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     Christian Expansion in the early Middle Ages

Christian Expansion in the early Middle Ages

The ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries were the era during which the Christianity of Britain, of the Frankish Kingdom, and of Byzantium spread to encompass not only the northmen of Scandinavia but also the predominantly Slavic peoples of central Europe and the Balkan peninsula. In some cases this expansion was the result of military conquest, and in almost all cases it went hand in hand with the cultural and political reconstitution of societies which had formerly been tribal in structure and sometimes nomadic in life style. The great missionary achievement of the ninth century, however, was the conversion to Christianity of the Bulgarian and Moravian kings. The most notable extension of Byzantine Christianity during the tenth and early eleventh centuries came about with the conversion of the Russian nation, centered in the province of Kiev. It was not until the beginning of the eleventh century that Christianity was adopted by the Norse peoples in the kingdoms of their Scandinavian homeland. The Christianization of Sweden is customarily attributed to King Olaf Skotkonung (994-1024). Prior to his time Christianity had reappeared in Sweden and missionaries dispatched from both northern Germany and England had worked there. Olaf, while prevented from destroying the great pagan shrine at Uppsala, established the faith in the southwest of his kingdom. Nevertheless paganism remained strong and missionary work had to continue. Sweden became thoroughly Christianized only in the twelfth century, the last nation to be brought into the Frankish-Byzantine Christendom of Europe.

Sources utilized in these pages may include:
  • Everett Ferguson's: Backgrounds of Early Christianity
  • Walker's: History of Christianity (out of print)

    (These links will take you to book detail pages at

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