How long did the Norse religion persist after Christianity struck the Baltic?

Watching Terry Jones’ “Erik the Viking” with my daughter, I found myself saying, “Don’t laugh. A thousand years ago this was your family’s religion.” Which reminded me of something else I hadn’t said out loud when some parishoners were surprised that a family from southern India joined our church, “Her ancestors were Christians a thousand years before yours, you stuck-up Vikings.” Which reminded me of seeing a show with modern Latvian pagans, including their grannies, and I started to wonder how long the Old Religion persisted in Viking country. I assume the Latvian pagans started it back up 125 years ago, like the rest of Europe’s pagans, but I know how old beliefs can last in the backwoods and am prepared to be found wrong.

You mean ‘smote’. ‘Smote the Baltic’… :slight_smile:

I’ve read that Baltic paganism went underground, but was not completely disrupted, during the years of Christian rule. Of course, I read it in a Pagan magazine, so it was probably biased.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Lithuania

This link might be of interest. Someone told me that paganism had persisted in Lithuania unbroken until the present day but I’ve not cites and they could have been incorrect. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got other than to say that from knowing the various practices of my parents’ generation in the countryside here that paganism never really died out here either. It was glossed over with a veneer of christianity but so many rituals strike me as pagan.

ETA: What Sunspace said: Well, THAT happened EVERYWHERE! Christianity has always been a most flexible faith. Wanna recognize that Fortuna defined your fate? Stay Christian WELL into the modern era. Saint Barbara reminds you of your Goddess of War? My Inca children, come to me.

Thanks, you pagan bastid! :wink: You’ll note that Dublin was originally a Viking town.

Norway was effectively converted to Christianity during and shortly after the reign of King Olaf II (St. Olaf, 1015-28). Unlike many national conversions forced by a monarch, this one seems to have been largely a consensus around a leading heroic figure.

Denmark’s conversion was sporadic, but appears to have been complete at about the same time as Norway.

Swedish conversion to Christianity took a bit longer, being complete only early in the 12th century.

Iceland became a Christian nation which tolerated paganism in 1000. I’ve been given to understand that, unlike other Neopagan renascences, Icelandic paganism continued, albeit somewhat sub rosa and the religion of only a small minority, throughout the period when Iceland was under Danish and Norwegian rule. Perhaps one of our Icelandic members might address this.

Mostly reliable Wikipedia article on the subject can be found here.

Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) clung to pagan ways much longer than the surrounding areas east and west of them. The first two were forced to Christianity by German sword by the 1230’s, but pagan customs, including burials, persisted widespread until the 18th century. The King of Lithuania turned to Christianity not until 1385, or late Medieval times. This is what my professor (an authority in North European Medieval history) taught me.

I noticed that too when I lived in County Carlow: the local population is very Catholic, but also has wart wells, healers, and fairy trees, and they still hire dowsers to drill wells.

Ah, they say that but I bet there was a town here before they came in and started going on about Dubh Linn. :slight_smile:

Here’s an example of how long paganism can hold on. I live about 100km south of Corinth, which was one of the earliest Christian communities. But the area I live in wasn’t converted until the 9th-10th century.

And here’s one to show how paganism never really went away. Countless mountain tops in Greece are dedicated to Profitas Ilias (the prophet Elijah). In the bible Ilias went up to heaven from a mountain top in a fiery chariot. In pagan Greece mountain tops were dedicated to the sun god who travelled round the earth in a fiery chariot. The Greek word for the sun is Ilios.

There are loads of examples of this. A Saint Dionysos looks after wine growing, Saint Demetrios looks after the harvest (the pagan Demeter) etc etc.

Yes, the Icelandic Parliament decided that Iceland should be a Christian country in the year 1000. However, I’m not so sure how sub rosa paganism was. My impression is rather that if you paid lip service to Christ and went to mass when you had to, you could do pretty much what you want otherwise.

I’ll have to ask around a bit, for more information.

Well, yeah. But that’s science!

Well, Norse religion seems to be alive today (Sunday), and it was here Saturday, and Friday, and Thursday, and so on. Seems to be hanging in there.

Grand Duke of Lithuania, and King of Poland.

Having said that, an earlier (the only) King of Lithuania had adopted Christianity, but the country was not Christianised at that time.