The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity

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9780805027631: The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity
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The conversion of the pagan world that began in the obscurity of the Dark Ages was in no way inevitable. England did not embrace Christianity until 627, and while confessing communities existed from Greenland to China by the millennium, the last European conversion occurred late in the Middle Ages, in 1386. How did it all happen--and why? In a work of splid scholarship that often reads like a detective story and that owes as much to keen intuition as to the mastery of difficult sources, Richard Fletcher lays out the story of the Christianization of Europe. It is a very large story, for conversion was not merely a matter of religious belief. Christianity brought with it enormous cultural baggage. With it came Latin literacy--books; Roman notions of law, property, and government--even the concept of town life, and Mediterranean customs, including new tastes in food, drink, and dress. Whether from faith or by force, conversion had an immense impact that is with us even today, and it is Richard Fletcher's achievement to make that impact felt and understood.

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About the Author:

"It is a wholly deplorable state of affairs when specialists in any discipline talk only to each other," writes Richard Fletcher. And, indeed, he has brought to his new work the same uncommon narrative flair and respect for sources found in Moorish Spain and The Search for El Cid, winner of both the Wolfson Prize and the Los Angeles Times History Prize.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An elegant history of the Christianization of northwestern Europe. Not many historians would be willing to tackle a subject that encompasses more than 1,000 years of history, several discrete cultures, and numerous religious systems, or that requires a mastery of sparse resources written in several languages no longer extant. Then again, Fletcher (whose 1990 The Quest for El Cid won the Los Angeles Times history prize) is no ordinary historian. He bucks the trend of postwar historical specialization by writing a ``grand'' narrative tracing the rise of Latin Christianity not just in his native England (though this is the most normative case study in the book, to which he constantly refers), but also Spain, France, Germany, and Ireland, among many others. Scandinavia (including Greenland and Iceland) is also included, offering a much needed contribution to the history of western Christendom. The author concludes by recounting Western Christianity's push into eastern Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the increasing emphasis on war (``crusade'') as a justified means to convert the heathen abroad. Fletcher's comprehensive, comparative technique is fruitful; he is mindful that the introduction of Christianity into these various regions necessitated not just a transformation of belief, but also an adoption of foreign cultural practices such as Roman government, dress, and food, as well as an emphasis on literacy. Throughout, Fletcher raises provocative questions about the motives for Christian evangelism, as well as the nature of conversion itself: At what point can historians claim that an entire culture was ``converted'' to a particular religion? Fletcher is an even-handed, creative historian. Well written and engaging, his book stands as a uniquely ambitious metahistory. His suggestions for further reading provide direction for more focused inquiry. (36 b&w photos, 10 maps, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Fletcher, Richard
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Book Description Henry Holt and Company, Inc., New York, 1997. Hard Cover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. BCE. A history of the conversion to Christianity of the various European peoples, from earliest times through to the last conversion in Lithuania in the late Middle Ages in 1386 - often by bloody force - the enormous cultural and political changes these transformations entailed, the military consequences, much more. 'First American Edition' statement to copyright page, but is actually second printing of the BCE. Hardcover with dust jacket, contains illustrations, maps, further reading list, notes, indexed, 562pp. A very nice copy, the jacket inside a plastic protector. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 00014142

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