This session looks at the different approaches to conversion and Christianisation across different contexts.
Bede’s narrative of the sequence of events leading up to Edwin’s conversion to Christianity in Book II of the Ecclesiastical History has frequently been mined by scholars interested in Anglo-Saxon paganism; more recently it has been looked at more sceptically by some scholars, who have argued that Bede preferred to write about Christianity and is uninformative and indeed counter-informative about non-Christian forms of belief (Ray Page; Stephen Church), or who have underlined biblical parallels in Bede’s writing (Danuta Shanzer). This paper aims to show that Bede’s narrative of Coifi’s desecration of the shrine of Goodmanham also has clear biblical parallels, and hopes to go a little beyond this to comment on the symbolism and to show how it fits into the narrative sequence in Book II, 9-14.
When Charlemagne’s armies invaded Spain in 778, they returned to Francia without having conquered any territory. In the next decade, however, Frankish arms did take control of regions south of the Pyrenees. Wherever soldiers went, preachers and texts followed, as the Carolingians sought to annex the Spanish March both politically and culturally. The Carolingian Empire is only imperfectly understood in terms of its military and political aspects. This paper takes as case studies the enforcement of the Rule of Benedict in monasteries and the writing and preaching against Spanish Adoptionism to highlight the place of religious culture in the definition of empire and conquest.
The session will deal with the modern use of the terms ‘Christianisation’ and ‘conversion’ and the ramifications of their ambiguity in modern scholarship on our understanding of the processes of Christianisation in the Middle Ages. The idea that a process of forced Christianisation could bring about ‘authentic’ conversions will be demonstrated through the case of Bulgaria. The rise of the Bogomil heresy will be treated as a part of the particular process of Christianisation in Bulgaria.