Historical Forgeriesby Rit Nosotro
What other forgeries have influenced the course of history as much as the “Donation of Constantine” which the Papacy used to claim the Western Roman Empire?
Ever since the fall of man, forgery has played a significant role in the history of the world. Although God told His people, “Do not deceive one another,” (Lev. 19:11,) mankind persists in violating this command, seeking to take advantage of one another through trickery. Forgery, or the act of creating false documents or other such items, is a particularly subtle, yet powerful form of deception. While one may detect a spoken lie quite easily, one may tend to have less suspicion towards apparent written or physical evidence. The more clever the forgery, the more impact it has, and a few notable forgeries have had a colossal effect on the events of the world.
One of the more influential forgeries of the world, referred to as the “Donation of Constantine,” came to light around the 8th century A.D. This document was an alleged proclamation made by the Roman Emperor Constantine, supposedly made in 324 A.D. In this document, Constantine demonstrated his gratitude for being baptized by the Bishop of Rome, Sylvester, by granting him and his successors the status of “universal pope,” as well as “the city of Rome and all the provinces, districts and cities of Italy or of the western regions.” The “discovery” of this document helped firmly establish the control of the Pope over Rome and all of the Churches of Western Europe.
But in 1440, a scholar named Lorenzo Valla questioned the authenticity of the document. For example, Constantine was not baptized by Bishop Sylvester of Rome, but by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. Another glaring mistake in the document was the fact that it quoted from St. Jerome’s translation of the Bible, despite the fact that Jerome was born twenty-six years after the alleged date of the Donation of Constantine. Although the Catholic Church has now admitted to the falseness of this document, its forgery gave the Church great power for centuries. Clearly, the forging of the Donation of Constantine, quite opposite to the commands of God, deliberately deceived many to believe in the authority of the Church of Rome for a great part of the Middle Ages. This forgery had an enormously negative impact on world history as it provided the Church of Rome the corrupting power over both church and state.
Another more significant forgery took place much more recently, during the
Second World War. The idea for this forgery began in 1942, when the Allied Forces
were seeking to begin their invasion of Mediterranean, beginning with the invasion
of the island of Sicily. Unfortunately, given the strategic position of Sicily,
it would seem the most logical of places for Allies to defend, and would therefore
be heavily defended by the German and Italian troops. In order to lower enemy
defenses in Sicily, the British Naval Intelligence decided to misinform the
Axis powers by creating fake documents about the planned invasion. In order
to ensure these documents would fall into enemy hands, a clever plan was concocted,
codenamed “Operation Mincemeat.” They took the corpse of man who
had died of natural causes, gave it the fake identity of “Major William
Martin,” and, on April 30, 1942, set it afloat off of the coast of Spain
with a suitcase attached to it. In the suitcase were “letters” containing
information that would lead German Intelligence officers to believe that the
Allies would strike at the island of Sardinia instead of Sicily. As planned,
the contents of the suitcase fell into the hands of the Germans. And sure enough,
the German officials believed the veracity of the forged letters, and Hitler
ordered the shifting of Axis forces so that Sardinia would be protected from
the Allied invasion. On July 9, 1943, Allied Forces under American General
Patton and British General Montgomery invaded Sicily, completely taking the Axis by surprise. The island was soon captured, and the Allies began to gain a significant foothold in the Mediterranean.
While the forgery of the letters of “Major Martin” definitely did involve deception, this particular instance of forgery does not bear much comparison to the Donation of Constantine. After all, such ploys and deceptions occur frequently during wars, and one cannot fault the Allies for using every tactic possible, such as the enormous WWII dummy army of “Operation Fortitude”, to win the war. Nevertheless, these letters serve as another example of the power of forgeries to influence world events.
More on the level of the Donation of Constantine was another forgery, this time of a very different kind. Instead of the mere forgery of documents, this particular example was a forgery of physical evidence. In 1912, scientists hailed the discovery of the “Piltdown Man” specimen, an ancient-looking skull with both human and ape-like characteristics. Charles Dawson, a British lawyer and amateur geologist, claimed the skull had been discovered in a pit, and cited the human-like skull and the ape-like jaw as irrefutable evidence that man evolved from apes. Piltdown Man became a kind of trophy, displayed as the “missing link” between man and ape. However, when the skull was re-examined by Dr. Kenneth Oakley in 1953, Piltdown Man turned out to be nothing more than a forgery, and a rather crudely made forgery at that. Someone had merely combined a human skull and orangutan jaw and boiled it in some sort of chemical to make it look older. Exactly who perpetrated this forgery has never been discovered, especially since Dawson and other proponents of Piltdown Man died years before Oakley discovered the falsity of the specimen. Regardless of this, Piltdown Man appeared in biology textbooks for decades helping to decieve a generation of young scientists. Even though Piltdown has now been universally acknowledged as a fraud, there is no shortage of artistic renditions of a family of "missing links" presented as fact even when based on a mere pig's tooth such as was Nebraska Man from 1922-1927.
Of the three major forgeries listed, this one has had perhaps the biggest, most negative impact of all. The forgers of Piltdown Man apparently did not intend to gain anything in wealth or power; they intended to change popular sentiment about the theory of evolution to their favor. And to a great extent, they did, for even after Piltdown Man was exposed, many people had already learned to believe in evolution and in other so-called “missing links.” Because of this forgery, evolution has become the most accepted concept of man’s origin, in direct opposition to the gospel. Macro-evolution is an attractive delusion for anyone who refuses the alternative of the Creator God and his Son Jesus Christ who said, "I am the Truth". "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible..." (Colossions 1:16).
The Apostle Paul gives an interesting theology of deception in Christianity. Apparently, Satan "the father of lies" will empower the "lawless one" to show "pretended signs and wonders" which will decieve those who "refused to love the truth". God will "make them believe what is false" by sending a "strong delusion" and they will be justly condemned. Here is the passage from 2 Thessolonians 2:3-12
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. ... [verse 9] The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Forgeries have had a great deal of postitve or negative influence on the history of the world. However, the most powerful deception is self-deception. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools... they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:22, 25). On the other hand, Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; Ye shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you FREE" - (John 8:31-32).
1. (Author not given,) “Donation of Constantine,” http://jmgainor.homestead.com/files/PU/PF/doco.htm
2. Mayer, W., “Donation of Constantine Forgery,” http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/donation_of_const.htm
3. (Author Not Given,) “The Man Who Never Was,” http://www.physics.smu.edu/~pseudo/hoax4.htm
4. Martin, Robert W., “Operation Mincemeat: How a Corpse Saved Thousands of Lives in World War II,” Military History, http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/navalwarfare/a/mincemeat_2.htm
5. Howard, Phillip, “History is Lies-Ask the Piltdown Man,” New York Times, March 1974
6. White, Dr. A.J. Monty, “The Piltdown Man Fraud,” http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2003/1124piltdown.asp
7. (Author Not Given) Evolution Deceit, http://www.evolutiondeceit.com/sitemap.php
Additional information about <http://hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw05forgeries.htm>
The above essay was donated to hyperhistory.net.
of inaccuracies or plagiarism.
Post a link to this essay,
a great essay
on your blog or website :
|Comparative Essays||Biographies||Doc. Based Questions||Change Over Time|