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Posts Tagged ‘paganism’

“The Middle Ages” often evokes images of priests and crosses.  The dominance of Catholic, and to some degree Orthodox, Christianity tends to form the popular conception of what it was to, erm, get medieval, and also leads to questionable beliefs about the period.  Namely, we have the idea that the dominance of Christianity made the Middle Ages a time of ignorance, which is one of those arguments that doesn’t bear much scrutiny because a) the institutions of the Church actually helped preserve Classical learning by keeping writing alive and well, and b) much of the Middle Ages was defined by a complex relationship between paganism and Christianity.  In rural areas in the “central” part of what would become Christendom (and, later, the cultural conglomerate known as Europe), pagan practices survived long after conversion during the early Middle Ages.  However, I’m focusing on the more obvious case of just how long it took for Christianity to really grab hold in northern and Eastern Europe.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the largest state in Europe during its prime, remained officially pagan until 1386 when it joined crowns with the Kingdom of Poland.  That alone is fairly telling.

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