The debate among historians of the Middle Ages over the years 600–900 CE has come to a boil with the Phantom Time Hypothesis (PTH), a chronological theory that contends that the 300-year period was created by Holy Roman Emperor Otto III.
The PTH theorists, led by German historian Heribert Illig, believe that Emperor Otto engaged his theologians to "gild" literature of the time to reflect the virtues of almost three hundred years which really didn't exist. As proof, Illig cites the reign of Charlemagne, an impossibly-brilliant monarch, and his Aachen Palatine Chapel. The chapel includes architectural anomalies for which there are no precedents. “Carolingian buildings do not fit into the history of the arts as it is taught today.” Taking the Palatine Chapel out of the Carolingian Renaissance removes the ‘ecclesiastical heart’ from the Frankish Empire. “With the loss of this dome alone,” says Illig, “the tradition of Charlemagne’s giant empire crumbles to dust.”