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Secondary II • 2yr.


Can someone explain to me what is the Christianization of the West please?



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Explanations (1)

  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 2yr. edited September 2021

    Good evening !

    Thank you for your question! :)

    First, you should know that Christianization is the spread of the Christian religion throughout Europe (in the West) in the Middle Ages (476-1492). Christianity is founded on the birth and death of Jesus of Nazareth in the 1st century AD (during Antiquity).

    The causes of Christianization:

    • Rapid spread of the Christian religion: After the death of Jesus, his faithful (his disciples) wrote the Gospels, texts recounting the teachings and the life of him whom they consider to be their Savior. Several people in the eastern part (east) of the Roman Empire will quickly convert to this new religion.
    • Conversion of Constantine: Faced with the growing popularity of Christianity in his Empire, the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to it in 313.
    • Official religion of the Empire: Despite the conversion of Constantine in 313, it was not until 380 that Christianity became the official religion of the Empire (under Emperor Theodosius I). Now officially recognized, the religion quickly spread to Europe and the East. Thus, in 476, when the Western Roman Empire fell into the hands of barbarian (Germanic) invasions, the Christian religion was already well established in several regions of the Empire in Europe.

    • Conversion of the Germanic kingdoms to Christianity: To be accepted as leader by the Roman population, the Germanic king of the Franks, Clovis, was baptized in 500 (baptism represents the official entry of a person into the Christian religion). In the same way, the kings of the small European kingdoms will unite with the Church (which is then a powerful institution in which the people believe and adhere) in exchange for its support. The Church will then influence the population of these various kingdoms.

    Here is a map showing the expansion of Christianity between 325 (after the conversion of Constantine - in dark blue) and 600 (100 years after the baptism of Clovis - in light blue):

    h1433i6 (1).jpg

    The consequences of Christianization:

    • Continuity: Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 by the barbarian invasion, it was divided into several small kingdoms. However, the presence of Christianity during the Middle Ages is one of the elements of continuity of this period with Antiquity. In addition to the continuity of the Catholic religion, the use of the Latin language remains, as it is the language spoken by the clergy and becomes the official language of writing for copyist monks.

    • Expansion of the power and influence of the Church: During the Middle Ages, the Church will have real kingdoms which will bring it fortunes. In addition, it will ally itself with powerful kings, allowing it to increase its political influence throughout this period. In order to ensure its power and influence, the Church sets up a strong organization and hierarchical structure. Thus, the Pope is essential to the spread of Christianity in the West, because he determines and imposes on the faithful interpretations of the Bible and religious holidays. During the Middle Ages, monastic orders also emerged. They exercise functions which allow a greater diffusion of Christianity in the West. For example, some participate in the Crusades against Muslims and others will take care of propagating religion by writing and copying religious books. In the hierarchy, certain members of the Church lead the provinces, dioceses or parishes, thus exerting their influence on the population. In addition, with the compulsory monetary contribution of the adherents to the Church) and seigniorial royalties, the Church obtains income, allowing it to become an economic power in Europe. Finally, the Church ensures that it has absolute control over the scientific, artistic and architectural knowledge taught during the Middle Ages.

    • New Form of Architecture: With the growing influence of the Church, new forms of architecture are appearing in large numbers all over Europe, such as monasteries and cathedrals. These types of architecture will then influence the architecture of other types of buildings in Europe.

    Do not hesitate to write to us again if you have any other questions! :)

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