Admin moved page How Did the Vikings Convert to Christianity? to How Did the Vikings Convert to Christianity
300px|thumbnail|left|State of Olav Tryggvason in Trondheim, Norway]]__NOTOC__
The Vikings are known today for being piratical raiders of Europe, capturing whatever goods they could, including people, in lighting raids and then returning to their homes in Scandinavia. Churches and monasteries were among their favorite targets because the structures were usually not very well protected yet they often held great amounts of gold and other treasures.
To the early Vikings, these churches represented nothing more than potentially lucrative targets – the religious connotation meant little to them one way or another. The Vikings followed an Indo-European religion that many of the people of Europe practiced before they became Christians. The Vikings believed that gods and goddesses such as Odin, Thor, Freya, and Tyr watched over them as they went into battle and traversed the seas in their longships. But by the late eleventh century, the old gods were becoming a thing of the past and the Vikings were embracing Jesus.
The Vikings were among some of the last Europeans to embrace Christianity and the manner in which they did so, and the reasons for their conversion were complex. Europeans began sending missionaries to the north in the ninth century and gradually the various Viking kingdoms began to convert. Most of the early Viking rulers converted due to political and economic ties with Christian Europe and then forced their subjects to follow suit. The conversion process was uneven across Scandinavia and there were heathen/pagan reactions to Christianity, but by the early twelfth century the process was complete and Scandinavia was integrated into greater Western Civilization.
====Denmark and the First Christian Missions====
300px|thumbnail|left| A Map Showing the Scandinavian Kingdoms in relation to the Rest of Europe in the Late Eleventh Century]]
Due to its proximity to the Holy Roman Empire and the rest of Europe, Denmark was the first of the Viking lands to accept Christianity. The Christianization of Denmark began when missionaries, such as Ansgar, began visiting the land in the early ninth century. Ansgar was a German monk who would later become the archbishop of Bremen. <ref> Rosendahl, Else. <i> The Vikings.</i> Translated by Susan M. Margeson and Kirsten Williams. (London: Penguin, 1998), p. 159 </ref>
===Christianity in Iceland, Greenland, and Sweden===
300px|thumbnail|left|A Viking Age Crucifix from Lund, Sweden]]Iceland was settled by explorers from Norway in the ninth century and although it was from that point forward part of Scandinavia, it was always unique in the northern lands. Iceland never had a king and its geographic distance meant that it was not introduced to Christianity until later. Once Iceland was introduced to the new religion, though, the people of the island quickly converted. The people of Iceland converted to Christianity in 1000, which was largely through the efforts of Olav Tryggvason. <ref> Rosedahl, p. 165</ref> The sagas offer an interesting anecdote that describes how Olav convinced one prominent Icelander to convert only after he promised him the material reward of his “friendship.”
“Kjartan was the biggest and finest of men and able of speech. And when the king and he had spoken a few words together, the king bade Kjartan take up Christianity. Kjartan said he would not say ‘nay’ to that if he should have the king’s friendship. The king promised him his full friendship and the matter was now
agree upon between them.” <ref> Sturlason, The History of Olav Trygvason, LXXXII</ref>
After the people of Iceland had been introduced to Christianity, the Church sent members of the hierarchy to make it official. The Icelandic Bishop Isleifir was consecrated by
Archbiship Adalbert in 1056, which gave Iceland’s Christians formal leadership and a connection to the Church. <ref> Sawyer, p. 47</ref>
Tryggvason is also credited with spreading Christianity to the Viking colonies of Greenland. Although Tryggvason never visited Greenland, according to the sagas he played a major role in the conversion of Leif Erikson (970-1020).<ref> Sturlason, The History of Olav Trygvason, LXXXVI</ref> After meeting with Olav in Norway, Erikson returned to the Greenland colonies promoting the new religion to his followers.
Among the mainland Viking lands, Sweden was the last to accept Christianity. The first Christian king of Sweden is generally believed to be Olof Skötkonung (ruled 995-1022), although he was far less forceful in his promotion of the new religion than his Norwegian counterparts. <ref>
Rosedahl, p. 166</ref> The legends also state that Olof was the first king of a unified Sweden and that under his rule the influence of the Church grew rapidly across the land. <ref> Sawyer, p. 55</ref>
The Church established a Scandinavian archbishopric in 1104 in the city of Lund, which is now part of Sweden but was at the time in the Kingdom of Denmark. <ref> Sawyer, p. 49</ref> Although elements of the Vikings’ pre-Christian culture would continue to be employed in Scandinavian art and literature for some time after 1104, the early twelfth century marked the end of the Viking pagan era and the beginning of Scandinavia’s integration into greater Western Civilization.
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