The
Spread of Christianity in Early Medieval Europe

 From 37 A.D to 68 A.D, Emperor Nero constantly
blamed Christians on anything that went wrong with Europe. Roughly 313 freedoms
of religion throughout the Roman Empire were allowed, thus hostility of
Christians would end. In early Medieval Europe, Christianity was spread through
Missionaries promising peace, wealth and prosperity. In order for Christians to
feel closer to God, they often chose to close the distance by engaging physical
travel to a spiritual goal. Christianity started off by spreading out into the
middle east along the Mediterranean Sea. Christianity spread throughout Europe
in the Medieval ages starting with Armenia, Constantine The First, Arianism,
The Rise of Papacy, Ireland, Anglo-Saxon England, Central Europe, the
Carolingian Wars against Saxons, Scandinavia, Ireland, Bulgaria Poland, Kievan
Rus, Hungary and Lithuania. These factors had the biggest effect on
Christianity spreading throughout Early Medieval Ages in Europe. Christianity
caused many local kings and queens to convert to Christianity as otherwise they
would be considered Pagan. The conversion of many great political heads caused
masses of people to convert to Christianity. 
Christianity became dominant in Europe when the Roman Empire started to
decline. Catholicism was the most popular religion where Res Publica Christiana
came about over several centuries. Res Publica Christiana is a phrase that
helps describe the overall community and its well-being. Although monks and
missionaries were largely the reason Christianity spread throughout Europe,
Missionaries focused their attention on Noblemen. The belief was that if a
leader converted, their people would follow.  Moreover, attention was also directed towards
Noblewomen. Several Christian queens converted their Pagan king husbands. When
Christianity first came about, many early Christians were skeptical and
continued to still worship their old Pagan God. Christian education was very as
important as missionaries and monks encouraged fellow Christians to get
educated on the faith, they also sent their kids to schools run by priests and
bishops. Churches were very influential for political matters but were also a
source for knowledge and expertise of the Christian faith. Overall, the
Christian faith only saw a day of faithful light when the Roman empire started
to crumble, allowing hundreds of thousands, even millions to practice the
religion freely as they chose. Christianity was able to spread through Europe,
in the early stages monks and missionaries were able to convey the message of
Christianity and were able to convert masses of people to being Christian.
Pilgrimages were able to deepen the faith for Christians as many people saw it
as a beneficial opportunity to ask for forgiveness, ask for something deepen
their faith or just attend simply because of good will. Pilgrimages gave the
change to go to the holy land, where Jesus was said to reside most of his life.
Christian education was important to the lives of many Christians as they would
go to churches to learn about Christianity, pray and be baptized. Churches were
opened up across Europe as Christianity spread, allowing masses of people to
attend for education, religious purpose and etc. With the help of missionaries,
pilgrimages and Christian education, the faith of Christianity was spread
throughout Europe in the early medieval ages.

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Missionaries and monks were one the
biggest factors contributing to Christianity’s spread throughout Europe.
Missionaries played a huge role into spreading Christianity in Early Europe.
Many missionaries travelled thousands of miles to convey the message of
Christianity. The goal of the missionary was to convert as many people as he or
she can, often times missionaries targeted tribe leaders and local leaders to
convey and interpret the message of Christianity.  It was hoped as a result Pagan leaders will
try to convert his members of the following to convert to Christianity as well.
Many missionaries were established by the Pope, but there were many individuals
that were not sent by the pope to spread Christianity, such as Saint Patrick.
Monks were heavily relied upon to convey the message of Christianity as well.
Monks resided in a Monastery, which were built all over Europe in the early
middle ages. During this time of the Middle Ages, the Jesuits became a powerful
force in missionary work. The Jesuits were members of a Catholic group called
the Society of Jesus. They were a male group devoted to pleasing Jesus Christ
through demonstrations of chastity, piety, a denial of excess, and humble
servitude. Missionaries and Monks served as the pivotal reason why Christianity
spread upon Europe. Missionary activity was favored in early Christianity days.
A lot of Christians dedicated their lives to study, live and work in
monasteries. Uifilas, a famous missionary, was one of the first missionaries
that spread Christian gospel, he alone spent more than 30 years spreading
Christianity to Visigoth tribes. Many Monks and Missionaries dedicated their
lives in the name of Christianity even if it meant death from a barbarian who
refused to convert and to do good spreading the faith of Jesus Christ.
Missionaries and monks were one of the biggest, if not of the sole reason
Christianity prospered within Europe while the Roman Empire was at its all-time
lows. The church became dominant in Europe following the fall of the Roman
Empire1.
The only religion recognized in Middle Ages Europe was Christianity, specifically
Catholicism. Christianity in the middle ages dominated the lives of both
peasants and the noble. Missionary activity was abundant in the early days of
Christianity in the medieval era. Many who sought to dedicate their lives to
the Church went to study, live and work in the monasteries. The monks were
zealous about their faith and spread it with equal enthusiasm. Hence, monks and
missionaries laid the foundation for the establishment of Christianity.

In the early Middle Ages, the
Church encouraged people to make pilgrimages to special holy places called
shrines. Pilgrimages encouraged many like-minded Christians to attend yearly
pilgrimages to deepen their faith, excuse them of any sin they have committed
or simply because of good will. Pilgrimages definitely played a pivotal role in
the spread of Christianity by playing the idea to people that there is
something to gain if they attended pilgrimages, whether that be anything to a
closer connection to God, more riches or protection from evil and sin. Many
Christians wanted to attend a pilgrimage by going to the holy land, Jerusalem,
but that was deemed unlikely and dangerous as it was conquered by the Muslims
constantly. Christians believed that they were able to reduce the distance
between themselves and God by engaging in physical travel.  Many times, Pilgrimages were not done for any
specific reasons, rather a variety of reasons depending on who attended. Many
attended Pilgrimages to fulfil a vow, to expiate a crime, or to seek a
miraculous cure. During the Early middle ages in Europe, times were rough and
many people hoped a pilgrimage would solve problems in life. The vast majority
of the population, peasants, found this to be an attractive option. Soon after
Constantine took the throne in the 320 AD and 330 AD, he converted to
Christianity as he claimed he saw “Jesus” during a great war. Constantine
lifted the long-time hatred towards Christians and built Christian churches and
buildings. These buildings became popular for local pilgrimages as opposed to
the dangerous holy land conquered by Muslims. By the fourth century AD,
pilgrimages became a recognized expression of Christian devotion. The earliest
pilgrimages were thought to be where Jesus Christ resided most of his life, in
Jerusalem. The reason why the Muslims held Jerusalem dearly to them as they
believed Mohammed, the great prophet of Allah, slept there on a rock. Rome
later became an ultimate pilgrimage attraction, as it was Constantine’s
control. Rome later became an ultimate pilgrimage attractions as it was under a
Christian conquerors control, Constantine I. As Christianity became more
recognized and popular, it was later set that it was looked down upon to not
attend a pilgrimage at least once in a Christian lifetime. Wealthier
individuals paid private soldiers to escort them safely to a pilgrimage and provide
protection from outlaws and barbarians. Christianity as a whole was able to see
a boost in popularity as more people were convinced that attending pilgrims
would be beneficial. As a result, a lot of pagans that were not Christians were
attracted to the religion. There were many superstitions that were interesting
to many Christians such as the shrine of Thomas Becket at the Canterbury
Cathedral in England. This shrine was rumored to have the blood of Becket; This
blood was believed to cure blindness, illness or any other state of mental
health. Christian Pilgrimages were able to deepen the faith for Christians as
many people saw it as a beneficial opportunity to ask for forgiveness, ask for
something deepen their faith, cure any illness them or a loved one is suffering
from or just attend simply because of good will. The increased number of
pilgrimages undertaken allowed the growth of Christianity as a religion.

 

Education during the medieval age
in Europe was considered a sign of good fortune, where many saw it as a way to
deepen their faith in Christianity and succeed in life in general. In many
terms, Bishops and monks started to educate pupils of the upper class while
education for serfs and their kids was a rare occurrence. This was due to the
feudalistic structure which required peasants and serfs to work hard to earn a
living and a right to protection under the freedom of their local Lords. Often
times, serfs and peasants had a hard time enduring the costs of school that were
required by the church. But devoted parents of the lower class did anything for
their children to maintain a stable education, while other parents understood
the fact that their kids may not be able to sustain the fees of school and this
understanding often resulted in kids working for their parents for rest of
their lives.  Christian education
outlined many important lessons that kids must learn. These lessons included
reading, writing and practicing the influence of the church.  The curriculum consisted of classes such as
Latin, grammar, logic, rhetoric, philosophy, astrology, music and mathematics.
Scholars, monks and bishops used ancient writings from Roman and Greek
resources to teach. Students often learned more when in contact with trappers,
hunters, poachers and serfs as these individuals offered practical knowledge. During
the 5th to 8th century, Monastic schools were no more
significant than schools that were founded by bishops. Monastic schools were
often looked upon as successors of the grammar schools from the Roman empire.
Clergy was first introduced by Monastic schooling. Overall, education in the
early middle ages in Europe helped spread the faith of Christianity as younger
men and few women became well informed about Christianity, allowing them to
spread it to people they know.  The
subjugation by barbarian invaders during the 5th century broke the
education system that the Roman Empire had established. Pupils read, reread and
commented on the classical authors of early Christianity. Christians still sent
their kids to secular schooling after Constantine I converted to Christianity.
Christians established catechetical schools for religious instructions for
adults wished to be baptized.  Under the
feudal system of The Middle Ages, women had little or no chance of attaining
education. Education was rare for serfs and peasants however it was very
unlikely for a girl or woman from a peasant background to learn reading and
writing.  Evidently, education played a
big role by informing the elderly and young about Christianity. Even though,
not everyone was able to attain general education due to high fees, serfs and
peasants still managed to learn about Christianity through community churches
and Christian activities. Education about Christianity itself helped many learn
about it and eventually contributed to the overall spread. 

With the help of Missionaries and
Monks, pilgrimages and education, the Christian faith saw exponential growth during
the early ages of Medieval Europe. These elements help spread the Christian
faith to corners of Europe until it was considered barbarian to the face of
Europe. After the early ages of the medieval era, the church served as the
central control. Missionaries help spread the word on foot about Christianity
as these individuals contacted local kings, local tribe leaders and powerful
figures to help convert masses of people to Christianity. Christians were
promised a prolonged life with peace, wealth and prosperity by Missionaries.     Christians believed that pilgrimages would
help them in their life by enforcing their relationship with God. Education
helped the elderly and young Christians to better understand and deepen their
faith in Christianity. Preaching at churches helped the people that were less
fortunate gain knowledge. Although missionaries, pilgrimages and Christian
education are some of the main reasons that helped spread the faith of
Christianity there are also contributing factors such as Constantine declaring Christianity
legal. Like many religions, the spread of Christianity can be attributed to the
activity of people.

 

 

1 http://www.thefinertimes.com/Middle-Ages/christianity-in-the-middle-ages.html