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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers processes of conversion in the medieval Church, from the Roman empire to the Duchy of Lithuania, but with a particular focus on the northern European kingdoms that converted between the ninth and thirteenth centuries. One must consider whether conversion was achieved primarily through politics, force, culture, or other means; and the chapter demonstrates a variety of routes taken. It tracks with particular care the intersection of religion with politics, and argues that the spread of Christianity can be thought of as creating a kind of ‘empire’, based on religious and cultural unity (even if politically disunited). Moreover, the centralizing tendency in Christianity—its focus on one God and one faith—may have helped to facilitate the consolidation of power for various rulers, particularly in northern Europe.

Keywords: Religious conversion, empire, Anglo-Saxons, east central Europe, Scandinavia, religion and politics

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