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Thread: Anglo saxon

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    Anglo saxon



    Did the native British Celts that remained in England during the Anglo Saxon migration become Anglo Saxon pagans?

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    1 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Interesting question.

    The fact is, not only did it survive, it proved triumphant. In two hundred years all the Germanic invaders had been converted.
    http://www.medievalhistory.net/page0003.htm


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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I have read about evidences of domestic, discrete worship of Christianity in the first generations of Anglo-Saxon rule in the Germanic-ruled parts of Britain, so it seems like at least some of the Christianized Celts maintained their faith, but they had lost their power and influence as a cultural force. Christianity remained the default religion and increasingly influential in the Britonnic-ruled parts of Britain, though. The Anglo-Saxons did not manage to crush the Celts all at once (and never did in parts of England and Scotland). That said, considering other historic instances of profound political change accompanied by a massive immigration of not just new people, but also a new culture, I think it is very likely that much of the remaining Celtic population, having lost its social status and cultural strength, and trying to adapt to the new lords and the new social environment, must have abandoned Christianity at least formally, though they may have kept some customs and beliefs. But with Christianity flourishing just beside them in much of Europe I'm sure they were not completely isolated and paganized. In fact, as Angela points out, in the end it was the Germanic people that became more and more influenced by Christianity, initially by Celtic Christianity, and started to convert. But I think that happened more as a secondary wave of Christendom into Britain than as an inner movement from within the Anglo-Saxon society and its Christian remnants.

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    I don't know the details, but afaik, Wessex, the leading Saxon kingdom was more Christian than the native British Celts in Cornwall.
    I don't know who converted the Saxons into Christianity, but I don't think it were the Celtish Brittons.

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    2 out of 3 members found this post helpful.
    From my link above...

    "Little remains to us of the Romano-British church. The British were evangelized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy under the patronage of the later Roman Empire. As long as the official religion of Empire was Christianity, the Roman elite practiced the Christian rites as part of their social life. This Roman Christianity was brought through the northern reaches of the Church in Gaul, and was thereby an extension of the Church in Gaul. When the Legions left Britain forever, and the island was ravaged by invaders, this early Roman Christianity was maintained by the remnant of the Romano-British elite as long as possible.
    Missions to the British Church from Gaul are recorded as having taken place during the Saxon invasions, but not very many of them. From readings of Gildas and Nennius, it looks like the British Christians were reverting to a superstitious form of religious observance frowned upon by St. Benedict. "

    "
    Another surviving body of Latin inscriptions from this period in the British Church is found amongst the memorial stones of north-west Wales. These give evidence of the widespread adherence to Christianity attested to in the fifth century by the
    continuing connections with the Church in Gaul."

    "
    The Romano-Gallic Church never really collapsed under the onslaught of the Franks. Instead, the Franks allowed it to flourish, and used its wealth and trans-national political connections to the advantage of the new Frankish aristocracy. "

    "
    This behavior throughout Gaul did not endear the Frankish Church to the good Pope Gregory. When he decided upon a mission to the English, he did not involve the Church of Gaul. He turned instead to the Benedictines in Italy, whom he so admired. He selected several of them to undertake the important mission to the Anglo-Saxons in 596, bypassing completely the taint of corruption from the intervening Gallic church."

    "
    The Irish monasteries at Malmesbury, Iona, and Lindisfarne, preserved the usage of Latin in Britain. Prior to the establishment of Lindisfarne Abbey in Northumberland, however, the arrival of Augustine the Benedictine missionary in 596-7 A.D. began the re-conversion of the conquered territories.
    According to the tenth century English chronicler, Aethelweard, Augustine arrived with forty monks, in Kent, in A.D.597, and baptized king Aethelbyrht (the same year Pope Gregory wrote his treatise, Pastoral Care). The Benedictine monks came to England preaching a powerful religious message of redemption and afterlife, as well as emphasizing the holy virtues of honesty and courage, straight-forwardness in dealing with strangers, respect for superiors, and team loyalty, all of which reflected exactly virtues found in the Anglo-Saxon ideal of how men should live well, and gain honour.
    The monkish discipline of humility must have been a refreshing change for the Anglo-Saxon warriors. Benedict closed his Rule with the humble reproach, "...all these (scriptures) are nothing less than tools for the cultivation of virtues; but as for us, they make us blush for shame at being so slothful, so unobservant, so negligent." Monks did not challenge you with death, or boast, or compete in any way for the land or the women or the affections of the king. Being no threat, they were tolerated, for the monks brought knowledge of the civilized world beyond the English experience. Also, the literacy of the Benedictines was useful to the Kings. The first legal codes in England date from the time of the seven kingdoms, when the burghal hideages were written. While little physical evidence remains of literacy in England at this time, the Vespasian Psalter gloss, a Latin manuscript from before A.D.750, was believed to have been St. Augustine's own. "

    "
    This account of the gradual conversion of the Kings of the Anglo-Saxons which Aethelweard recorded matches the account in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is not credible to suppose that these pagan warriors made much in the way of a conversion to the gentle gospel of the sermon on the mount, especially as conceived by Abbot Anthony of Egypt, the champion of poverty and humility. The Anglo-Saxon Kings simply decided that the Benedictine and his noble universal Church had more to offer than the illiterate shaman of the Nordic pantheon. Geat and Woden grew tiresome as gods, and were relegated once again to the status of honoured ancestors.
    The Venerable Bede, writing his English history in the eighth century, described policies of extermination warfare as executed by Caedwalla of the West Saxons, a new convert to the Jesus-as-war-god version of Christianity so preferred by inveterate heathens. Caedwalla wiped out the Britons on the Isle of Wight, and gave thanks to God for the blessed event. Aethelfrith of Northumbria expanded his territory employing the same policy of extermination.
    It cannot be said that the English were learning much gentleness from taking an interest in the Christian religion. "

    "
    Schooling of the English was taking place. This was evidenced by a native Englishman, Ithamar of Rochester, who was learned enough to be ordained a bishop in A.D.644. Surviving written evidence of the emerging Latin culture among the Anglo-Saxons begins with the mission of Theodore of Tarsus, a Greek, and Hadrian, his comrade, in A.D.669. They arrived in Canterbury and established a school, which became an influential center for Greek and Latin studies. Here it was that St. Aldhelm (A.D.640-709) studied, after having trained under the Irish Abbot Maeldubh at Malmesbury. He succeeded Maeldubh as Abbot there. "

    "
    Slowly, the influence of the Monastic missions took effect. Nowhere did this bear such fruit as in Northumbria, where the Irish and Benedictine traditions met in England, producing an exciting renaissance of learning and art. In A.D.674 and 681, Bishop Benedict Biscop founded monasteries at Wearmouth and at Jarrow, where Bede lived and wrote. In A.D.680, Archbishop Theodore held a holy synod at Hatfield for the bishops, Aethelweard tells us, "because he strove to communicate divine learning to them." Bede's pupil Egbert, the first Archbishop of York, founded the cathedral school and library there. Egbert tutored Alcuin, who tutored the court of Charlemagne. Alcuin, while spending the better part of his career serving Charlemagne in Europe, was able to keep up a correspondence with England. He longed to recreate the scholastic excellence of York at his new post in Tours. He asked Charlemagne in A.D.795 for permission to send his scribes to York in order to copy all the books there. "

    "
    By the close of the ninth century, the English had a fully Christian culture, although it was threatened with destruction by pagan invaders from Denmark. By then, however, the Anglo-Saxons' had made it their own responsibility to preserve Christianity in Britain.
    After the sacking of Lindisfarne, the Danish raiders returned in ever larger numbers, never stopping, until at last they settled themselves on the conquered land. Established in Northumbria, they marched south. It was in the late tenth century, after two generations of losing mile after mile of English territory to the relentless Danish invaders, that the leadership of England finally turned wholeheartedly to the consolation of the Christian faith to guide and inform the King's royal court. In their darkest hour, the English had their most Christian king.
    King Alfred's 894 A.D. preface to Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care details the resolve of the English king to see his nation established as a Christian nation. Alfred judged it to be "most necessary" for the clergy of England to know the Pastoral Care, and to follow its instruction. Alfred believed that:

    "...hwelce wiotan iu waeron giond Angelcynn, ae gther ge godcundra dada ge woruldcundra; ond hu gesaeliglica tida tha waeron giond Angelcynn." (...well written men there were throughout England, together godlykind and worldlykind; and how blessedlike a time that was throughout England"). "



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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Interesting question.

    The fact is, not only did it survive, it proved triumphant. In two hundred years all the Germanic invaders had been converted.
    http://www.medievalhistory.net/page0003.htm
    That's an excellent resource; thank you for linking it!

    (...Why do people downvote your posts when you make such self-evidently useful contributions?)


    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    I have read about evidences of domestic, discrete worship of Christianity in the first generations of Anglo-Saxon rule in the Germanic-ruled parts of Britain, so it seems like at least some of the Christianized Celts maintained their faith, but they had lost their power and influence as a cultural force. Christianity remained the default religion and increasingly influential in the Britonnic-ruled parts of Britain, though. The Anglo-Saxons did not manage to crush the Celts all at once (and never did in parts of England and Scotland). That said, considering other historic instances of profound political change accompanied by a massive immigration of not just new people, but also a new culture, I think it is very likely that much of the remaining Celtic population, having lost its social status and cultural strength, and trying to adapt to the new lords and the new social environment, must have abandoned Christianity at least formally, though they may have kept some customs and beliefs. But with Christianity flourishing just beside them in much of Europe I'm sure they were not completely isolated and paganized. In fact, as Angela points out, in the end it was the Germanic people that became more and more influenced by Christianity, initially by Celtic Christianity, and started to convert. But I think that happened more as a secondary wave of Christendom into Britain than as an inner movement from within the Anglo-Saxon society and its Christian remnants.
    It must have been interesting when Christianity was the new religion of foreign monks and scattered converts. Today we experience Christianity as a dusty relic paraded around by a few traditionalists, but to a people steeped in pagan traditions it must have been very different. To the illiterate, clannish, warlike Anglo Saxons, I imagine that Christianity felt something like New Age spirituality pushed by educated, leftist academics.

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    0 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vandemonian View Post
    That's an excellent resource; thank you for linking it!

    (...Why do people downvote your posts when you make such self-evidently useful contributions?)



    It must have been interesting when Christianity was the new religion of foreign monks and scattered converts. Today we experience Christianity as a dusty relic paraded around by a few traditionalists, but to a people steeped in pagan traditions it must have been very different. To the illiterate, clannish, warlike Anglo Saxons, I imagine that Christianity felt something like New Age spirituality pushed by educated, leftist academics.
    Thank you for inquiring, and I appreciate the kind words.

    Ninety-nine percent of them are from one person, a member from Romania named "gidai" whom I had to ban for excessively bad behavior. That effectively means he can never post here again. I think perhaps he thinks I care about the "points" that are scored. He doesn't quite seem to understand that I don't care, and even if I did, the down votes of someone with such a low reputation have no effect.

    There are some strange people in this hobby, and we attract our share.

    Thanks again.

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    0 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    "This behavior throughout Gaul did not endear the Frankish Church to the good Pope Gregory. When he decided upon a mission to the English, he did not involve the Church of Gaul. He turned instead to the Benedictines in Italy, whom he so admired. He selected several of them to undertake the important mission to the Anglo-Saxons in 596, bypassing completely the taint of corruption from the intervening Gallic church."

    "The Irish monasteries at Malmesbury, Iona, and Lindisfarne, preserved the usage of Latin in Britain. Prior to the establishment of Lindisfarne Abbey in Northumberland, however, the arrival of Augustine the Benedictine missionary in 596-7 A.D. began the re-conversion of the conquered territories.

    Who were the Irish monks? Were they competing the Benedictines?
    When did the Irish monks arrive? They were sent by whom?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Not forgetting the Impact of King Oswald.(D 642 Killed in the Battle of Maserfeild, By King Penda of Mercia, and possibly some of the Christian relics, and weapon parts, from this battle are possibly included or linked to the recently found Staffordshire Hoard )

    It was Oswald who earlier actually had brought the Irish/Celtic Missionaries, from Iona, to Northumbria, Lindisfarne around 634 , after his victory at Heavenfield, (defeating King Cadwallon of Gwynedd ), hence the impact of St Aiden and the early Irish christianity in the North, lasting until the Synod of Whitby where the Roman customs were then accepted by King Oswiu in 664.

    King Edwin, and his Wife Aethelburga of Kent (already a Christian ) had earlier accompanied a roman Bishop 'Paulinus', to his Palace at Yeavering,in Northern Northumbria to help convert the Pagan Northumbrians.

    Paulinus had been instructed by Rome, by Pope Gregory and brought his version of Christianity 'the Roman' to Northumbria. Bishop Paulinus spent 36 days baptising the local populations in the River Glenn, (in 627 ) by the Side of the great Anglo-Saxon Palace of Yeavering.,

    In the same year ( 627 ) the great heathen temple at Goodmanham in the Southern part of Northumbria was ordered destroyed, by King Edwin, and the Pagan Anglo Saxon High Priest 'Coifi ' destroyed the Shrine,( possibly a carved wooden Rood/totem dedicated to Odin ) and the people then accepted to become christian.

    It was at the Synod of Whitby where the differences between the two (Celtic, and Roman ) christian customs, were thrashed out, such as the date of celebrating Easter etc, and the Roman custom prevailed.
    Last edited by paul333; 28-04-19 at 00:07.

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    It must have been interesting when Christianity was the new religion of foreign monks and scattered converts. Today we experience Christianity as a dusty relic paraded around by a few traditionalists, but to a people steeped in pagan traditions it must have been very different. To the illiterate, clannish, warlike Anglo Saxons, I imagine that Christianity felt something like New Age spirituality pushed by educated, leftist academics.
    That's what I most enjoy about reading history, trying to understand and empathize with the people who lived through it.

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    Upon re-reading my post above I see that someone might read it as being snide. That was not the intent. I appreciate Vandemonian's attempt to get inside the thinking of a person from another era. It is perhaps impossible to do, but it's good to try.

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    I know they were converted.i was jus wondering how much the Anglo Saxon paganism took hold when the kingdoms were formed?thanks for the answers

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vandemonian View Post
    It must have been interesting when Christianity was the new religion of foreign monks and scattered converts. Today we experience Christianity as a dusty relic paraded around by a few traditionalists, but to a people steeped in pagan traditions it must have been very different. To the illiterate, clannish, warlike Anglo Saxons, I imagine that Christianity felt something like New Age spirituality pushed by educated, leftist academics.
    Interesting point of view, it makes sense. I think that much of the success of Christianity with those early tribes was that it must've had some kind of cultural and especially intellectual prestige with it that the old religion based on customs, formulas and rituals did not have. Even the churches and their trappings must've had some appeal as an indication of something more modern and sophisticated, at least to the elite. It was in some way a vehicle of civilization and cosmopolitan lifestyle, not just a religion - associated with an international identity and network, with some degree of philosophical refinement, with literacy, knowledge of things useful to a state bureaucracy and a nascent civilized elite (Christian clergymen often became the basis of the civil service and intelligentsia in those early medieval kingdoms). Besides, no matter if people ended up practicing it in ways that did not diverge much from the old beliefs and values, the fact is that Christianity did have something new, unusual about its teachings, which the competing ethnic religions steeped on old tradition just lacked (or had lost). It cared a lot about philosophical and social issues that the mostly ceremonial, bargain-based traditional faith didn't. To many people in an era of profound sociocultural changes that must've been pretty enticing, especially when it was a religion associated with the remnants of great "Roman" things and at least in theory offered some new perspectives about morals and the meaning of life and society that hadn't been tried much before.

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    I suspect that the new religion's promise of eternal life was pretty persuasive as well. But I think you're right when you mention social issues. Religions rise and fall based on their ability to address the issues of a changing society. The old gods were fairly remote, rather cruel and always fickle. A god that cared about the lowest and most down trodden of society might be appealing.

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    3 out of 4 members found this post helpful.
    Indeed. It was particularly appealing to slaves and the poorest members of society, who were the first converts when it spread to Rome.

    It also had its appeal to the more philosophically inclined as well.

    There was a great deal of cross-pollination between Ancient Israel and Greece. The absorption of Greek philosophical thought by the Jews is well known. This paper seeks to show the effect of Jewish monotheism on the Greeks.
    https://irl.umsl.edu/cgi/viewcontent...context=thesis

    The appeal, as was said, of monotheism, and of a god who was not fickle and just a human, with all of a human's base desires, writ large, also appealed to the "intellectuals" of the time.

    When a religion appeared with a single god upholding a rigorous moral code, which did not require one to undergo circumcision and become a Jew, and also married to a personal encounter with a loving god who promised eternal life, there was a ready audience.

    In a later era, when King Alfred confronted the "Northmen", his argument was much the same. He proposed Christianity as the antithesis to the "might makes right" and indiscriminate slaughter of the "Danes" as well as literacy and a more sophisticated culture.

    Of course, aspiration is often quite different from actual practice.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Very true. In practice, systems devolve into bureaucracies which are more concerned with their own survival than with their original mission. That doesn't mean the original idea was wrong. How sad that the early monks devolved into the creatures in Chaucer.

    The issue is always meaning. Religions of the West today seem to have little more faith than a liberal idea of goodness. They lose out to religions or systems that demand something of their believers. I think people want to commit themselves to something that seems significant, even if it is harsh and especially if it is uncompromising. That applies to religion, politics, environment, etc.

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    1 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    ^^Very true.

    Decades ago when I was in high school, my theology teacher told us that we should remember that there was a very fine line between accommodating changes in attitudes and eviscerating the faith to the point where it meant nothing.

    She was a believer in the idea of the "Faithful Remnant", taken from the Old Testament: the idea that most people would fall away, but that those who were steadfast would remain and would bring the faith into the future, or perhaps the end before the future.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Very true. In practice, systems devolve into bureaucracies which are more concerned with their own survival than with their original mission. That doesn't mean the original idea was wrong. How sad that the early monks devolved into the creatures in Chaucer.
    Oh! Have you read Carroll Quigley?


    The issue is always meaning. Religions of the West today seem to have little more faith than a liberal idea of goodness. They lose out to religions or systems that demand something of their believers. I think people want to commit themselves to something that seems significant, even if it is harsh and especially if it is uncompromising. That applies to religion, politics, environment, etc.
    Have you read Stark & Bainbridge's Future of Religion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vandemonian View Post
    Oh! Have you read Carroll Quigley?



    Have you read Stark & Bainbridge's Future of Religion?
    I'm afraid the answer is no to both, but I got my undergraduate degree in Sociology (at which point I found out how useless such a degree was) and studied both religion and bureaucracies. I don't remember many specifics (it was a very long time ago), but I did incorporate many of the concepts into my day-to-day thinking.

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    Vandemonian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    I'm afraid the answer is no to both
    That's OK. It still looks like you understand them both.

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