By, Cyclone Covey.
Originally published in The Midwestern Epigraphic Society Volume 16
The Latin Texts told–in halting Classical clauses but in more characteristically Medieval handling–of a “kingdom” of Jews who traced their antecedents back to the mighty King Benjamin who had been brought to Rome from the Seine to build Aurelian’s Wall and later was slain by Thebans. The people comprising his followers in the eight century came from Britain, Gaul, and Rome. A scribe, Joseph, was among the segment of British origin. His son, who styles himself OL., would have been born in America. He is the semi-literate and possibly senile author of the double-cross inscriptions, evidently int he extremity of the colony’s final investment by the so-called Toltezus. According to OL, a great number of his coreligionsists, under their king, Theodore, crossed the sea from Rome in 775 (which, by the way, would have been the year following Charlemagne’s ominous visit to Pope Hadrian) and founded a capital city they called “Rhoda.” After a disastrous early defeat at the hands of the Toltezus, the colonists recouped under a warrior, King Jacob (779-785), a native of Britain, and gained the upper hand under a remarkable king, Israel I, a native of Gaul, who reigned 67 years. War had resumed by the time he died in 852, and his already-elderly successor, Israel II, had a difficult six-year reign. But Israel III, who took over in 858, reestablished colonial suzerainty over the Toltezus. In or before 880 he magnanimously granted them independence. But a sanhedrin banished him from this, and Israel IV’s war to resubjugate turned into a war of mutual extermination. In 895 OL recorded that the war still raged; 3,000 had been slain; the leaders with their principal men had been captured; it was uncertain how long life would continue. His final date, 900, indicates that Rhoda held out without hope for another five years.