The Church's project of rehabilitating the Roman Leviathan on its west-Eurasian home-grounds succeeds--but only for an instant, a fleeting instant which gives rise to lasting illusions.
Charlemagne's neo-Roman Empire in Frankish garb is neither a rehabilitated Fourth nor a new Fifth Beast. It is no more than the last death-rattle of the moribund Roman worm, a sudden burst of flame among the cinders of a burnt-out fire.
The stench emanating from the unburied decomposing carcass will continue to attack western nostrils, but the artifice will never again be set in motion.
Muslims, Byzantines, Turnks and Mongols seeking a Leviathanic name for the West will continue to refer to Europeans as "Franks" because there was a Frankish Leviathan once upon a time, not because there continues to be one.
Western Eurasia will be treated like a single entity with a continuous story because trained falsifiers will have a monopoly on the West's record keeping.
The Roman Catholic chroniclers of the heavenly and earthly Leviathan are schooled to see unity and continuity where there is none, to see what they're looking for, not what they're looking at. They tell of the Earthly City even when cities disappear from the West, when there is no Leviathanic unity nor continuity but only dismemberment and decomposition.
The centuries of militancy, preparation and propaganda yield the Church no Earthly City. THe Church's chosen champion, the Frankish Roman Empire, is like ancient Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, who went from victory to victory until he was totally ruined. The Church's scribes will nevertheless depict ever-greater triumphs of their cause. They are trained not to recognize defeat. Self-defined as Catholic, namely all-embracing, the Western Church seeks total a dominion so vast, that every collapse of its real empire seems minor and ephemeral, even the collapse of its last empire.
Like militants of later days, Catholic militants seek ends so broad that virtually any means seem instrumental. Their daily practice degenerates into an unprincipled power-serving opportunism that is ever-ready to smear the previous day's goals and perpetrate atrocities against the previous day's allies. In the eyes of such opportunists Emperor Charlemagne was great and Holy Roman Emperor Otto is greater.
But if Charlemagne was barely more than the chieftan of a gang of marauders, Otto is neither Holy nor Roman nor an Emperor.
The Church cannot accept the fall of the Roman Empire because it sees the Empire as the World and itself as the Empire's soul. The entire apparatus of the Church continues to act as a vast bureaucracy administering a world-embracing Leviathan during all the centuries when no Leviathan stirs in the West.
Charlemagne's ephemeral Frankish Empire serves the Church as confirmation that the Beast does move, but a close look reveals that this Beast is not only ephemeral but also illusory. It is not a functioning machine. It is a composite made up of pieces that come from different machines, and the pieces don't mesh together, they are like prows of ships combined with clock springs. Clocks will serve a purpose on ships, but a mound of prows and clock springs will not yield either a ship or a clock.
Another suggestive metaphor would be a nervous system existing apart from a body. The Church trains and deploys a vast bureaucracy fully capable of serving as administration and police of the Roman Emperor and his provincial governors and tax farmers in the time of Octavian Augustus. But in the time of Frankish marauders, this colossal bureacucracy dangles in a void, and no amount of anointing water can glue such a bureaucracy to such an army and make it a functioning Leviathan.
The Franks are still Free Men who prove their worth by their prowess, and the only loyalty they honor is loyalty to the brothers and comrades who help them get booty. Loyalty to an Emperor, devotion to the orderly functioning of the Imperial machine, are as alien to them as fealty is to the Roman Popes.
The Franks were glad enough to treat the very land as war booty, but this has not turned them into officials of a territorial State. On the contrary, the Franks have turned lands into attributes of persons. Thus Lotharingia, for example, is neither a colony nor a province, such as Gaul was in Roman days. Lotharingia is the sum of Lothar's holdings in any given year, and it can change from one year to the next, like Lothar's clothes.
This is true not only of Lothar but also of his sworn companions-in-arms, his vassals. Each vassal is rewarded with booty in the form of lands over which he is Lord, and he in turn rewards lesser vassals with large parcels of his lands.
The parcels, called Manors, are not fiscal and administrative units of a territorial State. The officials deployed to all these "parishes" by the Church officiate in a vacuum. The Lord of the manor serves as liege-lord, be he near or distant, and if his liege-lord is at war with his neighbor's, he will war against his neighbor. And such wars are not rare. That's why the walls of the Lord's lodging are three feet thick, why there is a moat before the entrance, why the Lord and his retainers move about in heavy armor lugging tree-length spears. In such a context, trained administrators of territorial units are exotics from a different world.
The Frankish Lords are still familiar only with the personal relations of their vanquished community, whereas the Churchmen are trained to think the hierarchic relations of the Roman Empire are the only possible community.
The Lord and the Priest are not only exotic to each other. They are also incompatible. The world of each excludes the other. The Lord is probably grateful to the Priest for pacifying the cultivators of the land with stories of the evils of this world and the glories of the next. The Lord is grateful because he is fed, not by the land, but by its cultivators.
The peasants feed the Lord and all his companions, their families and thier horses. The peasants build the moat as well as the thick walls. They grind the Lord's wheat and carry his water. On occasion they are even recruited to fight his wars.
The peasants, whether their ancestors were Franks, Latins, Celts, Levantines or Africans, are no longer free. Some resisted, some tried to flee, but all the liege-lord's vassals ganged up against them. They are part of the manor. They come with the parcel a vassal receives as booty. They have been reduced to serfs.
It is among the serfs that the priests do their officiating. To the Priests, the Serfs are equal to the Lords in the eyes of God, they are all citizens of the Empire, as they were to Roman Emperor Caracalla, and therefore all are equally bound to pay a head tax, a tithe or tenth of all their produce.
This tithe is sent to Rome and from Rome it filters down the hierarchy in a properly Leviathanic manner, supporting the administrative apparatus of the inexistent Empire.
But the tithe is so much food that doesn't reach the Lord's table. The Lord hates to see the tithe leave this manor, and he will soon try to control not only the tithe but also the Priest on his manor. He wants the peasant's surplus product on his table, not on the parasitical Pope's.
Such an attitude could not be at greater variance with the Priest's, whose Roman training predisposes him to want to gather all surplus produce and send it to the center, from where it would filter down in a properly Leviathanic manner.
In practice, Lord and Priest accommodate to each other, but during all the generations that they coexist, each of them draws a line he will not cross. They remain antithetical. Each remains a component of a different entity.
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Books will be written to tell readers that Leviathanic "modes of production" rise in the West when "productive forces ripen," that the manors of the Lords "develop into" territorial mercantile States, with Churchmen serving as "midwives."
Many of these books will be like "before" and "after" pictures with an elaborate argument that demonstrates how the earlier structure "developed into" the later one. Written by dialecticians adept at showing how things develop into their opposites, many of the arguments will be convincing and some positively elegant, but they will tell readers everything except the fact that the earlier structures were burned down.
The fact is that the West inherited Rome's "productive forces," among the world's "ripest," and let them rot. The fact is that the manor will stay a manor longer than any Egyptian dynasty lasted and will never develop into a territorial State, a proper Leviathan. The fact is that the Church is not the "midwife." The Church is committed to Octavian's Rome, not to the territorial commercial States of the later West; Charlemagne's Empire comes as close as the Church will get to its goal.
The Leviathanic forms come from outsiders. They are not adopted by flexible Christian Westerners, who will exist only in later stories. They are violently imposed on the ruins of the dismembered Frankish Catholic Empire. And the "midwives" who initiate the avatars of the later Western Leviathan are enemies of the Franks, of Rome, of the Church, or all three.
The gravediggers of Catholicism's only real Western Empire, Charlemagne's, are set in motion by Charlemagne's own armies of Free Men who test their freedom and their manhood by turning everyone on Europe's fringes into an inveterate enemy of Franks.
But by attacking the Muslims south of them and then turning north against neighbors of the decimated Saxons, the Franks are no longer tangling with weaker communities. They are tangling with peoples as heavily armored with Leviathanic traits as the Franks themselves. The Muslims of Spain are the westernmost province of Eurasia's most powerful Leviathan this side of China. The Danes, Slavs, and Avar Huns of the northern woodlands, although not as armored as the Muslims, have long been using Leviathanic weapons to try to preserve what remains of their communities. When all of these peoples retaliate against the Franks, the Empire of the West collapses for good.
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Scandinavians--their descendants will be known in the West as Vikings, Northmen, Normans--are the first to retaliate against Frankish violence. Danes already took up arms to defend their Saxon neighbors from the Frankish massacre. By the time the Franks subjugate Saxony by depopulating northeastern Germany, the Danes are building a fleet against Charlemagne's Christians.
This fleet is followed by numerous larger fleets, no longer defensive ones. The northerners organize vast military undertakings against the disintegrating Frankish Empire. They begin by raiding the Empire's outer fringes: Frisia, England, Ireland.
The Vikings take their Steppe horses with them on their large ships, terrorize all of Europe, sack and destroy Frankish strongholds at all major rivers, plunder Asturias, Portugal as well as Paris. They arrive as Conquistadores of vast portions of the Carolingian Empire, dismemberers of the last Roman Empire of the West. Vikings invade parts of Gaul, Apulia in Italy, all of Sicily, all of England. Adopting Frankish languages, availing themselves of Roman bureaucrats, they impose themselves as rulers, undermine the power of manor lords, and then launch a revamped Roman Frankdom into maritime plundering expeditions, into vast commercial undertakings of seaborne piracy and conquest.
The northerners who are provoked by the Roman Catholic invaders of Saxony into such a vast and long-lasting response are as familiar with Leviathanic ways as the Franks themselves. The fact that Vikings are not explicitly named in the records of Leviathans prior to Charlemagne's suggests that they have not wanted to tangle with the Leviathans until they had to.
Vikings may have been among the northerners who warred against the Roman Empire's enclosure of southwestern Eurasia. Unlike Franks and Goths, the Scandinavians did not pursue the war for twenty generations, and they were not among the dismemberers of the real Roman Empire. They returned to the fastness of their fjords, separated from Leviathanic armies by icy seas, and nurtured their language, mythology and ancient ways--up to a point. They did not become reconciled to the beastly enclosure of the world's warm half. And they did break through. BUt unlike the Franks, they did it without storming Rome's walls. They found a path to the Mediterranean which bypassed the Roman Empire and all its legions, a path from the Baltic to the Black Sea along the rivers that traverse Russia. It is not known how long the Scandinavians were familiar with this path, nor if they were among the "Scythians" with whom the Greeks traded on the Black Sea's shores.
By the time Frankish armies firs tangle with Vikings, the outposts along the Scandinavians' eastern path are already commercial empires engaged in trade and politics with the Byzantine Empire. At a time when there are neither cities nor trade in the Frankish West, Vikings who call themselves Rus, whom the Byzantines call Varangians, dispatch commercial fleets from the cities of Novgorod and Kiev.
Like the Phoenicians and their Arab successors, like the Ottawas of another time and place, these Scandinavians try to compensate for the loss of half the world by turning themselves into intermediaries who carry objects between the enclosed lands and their homeland.
Just as they bypassed Rome to reach the Middle Sea, they bypass Byzantium to reach the Levant and exchange their furs, teas and honey for Muslim silks, spices and silver. They do this on their own, without Christian intermediaries. When they do have recourse to Byzantine scribes and icons, they do so in order to appear before the Muslim merchants as the Third Rome, not as a province of Byzantium.
Undoubtedly hoping to enhance their own lives and ways by their carrying, in time they cease to be what they were and become what they do. The Scandinavian Rus become rulers of the first Russian State, a water-borne commercial empire, an octopus; they become carriers of Leviathanic tentacles to parts of Eurasia reached by no previous Leviathan.
By tangling with Vikings, the Franks dig a grave for their own Empire of serfs, manor lords and fealty relations. The Scandinavians north of Saxony will not become serfs or vassals of a liege-lord; in fact, they will not leave Frankish institutions much space in which to develop.
Many of the West's major transformations come to it neither from the inner dynamics of the feudal Lord's manor nor from the Papal See but from Scandinavia, just like Muslim silver, which the Northmen monopolize in Western Europe for several generations.
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Vikings are not the only people whose ire the marauding Roman Catholic Franks provoke. The Pope-anointed latter-day Romans also tangle with Slavs, Magyars and Muslims, even though the Vikings are formidable enough to dismember the Knightly Empire. The converted Franks fare no better against the others than against the Vikings.
Most Slavs live in agricultural communities far from Leviathans at the time of Charlemagne, but the Slavs attacked by the Frankish marauders do not.
After completing their devastation of Saxony, the Franks turn against Lithuanians, northern Srbi or Sorbs (later called Wends), and Moravians. Lithuanians and Sorbs give the Catholics a lot of trouble later. Moravians do so right away.
Moravians are communities of cultivators long familiar with Leviathanic relations. It is not known if some of their ancestors were among the Scythians who traded with the Greeks or if later ancestors took part in the long war against the Roman Empire. It is known that already at the time of the Frank Clodovech, the Moravians had formed a defensive alliance similar to that of the ancient Guti and all their successors. Mounted Avar Huns at war with Byzantium had tried to reduce the agricultural Moravians into permanent food suppliers, and the Moravians had defended themselves from such a reduction by rallying their forces behind a strongman.
Charlemagne's Franks exterminate the Avars. Less violent people would have formed a lasting alliance with the grateful Moravians. But the Knights anointed by the agents of Optimus Maximus form no alliances. The Frankish marauders proceed to treat the Moravians as the Avars had.
Moravian cultivators will not be agrarian zeks to Franks any more willingly than to Avars, and they again have recourse to their defensive league, this time behind a strongman called Moymir.
The Frankish threat does not recede, and the Moravians remain leagued. Moymir's son Rastislav welcomes Serbian prelates Cyril and Methodius to Moravia to help organize a more permanent defensive establishment with scribes and with records written in Cyrils own alphabet, a proper Leviathan like those with which southern Slavs and Bulgars defend themselves from Byzantine recruiters and tribute-seekers.
Increasingly enmeshed by Leviathanic relations of their own making, unwittingly losing what they're intending to defend, the Moravians succeed in repulsing at least two major armies of Frankish invaders and in expanding their defensive league over regions later called Slovakia, Bohemia, northern Hungary and southern Poland.
More Cyrillic bureaucrats arrive from Serbia to help administer this State, but Serbia is far and the prelates do not arrive quickly enough, so the next Moravian strongman, Sviatopluk, invites Latin prelates to fill the administrative posts.
With its bureaucracy revamped, Moravia holds off yet more Frankish invasion forces, but collapses in the face of mounted Avars, namely Magyar Huns provoked by Byzantines as well as Franks.
The revamping of the Moravian bureaucracy will be described by Rome's scribes as a deed of the Roman Church, an accomplishment called "the Conversion of the Moravians." The militant church marches from victory to victory, like Pyrrhus; every victory brings it closer to its Doom.
The Moravian Leviathan, with its population of cultivators who share a common language and traditions, its centralized military organization and its bureaucracy of ecclesiastical clerks, may have affinities with the early Roman Res-Publica. It has no affinities at all with the Roman or Frankish Empires. It is a precursor of what we will call a "nation state," an early gravedigger of everything Frankish, Roman, Catholic and Imperial.
Those who hail "the conversion of the Moravians" conveniently forget what their institution stands for. If it had been the aim of the Roman Church to serve as the bureaucracy of anything other than a rehabilitated and all-embracing Roman Empire, it could have gone to Byzantium, which at least had memories of empire as well as imperial pretensions. To boast of being the tail that wags the dog takes gall. To boast of being Sviatopluk's tail takes the hardened cynicism of the propagandist, the public liar.
It is true that the communities of Moravian cultivators gain nothing from the Catholic bureaucrats who administer their initially defensive league. However, Moravians happen to be among the few who actually read the Book of the Catholic clerks and call the lies of the Catholic establishment.
It is true that the Moravian State lasts for only a generation before it is ruined by angry Magyar Huns. But this State is immediately followed by a long line of successors. It is already the prototype of the Leviathanic form that will sweep liege-lords and manors from the field.
While their Empire falls to pieces, Frankish marauders nevertheless go on attacking Scandinavians, Slavs and Magyars.
The attacked continue to retort in kind, but they do something else besides. They form themselves, in very quick succession, into Moravian-style defensive Leviathans administered for their respective strongmen by bureaucrats trained by the Roman Church.
The Moravians' kin and neighbors launch a Bohemian Leviathan headed by Vaclav and Premysl.
Vikings follow with a Danish Leviathan headed by Gorm the Old and Harold Bluetooth.
Magyar Huns gather in a Hungarian Leviathan headed by Arpad.
Communities of free cultivators of fields, Polenyi in Slavic, become encased in a Piast Dynasty headed by Miezko.
The proliferation goes on and on. Europe's geography is being launched.
Frankish Catholics do not put an end to Viking or Magyar raids. Scandinavian rulers curb the Vikings. Hungarian rulers curb the Magyar raiders. Each of the indigenous Leviathans later called nation-states does to its human contents what neither Romans nor Franks could do to them: domesticates them.
But the forms of the domestication are neither Roman nor Frankish. The boundaries of these States are the limits beyond which liege-lords and manors cannot spread. Each of these Leviathans serves only its own ends. The only Empire to which they are loyal is their own. They can be turned to provinces of another empire only by being destroyed, since they were constituted as defenses against provincialization by Frankdom or Rome and this remains their central aim. They recognize the supremacy of the Pope only so long as the Papal See remains a supreme traing ground of bureaucrats whose first loyalty is to the national ruler, whose first devotion is to the cause of genocidal campaigns against other Catholic nation-states or even against the remains of Frankdom itself.
These nations are Catholic only so long as the Catholics are national. Later on, when bureaucrats will be trained at home and Rome's services are no longer needed, the depth of all the "conversions" will be exposed by overnight "reformations."
The Moravianization of Europe's frontiers, or rather the proliferation of Leviathans in the form of nation-states which encircle and shrink Frankdom's Rome, precludes the very possibility of rehabilitating an Empire of the West, whether Roman or other. The Pope's Roman dream will be revived only twice, and much later, by two megalomaniacs, but their Romes will be Paris and Berlin, neither of them will seek anointment from Pontifex Maximus, and neither will realize the dream. Charlemagne's Empire is not a beginning but an end.
* * *
Rome's scribes do not seek Frankdom's northern debacles as defeats, but they do recognize their Empire's southern adventures as less than victories.
Already in Charlemagne's own lifetime, the proud Franks deliberately seek the enmity of both of the Leviathans west of China. It is probably only their ignorance of the existence of the Far Eastern Leviathan that keeps the Franks from trying their swords and spears against that adversary as well.
The Franks try to subjugate Byzantium's last outpost in the West, commercial Venice, and they cross the Pyrenees to chase Spanish Muslims.
The Catholic Empire's antipathy to Venice comes to it from Frankish, Roman as well as Christian sources. The recently and incompletely Leviathanized Franks still consider trade to be something one does to one's enemies, and the ecclesiastical thought-molders among the Franks share old Rome's antipathy to any type of Octopus with freely-moving tentacles, be it Etruscan or Carthagian. The Roman antipathy is supplemented by the Book's description of Christ's treatment of the money-chargers.
Westerners consider trade demeaning to Christians. They call it sinful. The few eastern spices and cloths they use come to them from Jews, whos existence in the West is not publicly acknowledged; the invisible Jews are considered foreigners, even though the Jews have been in Gaul and Italy longer than Goths.
The Venetians are Christians and also heirs to the mercantile traditions of Adriatic Greeks. Ever since the reduction of their Byzantine metropolis by the armies of Islam, their own city has been turning into an independent octopus, or at least into a tentacle of the Islamic octopus.
The relation of Venice to Arabic mercantile centers in the Levant probably resembles the relation of ancient Greeks to Phoenicians.
The Venetians, like the Russian Vikings who find their way to the Levant from the Black Sea, are apprentices to the Muslims. They deliver timber to the once-forested Levant, as well as enslaved human beings who are not always "heathens." They take from the Levant luxuries, some of which originate in distant India and China.
The Venetians respond to the Frankish threat by taking to the sea, and the notoriously unseaworthy Knights cannot either subjugate or eliminate the Christian merchants.
The Franks stop molesting Venice only after the Byzantine metropolis recognizes the apparatus of the Frankish Knights as the Empire of the West, namely another Pyrrhic victory. The Byzantine recognition will not prolong Frankdom's existence by a day, whereas Venice will undermine all of Frankdom's principled antipathies.
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