Why is the conversion of kings to Christianity significant?
It is fundamental to understanding the origins of Europe
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What is Rollason's top-down model for conversion?
Royalty and the church convert
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What is Rollason's bottom-up model for conversion?
Independent adoption by the masses
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What is an issue with Rollason's models for conversion?
Massive over simplification
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Who was the first Christian Roman emperor?
Emperor Constantine
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What period did Constantine live in?
Late Roman
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What was the significant event in the conversion of Constantine?
Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312
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When was Constantine baptised?
On his deathbed
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When did Emperor Constantine die?
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When did King Clovis die?
511 AD
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When did King AEthelberht of Kent die?
616 AD
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According to Gregory of Tours, when did King Clovis convert to Christianity?
After a vision winning the Battle of Tolbiac in 496
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What problems do historians find in Gregory of Tours' account of Clovis' conversion?
Narrative close to that of conversion of Constantine and there are no other historical records of Battle of Tolbiac -Clovis may not have had a battlefield conversion
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Did Clovis have a Christian wife who encouraged him to convert to Christianity?
14 of 158
Who did Gregory of Tours portray as a 'new Constantine'?
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When did the Roman mission come to Kent, that influenced to conversion of AEthelberht?
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Did AEthelberht of Kent have a Christian wife?
17 of 158
Who idealised King AEthelberht of Kent?
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What are issues with historical sources related to conversion?
Highly pro-Christian, focused on elite, very hostile to paganism and say little about it, very stylised with little insight into reality
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What is at play in most sources on conversion?
'Conversion narrative'
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In the narratives of Bede especially what happens?
Rest of population convert after their ruler of their own free will
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What is an important consideration regarding conversion stories?
How far are they just literary narratives?
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What do more recent histories of conversion in the early modern period and the conversion of Africa tell us?
Very messy process and is not as simple as portrayed by Gregory of Tours and Bede - often has more to do with social pressure, power and culture than belief
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What group was Saint Bonifacefrom?
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Where was Boniface born, in 672/5?
Kingdom of Wessex
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When was Boniface given by family to a monastery?
As a child
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Where was Boniface educated?
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Where was Boniface moved after first education?
Monastery in Southampton
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Was Boniface ordained as both a priest and a monk?
29 of 158
What did Boniface do, as well as gaining diplomatic experience?
Travelled Wessex teaching monks and nuns Latin
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How old was Boniface when he became a missionary?
In his 40s
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Where were the Anglo-Saxon missions in the 690s going?
Frisia (modern day Netherlands)
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What was the historical context of the Anglo-Saxon missions to Frisia?
Was the time of Charles Mantel, the grandfather of Charlemagne. Franks were expanding into what is now Germany (Germania). Franks expanding into Frisia and also trying to expand into Saxony. Expanding into Hessia and Thuringia also.
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What was the issue with the frontier where Boniface decided to be a missionary?
Franks were Christian but most of the people of Germania were still pagan
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Did Boniface have experience in Frisia as a trainee missionary?
35 of 158
In which year did Boniface decide to lead a breakaway mission in Hessia (part-Christian)?
36 of 158
Was Saxony thoroughly pagan at the time of Boniface?
37 of 158
Who gave Boniface a letter of support?
Charles Mantel
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When Boniface was ordained as a bishop what mission was he given?
To convert the people of Germany to Christianity
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Boniface's mission to Germany
Hessia (721) expands Thuringia (723) then to Frisia, Saxony and into what is now southern Germany
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How long did Boniface continue his mission for?
33 years
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How was Boniface's experience in Saxony?
Less successful - hostile
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What did Boniface do in his mission?
Convert pagans and corrected Christians who had not been converted well, reformed the church
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In what year were Boniface and his companions attacked by pirates and martyred?
44 of 158
Who is the current patron saint of Germany?
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What is the hagiography account of Boniface's life?
WIlibald, The Life of Saint Boniface
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What are issues with hagiography?
Formulaic, biased, fantastical
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Roughly how many letters survive from Boniface's archive, giving an insight into daily reality?
100 - contemporary letters are rare for this period
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Church council records
Insights into the concerns of the church
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What are issues with church council records?
Prescriptive as bishops would have an agenda, write down what going to do and issue a decree. Tells you what they want to do but not what they have achieved.
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What other sources can be used to understand conversions/lives of saints?
Archeology and landscape
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With regards to paganism what is the issue with sources?
Sources tend to be focused on Christianity and missionaries, especially hagiography. They rarely say anything about paganism. Bede etc hated paganism so did not even want to write about it
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Paganism and writing
Paganism was basically illiterate society and if they had written anything down the church would have destroyed it.
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Boniface asked for a letter to be written asking new converts not to give up Christianity. When did Pope Gregory III write this letter to the people of Hessia?
c. 738
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What is an issue with the letter of Pope Gregory III to people of Hessia regarding banned practices?
He had never met pagans and his views are based on a stereotypical list. The descriptions are also vague, how do they conduct fortune telling for example?
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What did the letter from Pope Gregory III to the people of Hessia tell them to reject?
Divination, fortune telling, sacrifices to the dead, prophecies in groves or by fountains, amulets, incantations, sorcery, sacrilegious practices
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What issue did the church council of 743 address?
Issue of paganism in Germany. Provided a list of what they wanted to ban
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What specifics does the church council of 743 provide?
All Christians should stop sacrilegious fires known as "Niedfeor" and the offering of animals that 'foolish folk' perform in church in the name of holy martyrs
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What is syncretism?
In this case, they are Christian but are also doing pagan things
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What is the rather unique document that seems to have been drawn up for the church council of 743 for reference?
'List of pagan superstitions and practices'
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How many items are on the 'List of pagan superstitions and practices'
~30 with names of customs without details of what they involve
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Give examples from the 'List of pagan superstitions and practices'
Pig-feasts in February, those things they do upon stones, the brains of animals, sacrifices at fountains
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What does the Latin pagus mean?
63 of 158
Countrydweller, rustic --> non-Christian
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What did pagans place importance on?
Agriculture and the seasons (e.g. carrying idols around fields). Strong desire for protection from the forces of the natural world.
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As the towns and cities converted first, term paganus came to mean someone who wasn't yet Christian
Pagans was derogatory term used to describe non-Christians - do not know if they even had a name for their religions
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What does the fragmentary evidence for paganism show?
A focus on natural sites
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What was one of the main pagan shrines that Boniface saw?
An oak
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How does Willibald's The Life of Saint Boniface describe Boniface seeing the pagan shrine at Geismar?
"Taking his course in his hands (for a great crowd of pagans stood by watching and bitterly cursing in their hearts the enemy of their gods), he cut the first notch"
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What is an issue with the account of Boniface destroying the pagan tree shrine?
Only specific evidence to a place where Boniface destroyed a pagan shrine - to understand the sacred landscape of Hessia have to turn to other evidence
70 of 158
Who describes the conversion of Constantine?
71 of 158
Who describes the conversion of Clovis?
Gregory of Tours
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Who describes the conversions of AEthelberht, Edwin and Oswald?
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Is Oswald strictly a convert king?
No as he converted to Christianity before becoming king
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The conversion accounts of which rulers have a prophecy or vision in them?
Constantine and Edwin
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The conversion accounts of which rulers have a battle in them?
Constantine (Milivan Bridge, 312) and Oswald (erected cross prior to battle)
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The conversion accounts of which rulers show them to have been encouraged by Christian wives?
Clovis, AEthelberht and Edwin
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The conversion account of which ruler describes encouragement by the Pope?
AEthelberht - in the sense that Augustine wassent by the Pope
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Consultation with nobles in conversion accounts is more dubious. Give examples of where it is possible.
CLOVIS - conversion of his army to Christianity? AETHELBERHT - Possibly implied as he took his nobles with him
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Which rulers have a baptism scene?
Constantine (baptised later soon before death), Clovis (described to be baptised), Edwin
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Was AEthelberht baptised?
Bede says that he was but does not describe this
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What do the motifs of conversion accounts tell us?
Draw a link between the personal experience of being married to a Christian wife and conversion. Link to battel and fear, desperation
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What did conversion to Christianity give kings an excuse t do?
Excuse to start war with pagans or Arian Christians.
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What is a flaw in the argument that conversion to Christianity provided excuse to start war?
Gregory of Tours presented Clovis as fighting Visigoths for religious reasons but this is unlikely, was more likely economic
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Paganism could differ according to location. In contrast, what was a positive aspect of Christianity?
Could be uniting
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Romanitas link
Religion of the Roman emperor - Gregory of Tours presented Clovis as the 'new constantine'
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What was a benefit for Clovis of converting to Christianity?
ALLOwed easier control of Christians in the previously Roman territory he held
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Benefits of Christian conversion
Papal support and economic development
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What did the Anglo-Saxon church bring?
WRiting - so can write laws etc
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What is significant about the idea of being chosen by God?
From the 8th century Carolingians had ceremony with king anointed with oil at coronation
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How could Christianity be presented? (Rollason)
As a 'success-religion'
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What is a negative aspect of Christianisation?
Issue of culture - there is a possibility for division within societies
92 of 158
What did AEthelberht's hegemony allow him to do?
Co-erce other kings to convert
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What is a danger within the community associated with conversion to Christianity?
Danger of pagan backlash
94 of 158
Why was Constantine unable to openly present himself as Christiani?
Many Roman senators in the 4th century were staunchly pagan
95 of 158
What was the only Roman emperor after Constantine that wasn't a Christian?
Emperor Julian
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Power of the Pope
Interference. BUT although sent missionaries do not know how much control had - e.g. not much control of Frankish territories until the time of Charlemagne. Theoretical power
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According to Gregory of Tours, when Clovis' troops were being annihilated on battlefield what did he say?
"Jesus Christ... you who Clotild maintain to be the Son of the king God... I have called upon my own gods but, as I see only too clearly, they have no intention of helping me.... I now call upon you."
98 of 158
How does Eusebius describe Constantine?
"he is the only one to whose elevation no mortal may boast of having contributed"
99 of 158
What does Eusebius say regarding Constantine's defeat of his enemies?2
"Constantine's victories oer his enemies wre secured to him by no other means that the co-operation of God"
100 of 158
What did Gibbon think about Constantine's adoption of Christianity?
That it somehow assisted a process of decline by finally abandoning earlier Roman values
101 of 158
How could Constantine have initially seen the Christian God?
In the same light as Apollo and Sol Invictus - as a protector who would grant favours
102 of 158
Was Constantine following an existing precedent by claiming to be under special divine protection?
103 of 158
As late as what years was Constantine still putting Sol on his coins?
104 of 158
In 313 Constantine wrote a letter exempting Christian clergy from curial responsibilities. What did he identify the maintenance of Christianity with?
The good of the empire: "In thus rendering service to the deity, it is evident that they will be making an immense contribution to the welfare of the community." (Eusebius, Church History, X. 7)
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What does Averil Cameron say about the suggestion that Constantine supported the Christians only for self interest?
Seems unlikely as the percentage of Christians as a whole was tiny. However, subject of Christianity charged in tetrachic circles so may have been useful to convert.
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Were attempts to outlaw or persecute paganism common?
No, exception rather than rule. Constantine is said by Eusebius to have made a law forbidding sacrifice
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What happened during Constantine's reign that appears to show acceptance of paganism?
A new temple was built in honour of imperial family at Hispellum in Italy
108 of 158
Is it possible to reconstruct the religious beliefs and practices of the people living in Britain between the fall of Rome and the arrival of St Augustine's mission to Kent?
All but impossible
109 of 158
When was Saint Augustine's mission to Kent?
110 of 158
Was there a common picture in Britain following the fall of Rome?
No - different levels of continuity. Romano-British paganism and late Roman Christianity persevere in some places but elsewhere fade away
111 of 158
How is it known that there had been Christians prior to arrival of Saint Augustine in Kent?
Roman villa at Lullingstone had a house church and archeologists in Kent have found items marked with Christian chiro (not limited to country houses of the great)
112 of 158
What is significant about the town name Eccles (close to Rochester)?
Taken from the Primitive Welsh eglwys, related to the Latin ecclesia, or 'church'
113 of 158
What does Robin Fleming suggest about the town name Eccles?
"It is just possible that this name fossilies the memory of a Christian community that persevered here after Rome's fall"
114 of 158
Where does Bede say that Augustine had to travel to to meet churchmen?
Far to the west - to the Somerset-Gloucestershire border
115 of 158
What can be said about most people in eastern Britain at the arrival of Augustine?
"would have been entirely innocent of the religion of Rome" (Robin Fleming)
116 of 158
Christianity used by kings
Religion of Rome and the Franks, arriing at a time of political competition
117 of 158
What was a positive of conversion to Christianity?
Access to the expertise of foreign churchmen from more Roman parts of world - help convert-kings to administer territories and profit from their resources
118 of 158
Who was the Irish abbot who died in a monastery he had founded on the small island of Iona in Inner Hebrides in 597?
119 of 158
What is the significant difference between Columba and Augustine?
Columba educated in different tradition (Irish) - his monastic teacher "may well have been a Briton" whereas Augustine new wave of Roman influence from Rome
120 of 158
According to Huw Pryce how has much recent scholarship viewed Anglo-Saxon conversions from paganism to Christianity?
Predominantly political terms
121 of 158
What does Huw Pryce say about the conversion of peasants?
Very likely the peasant dependants of kings and nobles had to follow religious preferences of superiors
122 of 158
Why was conversion of royal courts crucial?
Contained not only kings and their relatives but also aristocratic followers - once they had ceased active service to king would retre to manage estates
123 of 158
Who compelled the kings of the East Saxons and East Angles to become Christian?
124 of 158
What does Pryce suggest about AEthelberht?
May have welcomed opportunity to stress Roman character of kingdom - new common identity that could be shared by both Anglo-Saxon elite and the population of Romano-British descent
125 of 158
What did Gregory the Great assure AEthelberht?
He would win the same renown as Constantine if he followed the emperor's example by spreading new faith among "your subject princes and peoples"
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What did Pope Boniface V stress to Edwin of Northumbria?
All kingship derived from God
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What does Huw Pryce suggest as a fundamental reason for the conversion of Anglo-Saxon kings?
Association of Christianity with Mediterranean and Frankish worlds as well as biblical and Roman imperial models of rulership, legitimated by a single all-powerful deity
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What reason does Huw Pryce give for the fact that early converts such as AEthelberht, brought up in polytheistic tradition, were ready to accept Christianity?
May have understood it differently from the missionaries who baptised them, especially with regards to its exclusive claims to truth
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What does Matthew Innes say about Constantine's conversion?
Should not see it as a cynical ploy for political support. May have been "logical conclusion" to search for single supernatural patron, would explain earlier allegiance to cults of Sol Invictus and Apollo."
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By 1050 what was probably the largest landowner and most powerful single institution in western Europe?
Christian Church
131 of 158
Viking kingdoms
Lay beyond former frontiers of Roman empire and had been relatively immune to its influence. Christianity introduced relatively late in period
132 of 158
Rollason's top down model
Christianity imposed from above on a people who received it due to the authority of person/institution transmitting it
133 of 158
Top-down model - Rulers
Conversion of ruler may have led to imposition on people. Linking of ideological power to Christianity - ceremonies linking to inguration, use of legislation and bureaucratic power to impose Christianity as legal requirement. Through personal power
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Top-down model - Missionaries
Impose on non-Christian people, supervision of converts and maintenance of Christian practices once delivered
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Bottom-up model
Attractive to people at large embraced it
136 of 158
Bottom-up model: Social developments and problems
Adherents may have belonged to groups rising within societies -> social forces lead to rise in numbers OR change so radical shakes religious alliances OR people converted felt inferior to dominant culture in which Christianity previously embraced
137 of 158
Give an example of people who may have felt inferior to dominant culture/society which had previously embraced Christianity
Barbarians who accepted Christianity within a Roman empire which was already largely Christian
138 of 158
Bottom-up model: Teachings
Relevance to problems of time. May have adapted practices, buildings and objects of pagans to make acceptance easier
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What is an interesting question to consider?
Why were kings and members of the elite so willnig to patronise monasteries so generously, from sixth century onwards esp, with enormous tracts of land?
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What does Rollason accept as limitation of his models?
Need to be realistic about extent to which can expect results - issues of bias in sources and faith a matter of perosnal belief
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Lacantius (235) - Battle of Milvian Bridge
"Constantine was directed in a dream to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers and thus to join battle"
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Edict of Milan (313)
End to persecution of Christians and property restored to Churhc, which had been confiscated during persecutions
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Importance of Constantine's conversion
Gave the imperial support necessary for Christianity to establish itself as the dominant, ultimately the only, religion of the empire.
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360-363 Tried unsuccessfully to re-establish paganism
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Why might Lacantius and Eusebius accounts of Constantine's conversion not be crediblre?
Christian and may have been expected to exaggerate change of faith. Eusebius writing many years after supposed conversion
146 of 158
Was the Senate especially pagan?
147 of 158
What is notable about the Christian martyrs produced by prosecutions of Christians up to c.300?
Relatively few are soldiers
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How was the number of Christians increasing exponentially by the late third century?
Christians forbade the murder of unwanted baby girls, abortion and sexual intercourse without the possbiility of conception.. Increasing faster than population at large
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On 20 July 598 Gregory wrote to the patriarch of Alexandra and mentioned the mission of Augustine. What did he say?
At the last Christmas 10,000 baptised
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What kind of Christian was Clotilde?
Catholic Christian
151 of 158
How did the Pope describe AEthelbert in his flattering letters?
As numbering among the "good men raised up by almighty God to be a ruler over nations"
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At the time of Clovis' conversion, what type of Christian was one of his sisters
153 of 158
Avitus of Vienne congratulated Clovis on his conversion. What does his message seem to convey?
Not a conversion from paganism to Christianity but from heresy to orthodox Catholicism.
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What does Roger Collins say about attempts to suggest that Constantine was being cynically self-interested in his conversion?
Not convincing
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How does Bede present the victory of King Oswald of Northumbria at Heavenfield?
Result of God's intervention, invoked by Oswald having erected a wooden cross at the beginning of the battle
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Bede gives an account of the speech made by the pagan priest Coifi at the council when it was decided that Edwin should seek his own and his kingdom's conversion to Christianity
"If the gods had any power, they would have helped me more readily, seeing that I have always served them with greater zeal" -- unlikely these are actually Coifi's words but what is important is that Bede is presenting Christianity as a success relig
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What does Rollason suggest about the conversion of the English in seventh century?
Top-down model
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What is Rollason's top-down model for conversion?


Royalty and the church convert

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What is Rollason's bottom-up model for conversion?


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What is an issue with Rollason's models for conversion?


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Who was the first Christian Roman emperor?


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