How did Christianity become the primary religion in Europe?

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In history class we were told that in the dark ages people died young and wondered what would happen when they died. The church promised them salvation so Christianity spread across Europe.

This has to be a very incomplete explanation. I've heard all sorts of details from various sources: A Roman Emperor hallucinated before winning a huge battle then decided that it was the Christian God who brought him victory so Christianity become the new religion in Rome. The Celts had their own beliefs which were regional variants of Hinduism. The Germans believed in their own regional variants of their own mythology the most famous variant being Norse mythology. Some Christian kings gave pagans the choice to either convert to Christianity or die. Christians sent missionaries into pagan territories to convert them.

But all these details I've provided still paint a very incomplete picture. Christianity for whatever reasons seems to be more popular than all the pagan faiths. Why did almost everyone eventually convert to Christianity? Why was it so much rarer for a Christian to convert to paganism?
 

osaka35

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Christianity spread across Europe through the edge of a sword.

Religion spreads by those in power. So the simplest answer is those in power are converted, and they then forced others to do so through violence or decree or both. If it's death or conversion, people tend to convert. enough generations and they forget the original coercion and voila.
 
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Deleted member 568892

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But what made Christian conquerors so much more successful than pagan conquerors? I know that in some viking raids some Christians converted and joined the vikings. These people went from their indigenous religion to Christianity to Vikingism (I don't know what the correct word is to describe the Vikings religious beliefs).
 
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To add on to what osaka35 said, basically at that time it spread though power and control, mainly through Catholicism. the Roman Emperor in question was Constantine and after that huge battle he basically made Christianity the main religion of Rome. However since Rome was mostly pagan at the time, To get them all to convert, He mixed Christianity and Paganism, creating what we know as Catholicism. The Dark Ages basically detailed how the Catholic Church abused its power and promised them salvation if they listened to them... Back then they Restricted the Bible to only Latin Vulgate, which only elites and higher ups could read. Which is why they had so much control. Which eventually led to people like Martin Luther Standing up against it. They just say church because its sometimes viewed as all the same.


In essence it was more popular due to it being spread around the world, but when people hungry for power and control got a hold of it, they used it to maintain power, even it if meant corrupting it... If you look more into it, You might find that some conversions were in name only and not much else. There's actually bit more to that but to learn more look up Historians from that time period and there's Youtube videos that discuss it as well..not to mention the secret societies like knights templar , priory of scion, Jesuits etc.
 
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Some have contemplated the economic argument.

Monotheism has one structure to maintain, polytheism means each temple which kind of does its own thing and has no unified setup means you end up with a bunch of mutually competing things (even if nominally under their own setup). To that end polytheism is almost destined to fail absent other notable factors.

Also while today the Mediterranean is... not destined for greatness then in the earlier game of civilisation it is not bad at all and could thus pull focus. Get a toehold in the med early enough and basic in group preference will generally take care of the rest - arm the side that shares the same religion as you at discount rates, discount routes, best choices of merchandise, donations come political seasons, invites to the cool boy party, be the side with a decent setup of writing (it is the word of the lord after all) and accounting... even today some view churches as a social gathering (and some of the ones I saw in the US with cinemas, tennis courts, pools...) and business opportunity ("Bill the plumber goes to my church and is friends with Frank who I know, I will get him to fix my leaking pipe" and all that vs having to use online adverts or whatever, maybe aided a bit by a "keep it within the flock" mentality).

Do things flow down from the top or up from the bottom? Did emperors, kings, chieftains and whatever have magical experiences (or attribute a trip to such a thing) or was it a nice fabrication/propaganda piece when someone could tell what way the wind was blowing by looking out and seeing what the peasants (or at least those members of society with some power) were doing?
Video because relevant


Guilt based and shame based (many other religions/cultures) can also be an interesting thing to contemplate, though if you want to think of religion as a mind virus and figure out what makes it each individual take appealing then that can lead to good places.

Many pagan and polytheistic setups are also incorporative and blend things (sometimes even on the part of missionaries which contrive means -- Norse Ragnarok and such being subsumed being the more noted story here, though ribbons in Ireland is a fun one as well) which can lead to a takeover that way, "no other gods before me" and related things in other monotheistic religions that stuck around however is rather exclusionary. This also leads to the secondary thing of how Christian (not really a term, mostly something made up in the 50s by US politicians to try to appeal to more voters that might have held radically different interpretations of the bible) -- pretty interesting account of a place Scotland long after nominal conversion had taken place when a priest decided to go walkabout and see what went down, he found them dancing around a fire and doing much the same as they would have centuries before conversion.
 

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It's always fascinated me that most christian/catholic holidays and traditions are just bastardized versions of long pre-existing pagan traditions and ceremonies.
No paganism = no Christmas tree.
 

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Power, money, control and blood. The church of old wasn't quite so goody goody as it is now. Just have a look at the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Spanish Inquisition, as most folks would know it). No atrocities committed in the name of god there, nooooooooooo :rofl2:

@FAST6191 We still do dance around fires and behave like savages. Mostly on November 5th, or at music festivals, but y'know :D
 

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But what made Christian conquerors so much more successful than pagan conquerors? I know that in some viking raids some Christians converted and joined the vikings. These people went from their indigenous religion to Christianity to Vikingism (I don't know what the correct word is to describe someone who believes in Germanic mythology).
Murder and forced conversion were basically used to conqueror the Pagans of Europe. It was pretty much, "Join us or die" and then it was upheld through force.
 

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I still doubt this thread thoroughly answers my question. It seems to be different rewordings of popular opinion. Asking a question requires less effort but in this case the only way to get a detailed answer is to do my own research.
 

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Funny how people here are commenting that Christian religion is made to keep people in control and to have power, far away from the truth. Jesus said: "Love one another as i love thee" meaning that the message he left is be kind towards one another. People will do nowdays whatever they want whatever they please even if you believe fully in God. Most of the time people stop believing in God because they dont get what they want and expect God to solve everything quickly or dont believe if things dont happen the way they want. People will change their mind from not believing in God, calling out God when their lives are at stake, asking to save them but when the danger is over they quickly forget it and go back to their lives until the same thing repeats itself. No one is forcing you, you are free to choose, no one is pointing a gun at you telling you to believe. True bad things happened hundreds years ago but nowdays Christianity is one of the less violent religions. Look at that new movie Benedeta, how Hollywood mocks it because they know no one will do a thing about it. People are acting like you are forced to believe. The way to Heaven is a free gift, God will give it through Jesus to you if you are interested in him, again no one is forcing you.

Answer to OP: Religion may have slowly entered Europe through time, remember back then a lot of things happened regarding the Christian religion, one of those is the Crusades, heavily involved Christianity.
 

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In history class we were told that in the dark ages people died young and wondered what would happen when they died. The church promised them salvation so Christianity spread across Europe.

This has to be a very incomplete explanation. I've heard all sorts of details from various sources: A Roman Emperor hallucinated before winning a huge battle then decided that it was the Christian God who brought him victory so Christianity become the new religion in Rome. The Celts had their own beliefs which were regional variants of Hinduism. The Germans believed in their own regional variants of their own mythology the most famous variant being Norse mythology. Some Christian kings gave pagans the choice to either convert to Christianity or die. Christians sent missionaries into pagan territories to convert them.

But all these details I've provided still paint a very incomplete picture. Christianity for whatever reasons seems to be more popular than all the pagan faiths. Why did almost everyone eventually convert to Christianity? Why was it so much rarer for a Christian to convert to paganism?
I'm sure it had a lot to do with the crusades, the inquisition and similarly religious violence.
 

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Funny how people here are commenting that Christian religion is made to keep people in control and to have power, far away from the truth. Jesus said: "Love one another as i love thee" meaning that the message he left is be kind towards one another. People will do nowdays whatever they want whatever they please even if you believe fully in God. Most of the time people stop believing in God because they dont get what they want and expect God to solve everything quickly or dont believe if things dont happen the way they want. People will change their mind from not believing in God, calling out God when their lives are at stake, asking to save them but when the danger is over they quickly forget it and go back to their lives until the same thing repeats itself. No one is forcing you, you are free to choose, no one is pointing a gun at you telling you to believe. True bad things happened hundreds years ago but nowdays Christianity is one of the less violent religions. Look at that new movie Benedeta, how Hollywood mocks it because they know no one will do a thing about it. People are acting like you are forced to believe. The way to Heaven is a free gift, God will give it through Jesus to you if you are interested in him, again no one is forcing you.

Answer to OP: Religion may have slowly entered Europe through time, remember back then a lot of things happened regarding the Christian religion, one of those is the Crusades, heavily involved Christianity.
If we are doing the "pure" modern shiny English translations/reinterpretations (King James or modern versions being rather different to the older Aramaic) then maybe. If however we were plopped down in the... anything before about 1955 (600 was somewhat different to 1000 which was different to 1400, which was different to rise of protestantism (never mind the east-west, or the lesser contemplated Irish split), which was different to industrialisation era) to when it got said toehold do you think treating the church(s) as an apolitical actor aka just a group with some funny ideas about how the world works and some weird rituals is going to work as well as treating them as a Machiavellian political entity?
Its power waxed and waned -- see the time the French emperors killed the pope and made his successor a puppet really for but one of those but if I were chucked back through time and decided to make the world a better place say a 1000 years ahead of this timeline (doable enough) then church has to be considered a force to be reckoned with, or maybe subverted.
 
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