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Christianization

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Christianization (or Christianisation) is to make Christian; to imbue with Christian principles; to become Christian. It can apply to the conversion of an individual, a practice, a place or a whole society. It began in the Roman Empire, continued through the Middle Ages in Europe, and in the twenty-first century has spread around the globe. Historically, there are observable stages in the process of Christianization beginning with 1) individual conversion (and missions aimed at conversion) followed by 2) consolidation and 3) the absorption and transformation of beliefs and spaces sometimes referred to as syncretism.

The first countries to make Christianity their state religion were Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. In the fourth to fifth centuries, multiple tribes of Germanic barbarians converted to either Arian or orthodox Christianity. The Frankish empire begins during this same period. Missionaries were sent to Ireland and Great Britain leading to peaceful conversions in both countries. Italy produced the most influential monastic movement of the Middle Ages through Benedict of Nursia, while Greece lagged behind the rest of the Roman empire in conversion. Under the Eastern Emperor Justinian the first, Ancient Christianity begins its end, transforming into its eclectic medieval forms.

Medieval Christianization began in Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries. A new region of Europe that later became known as Eastern Central Europe is formed, though not completely without bloodshed, since throughout central and eastern Europe, Christianization and political centralization went hand in hand.[1] The rulers of Bulgaria, Bohemia (which became Czechoslovakia), the Serbs and the Croats, along with Hungary, and Poland, voluntarily joined the Western, Latin church, sometimes pressuring their people to follow. The Christianization of the Kievan Rus, the ancestors of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, began in the tenth century following the path of Byzantine Christianity and becoming a true state church with state control of religion and some coercion.

The two centuries around the turn of the first millennium brought Europe's most significant Christianization of the Middle Ages.[2] What had been, for Europe, two dangerous and aggressive enemies, (the Scandinavian Vikings on the northern borders, and the Hungarians on the eastern border), voluntarily adopted Christianity and founded kingdoms that sought a place among the European states.[2] The Northern Crusades, from 1147 to 1316, form a unique chapter in Christianization. They were not for the reclamation of lost territory, nor were they a defense against invasive Muslims; instead, they were largely political, led by local princes against their own enemies, for their own gain, and conversion by these princes was almost always a result of armed conquest.[3]

Modern Christianization has become a global phenomenon.

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Roman Empire

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, and was ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus as the first Roman emperor to the military anarchy of the 3rd century, it was a Principate with Italia as the metropole of its provinces and the city of Rome as its sole capital. The Empire was later ruled by multiple emperors who shared control over the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The city of Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until AD 476 when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople following the capture of the Western capital of Ravenna by the Germanic barbarians. The adoption of Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire in AD 380 and the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings conventionally marks the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Because of these events, along with the gradual Hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire, historians distinguish the medieval Roman Empire that remained in the Eastern provinces as the Byzantine Empire.

Middle Ages

Middle Ages

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Justinian I

Justinian I

Justinian I, also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. Bulgaria covers a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), and is the sixteenth-largest country in Europe. Sofia is the nation's capital and largest city; other major cities are Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas.

Bohemia

Bohemia

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech Republic. Bohemia can also refer to a wider area consisting of the historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by the Bohemian kings, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, in which case the smaller region is referred to as Bohemia proper as a means of distinction.

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia was a landlocked country in Central Europe, created in 1918, when it declared its independence from Austria-Hungary. In 1938, after the Munich Agreement, the Sudetenland became part of Germany, while the country lost further territories to Hungary and Poland. Between 1939 and 1945 the state ceased to exist, as Slovakia proclaimed its independence and the remaining territories in the east became part of Hungary, while in the remainder of the Czech Lands the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was proclaimed. In 1939, after the outbreak of World War II, former Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš formed a government-in-exile and sought recognition from the Allies.

Serbia

Serbia

Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a landlocked country in Southeastern and Central Europe, situated at the crossroads of the Pannonian Basin and the Balkans. It shares land borders with Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest, and claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia without Kosovo has about 6.7 million inhabitants, about 8.4 million if Kosovo is included. Its capital Belgrade is also the largest city.

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe. Its coast lies entirely on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Italy to the west and southwest. Its capital and largest city, Zagreb, forms one of the country's primary subdivisions, with twenty counties. The country spans 56,594 square kilometres, and has a population of nearly 3.9 million.

Hungary

Hungary

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) of the Carpathian Basin, it is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest, and Austria to the west. Hungary has a population of 9.7 million, mostly ethnic Hungarians and a significant Romani minority. Hungarian, the official language, is the world's most widely spoken Uralic language and among the few non-Indo-European languages widely spoken in Europe. Budapest is the country's capital and largest city; other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs, and Győr.

Poland

Poland

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of 312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi). Poland has a population of 37.7 million and is the fifth-most populous member state of the European Union. Warsaw is the nation's capital and largest metropolis. Other major cities include Kraków, Wrocław, Łódź, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Belarus

Belarus

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Covering an area of 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) and with a population of 9.2 million, Belarus is the 13th-largest and the 20th-most populous country in Europe. The country has a hemiboreal climate and is administratively divided into seven regions. Minsk is the capital and largest city.

Russia

Russia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with its internationally recognised territory covering 17,098,246 square kilometres (6,601,670 sq mi), and encompassing one-eighth of Earth's inhabitable landmass. Russia extends across eleven time zones and shares land boundaries with fourteen countries. It is the world's ninth-most populous country and Europe's most populous country, with a population of 146 million people. The country's capital and largest city is Moscow. Saint Petersburg is Russia's cultural centre and second-largest city. Other major urban areas include Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan.

Christianization

The first stage of Christianization begins when personal conversions take place. For nations, this has historically been associated with missions and missionaries, and is therefore called the mission period.[4]

The second stage is consolidation. The convert's way of life begins to transform.[5] Their world out-look changes and former customs, such as burial customs, are changed to reflect Christian practices.[5] On a societal basis, Christian communities form; the first dedicated church structures are built; monasteries and dioceses are established; and the first parishes are created.[5] During this stage, Christianization establishes schools and spreads education, translates Christian writings to local languages, often developing a script to do so, thereby creating the first literature of what had been a pre-literate culture.[6]

The third step in the process of Christianization involves the interchange that occurs when two cultural systems interconnect. According to archaeologist Anna Collar, when groups of people with different ways of life come into contact with each other, they naturally exchange ideas and practices.[7] Christianization has never been a one-way process.[8][note 1] In some cases the survival of local custom was encouraged by Christian missionaries, while other aspects of traditional religion survived despite the opposition of the missionaries.[13]

This is sometimes referred to as syncretism, but syncretism is a controversial concept, so instead, many scholars use the terms inculturation and acculturation instead.[14] Anthropologist Aylward Shorter defines inculturation as the "ongoing dialogue" between Christian teachings and local culture with the church adapting itself to a particular local cultural context.[15] Local context is also adapted to church teachings. This has at times involved appropriation, removal and/or redesignation of aspects of native religion and former sacred spaces allowing them to find a place in the new religious system.[13] Anthropologist Jerry E. Clark writes: "Acculturation has been defined as the changes that occur in one or both cultures when two different cultures come in contact. In the case of missionaries and the American Indians, the process of acculturation was purposely one-sided."[16]

Variations in the results, according to Clark, are based largely on local ethnic composition, political structure and the local locus of power.[16] Ancient barbarian societies tended to be communal by nature rather than oriented around individuality, and loyalty to the king meant the conversion of the ruler was generally followed by the mass conversion of his subjects.[17] Clark has also written that different methods were used by different individual missionaries contributing to differing results.[18]

There is history connecting Christianization and colonialism, especially but not limited to the New World and other regions subject to settler colonialism.[19] Integration happened when an individual engaged both their heritage culture and the larger society; assimilation or separation occurred when an individual became oriented exclusively to one or the other culture. Orientation to neither culture is marginalization.[20] In the Late Middle Ages, and later colonialism, the mixture of religion with politics led to some instances of forced conversion by the sword and the marginalization of entire groups.[20]

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Christianity and colonialism

Christianity and colonialism

Christianity and colonialism are often closely associated with each other due to the service of Christianity, in its various sects, as the state religion of the historical European colonial powers, in which Christians likewise made up the majority. Through a variety of methods, Christian missionaries acted as the "religious arms" of the imperialist powers of Europe. According to Edward E. Andrews, Associate Professor of Providence College Christian missionaries were initially portrayed as "visible saints, exemplars of ideal piety in a sea of persistent savagery". However, by the time the colonial era drew to a close in the later half of the 20th century, missionaries were viewed as "ideological shock troops for colonial invasion whose zealotry blinded them", colonialism's "agent, scribe and moral alibi".

New World

New World

The term New World is often used to mean the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas. The term gained prominence in the early 16th century, during Europe's Age of Discovery, shortly after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci concluded that America represented a new continent, and subsequently published his findings in a pamphlet he titled Latin: Mundus Novus. This realization expanded the geographical horizon of classical European geographers, who had thought the world consisted of Africa, Europe, and Asia, collectively now referred to as the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia. The Americas were thus also referred to as "the fourth part of the world".

Settler colonialism

Settler colonialism

Settler colonialism is a structure that perpetuates the elimination of Indigenous people and cultures to replace them with a settler society. Some, but not all, scholars argue that settler colonialism is inherently genocidal. It may be enacted by a variety of means ranging from violent depopulation of the previous inhabitants to less deadly means such as assimilation or recognition of Indigenous identity within a colonial framework.

Late Middle Ages

Late Middle Ages

The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from AD 1300 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period.

Ancient (Ante-Nicaean) Christianity (1st to 3rd centuries)

James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19–29, c. 50 AD
James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19–29, c. 50 AD

Christianization began in the Roman Empire in Jerusalem around 30–40 AD, spreading outward quickly. The Church in Rome was founded by Peter and Paul in the 1st century.[21] There is agreement among twenty-first century scholars that Christianization of the Roman Empire in its first three centuries did not happen by imposition.[22] Christianization of this period was the cumulative result of multiple individual decisions and behaviors.[23]

During the consolidation stage, recent research has shown it was the formal unconditional altruism of early Christianity that accounts for much of its otherwise surprising degree of early success.[24] Aspects of its ideology, and its social actions, such as charity, care for the sick and acceptance of those who were otherwise rejected for their lack of Roman status, made Christianity attractive to Romans who had nothing comparable in Roman society.[25]

Early Christian communities were highly inclusive in terms of social stratification and other social categories.[26] Many scholars have seen this inclusivity as the primary reason for Christianization's early success.[27] The Apostolic Decree helped to establish Ancient Christianity as unhindered by either ethnic or geographical ties.[note 2] Christianity was experienced as a new start, and was open to both men and women, rich and poor. Baptism was free. There were no fees, and it was intellectually egalitarian, making philosophy and ethics available to ordinary people including those who might have lacked literacy.[30] Heterogeneity characterized the groups formed by Paul the Apostle, and the role of women was much greater than in any of the forms of Judaism or paganism in existence at the time.[31]

Ante-Nicaean Christianity was also highly exclusive.[32] Believing was the crucial and defining characteristic that set a "high boundary" that strongly excluded the "unbeliever".[32] Keith Hopkins asserts: "It is this exclusivism, idealized or practiced, which marks Christianity off from most other religious groups in the ancient world".[33] The early Christian had exacting moral standards that included avoiding contact with those that were seen as still "in bondage to the Evil One": (2 Corinthians 6:1-18; 1 John 2: 15-18; Revelation 18: 4; II Clement 6; Epistle of Barnabas, 1920).[34] In Daniel Praet's view, the exclusivity of Christian monotheism formed an important part of its success, enabling it to maintain its independence in a society that syncretized religion.[35]

While enduring three centuries of on again - off again persecution, from differing levels of government ranging from local to imperial, Christianity had remained 'self-organized' and without central authority.[36] In this manner, it reached an important threshold of success between 150 and 250, when it moved from less than 50,000 adherents to over a million, and became self-sustaining and able to generate enough further growth that there was no longer a viable means of stopping it.[37][38][39][40] Scholars agree there was a significant rise in the absolute number of Christians in the third century.[41]

Christian monasticism emerged in the third century, and monks soon became crucial to the process of Christianization. Their numbers grew such that, "by the fifth century, monasticism had become a dominant force impacting all areas of society".[42][43]

Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia and Eritrea

In 301, Armenia became the first kingdom in history to adopt Christianity as an official state religion.[44]: 333  The transformations taking place in these centuries of the Roman Empire had been slower to catch on in Caucasia. Indigenous writing did not begin until the fifth century, there was an absence of large cities, and many institutions such as monasticism did not exist in Caucasia until the seventh century.[45] Scholarly consensus places the Christianization of the Armenian and Georgian elites in the first half of the fourth century, although Armenian tradition says Christianization began in the first century through the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew.[46] This is said to have eventually led to the conversion of the Arsacid family, (the royal house of Armenia), through St. Gregory the Illuminator in the early fourth century.[46]

Christianization took many generations and was not a uniform process.[47] Robert Thomson writes that it was not the officially established hierarchy of the church that spread Christianity in Armenia. "It was the unorganized activity of wandering holy men that brought about the Christianization of the populace at large".[48] The most significant stage in this process was the development of a script for the native tongue.[48]

Scholars do not agree on the exact date of Christianization of Georgia, but most assert the early 4th century when Mirian III of the Kingdom of Iberia (known locally as Kartli) adopted Christianity.,[49] According to medieval Georgian Chronicles, Christianization began with Andrew the Apostle and culminated in the evangelization of Iberia through the efforts of a captive woman known in Iberian tradition as Saint Nino in the fourth century.[50] Fifth, 8th, and 12th century accounts of the conversion of Georgia reveal how pre-Christian practices were taken up and reinterpreted by Christian narrators.[51]

In 325, the Kingdom of Aksum (Modern Ethiopia and Eritrea) became the second country to declare Christianity as its official state religion.[52]: 252 

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Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

The Acts of the Apostles is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian Church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.

Christianization of the Roman Empire as diffusion of innovation

Christianization of the Roman Empire as diffusion of innovation

Christianization of the Roman Empire as diffusion of innovation looks at religious change in the Roman Empire's first three centuries through the lens of diffusion of innovations, a sociological theory popularized by Everett Rogers in 1962. Diffusion of innovation is a process of communication that takes place over time, among those within a social system, that explains how, why, and when new ideas spread. In this theory, an innovation's success or failure is dependent upon the characteristics of the innovation itself, the adopters, what communication channels are used, time, and the social system in which it all happens.

James, brother of Jesus

James, brother of Jesus

James the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Lord, was "a brother of Jesus", according to the New Testament. He was an early leader of the Jerusalem Church of the Apostolic Age. Traditionally, it is believed he was martyred in AD 62 or 69 by being stoned to death by the Pharisees on order of High Priest Ananus ben Ananus.

Paul the Apostle

Paul the Apostle

Paul, commonly known as Paul the Apostle and Saint Paul, was a Christian apostle and missionary who spread the teachings of Jesus in the first-century world. Generally regarded as one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age, he founded several Christian communities in Asia Minor and Europe from the mid-40s to the mid-50s AD.

Council of Jerusalem

Council of Jerusalem

The Council of Jerusalem or Apostolic Council was held in Jerusalem around AD 50. It is unique among the ancient pre-ecumenical councils in that it is considered by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox to be a prototype and forerunner of the later ecumenical councils and a key part of Christian ethics. The council decided that Gentile converts to Christianity were not obligated to keep most of the fasts, and other specific rituals, including the rules concerning circumcision of males. The Council did, however, retain the prohibitions on eating blood, meat containing blood, and meat of animals that were strangled, and on fornication and idolatry, sometimes referred to as the Apostolic Decree or Jerusalem Quadrilateral. The purpose and origin of these four prohibitions is debated.

Egalitarianism

Egalitarianism

Egalitarianism, or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds on the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or moral status. Egalitarianism is the doctrine that all citizens of a state should be accorded exactly equal rights. Egalitarian doctrines have motivated many modern social movements and ideas, including the Enlightenment, feminism, civil rights, and international human rights.

Philosophy

Philosophy

Philosophy is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some sources claim the term was coined by Pythagoras, although this theory is disputed by some. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation.

Ethics

Ethics

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior". The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value; these fields comprise the branch of philosophy called axiology.

Literacy

Literacy

Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in written form in some specific context of use. In other words, humans in literate societies have sets of practices for producing and consuming writing, and they also have beliefs about these practices. Reading, in this view, is always reading something for some purpose; writing is always writing something for someone for some particular ends. Beliefs about reading and writing and its value for society and for the individual always influence the ways literacy is taught, learned, and practiced over the lifespan.

Homogeneity and heterogeneity

Homogeneity and heterogeneity

Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts relating to the uniformity of a substance, process or image. A homogeneous feature is uniform in composition or character ; one that is heterogeneous is distinctly nonuniform in at least one of these qualities.

Infidel

Infidel

An infidel is a person accused of disbelief in the central tenets of one's own religion, such as members of another religion, or the irreligious.

Keith Hopkins

Keith Hopkins

Morris Keith Hopkins was a British historian and sociologist. He was professor of ancient history at the University of Cambridge from 1985 to 2000.

Late antiquity (4th–5th centuries)

Constantine's conversion, by Rubens.
Constantine's conversion, by Rubens.

Favoritism and hostility

The Christianization of the Roman Empire is frequently divided by scholars into the two phases of before and after the conversion of Constantine in 312.[53][note 3] According to Harold A. Drake, Constantine's official imperial religious policies did not stem from faith as much as they stemmed from his duty as Emperor to maintain peace in the empire.[59] Drake asserts that, since Constantine's reign followed Diocletian's failure to enforce a particular religious view, Constantine was able to observe that coercion had not produced peace.[59]

Contemporary scholars are in general agreement that Constantine did not support the suppression of paganism by force.[60][61][62][63] He never engaged in a purge,[64] there were no pagan martyrs during his reign.[65][66] Pagans remained in important positions at his court.[60] Constantine ruled for 31 years and never outlawed paganism.[65][67] A few authors suggest that "true Christian sentiment" might have motivated Constantine, since he held the conviction that, in the realm of faith, only freedom mattered.[68][note 4]

Making the adoption of Christianity beneficial was Constantine's primary approach to religion, and imperial favor was important to successful Christianization over the next century.[89][87] However, Constantine must have written the laws that threatened and menaced pagans who continued to practice sacrifice. There is no evidence of any of the horrific punishments ever being enacted.[90] There is no record of anyone being executed for violating religious laws before Tiberius II Constantine at the end of the sixth century (574–582).[91] Still, classicist Scott Bradbury notes that the complete disappearance of public sacrifice by the mid-fourth century "in many towns and cities must be attributed to the atmosphere created by imperial and episcopal hostility".[92][note 5]

Paganism did not end when public sacrifice did.[105][106] Constantius II created a series of anti-pagan laws in 353 and 354, and had the altar of victory removed, but while this stirred up fear and resentment, it did not end paganism either.[107] Brown explains that polytheists were accustomed to offering prayers to the gods in many ways and places that did not include sacrifice, that pollution was only associated with sacrifice, and that the ban on sacrifice had fixed boundaries and limits.[108] Paganism thus remained widespread into the early fifth century continuing in parts of the empire into the seventh and beyond.[109]

Rewriting history

Late Antiquity from the third to the sixth centuries was the era of the development of the great Christian narrative, an interpretatio Christiana of the history of humankind. In this reconstruction of the past, Christian writers built on preceding tradition, creating competing chronologies and alternative histories.[110]

In the early fourth century, Eusebius wrote Chronici canones. In it, he developed an elaborate synchronistic chronology reinterpreting the Greco-Roman past to reflect a Christian perspective.[111]

Representation of Saint Clement fighting the Graoully dragon in the Roman amphitheater of Metz. Christian hagiography presents bishops as pious and powerful, defeating temple demons that had posed as gods, thereby demonstrating Christianity's victory over paganism represented by a harmful dragon.[112]
Representation of Saint Clement fighting the Graoully dragon in the Roman amphitheater of Metz. Christian hagiography presents bishops as pious and powerful, defeating temple demons that had posed as gods, thereby demonstrating Christianity's victory over paganism represented by a harmful dragon.[112]

In the early fifth century Orosius wrote Historiae adversus paganos in response to the charge that the Roman Empire was in misery and ruins because it had converted to Christianity and neglected the old gods.[113] Maijastina Kahlos explains that, "In order to refute these claims, Orosius reviewed the entire history of Rome, demonstrating that the alleged glorious past of the Romans in fact consisted of war, despair and suffering".[113]

Theodosius I and orthodoxy

Theoretical graph of growth of Christianity in first five centuries of Roman empire
Theoretical graph of growth of Christianity in first five centuries of Roman empire

In the centuries following his death, Theodosius I gained a reputation as the emperor who established Christianity as the one official religion of the empire. Modern historians see this as a later interpretation of history – a rewriting of history by Christian writers beginning with the bishop Ambrose – rather than actual history.[114][115][116][note 6]

Theodosius championed Christian orthodoxy, making repeated efforts through law to eliminate heresies and promote unity within Christianity. In 380, he issued the Edict of Thessalonica to the people of Constantinople. It was valid throughout the East.[124][125][note 7] It was addressed to Christians, since only Christians can be heretics. More specifically, it threatens Arian Christians, but it granted Christians no favors or advantages over other religions, and it is clear from mandates issued in the years after 380, that Theodosius had not intended it as a requirement for pagans or Jews to convert to Christianity.[128] Hungarian legal scholar Pál Sáry explains that, "In 393, the emperor was gravely disturbed that the Jewish assemblies had been forbidden in certain places. For this reason, he stated with emphasis that the sect of the Jews was forbidden by no law".[129]

Scholars say there is little, if any, evidence that Theodosius I pursued an active policy against the traditional cults. As his predecessors had, he too outlawed all forms of sacrifice, public and private, and the magic associated with sacrifice, and called for the closure of temples that illegally continued to offer sacrifices. Some scholars have said that a universal ban on paganism and the establishment of Christianity as the singular religion of the empire can be implied from Theodosius' later laws such as that issued in November 392 which bans private home sacrifices.[130][131][132][note 8] During the reign of Theodosius, pagans were continuously appointed to prominent positions and pagan aristocrats remained in high offices.[152][note 9]

In his 2020 biography of Theodosius, Mark Hebblewhite concludes that Theodosius never saw himself, or advertised himself, as a destroyer of the old cults. The emperor's efforts at Christianization were "targeted, tactical, and nuanced".[116][164][165]

Force

There is no evidence to indicate that conversion of pagans through force was an accepted method of Christianization at any point in Late Antiquity; all uses of imperial force concerning religion were aimed at Christian heretics such as the Donatists and the Manichaeans.[166][167][note 10] Augustine, who advocated coercion for heretics, did not do so for the pagans or the Jews of his era,[184] and the distinction between heretical Christians and non-believers continued to be made up to and through Aquinas in the thirteenth century.[185]

According to H. A. Drake, Christians worried about the validity of coerced faith and resisted such aggressive actions for centuries.[186] In Peter Garnsey's view, "Christians were the only group in antiquity to enunciate conditions for practicing religious toleration as a principle, rather than as an expedient".[187] Tertullian held that 'the free exercise of religious choice was a tenet of both man made and natural law', and that religion was 'something to be taken up voluntarily, not under duress".[187] In the fourth century, a council of Spanish Bishops meeting in Elvira on the coast of Spain, determined that Christians who died in attacks on idol temples should not be received as martyrs. The bishops wrote that they took this stand of disapproval because "such actions cannot be found in the Gospels, nor were they ever undertaken by the Apostles".[188] Drake suggests this stands as testimony to the tradition established in early Christianity which favored and operated toward peace, moderation, and conciliation. "It was a tradition that held true belief could not be compelled for the simple reason that God could tell the difference between voluntary and coerced worship".[188] In Peter Brown's view of the late fourth century,

It would be a full two centuries before Justinian would envisage the compulsory baptism of remaining polytheists, and a further century until Heraclius and the Visigothic kings of Spain would attempt to baptize the Jews. In the fourth century, such ambitious schemes were impossible.[189]

Before the fifth century, there were isolated local incidents of anti-Jewish violence, and there were legislative pressures against specific pagan practices, but according to historians of forced conversion Mercedes García-Arenal and Yonatan Glazer-Eytan, it is only with the legislation introduced during the seventh century Visigothic period that a different view of the use of coercion or force began to develop in Spain.[190][note 11]

Germanic conversions

The earliest references to the Christianization of the Germanic peoples are in the writings of Irenaeus (130–202 ), Origen (185-253), and Tertullian (Adv. Jud. VII) (155–220).[195] Athanasius omits Germany from his list of Christianized peoples, but that is possibly because, by the 4th century, many from the Eastern Germanic tribes, notably the Goths, had adopted Arianism. Yet Eusebius who supported Bishop Arian also omits them without saying why.[196] Noel Lenski writes that the emperor Valens offered encouragement rather than active sponsorship of Christianization beyond Roman borders.[197]

Tacitus is an important early source describing the nature of German religion, and their understanding of the function of a king, as facilitating Christianization.[17] Conversion of the West and East Germanic tribes sometimes took place "top to bottom" in the sense that missionaries aimed at converting Germanic nobility first. A king had divine lineage as a descendent of Woden.[198] Ties of fealty between German kings and their followers often rested on the agreement of loyalty for reward; the concerns of these early societies were communal, not individual; this combination produced mass conversions of entire tribes following their king, trusting him to share the rewards of conversion with them accordingly.[199][200] Afterwards, their societies began a gradual process of Christianization that took centuries, with some traces of earlier beliefs remaining.[201]

Statue depicting the baptism of Clovis by Saint Remigius.
Statue depicting the baptism of Clovis by Saint Remigius.
  • In 341, Romanian born Ulfila (Wulfilas, 311–383) became a bishop and was sent to instruct the Gothic Christians living in Gothia in the province of Dacia.[202][203] Ulfilas is traditionally credited with the voluntary conversion of the Goths between 369 and 372.[204]
  • The Vandals converted to Arian Christianity shortly before they left Spain for northern Africa in 429.[205]
  • Clovis I converted to Catholicism sometime around 498, extending his kingdom into most of Gaul (France) and large parts of what is now modern Germany.[206]
  • The Ostrogothic kingdom, which included all of Italy and parts of the Balkans, began in 493 with the killing of Odoacer by Theodoric. They converted to Arianism.[205]
  • Christianization of the central Balkans is documented at the end of the 4th century, where Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana brought the gospel to "those mountain wolves", the Bessi.[207]
  • The Langobardic kingdom, which covered most of Italy, began in 568, becoming Arian shortly after the conversion of Agilulf in 607. Most scholars assert that the Lombards, who had lived in Pannonia and along the Elbe river, converted to Christianity when they moved to Italy in 568, since it was thought they had little to do with the empire before then.[205] According to the Greek scholar Procopius (500-565), the Lombards had "occupied a Roman province for 40 years before moving into Italy". It is now thought that the Lombards first adopted Christianity while still in Pannonia.[205][208] Procopius writes that, by the time the Lombards moved into Italy, "they appear to have had some familiarity already with both Christianity and some elements of Roman administrative culture".[205][note 12]

In all these cases, "the Germanic conquerors lost their native languages. In the remaining parts of the Germanic world, that is, to the North and East of France, the Germanic languages were maintained, but the syntax, the conceptual framework underlying the lexicon, and most of the literary forms were thoroughly latinized".[212]

St. Boniface led the effort in the mid-eighth century to organize churches in the region that would become modern Germany.[213] As ecclesiastical organization increased, so did the political unity of the Germanic Christians. By the year 962, when Pope John XII anoints King Otto I as Holy Roman Emperor, "Germany and Christendom had become one".[213] This union lasted until dissolved by Napoleon in 1806.[213]

Ireland

Pope Celestine I (422-430) sent Palladius to be the first bishop to the Irish in 431, and in 432, St Patrick began his mission there.[214] Scholars cite many questions (and scarce sources) concerning the next two hundred years.[215] Relying largely on recent archaeological developments, Lorcan Harney has reported to the Royal Academy that the missionaries and traders who came to Ireland in the fifth to sixth centuries were not backed by any military force.[214] Conversion and consolidation were long complex processes that took centuries.[214]

Patrick and Palladius and other British and Gaulish missionaries aimed first at converting royal households. Patrick indicates in his Confessio that safety depended upon it.[216] Communities often followed their king en masse.[216] It is likely most natives were willing to embrace the new religion, and that most religious communities were willing to integrate themselves into the surrounding culture.[217]

Christianization of the Irish landscape was a complex process that varied considerably depending on local conditions.[218] Ancient sites were viewed with veneration, and were excluded or included for Christian use based largely on diverse local feeling about their nature, character, ethos and even location.[219]

The Irish monks developed a concept of peregrinatio where a monk would leave the monastery to preach among the 'heathens'. From 590, Irish missionaries were active in Gaul, Scotland, Wales and Britain.[220]

Great Britain

The most likely date for Christianity getting its first foothold in Britain is sometime around 200.[221] Recent archaeology indicates that it had become an established minority faith by the fourth century. It was largely mainstream, and in certain areas, had been continuous.[222]

The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons was begun at about the same time in both the north and south of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in two unconnected initiatives. Irish missionaries led by Saint Columba, based in Iona (from 563), converted many Picts.[223] The court of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, and the Gregorian mission, who landed in 596, did the same to the Kingdom of Kent. They had been sent by Pope Gregory I and were led by Augustine of Canterbury with a mission team from Italy. In both cases, as in other kingdoms of this period, conversion generally began with the royal family and the nobility adopting the new religion first.[224]

In early Anglo-Saxon England, non-stop religious development meant paganism and Christianity were never completely separate.[225] Lorcan Harney has reported that Anglo-Saxon churches were not built by pagan barrows before the 11th century.[226]

Frankish Empire

The Franks first appear in the historical record in the 3rd century as a confederation of Germanic tribes living on the east bank of the lower Rhine River. Clovis I was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler.[227] According to legend, Clovis had prayed to the Christian god before his battle against one of the kings of the Alemanni, and had consequently attributed his victory to Jesus.[206] The most likely date of his conversion to Catholicism is Christmas Day, 508, following that Battle of Tolbiac.[228][206] He was baptized in Rheims.[229] The Frankish Kingdom became Christian over the next two centuries.[213]: 113 [230][note 13]

The conversion of the northern Saxons began with their forced incorporation into the Frankish kingdom in 776 by Charlemagne (r. 768–814). Thereafter, the Saxon's Christian conversion slowly progressed into the eleventh century.[213] Saxons had gone back and forth between rebellion and submission to the Franks for decades.[233] Charlemagne placed missionaries and courts across Saxony in hopes of pacifying the region, but Saxons rebelled again in 782 with disastrous losses for the Franks. In response, the Frankish King "enacted a variety of draconian measures" beginning with the massacre at Verden in 782 when he ordered the decapitation of 4500 Saxon prisoners offering them baptism as an alternative to death.[234] These events were followed by the severe legislation of the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae in 785 which prescribes death to those that are disloyal to the king, harm Christian churches or its ministers, or practice pagan burial rites.[235] His harsh methods of Christianization raised objections from his friends Alcuin and Paulinus of Aquileia.[236] Charlemagne abolished the death penalty for paganism in 797.[237]

Italy

Heiligenkreuz.St. Benedict
Heiligenkreuz.St. Benedict

Christianization throughout Italy in Late Antiquity allowed for an amount of religious competition, negotiation, toleration and cooperation; it included syncretism both to and from pagans and Christians; and it allowed for a great deal of secularism.[238] Public sacrifice had largely disappeared by the mid-fourth century, but paganism in a broader sense did not end.[105] Paganism continued, transforming itself over the next two centuries in ways that often included the appropriation and redesignation of Christian practices and ideas while remaining pagan.[239]

In 529, Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery in the Abbey of Monte Cassino, Italy. He wrote the Rule of Saint Benedict based on "pray and work". This "Rule" provided the foundation of the majority of the thousands of monasteries that spread across what is modern day Europe thereby becoming a major factor in the Christianization of Europe.

Monasteries were models of productivity and economic resourcefulness teaching their local communities animal husbandry, cheese making, wine making, and various other skills.[240] They were havens for the poor, hospitals, hospices for the dying, and schools. Medical practice was highly important, and monasteries are best known for their contributions to medical tradition. They also made advances in sciences such as astronomy.[241] For centuries, nearly all secular leaders were trained by monks because, excepting private tutors who were still, often, monks, it was the only education available.[242]

The formation of these organized bodies of believers gradually carved out a series of uniquely distinct social spaces with some amount of independence from other types of authority such as political and familial authority. This revolutionized social history for everyone, but especially for women who could become leaders of communities with great influence of their own.[243]

Benedict's biographer Cuthbert Butler writes that "...certainly there will be no demur in recognizing that St. Benedict's Rule has been one of the great facts in the history of western Europe, and that its influence and effects are with us to this day."[244]: intro. 

Greece

Christianization was slower in Greece than in most other parts of the Roman empire.[245] There are multiple theories of why, but there is no consensus. What is agreed upon is that, for a variety of reasons, Christianization did not take hold in Greece until the fourth and fifth centuries. Christians and pagans maintained a self imposed segregation throughout the period.[246] In Athens, for example, pagans retained the old civic center with its temples and public buildings as their sphere of activity, while Christians restricted themselves to the suburban areas. There was little direct contact between them.[246] J. M. Speiser has argued that this was the situation throughout the country, and that "rarely was there any significant contact, hostile or otherwise" between Christians and pagans in Greece.[246] This would have slowed the process of Christianization.[247] By the time Christianization showed up in Greece, many of the fundamental aspects of the two religious traditions had already become similar. Accommodations had been made in both directions allowing points of view acceptable to those who had previously been pagan.[248]

Timothy Gregory says, "it is admirably clear that organized paganism survived well into the sixth century throughout the empire and in parts of Greece (at least in the Mani) until the ninth century or later".[13][249] Gregory adds that pagan ideas and forms persisted most in practices related to healing, death, and the family. These are "first-order" concerns - those connected with the basics of life – which were not generally subjected to objections from theologians and bishops.[250]

The Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Theseion were turned into churches, but Alison Frantz has won consensus support of her view that, aside from a few rare instances, temple conversions took place only after Late Antiquity, especially in the seventh century, after the displacements caused by the Slavic invasions.[246][note 14]

Sept. 22nd, 529 has been regarded by some scholars as the symbolic marking [of] the end of antiquity in the Eastern Roman Empire: the date corresponds to Justinian’s closing of the philosophical school at Athens, a fact whose historicity is beyond doubt, and whose effects on the cultural life of the Greek East have been variously assessed.[269]: 298 

Iberian Peninsula

San Pedro de la Nave, one of the oldest churches in Spain.
San Pedro de la Nave, one of the oldest churches in Spain.

Hispania had become part of the Roman Empire in the third century BC.[270] In his Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of his intent to travel there, but when, how, and even if this happened, is uncertain.[271] Paul may have begun the Christianization of Spain, but it may have been begun by soldiers returning from Mauritania.[271] However Christianization began, Christian communities can be found dating to the third century, and bishoprics had been created in León, Mérida and Zeragosa by that same period.[271] In AD 300 an ecclesiastical council held in Elvira was attended by 20 bishops.[272] With the end of persecution in 312, churches, baptistries, hospitals and episcopal palaces were erected in most major towns, and many landed aristocracy embraced the faith and converted sections of their villas into chapels.[272]

In 416, the Germanic Visigoths crossed into Hispania as Roman allies.[273] They converted to Arian Christianity shortly before 429.[205] The Visigothic King Sisebut came to the throne in 612 when the Roman emperor Heraclius surrendered his Spanish holdings.[274]: 58  The emperor had received a prophecy that the empire would be destroyed by a circumcised people; lacking awareness of Islam, he applied this to the Jews. Heraclius is said to have called upon Sisebut to banish all Jews who would not submit to baptism. Bouchier says 90,000 Hebrews were baptized while others fled to France or North Africa.[274]: 58–59 

Despite early Christian testimonies and institutional organization, Christianization of the Basques was slow. Muslim accounts from the period of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania (711 – 718) up to the 9th century, indicate the Basques were not considered Christianized by the Muslims who called them magi or 'pagan wizards', rather than 'People of the Book' as Christians or Jews were.[275]

Colonialization and secularization

Christianity and the various pagan religions co-existed and largely tolerated each other in most of the empire throughout the majority of the fourth and fifth centuries.[276][277][108] The structure and ideals of both Church and State were transformed through this long period of symbiosis.[278] By the time a fifth-century pope attempted to denounce the Lupercalia as 'pagan superstition', religion scholar Elizabeth Clark says "it fell on deaf ears".[279] In Historian R. A. Markus's reading of events, this marked a colonialization by Christians of pagan values and practices.[280] For Alan Cameron, the mixed culture that included the continuation of the circuses, amphitheaters and games – sans sacrifice – on into the sixth century involved the secularization of paganism rather than appropriation by Christianity.[281]

Up to the time of Justin I and Justinian I (527 to 565), there was some toleration for all religions; there were anti-sacrifice laws, but they were not enforced. Thus, up into the sixth century, there still existed centers of paganism in Athens, Gaza, Alexandria, and elsewhere.[105][note 15]

Discover more about Late antiquity (4th–5th centuries) related topics

Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens

Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish artist and diplomat from the Duchy of Brabant in the Southern Netherlands. He is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. Rubens's highly charged compositions reference erudite aspects of classical and Christian history. His unique and immensely popular Baroque style emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, which followed the immediate, dramatic artistic style promoted in the Counter-Reformation. Rubens was a painter producing altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects. He was also a prolific designer of cartoons for the Flemish tapestry workshops and of frontispieces for the publishers in Antwerp.

Harold A. Drake

Harold A. Drake

Harold A. Drake is an American scholar of Ancient Roman history, with an emphasis on late antiquity.

Purge

Purge

In history, religion and political science, a purge is a position removal or execution of people who are considered undesirable by those in power from a government, another organization, their team leaders, or society as a whole. A group undertaking such an effort is labeled as purging itself. Purges can be either nonviolent or violent, with the former often resolved by the simple removal of those who have been purged from office, and the latter often resolved by the imprisonment, exile, or murder of those who have been purged.

Clement of Metz

Clement of Metz

Saint Clement of Metz is venerated as the first Bishop of Metz. According to tradition, he was sent by Saint Peter to Metz during the 1st century, with two disciples: Celestius and Felix, who are listed as his successors in that see. However, this legend may have been constructed much later to lend more antiquity to the episcopal see, and to make the diocese of Metz appear to be more ancient than it actually was. As Hippolyte Delehaye writes, "To have lived amongst the Saviour's immediate following was...honorable...and accordingly old patrons of churches were identified with certain persons in the gospels or who were supposed to have had some part of Christ's life on earth." Elaboration of this legend states that Clement was the uncle of Pope Clement I.

Metz

Metz

Metz is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the prefecture of the Moselle department and the seat of the parliament of the Grand Est region. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany and Luxembourg, the city forms a central place of the European Greater Region and the SaarLorLux euroregion.

Paganism

Paganism

Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, or ethnic religions other than Judaism. In the time of the Roman empire, individuals fell into the pagan class either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternative terms used in Christian texts were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian. Paganism has broadly connoted the "religion of the peasantry".

Maijastina Kahlos

Maijastina Kahlos

Maijastina Kahlos is a Docent of Latin and Roman literature at the University of Helsinki and a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. She specialises in migration and mobility in the late antique Mediterranean, everyday life in ancient Rome, and ancient religions.

Ambrose

Ambrose

Ambrose of Milan, venerated as Saint Ambrose, was a theologian and statesman who served as Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397. He expressed himself prominently as a public figure, fiercely promoting Roman Christianity against Arianism and paganism. He left a substantial collection of writings, of which the best known include the ethical commentary De officiis ministrorum (377–391), and the exegetical Exameron (386–390). His preachings, his actions and his literary works, in addition to his innovative musical hymnography, made him one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.

Edict of Thessalonica

Edict of Thessalonica

The Edict of Thessalonica, issued on 27 February AD 380 by Theodosius I, made the Catholicism of Nicene Christians the state church of the Roman Empire. It condemned other Christian creeds such as Arianism as heresies of "foolish madmen," and authorized their punishment.

Donatism

Donatism

Donatism was a Christian sect leading to a schism in the Church, in the region of the Church of Carthage, from the fourth to the sixth centuries. Donatists argued that Christian clergy must be faultless for their ministry to be effective and their prayers and sacraments to be valid. Donatism had its roots in the long-established Christian community of the Roman province Africa Proconsularis, in the persecutions of Christians under Diocletian. Named after the Berber Christian bishop Donatus Magnus, Donatism flourished during the fourth and fifth centuries.

Manichaeism

Manichaeism

Manichaeism is a former major religion founded in the 3rd century AD by the Parthian prophet Mani, in the Sasanian Empire.

Elvira

Elvira

Elvira is a female given name. First recorded in medieval Spain, it is likely of Germanic (Gothic) origin.

Christianization of Europe (6th–9th centuries)

End of the ancient world

A seismic shift in Christianization took place in 612 when the Visigothic King Sisebut declared the obligatory conversion of all Jews in Spain, contradicting Pope Gregory who had, consistent with tradition, opposed forced conversion in 591.[284] Scholars refer to this shift as a "seismic moment" in Christianization because of its long lasting and extensive reverberations.[285]

Constantine had granted, through the Edict of Milan, the right to all people to follow whatever religion they wished. Also in the West, Emperor Gratian surrendered the title of Pontifex Maximus, the position of head priest of the empire. The religious policy of the Eastern emperor Justinian I (527 to 565) reflected his conviction that a unified Empire presupposed unity of faith.[286][287]

Herrin asserts that, under Justinian, this involved considerable destruction.[288] The decree of 528 had already barred pagans from state office when, decades later, Justinian ordered a "persecution of surviving Hellenes, accompanied by the burning of pagan books, pictures and statues" which took place at the Kynêgion.[288] Herrin says it is difficult to assess the degree to which Christians are responsible for the losses of ancient documents in many cases, but in the mid-sixth century, active persecution in Constantinople destroyed many ancient texts.[288]

According to Anthony Kaldellis, Justinian is often seen as a tyrant and despot.[289] He purged the bureaucracy of those who disagreed with him.[290][291] He sought to centralize imperial government, became increasingly autocratic, and "nothing could be done", not even in the Church, that was contrary to the emperor's will and command.[292]: 970B [note 16] In Kaldellis' estimation, "Few emperors had started so many wars or tried to enforce cultural and religious uniformity with such zeal".[295][296][297]

The extent of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian's uncle Justin I is shown in the darker color. The lighter color shows the conquests of his successor, Justinian I also known as Justinian the Great
The extent of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian's uncle Justin I is shown in the darker color. The lighter color shows the conquests of his successor, Justinian I also known as Justinian the Great

In the first half of the sixth century, Justinian came to Rome to liberate it from barbarians leading to a guerrilla war that lasted nearly 20 years.[298] After fighting ended, Justinian used what is known as a Pragmatic Sanction to assert control over Italy.[299] The Sanction effectively removed the supports that had allowed the senatorial aristocracy to retain power.[300] The political and social influence of the Senate's aristocratic members thereafter disappeared, and by 630, the Senate ceased to exist, and its building was converted into a church.[300] Bishops stepped into civic leadership in the Senator's places.[300] The position and influence of the pope rose.[301]

Early Middle Ages begin

Before the 800s, the 'Bishop of Rome' had no special influence over other bishops outside of Rome, and had not yet manifested as the central ecclesiastical power.[302] There were regional versions of Christianity accepted by local clergy that it's probable the papacy would not have approved.[302]

From the late seventh to the middle of the eighth century, eleven of the thirteen men who held the position of Roman Pope were the sons of families from the East. Before they could be installed, these Popes had to be approved by the head of State, the Byzantine emperor.[303] The union of church and state buoyed both, while the Byzantine papacy, along with losses to Islam, and corresponding changes within Christianity itself, put an end to Ancient Christianity. Most scholars agree the 7th and 8th centuries are when the 'end of the ancient world' is most conclusive and well documented.[304][305]: 85  Christianity transformed into its eclectic medieval forms as exemplified by the creation of the Papal state, and the alliance between the papacy and the militant Frankish king Charlemagne.[306][307][308]

Bulgaria

Geographic map of Balkan Peninsula
Geographic map of Balkan Peninsula
Southeastern Europe Late Ninth Century
Southeastern Europe Late Ninth Century

Christianity had taken root in the Balkans when it was part of the Roman Empire. When the Slavs entered the area and conquered it in the fifth century, they adopted the religion of those they had subdued.[309] In 680, Khan Aspuruk, the leader of an ethnically mixed pagan tribe led an army of Proto-Bulgars across the Danube, conquering the Slavs.[310]: 643 [311] They settled, and the First Bulgarian Empire was founded in 680/1 with the capitol at Pliska. Over the next two centuries, they fought on and off to protect their borders from various tribes and Byzantium.[312]: 329–330 

Omurtag became Khan in 814. He persecuted Christians, but war with Byzantium, and other wars to acquire territory, brought many Christian prisoners of war into the state. The histories say their faith in the face of extreme misery impressed some of their captors including one of Omurtag's sons who converted. Under Omurtag, Bulgaria and Byzantium maintained a 30-year peace treaty that allowed for more contact, and this increased Christian missionary activities.[312]: 331  Christianity spread, while the nobility who were largely Proto-Bulgarians, remained steadfastly pagan.[309]

Official Christianization began in 864/5 under Khan Boris I (852– 889) who had been baptized in 864 in the capital city, Pliska, by Byzantine priests.[312]: 331–332  The need to secure the country's borders, at least from Byzantium, was compounded by the need for internal peace between the different ethnic groups.[313] Boris I determined that imposing Christianity was the answer.[314] The decision was partly military, partly domestic, and partly to diminish the power of the Proto-Bulgarian nobility. A number of nobles reacted violently; 52 were executed.[315] After prolonged negotiations with both Rome and Constantinople, an autocephalous Bulgarian Orthodox Church was formed that used the newly created Cyrillic script to make the Bulgarian language the language of the Church.[316]

Boris' eldest son, Vladimir, also called Rasate, probably ruled from 889 – 893. He was deposed in 893 amidst accusations he was planning to abandon the Christian faith. Scholars remain uncertain as to the veracity of the accusation.[312]: 332  His younger brother Symeon, Boris' third son, replaced him, ruling from 893 to 927. He intensified the translation of Greek literature and theology into Bulgarian, and enabled the establishment of an intellectual circle called the school of Preslav.[312]: 332  Symeon also led a series of wars against the Byzantines to gain official recognition of his Imperial title and the full independence of the Bulgarian Church. As a result of his victories in 927, the Byzantines finally recognized the Bulgarian Patriarchate.[312]: 332 

Serbia

Seal of prince Strojimir of Serbia, from the late 9th century – one of the oldest artifacts of the Christianization of the Serbs
Seal of prince Strojimir of Serbia, from the late 9th century – one of the oldest artifacts of the Christianization of the Serbs
Basil I with delegation of Serbs
Basil I with delegation of Serbs

The Serbs were baptised during the reign of Heraclius (610–641) by "elders of Rome" according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his annals (r. 913–959).

In 733, Leo III attaches the province of Illyricum to Patriarch Anastasius of Constantinople.[317]

The establishment of Christianity as state religion dates to the time of Eastern Orthodox missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Basil I (r. 867–886) who baptised the Serbs sometime before sending imperial admiral Nikita Orifas to Knez Mutimir for aid in the war against the Saracens in 869, after acknowledging the suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire. The fleets and land forces of Zahumlje, Travunia and Konavli (Serbian Pomorje) were sent to fight the Saracens who attacked the town of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) in 869, on the immediate request of Basil I, who was asked by the Ragusians for help.[318] A Serbian bishopric (Diocese of Ras) may have been founded in Stari Ras in 871 by Serbian Knez Mutimir, confirmed by the Council of Constantinople in 879–80.[319]

Adherence to Christianity is evident in the tradition of theophoric names in the next generation of Serbian monarchs and nobles; Petar Gojniković, Stefan Mutimirović, Pavle Branović. Mutimir maintained the communion with the Eastern Church (Constantinople) when Pope John VIII invited him to recognize the jurisdiction of the bishopric of Sirmium. The Serbs adopt the Old Slavonic liturgy instead of the Greek.[320]

By the 870s, the Serbs were baptized and had established the Eparchy of Ras, on the order of Emperor Basil I.

Croatia

According to Constantine VII, Christianization of Croats began in the 7th century.[321][322] Viseslav (r. 785–802), one of the first dukes of Croatia, left behind a special baptismal font, which symbolizes the acceptance of the church, and thereby Western culture, by the Croats. The conversion of Croatia is said to have been completed by the time of Duke Trpimir's death in 864. In 879, under duke Branimir, Croatia received papal recognition as a state from Pope John VIII.[323]

The Narentine pirates, based on the Croatian coast, remained pagans until the late ninth century.[324]

Hungarian historian László Veszprémy writes: "By the end of the 11th century, Hungarian expansion had secured Croatia, a country that was coveted by both the Venetian and Byzantine empires and had already adopted the Latin Christian faith. The Croatian crown was held by the Hungarian kings up to 1918, but Croatia retained its territorial integrity throughout. It is not unrelated that the borders of Latin Christendom in the Balkans have remained coincident with the borders of Croatia into present times".[325]

Discover more about Christianization of Europe (6th–9th centuries) related topics

Interpretatio Christiana

Interpretatio Christiana

Interpretatio Christiana is adaptation of non-Christian elements of culture or historical facts to the worldview of Christianity. The term is commonly applied to recasting of religious and cultural activities, beliefs and imageries of "pagan" peoples into a Christianized form as a strategy for Christianization. From a Christian perspective, "pagan" refers to the various religious beliefs and practices of those who adhered to non-Abrahamic faiths, including within the Greco-Roman world the traditional public and domestic religion of ancient Rome, imperial cult, Hellenistic religion, the ancient Egyptian religion, Celtic and Germanic polytheism, initiation religions such as the Eleusinian Mysteries and Mithraism, the religions of the ancient Near East, and the Punic religion.

Edict of Milan

Edict of Milan

The Edict of Milan was the February 313 AD agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire. Western Roman Emperor Constantine I and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, met in Mediolanum and, among other things, agreed to change policies towards Christians following the edict of toleration issued by Emperor Galerius two years earlier in Serdica. The Edict of Milan gave Christianity legal status and a reprieve from persecution but did not make it the state church of the Roman Empire. That occurred in AD 380 with the Edict of Thessalonica.

Justinian I

Justinian I

Justinian I, also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565.

Anthony Kaldellis

Anthony Kaldellis

Anthony Kaldellis is a Greek historian who is Professor and a faculty member of the Department of Classics at the University of Chicago. He is a specialist in Greek historiography, Plato and Byzantine Studies. He is also the author of numerous monographs on classical antiquity and the Byzantine Empire, which have been translated into many languages.

Charlemagne

Charlemagne

Charlemagne or Charles the Great, a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the Emperor of the Romans from 800. Charlemagne succeeded in uniting the majority of western and central Europe and was the first recognized emperor to rule from western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire around three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded was the Carolingian Empire. He was canonized by Antipope Paschal III—an act later treated as invalid—and he is now regarded by some as beatified in the Catholic Church.

Christianization of Bulgaria

Christianization of Bulgaria

The Christianization of Bulgaria was the process by which 9th-century medieval Bulgaria converted to Christianity. It reflected the need of unity within the religiously divided Bulgarian state as well as the need for equal acceptance on the international stage in Christian Europe. This process was characterized by the shifting political alliances of Boris I of Bulgaria with the kingdom of the East Franks and with the Byzantine Empire, as well as his diplomatic correspondence with the Pope.

Asparuh of Bulgaria

Asparuh of Bulgaria

Asparuh was а ruler of Bulgars in the second half of the 7th century and is credited with the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681.

Pliska

Pliska

Pliska was the first capital of the First Bulgarian Empire during the Middle Ages and is now a small town in Shumen Province, on the Ludogorie plateau of the Danubian Plain, 20 km northeast of the provincial capital, Shumen.

Omurtag of Bulgaria

Omurtag of Bulgaria

Omurtag was a Great Khan (Kanasubigi) of Bulgaria from 814 to 831. He is known as "the Builder".

Boris I of Bulgaria

Boris I of Bulgaria

Knyaz Boris I, venerated as Saint Tsar Boris I (Mihail) the Baptizer, was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889. At the time of his baptism in 864, Boris was named Michael after his godfather, Emperor Michael III. The historian Steven Runciman called him one of the greatest persons in history.

Autocephaly

Autocephaly

Autocephaly is the status of a hierarchical Christian church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. The term is primarily used in Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. The status has been compared with that of the churches (provinces) within the Anglican Communion.

Cyrillic script

Cyrillic script

The Cyrillic script, Slavonic script or the Slavic script, is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic, Turkic, Mongolic, Uralic, Caucasian and Iranic-speaking countries in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, North Asia, and East Asia.

Christianization of Europe (10th - 14th centuries)

Historical background

The intense and rapid changes of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, which included a "profound revolution in religious sentiment", are considered to be among the most significant in the history of Christianization.[326]: 4, 5 

New monk new Christianization

The church of this era had immense authority, but the key to its power was a reformation movement that swept through Europe in the 900's.[327][326]: 4  It focused on the moral reform of the clergy, establishing the supremacy of the Pope, and gaining freedom from state control. It was unable to fully accomplish any of these goals, but even partial fulfillment impacted the church's approach to Christianization.[326]: 4–5 

The reform movement created two images of the Benedictine ideal: the traditional contemplative, and the new monks, from new communities like the Dominicans, who actively participated in reforming the world.[328] Dominicans came to dominate the new universities, traveled about preaching against heresy, and eventually became notorious for their participation in the Medieval Inquisition, the Albigensian Crusade and the Northern crusades.[329] Christian policy denying the existence of witches and witchcraft would later be challenged by the Dominicans allowing them to participate in witch trials (which was opposed and eventually stopped by the Jesuits).[330]: abstract [331]: 183 

The monk's new focus on reforming the world created a new form of Christianization evident in the conversions of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary.[332] Conversion began with local elites who wanted to convert because they gained prestige and power through matrimonial alliances and their participation in imperial rituals.[1][note 17] Christianity then spread from the center to the periphery.[1] Historian Ivo Štefan writes that, "Although Christian authors often depicted the conversion of rulers as the triumph of the new faith, the reality was much more complex. Christianization of everyday life took centuries, with many non-Christian elements surviving in rural communities until the beginning of the modern era".[1]

Centralizing power, no Christianization

Expulsions of Jews in Europe from 1100 to 1600
Expulsions of Jews in Europe from 1100 to 1600

By 1150, a watershed period in European history had begun.[333] As western culture became more secular, kings took legal, military, and social powers, and rights, away from the aristocracy and minorities in order to centralize that power into themselves and their nations.[334][335][336]: xviii [337] Church leaders supported this through Christian rhetoric and new canon law.[338]: 224 [339]: 8–10 [note 18] The church did not have the leading role in this, but the church supported and did not oppose it.[342] The church of this period was more focused on crushing heresy than on Christianization through evangelical missions.[343]

By the 1300's, kings in France and England had been so successful at centralizing power that many others wanted to imitate them, including the church.[344] The popes of the fourteenth century worked to amass power into the papal position building what is often called the papal monarchy.[345][346] This was accomplished partly through the reorganization of the ecclesiastical financial system. The poor had previously been allowed to offer their tithes in goods and services, but these popes revamped the system to only accept only cash money.[345] A steady cash flow brought with it the power of great wealth. The papal states, property the church directly owned, were governed by the pope as the secular powers governed: with "royal secretaries, efficient treasuries, national judiciaries, and representative assemblies". The pope became a pseudo-monarch.[345]

These fourteenth century popes were greedy and politically corrupt, so that pious Christians of the period became disgusted, leading to the loss of papal prestige.[345][347] Devoted and virtuous nuns and monks became increasingly rare. Monastic reform had been a major force in the High Middle Ages but is largely unknown in the Late Middle Ages. Christian missions are almost non-existent everywhere but Asia.[348]

People living during this period experienced Plague, famine and war that ravaged most of the continent, social unrest, urban riots, peasant revolts and renegade feudal armies. They did so with a church unable to provide moral leadership as a result of its own internal conflict and corruption.[349] The church reached its nadir from 1309 to 1377 when there were three different men claiming to be the rightful Pope.[350][345]

"What the observer of the papacy witnessed in the second half of the thirteenth [and fourteenth] centuries was a gradual, though clearly perceptible, decomposition of Europe as a single ecclesiastical unit, and the fragmentation of Europe into independent, autonomous entities which were soon to be called national monarchies or states. This fragmentation heralded the withering away of the papacy as a governing institution operating on a universal scale."[351] ...The [later] Reformation only administered the coup de grâce."[347]

Christianization and politics

Throughout central and eastern Europe, Christianization and political centralization went hand in hand creating what Peter Brown describes as, "specific micro-Christendoms".[352][1][note 19] László Veszprémy writes that within this process of Christianization, "The eleventh century in Europe gave birth, not just to new states, but to a new region which later became known as East Central Europe".[356]

Bohemia/Czech lands

What was Bohemia forms much of the Czech Republic, comprising the central and western portions of the country.[357] Evidence of Christianity in this region north of the Danube can be found dating from the time of Roman occupation in the second century.[358]: 123  Christianity was developing organically until the arrival of the Huns in 433 which Christianity survived only to a small extent. From the 7th century, in the territory of contemporary Slovakia, (Great Moravia and its successor state Duchy of Bohemia), Christianization was sustained by the intervention of various missions from the Frankish Empire and Byzantine enclaves in Italy and Dalmatia.[359][358]: 125 

Significant missionary activity only took place after Charlemagne defeated the Avar Khaganate several times at the end of the 8th century and beginning of the ninth centuries.[358]: 124–125  A key event with significant influence on the Christianization of Slavs was the elevation of the Salzburg diocese to archdiocese by Charlemagne with permission from the Pope in 798.[358]: 124 

The first Christian church of the Western and Eastern Slavs (known to written sources) was built in 828 by Pribina, the ruler and Prince of the Principality of Nitra, called Nitrava (today Nitra, Slovakia), although probably still a pagan himself.[360][361] The first Moravian ruler known by name, Mojmír I, was baptized in 831 by Reginhar, Bishop of Passau.[362] Despite formal endorsement by the elites, Great Moravian Christianity was described as containing many pagan elements as late as in 852.[363]

Church organization was supervised by the Franks. Prince Rastislav's request for missionaries had been sent to Byzantine Emperor Michael III (842–867) in hopes of establishing a local church organization independent of Frankish clergy.[358]: 124 [364] In the Christianization process of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia territories, the two Byzantine missionary brothers Saints Constantine-Cyril and Methodius played the key roles beginning in 863.[358]: 126; 129  They spent approximately 40 months in Great Moravia continuously translating texts and teaching students.[358]: 127  Cyril developed the first Slavic alphabet and translated the Gospel into the Old Church Slavonic language.[364] Old Church Slavonic became the first literary language of the Slavs and, eventually, the educational foundation for all Slavic nations.[358]: 127 

In 869 Methodius was consecrated as (arch)bishop of Pannonia and the Great Moravia regions.[358]: 127  In 880, Pope John VIII issued the bull Industriae Tuae, by which he set up the independent ecclesiastical province that Rastislav had hoped for, with Archbishop Methodius as its head.[358]: 128  The independent archdiocese managed by Methodius was established only for a short time, but relics of this church organization withstood the fall of Great Moravia.[358]: 129 

Poland

According to historians Franciszek Longchamps de Bérier and Rafael Domingo: "A pre-Christian Poland never existed. Poland entered history suddenly when some western lands inhabited by the Slavs embraced Christianity. Christianity was brought to the region by Dobrawa of Bohemia, the daughter of Boleslaus I the Cruel, Duke of Bohemia, when Duke Mieszko I was baptized and married her in 966." [365] The dynastic interests of the Piasts produced the establishment of both church and state in Great Poland (Greater Poland, often known by its Polish name "Wielkopolska" is a historical region of west-central Poland. Its chief and largest city is Poznań.). That seems to have been a planned strategic decision.[366]

The "Baptism of Poland" (Polish: Chrzest Polski) in 966, refers to the baptism of Mieszko I, the first ruler. "The young Christian state acquired its own Slavic martyr, Wojciech (known as Adalbert), in 1000, plus the archbishopric in Gniezno and four bishoprics (Poznań, Kraków, Wrocław and Kołobrzeg). This Christian state, the earliest attempt at Christianization in this region of Europe, lasted for roughly 70 years".[366] Mieszko's baptism was followed by the building of churches and the establishment of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Mieszko saw baptism as a way of strengthening his hold on power, with the active support he could expect from the bishops, as well as a unifying force for the Polish people.[366]

Hungary

Image of the King Saint Stephen I of Hungary, from the medieval codex Chronicon Pictum from the 14th century.
Image of the King Saint Stephen I of Hungary, from the medieval codex Chronicon Pictum from the 14th century.

Christianity existed in what would become present day Hungary from the time of Roman rule.[367]: 134  At the end of the ninth century, the Magyars occupied said territory finding widespread traces of Christianity amongst the Avar tribes, the Bulgars and the Slavs who had previously settled there; there is also historical evidence the Magyar people brought with them a prior knowledge of Christianity.[367]: 134–135 

Around 952, the tribal chief Gyula II of Transylvania, visited Constantinople and was baptized, bringing home with him Hierotheus who was designated bishop of Turkia (Hungary).[368][369] Medieval historian Phyllis G. Jestice writes that Gyula's son-in-law "Géza of Hungary became Duke of the Hungarians [around 970] and began a new open door policy to the west that made mission in that region possible for the first time".[370] Some scholars say Géza used forced conversion, and ruthlessly removed pagan idols and cultic places, but there is little support as Géza is largely excluded from the historical record of Hungary's conversion.[371][372] The conversion of Gyula at Constantinople and the missionary work of Bishop Hierotheus are depicted as leading directly to the court of St. Stephen, the first Hungarian king, a Christian in a still mostly pagan country.[367]: 141 [332]

While there is historiographical dispute over who actually converted the Hungarian people, King Stephen or the German Emperor Henry II,[373] there is agreement that the realm King Stephen inherited had no established church system, and that monarchy was a break from the "old law".[372] Stephen suppressed rebellion, organized both the Hungarian State (establishing strong royal authority), and the church, by inviting missionaries, and suppressing paganism by making laws requiring the people to attend church every Sunday.[372] Soon the Hungarian Kingdom had two archbishops and 8 bishops, and a defined state structure with province governors that answered to the King. Stephen opened the frontiers of his Kingdom in 1016 to the pilgrims that traveled by land to the Holy Land, and soon this route became extremely popular, being used later in the Crusades. Stephen often personally met pilgrims and invited them to stay in Hungary.[372] Saint Stephen was the first Hungarian monarch elevated to sainthood for his Christian characteristics and not because he suffered a martyr's death.[374]

The beginning of the 11th century marks the end of the first stage of the founding of church and state in Hungary. Hungarian Christianity and the kingdom's ecclesiastical and temporal administrations consolidated towards the end of the 11th century, especially under Ladislas I and Coloman when the feudal order was finally established, the first saints were canonized, and new dioceses were founded.[375]

Kievan Rus'

The Baptism of Kievans, a painting by Klavdiy Lebedev
The Baptism of Kievans, a painting by Klavdiy Lebedev

In 945, Igor, the duke of the Rus’, entered a trade agreement with Byzantium in exchange for soldiers, and when those mercenaries returned, they brought Christianity with them.[376] Duchess Olga was the first member of the ruling family to accept baptism, ca. 950 in Constantinople, but it did not spread immediately.[377]

Around 978, Vladimir (978–1015), the son of Sviatoslav, seized power in Kiev.[355] Slavic historian Ivo Štefan writes that, Vladimir examined monotheism for himself, and "Around that same time, Vladimir conquered Cherson in the Crimea, where, according to the Tale of Bygone Years, he was baptized".[377] After returning to Kiev, the same text describes Vladimir as unleashing "a systematic destruction of pagan idols and the construction of Christian churches in their place".[377]

Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary had become part of western Latin Christianity, while the Rus’ adopted Christianity from Byzantium, leading them down a different path.[378] A specific form of Rus' Christianity formed quickly.[377] The Rus’ dukes maintained exclusive control of the church which was financially dependent upon them.[377] The prince appointed the clergy to positions in government service; satisfied their material needs; determined who would fill the higher ecclesiastical positions; and directed the synods of bishops in the Kievan metropolitanate.[379] This new Christian religious structure was imposed upon the socio-political and economic fabric of the land by the authority of the state's rulers.[380] According to Andrzej Poppe, Slavic historian, it is fully justifiable to call the Church of Rus' a state church. The Church strengthened the authority of the Prince, and helped to justifiy the expansion of Kievan empire into new territories through missionary activity.[379]

Clergy formed a new layer in the hierarchy of society. They taught Christian values, a Christian world view, the intellectual traditions of Antiquity, and translated religious texts into local vernacular language which introduced literacy to all members of the princely dynasty, including women, as well as the populace.[381] Monasteries of the twelfth century became key spiritual, intellectual, art, and craft centers.[352] Under Vladimir’s son Yaroslav I the Wise (1016–1018, 1019–1054), a building and cultural boom took place.[352] The Church of Rus' gradually developed into an independent political force in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.[382]

Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway and Denmark)

Before Christianity arrived, there was a common Scandinavian culture with only regional differences. Early Scandinavian loyalties, of the Viking Age (793–1066 AD) and the early medieval period (6th to 10th century), were determined by warfare, temporary treaties, marriage alliances and wealth.[383] Having nothing equivalent to modern borders, kings rose and fell based primarily on their ability to gain wealth for their people.[384]

Christianization of Scandinavia is divided into two stages by Professor of medieval archaeology Alexandra Sanmark.[385] Stage 1 involves missionaries who arrive in pagan territory, on their own, without secular support.[302] This began during the Carolingian era (800s). However, early Scandinavians had been in contact with the Christian world as far back as the Migration Period (AD 375 (possibly as early as 300) to 568), and later during the Viking Age, long before the first documented missions.[386]

Florence Harmer writes that "Between A.D. 960 and 1008 three Scandinavian kings were converted to Christianity". The Danish King Harald Gormsen (Bluetooth) was baptized c. 960. The conversion of Norway was begun by Hákon Aðalsteinsfostri between 935 and 961, but the wide-scale conversion of this kingdom was undertaken by King Olav Tryggvason in c. 995. In Sweden, King Olof Erikson Skötkonung accepted Christianity around 1000.[387][388]: 122 

According to Peter Brown, Scandinavians adopted Christianity of their own accord c.1000.[389] Anders Winroth accepts this view, explaining that Iceland became the model for the institutional conversion of the rest of Scandinavia after the farmers voted to adopt Christian law at the Assembly at Thingvellir in AD 1000.[390]: 542  Winroth demonstrates that Scandinavians were not passive recipients of the new religion, but were instead converted to Christianity because it was in individual chieftains' political, economic, and cultural interests to do so.[391]

Women were important and influential early converts.[392] Scandinavian women might have found Christianity more appealing than Norse religion for a variety of reasons: Valhalla was unavailable to the majority of women; infanticide of female infants was a common practice, and it was forbidden within Christianity; Christianity had a generally less violent message, and it inserted "gender equality into marriage and sexual relations".[393]

Although Scandinavians became nominally Christian, it would take considerably longer for actual Christian beliefs to establish themselves among the people.[394] Archaeological excavations of burial sites on the island of Lovön near modern-day Stockholm have shown that the actual Christianization of the people was very slow and took at least 150–200 years.[395] Thirteenth-century runic inscriptions from the bustling merchant town of Bergen in Norway show little Christian influence, and one of them appeals to a Valkyrie.[396]

Stage 2 begins when a secular ruler takes charge of Christianization in their territory, and ends when a defined and organized ecclesiastical network is established.[397] For Scandinavia, the emergence of a stable ecclesiastical organization is also marked by closer links with the papacy. Archbishoprics were founded in Lund (1103/04), Nidaros (1153), and Uppsala (1164), and in 1152/3, Cardinal Nicholas Breakspear was sent as a papal legate to Norway and Sweden.[387] By 1350, Scandinavia was an integral part of Western Christendom.[398]

Baltic wars

Baltic Tribes c 1200
Baltic Tribes c 1200
Danish Bishop Absalon destroys the idol of Slavic god Svantevit at Arkona in a painting by Laurits Tuxen
Danish Bishop Absalon destroys the idol of Slavic god Svantevit at Arkona in a painting by Laurits Tuxen

From the days of Charlemagne (747-814), the people around the Baltic Sea had raided – stealing crucial resources, killing, and enslaving captives – from the countries that surrounded them including Denmark, Prussia, Germany and Poland.[399]: 23  In the eleventh century, German and Danish nobles united to put a stop to the raiding, in an attempt to force peace through military action, but it didn't last.[400]: 12 [399]: 23–25 

When the Pope (Blessed) Eugenius III (1145–1153) called for a Second Crusade in response to the fall of Edessa in 1144, Saxon nobles refused to go to the Levant.[399]: 65  These rulers did not see crusading as a moral, faith based duty as western crusaders did. They saw holy war as a tool for territorial expansion, alliance building, and the empowerment of their own young church and state.[401]: 121  Succession struggles would have left them vulnerable at home while they were gone, and the longer pilgrimage could not benefit them with those things that crusading at home would.[401]: 120, 133  In 1147, Eugenius' Divini dispensatione, gave the eastern nobles full crusade indulgences to go to the Baltic area instead of the Levant.[399]: 65 [400]: 71 [402]: 119  The Northern, (or Baltic), Crusades followed, taking place, off and on, with and without papal support, from 1147 to 1316.[400]: 287 [403][399]: 65, 75–77 

Law professor Eric Christiansen indicates the primary motivation for these wars was the noble's desire for territorial expansion and wealth in the form of land, furs, amber, slaves, and tribute.[400]: 10–15 [404]: 5, 6 [note 20] Taking the time for peaceful conversion did not fit in with these plans.[399]: 23–24, 29  Conversion by these princes was almost always a result of conquest, either by the direct use of force, or indirectly, when a leader converted and required it of his followers.[399]: 23, 24 

Monks and priests had to work with the secular rulers on the ruler's terms.[399]: 76  According to Fonnesberg-Schmidt, "While the theologians maintained that conversion should be voluntary, there was a widespread pragmatic acceptance of conversion obtained through political pressure or military coercion".[399]: 24  Acceptance led some commentators to endorse and approve coerced conversions, something that had not been done in the church before this time.[406]: 157–158 [399]: 24  Dominican friars helped with this ideological justification by offering a portrayal of the pagans as possessed by evil spirits. In this manner, they could assert that pagans were in need of conquest in order to free them from their terrible circumstance; then they could be peacefully converted.[407]: 58 [400]: 57 [408] There were often severe consequences for populations that chose to resist.[409]: 34 [410]: 9 [400]: 14–15 

Iberian Reconquista

San Pedro de la Nave, one of the oldest churches in Spain.
San Pedro de la Nave, one of the oldest churches in Spain.

Between 711 and 718, the Iberian peninsula had been conquered by Muslims in the Umayyad conquest. Spain and Sicily are the only European regions to have experienced Islamic conquest.[411] The blended Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures that resulted from the eighth century onward left a profound imprint on Spain.[411]

Depiction of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa by 19th-century painter Francisco de Paula Van Halen.
Depiction of the Battle of Navas de Tolosa by 19th-century painter Francisco de Paula Van Halen.

The centuries long military struggle to reclaim the peninsula from Muslim rule, called the Reconquista, took place until the Christian Kingdoms, that would later become Spain and Portugal, reconquered the Moorish states of Al-Ándalus in 1492 (see: Battle of Covadonga in 722 and the Conquest of Granada in 1492).

Isabel and Ferdinand united the country with themselves as its first royalty quickly establishing the Spanish Inquisition in order to consolidate state interest.[412]: 1, 2  The Spanish inquisition was originally authorized by the Pope, yet the initial inquisitors proved so severe that the Pope almost immediately opposed it; to no avail.[413]: 52, 53  Ferdinand is said to have pressured the Pope, and in October 1483, a papal bull conceded control of the inquisition to the Spanish crown. According to Spanish historian José Casanova, the Spanish inquisition became the first truly national, unified and centralized state institution.[414]: 75  After the 1400s, few Spanish inquisitors were from the religious orders.[412]: 2 

Romania

Romania became Christian in a gradual manner beginning when Rome conquered the province of Dacia (106-107). The Romans brought Latinization through intense and massive colonization.[415] Rome withdrew in the third century, then the Slavs reached Dacia in the 6th to 7th centuries and were eventually assimilated.[416] By the 8th to 9th centuries, Romanians existed in a "frontier" on the other side of the Carpathian mountains between Latin, Catholic Europe and the Byzantine, Orthodox East.[417] During most of this period, being Christian allowed its relative observance in parallel with the continued observance of some pagan customs.[418]

Missionaries from south of the Danube moved north spreading their western faith and their Latin language.[419] In the last two decades of the 9th century, missionaries Clement and Naum, (who were disciples of the brothers Cyril and Methodius who had converted the Old Slavic language to a written form in 863), had arrived in the region spreading the Cyrillic alphabet.[416] By the 10th century when the Bulgarian Tsars extended their territory to include Transylvania, they were able to impose the Bulgarian church model and its Slavic language without opposition.[420] Nearly all Romanian words concerning Christian faith have Latin roots, while words regarding the organization of the church are Slavonic.[415]

Romanian historian Ioan-Aurel Pop writes that "Christian fervor and the massive conversion to Christianity among the Slavs may have led to the canonic conversion of the last heathen, or ecclesiastically unorganized, Romanian islands".[416] For Romanians, the church model was "overwhelming, omnipresent, putting pressure on the Romanians and often accompanied by a political element".[416] This ecclesiastical and political tradition continued until the 19th century.[421]

Albania

Albanian historian Robert Elsie writes that, "In a book published in 1994, German professor Gottfried Schramm (b. 1929) linked the Albanians to the ancient Bessi or Bessoi (Gk. Βέσσοι or Βῆσσοι), a Thracian tribe living around ancient Remesiana (Bela Palanka) in the current Serbian-Bulgarian-Macedonian border region. According to Schramm, these Bessi were converted to Christianity very early" by Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana, "and were later pushed westward into Albania in the early ninth century" bringing their religion with them.[422] The history of Albania by Movses Daskhurantsi or Kaghankatvatsi insists on the apostolic origin of Albanian Christianity through St. Elisaeus (Eghishe).[423] However, most scholars agree that Christianity was officially adopted in AD 313 or AD 315 when Gregory the Illuminator baptized the Albanian king and ordained the first bishop Tovmas, the founder of the Albanian church. It is highly probable that Christianization covered the whole of antique Albania by the late fourth century.[424][425]

According to Elsie,

Albania found itself on the cultural border that separated Latin influence to the north from Greek influence to the south. The dividing line between the two, known to historians as the Jireček Line, ran through Albania from around Laç (between Tirana and Lezha) in an easterly, slightly north-easterly direction. North of this line one encounters inscriptions primarily in Latin, whereas south of the line, and more overwhelmingly south of the Shkumbin valley, one encounters inscriptions in Greek. As a cultural divide, the Jireček Line still finds its reflection in Albania today. Christian Albanians to the north of it are Catholic in their vast majority, whereas Christian Albanians to the south of it are almost all Orthodox.[426]

Lithuania

Grand Duchy of Lithuania Rus and Samogitia 1434
Grand Duchy of Lithuania Rus and Samogitia 1434

The last of the Baltic crusades was the conflict between the mostly German Teutonic Order and Lithuania in the far northeastern reaches of Europe. Lithuania is sometimes described as "the last pagan nation in medieval Europe".[427]: abstract .

The Teutonic Order was a crusading organization for the Christian Holy Land founded by members of the Knights Hospitaller. Medieval historian Aiden Lilienfeld says "In 1226, however, the Duke of Mazovia (in modern-day Poland) granted the Order territory in eastern Prussia in exchange for help in subjugating pagan Baltic peoples".[405]

Lilienfeld says "their status as a crusading “monastic” order meant that they could only claim autonomy and legitimacy so long as they could convince the other European Catholic states, from whom they received recruits and financial support, that the Order had a job to do: to convert pagan populations that Catholic rulers perceived to be a threat to Christendom. The greatest of these perceived threats was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania."[405]

Over the course of the next 200 years, the Order expanded its territory to cover much of the eastern Baltic coast.[405]

In 1384, the ten year old daughter of Louis of Anjou, named Jadwiga, was crowned king of Poland. One year later, a marriage was arranged between her and the Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania. Jogaila was baptized, married, and crowned king in 1386 beginning the 400 year shared history of Poland and Lithuania.[428] This would seem to obviate the need for the Order's crusade, yet activity against local populations, particularly the Samogition peoples of the eastern Baltic, continued in a frequently brutal manner.[405]

The Teutonic Order eventually fell to Poland-Lithuania in 1525. Lilienfeld says that "After this, the Order’s territory was divided between Poland-Lithuania and the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg, putting an end to the monastic state and the formal Northern Crusade. All of the Order’s most powerful cities–Danzig (Gdansk), Elbing (Elblag), Marienburg (Malbork), and Braunsberg (Braniewo)–now fall within Poland in the 21st century, except for Koenigsburg (Kaliningrad) in Russia."[405]

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Early colonialism (1500s -1700s)

Following the geographic discoveries of the 1400's and 1500's, increasing population and inflation led the emerging nation-states of Portugal, Spain, the Dutch Republic, France, and England to explore, conquer, colonize and exploit the newly discovered territories.[429] While colonialism was primarily economic and political, it opened the door for Christian missionaries who soon followed.[430][431]: 152  These missionaries were not officially sent out as agents of colonial governments, and there were differing levels of missionary support and opposition to colonialism within different states, yet there is enough evidence for Christianization to be seen as an aspect of colonialism.[432]

African historian Lamin Sanneh writes that Christianity's role in colonialism was not of one type.[433] There is an equal amount of evidence of missionary opposition to colonialism through "protest and resistance both in the church and in politics".[433] Missions, in Sanneh's view, were "colonialism's Achilles heel, not its shield".[434] According to historical theologian Justo Gonzales, colonialism and missions each sometimes aided and sometimes impeded the other.[435]: 418 

Different state actors created colonies that varied widely.[436] Some colonies had institutions that allowed native populations to reap some benefits. Others became extractive colonies with predatory rule that produced an autocracy with a dismal record.[437]

Portugal and Spain

Under Spanish and Portuguese rule, creating a Christian Commonwealth was the goal of missions.[438] This included a significant role played by Catholic missionaries, from the beginning, which led to the Christianization of the indigenous populations of the Americas such as the Aztecs and Incas.[439][440]

Evangelization of Mexico
Evangelization of Mexico
"First Mass in Brazil". painting by Victor Meirelles.
"First Mass in Brazil". painting by Victor Meirelles.

Portugal practiced extractive colonialism.[441] Early attempts at Christianization were not very successful, and those who had been converted were not well instructed. In the church's view, this led them into "errors and misunderstandings".[442] In December 1560, the Portuguese Inquisition arrived in Goa, India.[443] This was largely the result of the crown's fear that converted Jews were becoming dominant in Goa and might ally with Ottoman Jews to threaten Portuguese control of the spice trade.[444] After 1561 the Inquisition had a practical monopoly over heresy, and its "policy of terror ... was reflected in the approximately 15,000 trials which took place between 1561 and 1812, involving more than 200 death sentences."[445]

The Spanish military was known for its ill-treatment of Amerindians. Spanish missionaries are generally credited with championing efforts to initiate protective laws for the Indians and for working against their enslavement.[446]: 135  This led to debate on the nature of human rights.[447]: 287  The issue resulted in a crisis of conscience in 16th-century Spain and the birth of modern international law.[446]: 137 [448]: 109, 110 

A catastrophe was wrought upon the Amerindians by contact with Europeans. Old World diseases like smallpox, measles, malaria and many others spread through Indian populations. "In most of the New World 90 percent or more of the native population was destroyed by wave after wave of previously unknown afflictions. Explorers and colonists did not enter an empty land but rather an emptied one".[449]: 454 

The Dutch Republic

The Dutch Reformed church was not a dominant influence in the Dutch colonies.[450] However, the Dutch East Indies Trading Company used assimilation in its Asian port towns, encouraging intermarriage and cultural uniformity, to establish colonies.[451]

Britain

Great Britain's colonial expansion was for the most part driven by commercial ambitions and competition with France.[452] Investors saw converting the natives as a secondary concern.[431]

France

In the seventeenth century, the French used assimilation as a means of establishing colonies controlled by the state rather than private companies.[453] Within the context of western geocentrism, assimilation (integration of a small group into a larger one) has been used to legitimize European colonization morally and politically for centuries.[454] It advocated multiple aspects of European culture such as "civility, social organization, law, economic development, civil status," dress, bodily description, religion and more to the exclusion of local culture.[455]

Their goal was a political and religious community representative of an ideal society as articulated through the progressive theory of history. This common theory of the time asserts that history shows the normal progression of society is toward constant betterment; that humans could therefore eventually be perfected; that primitive nations could be forced to become modern states wherein that would happen.[456]

This was linked with the emergence of the modern state and was instrumental in the development of racialism.[457]

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Lamin Sanneh

Lamin Sanneh

Lamin Sanneh was the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity at Yale Divinity School and Professor of History at Yale University.

Christianization of Goa

Christianization of Goa

The indigenous population of the erstwhile Portuguese colony of Goa, Daman and Diu underwent Christianisation following the Portuguese conquest of Goa in 1510. The converts in the Velhas Conquistas to Roman Catholicism were then granted full Portuguese citizenship. Almost all present-day Goan Catholics are descendants of these native converts, they constitute the largest Indian Christian community of Goa state and account for 25 percent of the population.

Victor Meirelles

Victor Meirelles

Victor Meirelles de Lima was a Brazilian painter and teacher who is best known for his works relating to his nation's culture and history. From humble origins, his talent was soon recognized, being admitted as a student at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. He specialized in the genre of history painting, and upon winning the Academy's Foreign Travel Award, he spent several years training in Europe. There he painted his best-known work, Primeira Missa no Brasil. Returning to Brazil, he became one of emperor Pedro II's favorite painters, joining the monarch's patronage program and aligning himself with his proposal to renew the image of Brazil through the creation of visual symbols of its history.

Smallpox

Smallpox

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by variola virus which belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus. The last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the global eradication of the disease in 1980, making it the only human disease to be eradicated.

Measles

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40 °C (104 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Small white spots known as Koplik's spots may form inside the mouth two or three days after the start of symptoms. A red, flat rash which usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body typically begins three to five days after the start of symptoms. Common complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection (7%), and pneumonia (6%). These occur in part due to measles-induced immunosuppression. Less commonly seizures, blindness, or inflammation of the brain may occur. Other names include morbilli, rubeola, red measles, and English measles. Both rubella, also known as German measles, and roseola are different diseases caused by unrelated viruses.

Malaria

Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause jaundice, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, reinfection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.

New imperialism (19th to 20th century)

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, New Imperialism was a second wave of colonialism that lasted until World War II.[458]: 2  Economists Jan Henryk Pierskalla and Alexander de Juan write that "Early colonial encounters in the Americas of the fifteenth century had little in common with colonization in Africa during the age of the “New Imperialism".”[459] During this time, colonial powers gained territory at almost three times the rate of the earlier period.[460]

By 1914, these empires extended over 85% of the globe.[460] The two largest and most powerful empires were the British empire and the Japanese empire. "In addition to colonial rule, other means of domination were exercised in the form of spheres of influence, special commercial treaties, and the subordination that lenders often impose on debtor nations".[460]

The sixteenth century had been the "great age of Catholic expansion" whereas the nineteenth century was that for Protestantism.[435]: 302 

Germany

As a latecomer to the Scramble for Africa, Germany’s main interest was in making its colonies secure rather than to maximize extraction. Disturbances could be interpreted as a sign of weakness by its international rivals.[436]

Colonies in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Pacific

Settler colonialism is a distinct type of colonialism that replaces indigenous populations with a settler society. Settler colonial states include Canada, the United States, Australia, and South Africa.[461]

American colonialism

The beginning of American Protestant missions abroad followed the sailing of William Carey from England to India in 1793 after the Great awakening. An even greater effort was made to evangelize America itself.[462]: 185  However, Christianization was often mingled with Americanization creating ambiguity and other problems.[462]: 188 

For example, a peace treaty with the Cherokee in 1794 stimulated a cultural revival and the welcoming of white missionaries. Mark Noll has written that "what followed was a slow but steady acceptance of the Christian faith".[462]: 188  Both Christianization and the Cherokee people received a fatal blow after the discovery of gold in north Georgia in 1828. Cherokee land was seized by the government, sold to white settlers and the Cherokee people were transported in what became known as the Trail of tears.[462]: 188–190 

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Civilizing mission

Civilizing mission

The civilizing mission is a political rationale for military intervention and for colonization purporting to facilitate the Westernization of indigenous peoples, especially in the period from the 15th to the 20th centuries. As a principle of Western culture, the term was most prominently used in justifying French colonialism in the late-15th to mid-20th centuries. The civilizing mission was the cultural justification for the colonial exploitation of French Algeria, French West Africa, French Indochina, Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Guinea, Portuguese Mozambique and Portuguese Timor, among other colonies. The civilizing mission also was a popular justification for the British, German, and American colonialism. In the Russian Empire, it was also associated with the Russian conquest of Central Asia and the Russification of that region. The western colonial powers claimed that, as Christian nations, they were duty-bound to disseminate Western civilization to what they perceived as heathen, primitive cultures.

Scramble for Africa

Scramble for Africa

The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, the Conquest of Africa or the Rape of Africa, was the invasion, annexation, division, and colonization of most of Africa by seven Western European powers during a short period known as New Imperialism. The 10 percent of Africa that was under formal European control in 1870 increased to almost 90 percent by 1914, with only Liberia and Ethiopia remaining independent.

History of immigration to the United States

History of immigration to the United States

The history of immigration to the United States details the movement of people to the United States, from the colonial era to the present. The United States experienced successive waves of immigration, particularly from Europe, and later from Asia and Latin America. Colonial era immigrants often repaid the cost of transoceanic transportation by becoming indentured servants where the new employer paid the ship's captain. Starting in the late 19th century, immigration was restricted from China and Japan. In the 1920s, restrictive immigration quotas were imposed, although political refugees had special status. Numerical restrictions ended in 1965. In recent years, the largest numbers have come from Asia and Central America.

Global Christianization

Impact of colonialism

"Sociologists have identified the key role of Christian missionaries, in particular Protestant missionaries, in generating a democratic legacy for many former colonies, through the spread of literacy, mass printing, and voluntary organizations. Although contact with Christian missionaries might have had beneficial long-term effects for human capital, political participation, and eventually democratization, contact with the colonial slave trade has had pernicious effects."[463]

Differences in colonial practices, along with the pre-existing conditions in the colonial states, have impacted modern post-colonial countries in their economic development, their democracy, and the ability of their government to accomplish policy goals.[464] The political legacies of colonialism include political instability, violence, and ethnic exclusion which is also linked to civil strife and civil war.[465]

Decolonization

Just as Christianization had a role in colonialism, it has also played a central role in decolonization moving former colonies toward independence.[466] Shifting beliefs about Christianity's role in empire began in France in the 1930's and 40's. These beliefs were tested in WWII opposition to Nazisim and worker aid in war's aftermath.[467] Christians were rethinking the relationship between religion and politics, and this included global missions. From the 1960's onward, Christian activism was instrumental in motivating indigenous people, such as the Algerians, to work toward and fight for independence from foreign governments. This in turn, influenced global trends.[468] In many colonial societies, Christian missionaries played a transformative role in the development of decolonization and post-colonial Christianity.[469]

Lamin Sanneh writes that "The convergence of the modern missionary movement with the rise of European empires complicated Christianity's position in colonized societies. Despite their role as allies of the empire, missions also developed the vernacular that inspired sentiments of national identity and thus undercut Christianity's identification with colonial rule".[470] In the post-colonial world, it has become necessary for Christianization to break free of its colonial moorings, says Sanneh.[471]

Third wave Christianization

Of the world's 7000 languages, the Bible and other Christian writings have been translated into more than 3000 of them. Approximately 90% of those languages have a written grammar and a dictionary only because of missionaries working with indigenous people to create them while doing those translations.[472] Tracing the impact of this shows it has produced "the movements of indigenization and cultural liberation".[473] "The translated scripture ... has become the benchmark of awakening and renewal".[474][471]

In the early twenty-first century, Christianity is declining in the West and growing in former colonial lands.[472] In 1900 under colonial rule there were just under 9 million Christians in Africa. By 1960, and the end of colonialism there were about 60 million. By 2005, African Christians had increased to 393 million, about half of the continent's total population.[472] Christianity has become the most diverse, pluralist, fastest growing religion in the world.[472]

According to Sanneh, this means that western missionaries pioneered the "largest, most diverse and most vigorous movement of cultural renewal in history".[475]

Christianization is now being practiced by Third World countries sending missionaries in an effort to re-evangelize the secular West.[476]

Sacred sites

Physical Christianization: the choir of San Salvatore, Spoleto, occupies the cella of a Roman temple.
Physical Christianization: the choir of San Salvatore, Spoleto, occupies the cella of a Roman temple.

Many Christian churches were built upon sites already consecrated as pagan temples or mithraea, the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (literally Saint Mary above Minerva) in Rome being simply the most obvious example, though a period of about 350 years of abandonment intervened between temple and church in this case. Sulpicius Severus, in his Vita of Martin of Tours, a dedicated destroyer of temples and sacred trees, remarks "wherever he destroyed heathen temples, there he used immediately to build either churches or monasteries".[477] There is a discrepancy between the written texts and archaeology, however, as none of the churches attributed to Martin of Tours can be shown to have existed in Gaul in the fourth century.[258]

When Benedict moved to Monte Cassino about 530, a small temple with a sacred grove and a separate altar to Apollo stood on the hill. The population was still mostly pagan. The land was most likely granted as a gift to Benedict from one of his supporters. This would explain the authoritative way he immediately cut down the groves, removed the altar, and built an oratory before the locals were converted instead of after.[478]

Christianizing native religious, cultural activities and beliefs became official in the sixth century. This argument (in favor of what in modern terms is syncretism), is preserved in the Venerable Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum in the form of a letter from Pope Gregory to Mellitus (d.604).[479] L. C. Jane has translated Bede's text:

Tell Augustine that he should by no means destroy the temples of the gods but rather the idols within those temples. Let him, after he has purified them with holy water, place altars and relics of the saints in them. For, if those temples are well built, they should be converted from the worship of demons to the service of the true God. Thus, seeing that their places of worship are not destroyed, the people will banish error from their hearts and come to places familiar and dear to them in acknowledgement and worship of the true God.

Further, since it has been their custom to slaughter oxen in sacrifice, they should receive some solemnity in exchange. Let them therefore, on the day of the dedication of their churches, or on the feast of the martyrs whose relics are preserved in them, build themselves huts around their one-time temples and celebrate the occasion with religious feasting. They will sacrifice and eat the animals not any more as an offering to the devil, but for the glory of God to whom, as the giver of all things, they will give thanks for having been satiated.

Thus, if they are not deprived of all exterior joys, they will more easily taste the interior ones. For surely it is impossible to efface all at once everything from their strong minds, just as, when one wishes to reach the top of a mountain, he must climb by stages and step by step, not by leaps and bounds. Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (1.30)

Richard A. Fletcher suggests that Holy wells developed out of a like adaptation.[480][481] The British Isles and other areas of northern Europe that were formerly druidic are still densely punctuated by holy wells and holy springs that are now attributed to a saint, often a highly local saint unknown elsewhere. In earlier times many of these were seen as guarded by supernatural forces such as the melusina, and many such pre-Christian holy wells appear to survive as baptistries. Not all pre-Christian holy places were respected enough for them to survive, however, as most ancient European sacred groves, such as the pillar Irminsul, were destroyed by Christianizing forces. The practice of replacing pagan beliefs and motifs with Christian, and purposefully not recording the pagan history (such as the names of pagan gods, or details of pagan religious practices), has been compared to the practice of damnatio memoriae.[482]

During the Reconquista and the Crusades, the cross served the symbolic function of possession that a flag would occupy today. At the siege of Lisbon in 1147, when a mixed group of Christians took the city, "What great joy and what a great abundance there was of pious tears when, to the praise and honor of God and of the most Holy Virgin Mary the saving cross was placed atop the highest tower to be seen by all as a symbol of the city's subjection."[483]

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Christianized sites

Christianized sites

The Christianization of sites that had been pagan occurred as a result of conversions in early Christian times, as well as an important part of the strategy of Interpretatio Christiana during the Christianization of pagan peoples. The landscape itself was Christianized, as prominent features were rededicated to Christian saints, sometimes quite directly, as when the island of Oglasa in the Tyrrhenian Sea was christened Montecristo.

Cella

Cella

A cella or naos is the inner chamber of an ancient Greek or Roman temple in classical antiquity. Its enclosure within walls has given rise to extended meanings, of a hermit's or monk's cell, and since the 17th century, of a biological cell in plants or animals.

Mithraism

Mithraism

Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries or the Cult of Mithras, was a Roman mystery religion centered on the god Mithras. Although inspired by Iranian worship of the Zoroastrian divinity (yazata) Mithra, the Roman Mithras is linked to a new and distinctive imagery, with the level of continuity between Persian and Greco-Roman practice debated. The mysteries were popular among the Imperial Roman army from about the 1st to the 4th-century CE.

Minerva

Minerva

Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. Minerva is not a patron of violence such as Mars, but of strategic war. From the second century BC onward, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva is one of the three Roman deities in the Capitoline Triad, along with Jupiter and Juno.

Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours, also known as Martin the Merciful, was the third bishop of Tours. He has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints in France, heralded as the patron saint of the Third Republic, and is patron saint of many communities and organizations across Europe. A native of Pannonia, he converted to Christianity at a young age. He served in the Roman cavalry in Gaul, but left military service at some point prior to 361, when he became a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers, establishing the monastery at Ligugé. He was consecrated as Bishop of Caesarodunum (Tours) in 371. As bishop, he was active in the suppression of the remnants of Gallo-Roman religion, but he opposed the violent persecution of the Priscillianist sect of ascetics.

Benedict of Nursia

Benedict of Nursia

Benedict of Nursia was an Italian Christian monk, writer, and theologian who is venerated in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, and Old Catholic Churches. He is a patron saint of Europe.

Monte Cassino

Monte Cassino

Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (80 mi) southeast of Rome, in the Latin Valley, Italy, 2 kilometres west of Cassino and at an elevation of 520 m (1,710 ft). Site of the Roman town of Casinum, it is widely known for its abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order, having been established by Benedict of Nursia himself around 529. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed.

Bede

Bede

Bede, also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable, was an English monk at the monastery of St Peter and its companion monastery of St Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles.

Mellitus

Mellitus

Saint Mellitus was the first bishop of London in the Saxon period, the third Archbishop of Canterbury, and a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity. He arrived in 601 AD with a group of clergy sent to augment the mission, and was consecrated as Bishop of London in 604. Mellitus was the recipient of a famous letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved in a later work by the medieval chronicler Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.

Richard A. Fletcher

Richard A. Fletcher

Richard Alexander Fletcher was a historian who specialised in the medieval period.

Holy well

Holy well

A holy well or sacred spring is a well, spring or small pool of water revered either in a Christian or pagan context, sometimes both. The water of holy wells is often thought to have healing qualities, through the numinous presence of its guardian spirit or Christian saint. They often have local legends associated with them; for example in Christian legends, the water is often said to have been made to flow by the action of a saint. Holy wells are often also places of ritual and pilgrimage, where people pray and leave votive offerings. In Celtic regions, strips of cloth are often tied to trees at holy wells, known as clootie wells.

Druid

Druid

A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written accounts. While they were reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form. Their beliefs and practices are attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks.

Symbolism

The cross is currently the most common symbol of Christianity, and has been for many centuries, coming to prominence during the 4th century (301 to 400 AD) And its known to be the most familiar and widely recognized symbol of Christianity today.[484]

Ancient pagan funeral rituals often remained within Christian culture as aspects of custom and community with very little alteration.[485] Pagans and Jews decorated their burial chambers, so Christians did as well, thereby creating the first Christian art in the catacombs beneath Rome.[486] This art is symbolic, rising out of a reinterpretation - a kind of Christianization - of Jewish and pagan symbolism.[487]

Noah catacomb (orans)
Noah catacomb (orans)

While many new subjects appear for the first time in the Christian catacombs - i.e. the Good Shepherd, Baptism, and the Eucharistic meal - the Orant figures (women praying with upraised hands) probably came directly from pagan art.[488][489]

The Ichthys, Christian Fish, also known colloquially as the Jesus Fish, was an early Christian secret symbol. Early Christians used the Ichthys symbol to identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ and to proclaim their commitment to Christianity. Ichthys is the Ancient Greek word for "fish," which explains why the sign resembles a fish;[484] the Greek word ιχθυς is an acronym for the phrase transliterated as "Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter", that is, "Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Savior". There are several other connections with Christian tradition relating to this choice of symbol: that it was a reference to the feeding of the multitude; that it referred to some of the apostles having previously been fishermen; or that the word Christ was pronounced by Jews in a similar way to the Hebrew word for fish (though Nuna is the normal Aramaic word for fish, making this seem unlikely).

Discover more about Symbolism related topics

Christian symbolism

Christian symbolism

Christian symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork or events, by Christianity. It invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas.

Viktor Vasnetsov

Viktor Vasnetsov

Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov was a Russian artist who specialised in mythological and historical subjects. He is considered a co-founder of Russian folklorist and romantic nationalistic painting, and a key figure in the Russian Revivalist movement.

Christian cross

Christian cross

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the crucifixion of Jesus on a large wooden cross, is a renowned symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English.

Ichthys

Ichthys

The ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthū́s is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. It has been speculated that the symbol was adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol; a shibboleth to determine if another was indeed Christian. It is now known colloquially as the "sign of the fish" or the "Jesus fish".

Aramaic

Aramaic

Aramaic is a Northwest Semitic language that originated among the Arameans in the ancient region of Syria, and quickly spread to Mesopotamia and eastern Anatolia where it has been continually written and spoken, in different varieties, for over three thousand years. Aramaic served as a language of public life and administration of ancient kingdoms and empires, and also as a language of divine worship and religious study. Several modern varieties, namely the Neo-Aramaic languages, are still spoken.

Source: "Christianization", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 29th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization.

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Notes
  1. ^ Michelle Salzman has shown that in the process of converting the Roman Empire's aristocracy, Christianity absorbed the values of that aristocracy.[9] Several early Christian writers, including Justin (2nd century), Tertullian, and Origen (3rd century) wrote of Mithraists copying Christian beliefs.[10] Christianity adopted aspects of Platonic thought, names for months and days of the week - even the concept of a seven-day week - from Roman paganism.[11][12]
  2. ^ The Council of Jerusalem (around 50 AD) agreed the lack of circumcision could not be a basis for excluding Gentile believers from membership in the Jesus community. They instructed converts to avoid "pollution of idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood" (KJV, Acts 15:20–21).[28] These were put into writing, distributed (KJV Acts 16:4–5) by messengers present at the council, and were received as an encouragement.[29]
  3. ^ There have, historically, been many different scholarly views on Constantine's religious policies.[54] For example Jacob Burckhardt has characterized Constantine as being "essentially unreligious" and as using the Church solely to support his power and ambition. Drake asserts that "critical reaction against Burckhardt's anachronistic reading has been decisive."[55] According to Burckhardt, being Christian automatically meant being intolerant, while Drake says that assumes a uniformity of belief within Christianity that does not exist in the historical record.[56]
    • Brown calls Constantine's conversion a "very Roman conversion."[57] "He had risen to power in a series of deathly civil wars, destroyed the system of divided empire, believed the Christian God had brought him victory, and therefore regarded that god as the proper recipient of religio".[57] Brown says Constantine was over 40, had most likely been a traditional polytheist, and was a savvy and ruthless politician when he declared himself a Christian.[58]
  4. ^ During his long reign, Constantine destroyed a few temples, plundered more, and generally neglected the rest.[61] In Eusebius' church history, there is a bold claim of a Constantinian campaign against the temples, however, there are discrepancies in the evidence.[69] Temple destruction is attested to in 43 cases in the written sources, but only four have been confirmed by archaeological evidence.[70] Trombley and MacMullen explain that discrepancies between literary sources and archaeological evidence exist because it is common for details in the literary sources to be ambiguous and unclear.[71][72][73] For example, Malalas claimed Constantine destroyed all the temples, then he said Theodisius destroyed them all, then he said Constantine converted them all to churches.[74][75]
    A number of elements coincided to end the temples, but none of them were strictly religious.[76] Earthquakes caused much of the destruction of this era.[77] Civil conflict and external invasions also destroyed many temples and shrines.[78] Economics was also a factor.[76][79][80]
    The Roman economy of the third and fourth centuries struggled, and traditional polytheism was expensive and dependent upon donations from the state and private elites.[81] Roger S. Bagnall reports that imperial financial support declined markedly after Augustus.[82] Lower budgets meant the physical decline of urban structures of all types.
    This progressive decay was accompanied by an increased trade in salvaged building materials, as the practice of recycling became common in Late Antiquity.[83] Economic struggles meant that necessity drove much of the destruction and conversion of pagan religious monuments.[76][79][80] In many instances, such as in Tripolitania, this happened before Constantine the Great became emperor.[84]
    Constantine "confiscated temple funds to help finance his own building projects", and he confiscated temple hoards of gold and silver to establish a stable currency; on a few occasions, he confiscated temple land;[85] he refused to personally support pagan beliefs and practices while also speaking out against them.[86] He forbade pagan sacrifices and closed temples that continued to offer them;[65] he wrote laws that favored Christianity; he granted to Christians those governmental privileges, such as tax exemptions and the right to hold property, that had previously been available only to pagan priests;[87][88] he personally endowed Christians with gifts of money, land and government positions.[89][60]. Yet Constantine never stopped the established state support of the traditional religious institutions.[86]
  5. ^ Constantine did not destroy large numbers of temples, but he did destroy a few. In the previous 300 years, Roman authority had periodically confiscated various church properties, some of which were associated with Christian holy places. For example, Christian historians alleged that Hadrian (2nd century) had, in the military colony of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem), constructed a temple to Aphrodite on the site of the crucifixion of Jesus on Golgotha hill in order to suppress Jewish Christian veneration there.[93] Constantine was vigorous in reclaiming confiscated properties whenever these issues were brought to his attention, and he used reclamation to justify the destruction of Aphrodite's temple in Jerusalem.[94][71][95] Using the vocabulary of reclamation, Constantine acquired several more sites of Christian significance in the Holy Land. At the sacred oak and spring at Mamre, a site venerated and occupied by Jews, Christians and pagans alike, the literature says Constantine ordered the burning of the idols, the destruction of the altar, and erection of a church on the spot of the temple.[96] The archaeology of the site, however, shows that Constantine’s church, along with its attendant buildings, only occupied a peripheral sector of the precinct, leaving the rest unhindered.[97]
    • Calculated acts of desecration - removing the hands and feet of statues of the divine, mutilating heads and genitals, tearing down altars and "purging sacred precincts with fire" - were acts committed by the people during the early centuries. While seen as 'proving' the impotence of the gods, pagan icons were also seen as having been “polluted” by the practice of sacrifice. They were, therefore, in need of "desacralization" or "deconsecration" (a practice not limited to Christians).[98] Brown says that, while it was in some ways studiously vindictive, it was not indiscriminate or extensive.[99][100] Once these objects were detached from 'the contagion' of sacrifice, they were seen as having returned to innocence. Many statues and temples were then preserved as art.[99] Professor of Byzantine history Helen Saradi-Mendelovici writes that this process implies appreciation of antique art and a conscious desire to find a way to include it in Christian culture.[101]
    • According to Alan Cameron, this violence was unofficial and without support from Christian clergy or state magistrates.[102][103] There are only a few examples (i.e. Martin of Tours) of Christian officials having any involvement in the violent destruction of pagan shrines. In the 380s, one eastern official (generally identified as the praetorian prefect Cynegius), used the army under his control and bands of monks to destroy temples in the eastern provinces.[104]
  6. ^ Cameron explains that, since Theodosius's predecessors Constantine, Constantius, and Valens had all been semi-Arians, it fell to the orthodox Theodosius to receive from Christian literary tradition most of the credit for the final triumph of Christianity.[117]
    Numerous literary sources, both Christian and pagan, falsely attributed to Theodosius multiple anti-pagan initiatives such as the withdrawal of state funding to pagan cults (this measure belongs to Gratian) and the demolition of temples (for which there is no primary evidence).[118]
    Theodosius was also associated with the ending of the Vestal virgins, but twenty-first century scholarship asserts the Virgins continued until 415 and suffered no more under Theodosius than they had since Gratian restricted their finances.[119]
    Theodosius did turn pagan holidays into workdays, but the festivals associated with them continued.[120]
    Theodosius was associated with ending the ancient Olympic Games, which he also probably did not do.[121][122] Sofie Remijsen [nl] says there are several reasons to conclude the Olympic games continued after Theodosius I, and that they came to an end under Theodosius the second, by accident, instead. Two extant scholia on Lucian connect the end of the games with a fire that burned down the temple of the Olympian Zeus during Theodosius the second's reign.[123]
  7. ^ The Edict of Thessalonica declared those Christians who refused the Nicene faith to be infames, and prohibited them from using Christian churches.[126] Sáry uses this example: "After his arrival in Constantinople, Theodosius offered to confirm the Arian bishop Demophilus in his see, if he would accept the Nicene Creed. After Demophilus refused the offer, the emperor immediately directed him to surrender all his churches to the Catholics."[127]
  8. ^ * Sozomen, the Constantinopolitan lawyer, wrote a history of the church around 443 where he references Theodosius' law of 8 November 392. This law has been described by some as a universal ban on paganism that made Christianity – in effect – the official religion of the empire.[133][134] However, it was only promulgated in the East.[135] The law describes and bans practices of private domestic sacrifice, such as the lares fire, which were thought to have "slipped out from under public control".[136][137][138] Sozomen evaluates the law of 392 as having had only minor significance at the time it was issued.[139]
    • According to Bayliss, "There is no single law of the Theodosian Code containing a specific order for the destruction of temples that does not include the pretext of sacrifice or idolatry. Even Theodosius’ law of 435, seen by most scholars as the coup de grace of surviving temples only applies to the temples of pagans who had committed illegal acts of sacrifice. It is quite possible that the significance of this law has been overemphasized by scholars".[140]
    • The Theodosian Law Code has long been one of the principal historical sources for the study of Late Antiquity.[141] Gibbon described the Theodosian decrees, in his Memoires, as a work of history rather than jurisprudence.[142] Brown says the language of these laws is uniformly vehement, and penalties are harsh and frequently horrifying, leading some historians, such as Ramsay MacMullen, to see them as a 'declaration of war' on traditional religious practices.[143][144]
    • It has been a common axiom among historians that the laws marked a turning point in the decline of paganism.[145] Yet, many contemporary scholars such as Lepelly, Brown and Cameron, and others question using a legal document as a record of history leading to ongoing debate over the characteristics of this period.[141][146]
    • Archaeologists Luke Lavan and Michael Mulryan have written that the Code can be seen to document "Christian ambition" but not historic reality.[147][141] The overtly violent fourth century that one would expect to find from taking the laws at face value is simply not supported by archaeological evidence from around the Mediterranean.[148][149][150]
    • Cameron concludes there is no solid evidence for a universal ban on paganism in the Roman empire.[151]
  9. ^ During his first official tour of Italy (389–391), the emperor won over the influential pagan lobby in the Roman Senate by appointing its foremost members to important administrative posts.[153] Theodosius also nominated the last pair of pagan consuls in Roman history (Tatianus and Symmachus) in 391.[154]
    • Theodosius allowed other pagan practices that did not involve sacrifice to be performed publicly and temples to remain open.[155][156][157] He also voiced his support for the preservation of temple buildings, but nonetheless failed to prevent the damaging of several holy sites in the eastern provinces.[157][158][159]
    • Following the death in 388 of Cynegius, the praetorian prefect thought to be responsible for that vandalization, Theodosius replaced him with a moderate pagan who subsequently moved to protect the temples.[160][116][161] There is no evidence of any desire on the part of the emperor to institute a systematic destruction of temples anywhere in the Theodosian Code, and no evidence in the archaeological record that extensive temple destruction took place.[162][163]
  10. ^ * In his 1984 book, Christianizing the Roman Empire: (A.D. 100–400), and again in 1997, Ramsay MacMullen argues that widespread Christian anti–pagan violence, as well as persecution from a "bloodthirsty" and violent Constantine (and his successors), caused the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.[168][169]
    • Award winning historian Michelle Renee Salzman describes MacMullen's book as "controversial".[169]
    • In a review, T. D. Barnes has written that MacMullen's book treats "non-Christian evidence as better and more reliable than Christian evidence", generalizes from pagan polemics as if they were unchallenged fact, misses important facts entirely, and shows an important selectivity in his choices of what ancient and modern works he discusses.[170]
    • David Bentley Hart also gives a detailed discussion of MacMullen's "careless misuse of textual evidence".[171]
    • Schwarz says MacMullen is an example of a modern minimalist.[172] Schwarz suggests that minimalism is beginning to show signs of decline because it tends to understate the significance of some human actions, and so makes assumptions that are hard to support.[173] As a result, "MacMullen's account of Christianization as basically an aggregation of accidents and contingencies" is not broadly supported.[174]
    • In Gaul, some of the most influential textual sources on pagan-Christian violence concerns Martin, Bishop of Tours (c. 371–397), the Pannonian ex-soldier who is "solely credited in the historical record as the militant converter of Gaul".[175]
    • These texts have been criticized for lacking historical veracity, even by ancient critics, but they are still useful for illuminating views of violence held in late fourth century Gaul.[176]
    • The portion of the sources devoted to attacks on pagans is limited, and they all revolve around Martin using his miraculous powers to overturn pagan shrines and idols, but not to ever threaten or harm people.[177]
    • Salzman concludes that "None of Martin's interventions led to the deaths of any Gauls, pagan or Christian.
    • Even if one doubts the exact veracity of these incidents, the assertion that Martin preferred non-violent conversion techniques says much about the norms for conversion in Gaul" at the time Martin's biography was written.[178]
    • Archaeologist David Riggs writes that evidence from North Africa reveals a tolerance of religious pluralism and a vitality of traditional paganism much more than it shows any form of religious violence or coercion: "persuasion, such as the propagation of Christian apologetics, appears to have played a more critical role in the eventual "triumph of Christianity" than was previously assumed".[179][180]
    • Archaeologists Luke Lavan and Michael Mulryan of the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology indicate that archaeology does not show evidence of widespread conflict.[181]
    • In the twenty first century, the conflict model of Christianization has become marginalized.[182] According to Raymond Van Dam, "an approach which emphasizes conflict flounders as a means for explaining both the initial attractions of a new cult like Christianity, as well as, more importantly, its persistence".[183]
  11. ^ Constantine's sons banned pagan state religious sacrifices in 341.[191] The content and intent of this law is much debated.[192] In English, it says "Superstition shall cease; the madness of sacrifices shall be abolished. For if any man in violation of the law of the sainted Emperor, Our father, and in violation of this command of Our Clemency, should dare to perform sacrifices, he shall suffer the infliction of a suitable punishment and the effect of an immediate sentence." Interpretation depends entirely on what was meant by the term superstitio.[193] In fact, independent testimony from the period 340-363 indicates that paganism and sacrifice continued in Rome despite the law.[194]
  12. ^ St Barbatus, bishop of Benevento in the 670s, describes the Lombards in the city of Benevento as worshipping a simulacrum of a viper and swearing oaths as they galloped past a hide hung on a tree.[209] When St. Barbatus converted the Beneventine Lombards to Christianity, he caused the tree to be cut down but some centuries afterwards, in 1526, Judge Paolo Grillandi wrote of witches in Benevento who worship a goddess at the site of an old walnut tree.[210] The laws issued for the Lombards by King Liutprand in 727 condemned, along with divination, the practice of 'sorcery' and incantation, any Lombard "who like a rustic prays to a tree as sacred or adores springs".[211]
  13. ^ According to Willibald's Life of Saint Boniface, about 723, the missionary cut down the sacred Donar's Oak and used the lumber to build a church dedicated to St. Peter.[231] This account is highly stylized, portraying Boniface as a singular character who alone roots out paganism.[232]: 40–41  Around 744, Saint Sturm established the monastery of Fulda on the ruins of a 6th-century Merovingian royal camp, destroyed 50 years earlier by the Saxons, at a ford on the Fulda River.
  14. ^
    • After the mid-fifth century, pagan temples began being converted into Christian churches.[251][252] Scholarship has been divided over whether this represents Christianization as a general effort to demolish the pagan past, was instead simple pragmatism, or perhaps an attempt to preserve the past's art and architecture, or some combination.[253] Feyo Schuddeboom addresses this by using the city of Rome as a microcosm of temple conversion in the empire.[254]
    • Although it is a small percentage of the four hundred and twenty-four temples known to have existed in Rome, Rome witnessed eleven temple conversions from the seventh to the twelfth century, which is more than any other single location in the empire.[255]
    • Schuddeboom lists these as the churches of "San Bartolomeo all’Isola, San Basilio, San Lorenzo in Miranda, Santa Maria dei Martiri, Santa Maria de Secundicerio, San Nicola in Carcere, San Nicola dei Cesarini, San Sebastiano al Palatino, Santo Stefano delle Carrozze, Sant’Urbano alla Caffarella, and the oratory of Saints Peter and Paul (now Santa Francesca Romana)... located in the ancient city center, except Sant’Urbano, which is on the Via Appia.
    • In addition, we know of three Mithraea in Rome that were [reduced to rubble and] built over by churches: at San Clemente, Santa Prisca, and Santo Stefano Rotondo, all situated well outside the city center. These Mithraea have traditionally been included in the temple conversions in Rome, but, ... they in fact form a distinct group chronologically, architecturally, topographically, and conceptually".[256]
    • According to modern archaeology, 120 pagan temples were converted to churches in the whole of the empire, out of the thousands of temples that existed, with two thirds of them dated at the end of the fifth century or later. In the fourth and fifth century, there were no conversions of temples in the city of Rome.[257] None of the churches attributed to Martin of Tours can be shown to have existed in Gaul in the fourth century.[258]
    • R. P. C. Hanson says the direct conversion of temples into churches did not begin until the mid fifth century in any but a few isolated incidents.[259]: 257  It is likely this timing stems from the fact that these buildings and places remained officially in public use, ownership could only be transferred by the emperor, and temples remained protected by law.[260]
    • "That Christian emperors continued to protect the temple buildings of Rome is evident from their legislation. A law by Constantius and Constans, issued to the urban prefect of Rome, already prescribed that “although all superstitions must be completely eradicated, nevertheless, it is Our will that the buildings of the temples situated outside the walls shall remain untouched and uninjured.” Arcadius and Honorius issued a law to the praetorian prefect of Italy, determining that “all public buildings and buildings that belong to any temple, those that are situated within the walls of the city or even those that are attached to the walls, [ . . . ] shall be held and kept by decurions and members of guilds.” Finally, a law by Leo and Majorian, issued to the urban prefect of Rome, specifically demanded that “all the buildings that have been founded by the ancients as temples [ . . . ] shall not be destroyed by any person.”... These laws stand in contrast to those in the East, which call for the destruction of temples; see CTh 16.10.16, 25." says Schuddeboom.[261]
    • "What portion of this real estate was made available to the Church was therefore principally a matter of imperial, not Church, policy".[260] That is why Boniface IV (608–615) needed authorization in 609 from the emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon into a Church, and why Honorius I (625–638) asked the emperor Heraclius’s permission to recycle the bronze roof tiles of the temple of Venus and Roma.[262][263]: 65–72  It is only with the formation of the Papal State in the eighth century, (when the emperor’s properties in the West came into the possession of the bishop of Rome), that the conversions of temples in Rome took off in earnest.[264]
    • "With the sole exception of the Pantheon, all known temple conversions in Rome date from the time of the Papal State, when imperial donations were no longer required".[265] Temple conversion was limited to a small number of buildings and sites, without any sign of ideological based actions or wanton destruction.[266] Temples were preserved whole or repaired for reuse just as many secular buildings were.[267]
    • Schuddeboom concludes "There is nothing to suggest that their status as former places of pagan worship made them any less or more attractive than other buildings possessed of similar architectural and topographical qualities...".[266] Individual temples and temple sites were converted to churches primarily to preserve their exceptional architecture or were used pragmatically because of their exceptional location at the center of town.[268]
  15. ^ When Benedict of Nursia went to Monte Cassino around 530, he found a temple to Apollo with its statue and altar on which people still placed their offerings.[282] By the 590s, Pope Gregory I complains about pagan rituals among landowners and peasants on Church lands in Sicily and Sardinia.[283]
  16. ^ Imperial laws that had been laid down by pagan Emperors like Diocletian and Maximian to persecute Christians were used by the Christians against the Manicheans.[293] Judith Lieu writes that, "By the sixth century, anathematized, vilified as a 'defilement', its leaders beheaded, their followers exiled, impoverished or also slain, Manichaeism was extinguished, and with its books destroyed, left only its name to the Christian world as a term of abuse for dualisms generally".[294]
  17. ^ Historian Ivo Štefan asserts that, in general, adoption of Christianity in Bohemia, Poland and Hungary was not forced either by pressure from outside or by violence.[1]
  18. ^ While some nobles attempted to fight back, minorities had no recourse. Jews, lepers, and homosexuals were among the first minorities to lose rights and be persecuted by law.
    In the eleventh century, the kingdom of Jerusalem had spread a legal code ordaining death for "sodomites". From the 1250s onwards, a series of similar legal codes in the nation-states of Spain, France, Italy and Germany followed this example. "By 1300, places where male sodomy was not a capitol offense had become the exception rather than the rule."[340] They were followed in the next few centuries by Gypsies, beggars, spendthrifts, prostitutes, and 'idle', discharged soldiers.[341]
  19. ^ Pre-Christian societies in central and eastern Europe were not yet literate societies, so they produced no written records, and very little is known about them. There is no authentic, emic perspective in modern folklore, and archaeologically, there are very few artifacts, probably because they would have been made from wood. What information has survived comes from church records.[353] A previous generation of historians believed there had existed, at some point in the distant past, a common Slavic culture with a single organized Slavic pantheon. Scholars reconstructed this, writes slavic historian Ivo Štefan, "like a jigsaw puzzle, from disparate bits of information scattered in different sources. However, it is unlikely".[354] It is agreed among scholars that paganism was closely tied to ethnicity.[355]
  20. ^ Between 1147 when Pope Eugene called for crusade, and 1347 when bubonic plague arrived in Europe, the intervening 200 years saw the greatest territorial expansion of medieval German history: 2,214 towns on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea were chartered, "903 were chartered within regions across the Elbe river, along the Baltic coast northwest of the old heartland of the German kingdom.".[405] Aiden Lilienfeld has written that, "These Northern Crusades are largely unknown to all but the more dedicated students of medieval Europe, but they hold such an enduring weight in German history that the rhetoric and culture surrounding them still had a key role in Nazi expansion into Slavic lands 800 years later".[405]
See also
In other religions
References
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