On hearing the word ‘revisionism,’ suspicion lurks in the mind of some, and alarms sound in the mind of others. Suspicion is the elder sister of twins, credulity and incredulity. And of all kinds of credulity, the most obstinate and wonderful is that of zealots; of men who resign the use of their eyes and ears, and resolve to believe nothing that does not favor those whom they profess to follow.
Hence the law of truth, which most would accept in principle, is broken without penalty, without censure, and in compliance with inveterate prejudice and prevailing passions. Men are willing to credit what they wish, and encourage rather those who gratify them with pleasure, than those who provide them with fidelity, (or at least try to.)
Still, revisionism implies nothing else but an effort to seek historical truth and to discredit myths that are a barrier to peace and general goodwill among nations. There is nothing upon which more writers, in all ages, have laid out their abilities, than revisionism. And it affords no pleasing reflection to discover that a subject so controversial is anything but exhausted.
It may surprise some that the first undisputed revisionist was a relatively little known Renaissance scholar named Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457). He used his knowledge of classical Latin to prove that an important text written by Emperor Constantine, one thousand years before, was actually a forgery. To the skeptic who understandably asks, “So what?” the answer may surprise him. That discovery destroyed the historical justification for the Catholic Church to have a judicial right to the possession (essentially at will), of earthly lands and geographical domains.
The forged document titled “The Donation of Constantine,” stated, “I,…