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The Frankish Church$
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J. M. Wallace-Hadrill

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780198269069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198269064.001.0001

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From Paganism to Christianity

From Paganism to Christianity

Chapter:
(p.17) II From Paganism to Christianity
Source:
The Frankish Church
Author(s):

J. M. Wallace‐Hadrill

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198269064.003.0002

The Franks, or any other Germanic people, were not pagan one day and Christian the next; this simple solution does no justice to the texts and is overthrown by archaeological evidence. Fifth‐century Gaul was Christian and mostly Catholic in a formal sense, but behind the forms lay a scarcely converted countryside where Celtic and other pagan beliefs still worried the clergy, and remained active in the 6th and 7th centuries, not only in indigenous peoples, but also in the various settler enclaves; these pagan beliefs also affected the way the Franks accepted Christianity. This is one side of the picture; the other is the nature of Germanic paganism — no sense can be made of Frankish Christianity, when it comes, unless allowance is first made for the fact that all Germans were religious people, conditioned by the sense they had of good and evil, life and death, gods and demons. This can best be seen in the archaeological evidence from their remote homeland in a more distant time, and much can be inferred from later literary evidence. This chapter discusses Frankish (Germanic) interest in and worship of pagan gods and heroes (Woden, in particular), Frankish grave gods (and the grave gods of settlers, with which they can be easily confused), the new religion the Franks found and were converted to under Clovis (or Chlodovech), their conqueror from northern Gaul, who was himself a convert to Catholicism, and the difficulties in converting the people in the countryside, where there had been a fusion of Germanic and Celtic paganism.

Keywords:   archaeological evidence, Catholicism, Celtic paganism, Christianity, Clovis, conversion, Frankish Christianity, Frankish grave gods, Gaul, Germanic paganism, grave gods, history, literary evidence, pagan gods, pagan heroes, paganism, religious history, Woden

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