2017-05-03 04:21:01 UTC
A good photograph of the famous plaque found in Gisela's grave in 1900,
giving her birthdate as 11 November 999, can be seen here:
The inscription has a total of 14 lines, but only the first three lines
and the beginning of the fourth were clearly engraved. The subsequent
text was simply scratched onto the surface, probably as a guide for the
engraver who didn't finish the work.
A transcription of all 14 lines was published by Hermann Grauert in
1900, and this had been the basis used by others since. In the summer of
2016 a close study was made using a strip-light scanner, confirming most
of the text as given by Grauert.
As is clear from the photo, the birthdate is fairly easy to read but not
carefully engraved ('IDVS' is apparently spelled 'IOVS' with the last
two letters combined). In any case the year can't be correct, as Gisela
must have been born well before 11 November 999 ('ANNO. DOM. INCARN. D.
CCCC. XCVIIII. III. IDVS NOV.')
In 1952 Hans Jürgen Rieckenberg proposed that the correct birthdate is
13 November 990, so that the inscription should have been 'ANNO. DOM.
INCARN. D. CCCC. XC IND. III. IDVS NOV.' (the third indiction was
correct for 990 until 24 or 31 December in Germany, not following
Byzantine practice only to 31 August).
This emendation makes sense, though it can't be considered certain.
Birthdays were marked in the imperial court, so 11 (or 13) November was
probably well-known as Gisela's. However, the year may have been
engraved correctly according to her reputed age - she may simply have
fibbed about this in order to have seemed younger than her third
husband, Konrad II, who was born ca 990. Her tell-tale eldest son
Liudolf of Brunswick, who must have been born within the first few years
of the 11th century, may not have been around her much when he was of an
age to draw attention to the discrepancy.