIII reforms the calendar
He does so by ordering a ten days jump to return to the original position of saint's days
as before the last cosmic jolt.
Solstice is fixed to December 22nd and spring equinox to March 21st.
Gradually this calendar is adopted by most nations.
Beda and Prokop as cited in Reuter
Ideler, Ludwig (1826): Handbuch zur mathematischen und technischen Chronologie (2. Bde., Berlin)
Marx, Christoph (1993): "Datieren vor der Gregorianischen Kalenderreform" in: Vorzeit-Frühzeit-Gegenwart 3/93, S.38ff (Gräfelfing)
Reuter, Otto Sigfrid (1936): Der Himmel über den Germanen (J. F. Lehmanns, München)
Topper, Ilya U. (1998): "Apuntes sobre la era árabe en el contexto mediterráneo" in: "Al-Andalus - Maghreb" III, Homenaje a Braulio Justel Calabozo (Univ. Cádiz)
Topper, Uwe (1977): Das Erbe der Giganten (Olten)
(1995): "Eine Polsprungmythe in berberisch-sufischer Überlieferung" in: Zeitensprünge 1/95 (Gräfelfing)
(1998a): "Acerca de algunas tradiciones orales de los Imaziges del Alto Atlas marroqui" Homenaje a B. Justel Calabozo; in: Al-Andalus Magreb, vol. VI, pp.197-207 (Univ. of Cádiz, Spain).
GA: (1998): Die Große Aktion (Tübingen)
EG: (1999): Erfundene Geschichte (München)
FG: (2001): Fälschungen der Geschichte (München)
ZF: (2003): ZeitFälschung. Es begann mit der Renaissance (München)
Drawings: Ilya U. Topper. English Translation: Uwe Topper