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History Rewritten: Myths Busted & New Truths Uncovered

And Bonjour Prince Charlie was an over ambitious patriot who ruined his country.
Which country? Italy or France?
St Peter was not the first Pope and never went to Rome, claims Channel 4
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:05am GMT 23/03/2008

St Peter's journey to Rome led to the spread of Christianity in the West and the foundation of Roman Catholicism, so the Church has always taught.

But a new documentary will challenge the link as nothing more than a "conspiracy of faith". In it, prominent academics accuse the Vatican of misleading the world over the fate of the man regarded as Jesus Christ's closest disciple.

In allegations likely to spark controversy, they accuse the Church of fabricating a connection with the apostle to validate giving ultimate power to the papacy.

Catholicism has taught for centuries that Peter was martyred and buried in Rome and that all popes succeed him, but the documentary will challenge this by asserting that he never reached the Italian city.Instead, it will accuse the Church of ignoring the discovery of a tomb in Jerusalem that archaeologists believe contains the bones of Peter.

Leading theologians said that these views were an "attempt to smear Catholicism" and criticised Channel 4 for allowing such "outlandish" claims to be broadcast.

They expressed concern that they would appeal to people who are easily persuaded by conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene, as proposed in Dan Brown's best-seller The Da Vinci Code.

Dr Robert Beckford, a theology lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, who presents the documentary, denied that this was an attempt to attack the Catholic Church. "This is about looking at what the pillars of power are founded on and examining the scholarship that most Catholics take for granted," he said.

"We found that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that Peter was buried in Rome, but yet the rival theory has not got out because it challenges the Church.

"If you undermine its basis for power you undermine the Church. It's tragic that the faith gets reduced to manipulating the facts and to one Church trying to make itself superior to others."

As Christianity spread following the crucifixion of Jesus, it became important for the new churches to claim a link with the disciples and led the Catholic Church to establish a connection with St Peter.

Catholics believe the proof that Christ constituted St Peter head of His Church is found in the two Petrine texts, Matthew 16:17-19, and John 21:15-17. In Matthew, the office is solemnly promised to the apostle as Jesus addresses him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

Roman Catholicism holds that the Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome, is the sole successor to the "supremacy" or primacy of Peter and is thus the "Vicar of Christ" for the world.

It is traditionally believed that he was crucified in Rome and buried where the Basilica of St Peter was later built, beneath the high altar.

In 1939, the Vatican announced that the bones of Peter had been found in Rome during an archaeological dig. But the documentary casts doubt on this, questioning why the dig was carried out "in total secrecy", and led by a "personal friend" of the Pope.

"The Pope's authority over the world's one billion Roman Catholics derives from the belief that Peter died and was buried here almost 2,000 years ago," said Dr Beckford.

The documentary, The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples ­(Channel 4 today at 5.45pm), suggests it that is much more likely that St Peter was buried in an ossuary found in Jerusalem with the inscription Shimon Bar Jonah - Simon son of Jonah - the Hebrew name for Peter.

However, Gerald O'Collins, professor emeritus of Systematic Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, said that the documentary contradicted the "great weight" of tradition that accepted Peter had been martyred and buried in Rome. "This is awful stuff, total ­nonsense," he said. "This kind of outlandish garbage drives me nuts."

John Medlin, the general manager of the Latin Mass Society, said of the "intellectually-challenged" arguments: "They are on a par with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and are unsubstantiated. It shows undisguised disdain for the Catholic Church."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ome123.xml
The church has no way to disprove it so they just go
As an English and Theology student I must say I have not really heared of the Petrine tradition challenged in such a way - and I am highly sceptical that if proved correct it will have any major effect. Even if someone can prove St Peter wasn't actually in Rome then what does it matter, he was still the 'chosen apostle'. And also, if Peter wasn't in Rome then Christianitys next biggest star St Paul certainly was.

We found that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that Peter was buried in Rome, but yet the rival theory has not got out because it challenges the Church.

I fear that this is granting the Catholic Church too much power, if they couldn't stop the Da Vinci Code (which was a load of absolute bollocks) then I doubt they would be able to stop this theory which at least sounds plausable.

The Pope's authority over the world's one billion Roman Catholics derives from the belief that Peter died and was buried here almost 2,000 years ago," said Dr Beckford

Again, the authority comes from the Bible and what Jesus supposedly said, it has nothing to do with Rome as the city. Remember, the papacy was in Avigion for a considerable period - it didn't mean his spiritual authority was any less for not being in the city.

I think this is a storm in a tea-cup, perhaps even an upsurgence of an inherent anti-catholic undercurrent that still seems to be quite strong in this country.

I'm looking forward to this programme tonight. Having recently read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which is mostly set in the Vatican, I feel I know the place quite well! St Peter's tomb plays a part in the story too...
Act repeal could make Franz Herzog von Bayern new King of England and Scotland
By Richard Alleyne and Harry de Quetteville
Last Updated: 2:48am BST 07/04/2008

Gordon Brown is considering repealing the 1701 Act of Settlement as a way of healing a historic injustice by ending the prohibition against Catholics taking the throne.

But doing so would have the unforeseen consequence of making a 74-year-old German aristocrat the new King of England and Scotland.

Without the Act, Franz Herzog von Bayern, the current Duke of Bavaria, would be the rightful heir to the British Crown under the Stuart line.

The bachelor, who lives alone in the vast Nymphenberg Palace in Munich, is the blood descendant of the 17th-century King Charles I.

"If it [the Act] goes then the whole Catholic line is reinstated," said Prof Daniel Szechi, a lecturer in early modern history at the University of Manchester.

"Franz becomes the rightful claimant to the throne. We would just exchange one German family for another one."

The Act was introduced as part of the power struggle between Parliament, the Christian churches and the monarchy, then dominated by the House of Stuart.

It prohibits any Roman Catholic from having access to the throne, even through marriage. Once a person marries a "Papist" they shall be "for ever incapable to inherit, possess or enjoy the Crown", it asserts.

The legislation effectively severed the Stuart line of succession, a family who favoured Catholicism, and switched it to their distant relatives the Hanoverians, from which our current Queen descends. James II, the son of King Charles, fled into exile.

The Stuarts stopped making claims to the Crown after the death of Henry Benedict Stuart (known to the Jacobites as Henry IX) in 1807, but there remains bitter feeling among many Catholics at their treatment.

The Royal Stuart Society still holds annual vigils at the bronze statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square.

The Act of Settlement's reach continues today. Prince Michael of Kent renounced his claim to the throne when he married Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, a Catholic divorcee, in 1978.

Next month Peter Phillips, 30, the eldest grandson of the Queen and 11th in line to the throne, will automatically lose his birthright by marrying Autumn Kelly, a Canadian Catholic.

The Act has recently come under attack from Church leaders and MPs, in particular Scottish MPs, as an unjustifiable discrimination.

In the face of this new pressure, the Prime Minister indicated he would consider abolishing the legislation as it was "antiquated" and discriminatory.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, whose brief includes constitutional affairs, said the Government was ready to consider repealing the Act, although he added that it was an extremely complicated issue.

Dr Eveline Cruikshanks, the author of The Glorious Revolution and a former president of the Royal Stuart Society, said: "They ought to repeal the Act. The language is particularly offensive to Catholics and should go."

Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, the editor of Cracroft's Peerage, said that while theoretically the Duke's claim was good, it could never be actioned because Parliament now effectively chose the monarch.

"It is a very interesting hypothesis and theoretically he is the head of the House of Stuart," he said. "But the Government effectively chooses the monarch now and it is highly unlikely to remove the Windsors from the throne."

As for the Duke of Bavaria himself, he is a reluctant heir.

The graduate in economics, who values his privacy, has always laughed off pretensions to the British crown and prefers to concentrate on his modern art collection.

Baron Marcus Bechtolsheim, the president of the administration of the Duke of Bavaria, said: "The Duke generally does not comment on this issue because he sees it as an entirely British question which does not concern him. And he regards it as a purely hypothetical issue.

"Even if this change in Britain happens, it won't change his attitude. All this interest in his opinion makes him smile because, really, he is very happy and satisfied with being the Duke of Bavaria."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... ing107.xml
I don't blame him!

Duke of Bavaria for me every time. I bet he's got a cool Schloss.
Recent history, but history nonetheless:

Elvis friends dispute London trip
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Two of Elvis Presley's close friends have disputed claims that the rock icon made a secret visit to London.

Lamar Fike and Marty Lacker, two of Presley's inner circle nicknamed the "Memphis Mafia", insist he never travelled to England.

Veteran rock star Tommy Steele recently acknowledged a story that he took Presley on a secret tour of London.

"My apologies to Tommy, but it did not happen," said Mr Fike, who was in the US army with Presley in Germany.

"I was with him the whole time," he told the BBC News website. "I got there two days after he got there. He was confined to base."

Presley did visit Paris and Munich during his 18 months in Germany, Mr Fike said, but added: "Had he gone to England, I'd have been there."

Theatre producer Bill Kenwright recently told a BBC radio show that Presley flew into London for a day "when he was in the forces" and Steele showed him landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament.

'Shared thrill'

In a note to the Daily Mail newspaper, Steele said he "swore never to divulge publicly" what took place and "regrets" that news leaked out.

"I can only hope he [Presley] can forgive me," he said. "It was an event shared by two young men sharing the same love of their music and the same thrill of achieving something unimaginable."

Presley joined the US Army in March 1958, and was stationed in Friedberg, Germany, from October 1958.

His only confirmed visit to the UK was to Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow, where his aeroplane stopped to refuel on his way back to the US in 1960...

Full story here (more background, really):

But why would Tommy Steele lie? Why would anyone make this up? Paul Merton doesn't believe him, anyway.
I'm afraid it's vague but I remember an explanation for Elvis never coming to the UK. It had something to do with Col. Tom Parker being paranoid about him (Parker) being arrested in Britain so he persuaded Elvis that Elvis couldn't go to Britain, and Elvis swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Why would Tommy Steele lie?

While not saying he has lied, wouldn't it be cool to say "Yeah, I met Elvis. Secretly he came to London with me and we did the town!" without any evidence?
But Steele only reluctantly made the claim once the story had been "leaked" by Bill Kenwright, so it's not as if he was shouting from the rooftops about his Elvis adventure.

Maybe the London tourist board are behind it?
Uh-huh! Thankeweverymuchfriends!*

*Entirely unconvincing Elvis impersonation*
Forgeries revealed in the National Archives
David Leppard

IT began with a letter uncovered nine years ago addressed by a duke to “Dear Mr Hitler”. One of the most extraordinary academic detective stories of modern times ended yesterday when the National Archives, the official custodian of Britain’s history, admitted that it had been the victim of a master forger.

The public records office, which holds the written record of the British state going back 800 years, said its reputation had been compromised by the discovery that 29 documents from 12 separate files were all forgeries inserted into its records.

The forged documents all relate to alleged British perfidy in the second world war. The archive says the papers had supported sensational allegations by Martin Allen, a self-styled “eminent” historian, in three recent books. These include claims that the Duke of Windsor was a traitor and that British agents had murdered Hitler’s SS boss, Hein-rich Himmler, on Winston Churchill’s orders.

The archive also released witness statements given by senior officials to the police. In one of them, Louise Atherton, an archivist, is particularly critical of Allen, saying he “relied heavily” on forged files and accusing him of “significant” exaggeration and inaccurate quotation in his use of the contents of genuine ones.

Allen was unavailable yesterday. One of his former literary agents, Robert Smith, said that Allen had previously denied any involvement in the forgeries.

Suspicions about the authenticity of documents used by Allen were raised by The Sunday Times eight years ago in relation to his book Hidden Agenda: How the Duke of Windsor Betrayed the Allies.

It accused the Queen’s uncle of helping the Germans to conquer France and defeat the British army in the early stages of the second world war.

Allen’s scoop was based largely on what he said was a handwritten letter from the duke to Adolf Hitler dated November 1939. It begins, “Dear Mr Hitler”, and is signed, “EP”, for Edward Prince, an abbreviation the duke occasionally used.

The letter makes veiled references to a tour of the French frontline defences that the duke had just made. It asks Hitler to pay close attention to information the man bringing the letter to him has memorised.

The courier was a German spy, and Allen argues that through him the duke gave Hitler top-secret strategic information that enabled the Germans to attack France at the weakest points in its defences. France fell in six weeks and the British forces were routed.

The letter appears to suggest that the duke, who abdicated in 1936, was willing to resume the throne once Britain had been bullied into a peace settlement.

The Sunday Times commissioned experts to examine the document. Robert Radley, a forensic documents examiner, found “many discrepancies” that made him “highly suspicious”.

Leslie Dicks, another expert, concluded that the letter was “most probably a forgery”.

A paper analyst, Leslie Bowyer, found evidence the letter had been written on a blank page from an old book, a classic forger’s trick. This and other evidence, Bowyer said, “all combine to suggest that this letter is a forgery and probably done relatively recently”.

When challenged to explain these findings, Allen insisted the letter was genuine. He said it had been given to his late father, also a writer on the Nazi era, by Albert Speer, Hitler’s former munitions minister. He said he had found it in his attic.

The Sunday Times declined to serialise the book but it was published and The Observer newspaper nominated Hidden Agenda for book of the year.

There the matter might have lain as an unresolved mystery but in 2003 Allen published The Hitler/Hess Deception, which argued that the flight of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, in 1941 was part of a plot to oust Churchill. Once again Allen was challenging the standard version of events, and using documents to prove his thesis.

His next book, Himmler’s Secret War, published two years later, reinforced the forgery concerns. It cited documents from the National Archives that purported to show that British agents acting on Churchill’s orders murdered Himmler, the head of the SS, in 1945 in order to cover up British peace feelers towards him. This contradicted accepted accounts that Himmler had killed himself.

Alarm bells soon rang. Letter-heads on the correspondence supposedly written in 1945 had been created on a high-resolution laser printer. Signatures were found to be written over pencil tracings. Handwriting of different officials was suspiciously similar. Diplomatic titles and key dates were wrong.

Once more Allen denied culpability. He told The Sunday Times: “I think I have been set up. But I do not even know by whom. I am devastated.”

The National Archives conducted an investigation which confirmed that five documents used in the book had been forged. The inquiry also discovered more forged documents, cited in The Hitler/Hess Deception and in Hidden Agenda. Once 17 documents had been identified as likely forgeries, Scot-land Yard was called in. Allen was interviewed by police. Again he denied forgery.

Last year Mike O’Brien, then solicitor-general, said in a parliamentary answer the Crown Prosecution Service had decided there was enough evidence against Allen “to provide a realistic prospect of conviction”. The CPS had decided, however, it was not in the public interest to proceed. He said Allen’s “health and the surrounding circumstances” had contributed to the decision. There was no further explanation.

That decision has upset some leading historians. Sir Max Hastings, an expert on the second world war, said: “It is hard to imagine actions more damaging to the cause of preserving the nation’s heritage than wilfully forging documents designed to alter our historical record.”

John Fox, a historian specialising in Nazi Germany, said the National Archives’ statement casts doubt on the veracity of documents in other collections.

“How on earth were these documents slipped in? This is something that the National Archives has to answer. Whoever got these documents in must have done it in a very clever, sneaky way, so you can’t entirely blame the security. But maybe there are questions with the security.”

The National Archives said yesterday that new security procedures had been put in place.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 867853.ece
Bloody interesting. The finger looks to be pointing firmly at the author, who is, afterall, one of the few (identifiable) people with something to gain from a revision of popular history. He also, of course, had access to the archives and - if some archives are any indicator - a little freedom and space to make the additions once the staff have you down as a pro who isn't going to lose or destroy anything.

I may be letting my imagination run away with me, but it's always possible that he himself may be working to someone else's plan. He gets the proceeds from the book; someone else has a few more bricks to re-enforce an alternative view of history.

The Duke of Windsor compromising French military defences to ensure a swift German victory is certainly of interest to certain republicans and/or French nationalists...

The Hess tales are less interesting to me inasmuch as the area has always been slightly cloudy to historians. These new theories would have just muddied already dirty waters further. The windor tale could have been incendiary (in its historical importance) if publicised widely enough.
“Dear Mr Hitler”??? I think it's pretty unlikely that someone who was Hitler's personal guest at Berchtesgaden and spoke German fluently, as what he called his "Mutter Sprache" , is going to start a missive like that.
Kinda reminds one of Dad''s Army, doesn't it?
What is worrying is the fact that these papers had been insinuated into the very heart of the National Archive. If it wasn't for the sharpness of a researcher and the lazy incompetence of the forger, the rememberance of the past might have been permanently altered.

More from the Guardian.

The 29 fakes behind a rewriting of history

· National Archives 'Amateurish' false records planted over five years
· Patrols and spy cameras at public reading rooms

Paul Lewis. The Guardian, May 5 2008

They were the secret intelligence files that turned second world war history on its head with "revelations" of British collaboration with the Nazis.

British agents used the royal family to deceive the Nazis into expecting a pro-German putsch. The Duke of Windsor leaked secrets to help Hitler. And, most sensationally of all, SS chief Heinrich Himmler was murdered by secret agents on Winston Churchill's orders.

The elaborate claims, contained in three separate books by the historian Martin Allen and based on previously unseen documents, read like the stuff of spy fiction. As it turned out, they were.

Details of an investigation by the National Archives into how forged documents came to be planted in their files have uncovered the full extent of deception. Officials discovered 29 faked documents, planted in 12 separate files at some point between 2000 and 2005, which were used to underpin Allen's allegations.

Police interviewed Allen, who is believed to be the only person to check out all the files that contained the forged documents. After a 13-month police investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute, in part because of Allen's deteriorating health. Allen has repeatedly refused to comment but has previously denied involvement in the forgeries.

Documents from the investigation, including internal correspondence, witness statements to police and forensic science evidence, were posted on the National Archives website over the weekend.

Officials believe this is the most serious case of fraud of its kind anywhere in the world. They have overhauled security at the archives, the official record of 900 years of British government from the Domesday Book on, based in Kew, south-west London.

Public reading rooms are now subject to regular patrols and three months ago security cameras were installed to keep an eye on readers. "This is a one-off case, both nationally and internationally," said a spokesperson. "The papers we've released show how seriously we took the situation."

The investigation found an almost amateurish level of forgery: telegrams and memos contained factual inaccuracies; letterheads had been added using a laser printer; forged signatures were pencilled beneath the ink; and the text of the 29 documents - occasionally in conspicuously modern language - was typed on just four typewriters. All the documents were used to support Allen's claims.

In his 2002 book, Hidden Agenda, he suggested the Duke of Windsor helped the Germans to conquer France by slipping secrets to the Nazis via a German spy who acted as intermediary. The claim relied on five bogus documents, including a letter purported to be from the Duke to Adolf Hitler in 1939.

The next year more bogus documents were used to support Allen's claims, in The Hitler/Hess Deception, about the motives behind the escape of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, to Scotland in 1941.

His final book, two years later, Himmler's Secret War, claimed that Himmler did not, as was widely believed, commit suicide after his capture, but was murdered by intelligence agents on the orders of Churchill. Included in Allen's evidence was one forged letter purporting to be written by John Wheeler-Bennett, a Foreign Office official, in which he says he has been "giving some serious thought to the little H [Himmler] situation".

To avoid Himmler giving evidence, or supplying information to American intelligence, Wheeler-Bennett supposedly concluded: "Steps will therefore have to be taken to eliminate him as soon as he falls into our hands."

In 2005, when the National Archives investigation found 17 documents were fakes, officials called in police .

A witness statement from one archivist, Louise Atheron, finds that even where Allen uses citations from National Archives documents that were genuine, he was guilty of "significant exaggerations" and "very fluid evidence" to stand up dubious claims.

"The National Archives views anything that compromises the integrity of historical information very seriously," said David Thomas, the archives' chief information officer.
Stormkhan said:
I'm afraid it's vague but I remember an explanation for Elvis never coming to the UK. It had something to do with Col. Tom Parker being paranoid about him (Parker) being arrested in Britain so he persuaded Elvis that Elvis couldn't go to Britain, and Elvis swallowed it hook, line and sinker...

I've got a dim recollection that I've read somewhere that Parker's problem was that he was an illegal immigrant and might not be able to get back into the US if he ever left.

gncxx said:
But why would Tommy Steele lie?

After a varied career I now work in construction, but the majority of my work is based in the entertainment industry - scenery, exhibitions, film sets, that kind of nonsense - and I can tell you, from personal experience, that one reason Tommy Steele might lie is because he is an arsehole of monumental proportions. Sorry if that shatters any illusions, but by christ he is. (actually, that's probably not a good enough reason to claim he's bullshitting - but better out than in. The man brings me out in a rash).
And now for something completely different

Vikings: from ram-raiders to fishmongers :D
Maev Kennedy The Guardian, Monday May 5 2008

Archaeologists and scientists have revealed that 1,000 years ago cod was traded extraordinary distances across Europe, from the Norwegian Arctic to England and the Baltic.

The research may force yet another revision of the image of the Vikings, from longship ram-raiders, to mainly traders and colonising farmers, to the fishmongers of Europe. Vikings in York were eating cod caught off the Norwegian coast.

Scientists have perfected a technique of analysing cod bones which was originally developed to track modern fish stocks. It analyses collagen, which carries chemical traces of the water the fish originally swam in. Applied to bones from archaeological sites, it is beginning to show a picture of fish transported remarkable distances from AD950 on, when the quantity of bones shows a huge rise in consumption.

The team, led by archaeologists at Cambridge University, say that when fish were chopped up for processing, matching the results from fish bones and heads shows that in some cases they are separated by thousands of miles.

The research, reported in this month's Journal of Archaeological Science, also shows the 1,000-year-old origins of the modern problem of declining fish stocks, as fishing grounds had to supply far more than a local market. The emergence of commercial fishing "may represent the point at which people started to have an impact on marine ecoystems," said James Barrett, of Cambridge University's archaeology department.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/ ... y.heritage
Old leaf could be world's first photograph
Simon de Bruxelles

The ochre-coloured image of a leaf printed on light-sensitive paper may be the world’s first photograph, dating back more than 200 years, experts claimed yesterday.

The image had been attributed to William Henry Fox Talbot, the father of modern photography, but may actually have been created 30 years before he achieved his world-changing breakthrough in 1835.

The image had been expected to fetch £50,000 to £70,000 at auction in New York, but has now been withdrawn from the sale by Sotheby’s for further investigation. If it is confirmed as the world’s earliest photograph, Sotheby’s say that “the sky’s the limit” as far as value is concerned.

The image, correctly known as a photogenic drawing, was created by laying a leaf on a sheet of light-sensi-tive paper, then exposing it to the Sun. The result is a detailed lifesize image in which every vein of the leaf can be seen.

The photograph was last sold at Sotheby’s in 1984 when it was attributed to Fox Talbot, who lived at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire and was the first person to create a photographic negative that could be reproduced. His early experiments also included photogenic drawings as he investigated ways to “fix” the image on light-sensitive paper and prevent it continuing to darken so much that it could not be seen.

The leaf was originally contained in an album belonging to Sir Henry Bright, a 19th-century Bristol MP and patron of the arts and sciences.

When the image came up for sale again Sotheby’s asked Larry Schaaf, an authority on Fox Talbot, to inspect it. He has now said it is not the work of Fox Talbot and may be even older.

Dr Schaaf believes a tantalising initial “W” means it may be the work of Thomas Wedgwood, the son of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the china dynasty.

Wedgwood experimented with photography in the 1790s while living in Bristol but none of his work was thought to have survived. Although he managed to make images using light-sensitive paper, the secret of fixing the image was believed to have eluded him.

If Dr Schaaf is correct the history of photography will have to be rewritten. He said: “I got back to them and said, ‘Well, the first thing I would say is that this was not made by Talbot’. That was not what they were expecting to hear, to say the least.

“This image of a leaf is extraordinary. It arrests our attention as much today as it had done for at least a century and a half, and just possibly for more than two centuries. Someone could obviously come along and say that these images are all in fact Talbots, but they would be wrong.”

Denise Bethel, the photographic expert at Sotheby’s in New York, said: ”The possibility of a definitive conclusion regarding this early photogenic drawing is very exciting.

“We were expecting £50,000 to £70,000 for it. If it could be authenticated as the world’s oldest photograph, the sky could be the limit.”

Sotheby’s was auctioning the leaf picture as part of the Quillan collection, a collection of exhibits from the earliest days of photography to the present. It was already expected to fetch more than some of the best-known images in the collection, such as Richard Avedon’s 1957 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, estimated at £35,000 to £50,000.

If the leaf is confirmed as the world’s earliest photograph it will open up new research. Four other images from the same album sold in 1984 also bear the initial “W”. Two are now privately owned, one is in the J. Paul Getty Museum and one is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Both museums are also planning a number of further tests to determine the age of the paper and to identify the chemical make-up of any substances used on it.


— Thomas Wedgwood was born in Staffordshire, in 1771, the son of the potter Josiah Wedgwood

— While his father experimented with chemicals to create glazes and colours for ceramics, Thomas explored their uses for fixing an image photographically

— His experiments began in 1795, using light-sensitive materials to capture images on glass

— An account was published in 1802

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 882776.ece
Another photo story...

How iconic photo of Russians raising flag over burning Berlin was airbrushed to save soldier from Stalin's rage
Last updated at 01:30am on 8th May 2008

The photograph of Russian troops hoisting the red flag over burning Berlin is recognised as one of the most famous wartime images.

Sixty three years after the photograph was taken, a new exhibition in Germany reveals the image was doctored to protect the soldier from the wrath of Joseph Stalin.

Despite having no problem with his Red Army troops raping German women, Stalin took exception to looting and warned any soldiers caught doing so would face execution.

Stalin's no-looting rule created a problem for the soldier raising the flag on the roof of the Reichstag building - because he was clearly wearing two watches in the photo.

Photographer Yevgeny Khaldei, who captured the image on May 2, 1945, noticed the watches on the soldier's arm shortly before he was due to send the images back to the Kremlin for official approval.

When the Red Army took the city an enduring memory for survivors in those days was of Russian troops demanding "Uri, Uri!" - watches, watches! They were rare in the Soviet Union and regarded as great trophies to acquire.

Khaldei knew the fate likely to befall the soldier if Stalin noticed the watch, he scratched out the timepiece on the soldier's right wrist.

There were other alterations too; the flag was manipulated to make it swell in a non-existent wind and smoke was added to the burning skyline.

Khaldei saw no problem with the manipulation of the photograph. He believed in the propaganda cause and thought the picture was "good and historically worthy".

The exhibition of his and other Soviet war photographers' work will open at the Martin Gropius Bau building in Berlin on Thursday.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/a ... ge_id=1811

Click link for before and after pics.
It just goes to show that anything pre photoshop can just as well be a fraud too :shock: :(
Red Baron flies into film storm
By Bojan Pancevski In Vienna
Last Updated: 12:58AM BST 11/05/2008

The Chivalrous image of the German First World War flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, is shattered by a biography soon to be published in Britain.

The Whole Truth, by Joachim Castan, suggests that rather than giving his enemies a sporting chance, the fighter pilot was a cold-blooded killing machine.

The claim comes just weeks after the release in Germany of Der Rote Baron, a £14 million blockbuster film starring Matthias Schweighofer as the pilot who downed 80 British and other Allied pilots.

The film has proved an unprecedented hit in a country where war heroes have largely gone uncelebrated since the end of Nazism, but only by playing up to long-held perceptions of von Richthofen as a man of conscience, who would allow crippled opponents to crash-land rather than finishing them off in midair.

The film, to be launched in Britain this summer, has been lauded for helping to soften Germany's entrenched opposition towards all things military, at a time when the country is under strong international pressure to allow its armed forces to play a more robust role in Afghanistan.

But Mr Castan has described von Richthofen's screen portrayal as a "work of fiction", designed to make the glorification of a war hero palatable to modern Germans.

Mr Castan, 41, who holds two doctorates in modern history and is also a documentary film-maker, told the Telegraph: "The only way the film could honour the glory of a German war hero was to depict him as a near pacifist who loathed violence and bloodshed, a warrior of knightly virtue.

"The truth is von Richthofen wanted to kill and destroy the enemy, which is what he did in cold blood and with formidable precision.

"He was an efficient killing machine, a product of a strict Prussian upbringing that did not allow for too much compassion."

In the biography, Mr Castan reveals previously unknown personal documents that sharply contradict the chivalrous character in the film, who in one scene remarks: "Our task is to bring down aeroplanes, not men. We are sportsmen, not butchers."

Such comments went down well among senior German army officers, who have spoken recently of the need to find new military role models untainted by the stigma of Nazism.

But Mr Castan, who was given access to the von Richthofen family archive, says the real Red Baron, in private notes, remarked: "I never get into an aircraft for fun. I aim first for the head of the pilot, or rather at the head of the observer, if there is one."

Mr Castan said: "The myth about the Red Baron served well to create the wider myth of the battle of the skies being a matter of gentlemanly competition. But it was every bit as bloody, ruthless and inhumane as the butchery in the trenches."

Baron von Richthofen, who got his nickname because his three-winged Fokker aircraft was red, was born in 1892 to a Prussian noble family. He was game-hunting from the age of 11, developing the sharpshooting skills that served him well during his career as a pilot in 1915, which saw him became the most successful flying ace of his time.

Mr Castan's book, now being translated into English, claims: "He swapped deer for Englishmen, animals for enemies, and he was equally as efficient in taking down Allied aircraft as he was in hunting down and killing game."

The Red Baron died in action in 1918 at the age of 25, near the Somme.

The "kill" is officially credited to Roy Brown, a Canadian pilot played in the new film by Joseph Fiennes, but modern research suggests that he may in fact have been hit by anti-aircraft fire.

Much of von Richthofen's reputation as a gentleman combatant stems from his famous decision to abandon a dogfight with a British pilot when he saw that his opponent's gun had jammed.

Rather than finishing the Briton off, he forced him to land and then disembarked from his own aircraft and shook hands with him.

However, Mr Castan said the incident – while true – was the exception rather than the rule.

Mr Castan's claims have drawn criticism both at home in Germany and abroad, much of it from British and American Red Baron enthusiasts, who cherish the notion that the battle for the skies in the Great War was a kind of dignified blood sport when compared with the carnage on the battlefields of Europe.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... storm.html
Mr Castan, 41, who holds two doctorates in modern history and is also a documentary film-maker, told the Telegraph

I hate the sound of him already. Most people take a doctorate and then study what they wish afterwards. Submitting a thesis for a second doctorate is showboating of the highest degree. What's the point?

(Unless one or both are honorary).
Also, if he was 'cold-blooded' and 'ruthless' why would he EVER choose to end the fight, land the plane and shake hands with the guy?

Surely he doesn't expect us to believe that he would be so 'inhumane' throughout an entire war and then go "oh you know what? I don't think i'll do it like that anymore" and be a sweetheart for a day.

AND Just coz the journal says he aimed for the head doesn't make him ruthless. If I was a fighter pilot and I had the choice of getting shot in the head, or hitting the ground in a blaze of body parts and exploding ammunition, I'd choose the former. Although that last death does sound pretty gung-ho and glorious. *cue Bon Jovi*
The quotes sound like a professional soldier to me. All of them. When you're in the field, you're there to defeat the enemy. The number of times you can defeat them without killing them is perishingly small (and the jammed gun in a solo fight is one of them, hence the difference in treatment).

Either you accept the soldier's duty as valid and war as an acceptable means of dispute settlement, or you don't. If you do, you pretty much have to accept that soldiers commit horrible acts which, in a different context, would make them serial killers, and whatever they have to do to accomplish this is their duty. If you don't, you can't single out one successful soldier as worse or better, morally, than his fellows - they're all culpable, though not as culpable as the governments which manipulate them into the behavior.

You can't have it both ways.

The movie probably does glorify war. Most war movies do! Villifying an individual soldier for subscribing to the values he was raised in isn't really any healthier and doesn't address the core problems, which are endlessly complex and hard do discuss reasonably because people stop listening to each other almost immediately.

I don't want Germany to be more involved militarily in Afghanistan. I don't want American to be as militarily involved as we are. But what I really don't want is for military decisions of any kind, at any level, to be based on propaganda rather than realistic assessments of the situation - political, practical, economic, and ethical.

Alas, that has never happened in my lifetime.
I second that. Exactly the point I was trying to make but made much more elequently. And it made sense.

Cheers :D
It's probably worth pointing out that Castan appears to be simply pointing out that there is a difference between myth and reality - a not unusual circumstance when discussing historical characters. I can't see anything in the article that implies Richtofen was 'wrong' to behave the way he did - simply that the post-war romanticisation is inaccurate. He doesn't necessarily contradict anything in PG's post, which actually might be more appropriately addressed to the "British and American Red Baron enthusiasts, who cherish the notion that the battle for the skies in the Great War was a kind of dignified blood sport when compared with the carnage on the battlefields of Europe."
I read recently that the Red Baron was shot down whilst chasing a plane he had erm, "winged", which led him to stray over the Allied lines.

An Australian with a Lewis gun apparently "popped a cap in his ass" from the trenches.
There wasn't any real need for him to chase the crippled plane, he just got carried away.
Maybe he previously had let damaged opponents crash rather than finish them off precisely for the reason he got killed - it was very easy to bring these lightweight aircraft down with pretty much any ground based gun/rifle/machine gun.

I can't stand the way that whenever films are made concerning "war heroes" (meaning warriors with long track records, not participants in individual acts of heroism), especially Germans, they are portrayed as being reluctant participants, super-chivalrous, not at all subscribing to the warmongering of their leaders.
To excel like they did, they would have to check their conscience in at the door, lest they hesitate at critical moments. You don't become a "great" war hero by being fair and even-handed, you get there through ruthless tenacity.
Rather than dress them up as being "just like us really, but unfortunately on the other side", show them in their real light, even if it makes them less dashing in folklore, less appealing to us civilised people in the sanitised 21st century.

Let's face it, the Prussians have always been war-like, ruthless and efficient, it's exactly where the stereotype originated. Looking for "military rolemodels untainted by Nazism" misses the point, Prussian ruthlessness contributed to the Nazi successes. The Nazi regime gave those military figures room to exploit their talents, it let them off the leash, it didn't corrupt them.
Regardless of which flag they gather under, they have shown time and time again that they have a great talent for war.