Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe

Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe

Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe

Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe

Synopsis

Using sermons, exorcisms, letters, biographies of the saints, inscriptions, autobiographical and legal documents-some of which are translated nowhere else-J. N. Hillgarth shows how the Christian church went about the formidable task of converting western Europe. The book covers such topics as the relationship between the Church and the Roman state, Christian attitudes toward the barbarians, and the missions to northern Europe. It documents as well the cult of relics in popular Christianity and the emergence of consciously Christian monarchies.

Excerpt

T HE FIRST VERSION OF THIS BOOK -- COMPRISING ABOUT TWO- thirds of the present volume -- was published by Prentice-Hall in 1969 as The Conversion of Western Europe, 350-750. The reason why the former title has become a subtitle is my wish to emphasize the incomplete nature of the process documented here. Western Europe, Britain, and Ireland were very imperfectly Christian in 750. Only the preconditions for the penetration of Christianity had been established. If pagan idols had been overthrown, pagan customs and beliefs were only beginning to change. What was emerging in many places was less the clear victory of the Christian Creed than a mixture or fusion of the old and the new.

The main changes from the book as it appeared in 1969 concern Part Two and especially Part Two, Chapter 3, "Christianity in the North," and Chapter "Liturgy." I have regretted the lack of attention paid to Ireland in the 1969 version. I attempt to remedy this here as far as is possible in a small space. I have also inserted a section on the Frankish Church in the seventh century. The new section on the Liturgy gives some examples of the "liturgical community" as it was developing in the sixth and later centuries.

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