The original stimulus
for this paper was the almost simultaneous reading of three project
proposals that all had as a central theme the Christianization
of one or more countries in what in the 10th-11th
century could be labelled as the periphery of Christian Europe.
However, let us start
by taking a longer and, perhaps, simplified view of the Christianization
of Europe. Basically we may operate with at least three methods
or ways in which Christianity spread:
1) by diffusion, either
intentionally by missionary work or, less intentionally, from
individual to individual in something we could call cultural mission.
This method was operative from the very beginning of Christianity;
2) the “caesaropapistic”
spread of Christianity, which was introduced when Constantine
the Great in 325 made Christianity the state religion of the Roman
Empire. A method that was later operative at several stages, both
before and after the Reformation;
3) later came mission
by the sword, where conquest was accompanied by forced baptism.
Here the wish to spread the Christian faith could be the moving
factor or the forced conversion could primarily be intended as
a mean to secure conquest.
At the beginning of the
Middle Ages Christian Europe consisted of the countries and peoples
that had formed part of the Roman Empire. By the end of the Middle
Ages, however, almost all peoples of what we geographically consider
Europe had become Christian. This period in the Christianization
of Europe may be divided into a number of distinct stages. Relevant
for the process of Christianization, as far as it concerns Europe's
northern and eastern periphery, are three such stages, in which
one or another of the above-mentioned methods dominated,
1) the more or less forced
Christianization from the end of the 8th century to the end of
the 9th century of the immediate neighbours of the Carolingian
Empire by the Empire, involving both Germanic and Slavonic tribes/nations;
2) the more or less voluntary
Christianization from the second half of the 10th to
the beginning of the 11th century of almost all tribes/nations
in the periphery surrounding what now constituted Christian Europe:
(Kievan-)Rus’, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden;
3) the third stage was
to a large extent shaped by the appearance of the crusading movement
and its implementation in the periphery. This led either to the
conquest and forced Christianization of the remaining nations
by existing Christian states, turned crusader states, and by newly
founded military order state(s), or, in the case of Lithuania,
to the rise of a pagan-led empire.
With these preliminary
remarks I shall turn to the three projects or project proposals,
mentioned above. The first one I got acquainted with was a “Proposal
for a Centre for the Christianization of Denmark, c.700-1300”
that a group of scholars with Professor Brian Patrick McGuire
as initiator submitted to the Danish National Research Foundation,
which, unfortunately, decided not to support the proposal. Because
I was intended to take part in the project I got to read an early
sketch of the proposal. This, however, I found inadequate in certain
conceptual respects. Inadequacies often shared by scholars with
a background in the study of Western Europe, especially when they
approach earlier stages of medieval European history.
Reading the proposal
I was first of all struck by the fact that it hardly took into
consideration that a number of emerging states in what could be
called the eastern and northern periphery of the then Christian
Europe adopted Christianity under much the same conditions as
Denmark and more or less simultaneous with Denmark. In addition
to Denmark, that, as we saw, concerns Rus’, Hungary, Bohemia,
Poland, Norway, and Sweden. Therefore, in order fully to understand
what took place in Denmark, the entire process of Christianization
in this periphery has to be studied on a comparative basis.
While working with the
Danish proposal I also got acquainted with two other recently
created Centres and their projects or project proposals, in which
the Christianization of the European periphery, during what I
above labelled the 2d stage, plays a major part.
The Centres in question
are the Centre for Medieval Studies (CMS), established at the
University of Bergen (Norway) under the auspices of Sverre Bagge
and Lars Boje Mortensen, and a project “Christianization and State-formation
in Northern and Central Europe, c.900-c.1200” at the Centre for
Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH),
based at Cambridge University (UK) and led by Nora Berend. Both
Centres are so far best known through their respective internet
Of these the Cambridge
project according to its internet presentation does explicitly
study of the spread of Christianity and the emergence of polities
in Scandinavia and Central Europe. The underlying causes of the
success of the Latin form of Christianity will be analysed, as
will the link between conversion and consolidation of power, ‘imported’
institutions from Western Europe, adaptation, and local specificities
Scandinavia and central Europe, including
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, have much
in common. Christianity took hold in the same period, roughly
the tenth and eleventh centuries; and this period was also the
one during which princes consolidated their power over these areas.”
Here the omission
of Rus’ in the territory that is to be included in the comparative
study is striking. Not only was Rus’ Christianized during the
same period and experienced a similar consolidation of princely
power, but during the same period and up through the eleventh
century it formed numerous and close commercial, political and
dynastic links with each and every of the other countries in the
periphery in addition to some of the “old” Christian powers in
the West. It was, in fact, at the time a totally integrated part
of Christian Europe.
An additional quotation
further down the project description will emphasize the problem
and, at the same time together with a notion in the first quotation,
highlight another problem,
What was the role of
local rulers? How was conversion and the consolidation of power
in internal and external power-struggles linked? What can we find
out about the relative importance of native rulers and elites
in importing Christianity, and that of German Emperors
and the papacy in exporting it? (italics, JHL).
In talking about
importing “institutions from Western Europe” and singling out
the “German Emperors and the papacy” as agents who exported Christianity
to the periphery, the author of the project has already from the
start excluded other sources of Christian influence and made it
into a project not really about Christianization at the time that
took place, but rather about Europeanization understood as Westernization.
But is that really a relevant proposition for the period, when
these countries turned Christian during the above-mentioned 2d
The Bergen project is
less explicit both on comparativity and its scope, but a reading
of its Internet presentation reveals that it does hold similar
views to those expressed in the Cambridge project. This applies
to the notion of viewing the Christianization process in the periphery
as part of the ‘The Europeanization
of Europe’ or ‘The Formation of Western Christendom’, two themes
the Centre sees as “an appropriate headline for the period between
the 9th and the 14th century.” It also applies to the notion of
a centre to a periphery. Thus the Bergen Centre asks whether “the
new regions of Europe” received “wholesale ‘cultural packages’?
Or did they import selected items.” Likewise the Centre talks
of “Europeanization in the sense of export from the centre to
Furthermore, when the
Bergen Centre maintains that faced with the “clear evidence of the superiority
of the centre”
the countries bordering the German Empire were from the 10th century
onwards faced with the alternatives: adapt or perish,
it does seem clear that
the Centre does not intend to include Rus’ in its area of study.
Besides this claim is hardly tenable at least as regards the decision
of these countries to adopt Christianity – and that was, after
all, what mainly took place in the 10th and early 11th
centuries. Although pressure from the Empire was, at times, definitely
felt among the neighbouring countries, that did not stop the once
Christianized Slavonic Wends from reverting to
paganism in the revolt of 983 and stay pagan until they were once
more incorporated into Christianity during the 3d stage of the
Crusades. And if they could choose in the 10th century
not to “adapt” without “perishing,” so could presumably both Poland
and Denmark. – Returning for a moment to Rus’, it could, of course, be maintained that, even if it
did not experience any sort of political or religious pressure
from the German Empire, it had been exposed to a comparable pressure
from another empire, the Byzantine Empire, when it underwent a
similar process as its neighbours in the west. Such a claim would,
however, be just another reason to include Rus’ in a genuine comparative
In its presentation the
Bergen Centre also expresses the wish “to challenge the more
or less implicit assumption of most medievalists that medieval
Europe for most purposes was confined to the area south of Jutland
and west of the Oder.” That is commendable. However, both Centres
would have done well by further challenging some assumptions implicit
in their own presentations. Since both Centres wish to extend
their study back to the ninth century and beyond, what exactly
in their view constituted Europe in the 9th-11th
century; and, in case they do operate with a border within Europe
between the Oder and the Urals, where exactly is it located and
by which criteria is it characterized? Another assumptions that
needs to be challenged is the notion that all influence, especially
when it comes to Christianization in the periphery, necessarily
came from a centre and that this centre was located in the West.
In what follows I
will discuss some of these notions, using Varangian
activity as an example.
Varangians and Christianity
In the huge literature
on the activity of Scandinavians during the Viking Age it has
long been almost axiomatically accepted that, while Scandinavians
in large numbers settled on the British Isles and elsewhere in
the west, there was no corresponding settlement or colonization
in the East. As result there was an apparent gap between that
fact and the ostensibly omnipresent Scandinavians in the East,
according to written sources, – at least according to interpretations
generally accepted by Western scholars of terms like Rus’ and
its subsequent replacement as a designation for Scandinavians,
Varangians. This gap is, however, now being bridged. Thus, according
to one of the foremost authorities on Russo-Scandinavian archaeology,
Ingmar Jansson, early Scandinavian activity in the territory that
came to be Rus’ was indeed followed by a significant Scandinavian
Archaeological excavations, therefore, now fully confirm
the picture suggested by the written sources of a mobile group
of migrating Scandinavians in the eastern and northern periphery,
who during a period extending from the 8th to the 11th
or even 12th century in varying degrees linked all
the countries in the periphery.
The extreme mobility
of these Varangians from one end of the periphery to the other,
extending as it did into such Christian centres as the Byzantine
Empire in the south-east and England in the north-west is, in
the higher social stratum, personified by Harald Hårdråde. That
this mobility, however, must have been shared by numerous lesser
Scandinavians is evident. Otherwise literary themes soaked up
in oral tradition in Byzantium would never have travelled through
Rus’ to Scandinavia, where they in related form were dropped in
literary works such as Russian Chronicles and Norse sagas. A theme
that was later to be extensively studied in Ad. Stender-Petersen’s
now almost forgotten dissertation.
The Varangian mobility was so outspoken a feature
that the early 12th-century the compiler of the “The
Tale of the Bygone Years” (Povest’ vremennykh let, c. 1110)
could still see his country essentially as having
functioned as “The Passage from the Varangians to the Greeks”
(Put’ iz Variag v Greki). What's more, the same compiler was just
as aware of the Varangians’ Anglo-Saxon links as he was of their
links to Byzantium. Therefore, when, in the “Tale of the Invitation
of Riurik and his Brothers to Rule in Rus’”, he wished to explain
who these Varangians were, he explicitly wrote that the Finnic-Baltic-Slavonic
confederates behind the invitation,
went overseas to the Varangian Rus’:
these particular Varangians were known as Rus’, just as some are
called Swedes, and others Normans, English, and Gotlanders, for
they were thus named.
While the process of
Christianization is difficult to monitor elsewhere because of
the scarcity of sources, the same compiler of “The Tale of the
Bygone Years” incorporated in his Chronicle a corpus of texts,
which allows us to do just that with regard to the Varangians.
The texts in question are three or four treaties that were concluded
between princes of Rus’ and the Byzantine Empire between 907 and
971. Originally the texts must have been written in Greek but
they were recorded in the chronicle in Russian translation.
The text representing
the 907 Treaty is very brief. It mentions the five envoys from
the Kievan prince, Oleg, whose names despite being channelled
through Greek and Russian all clearly appear to be Scandinavian
– “Karl, Farulf, Vermund, Hrollaf, and Steinvith.” Obviously they
are also pagan, because while the Greeks take their oath on the
treaties by kissing the cross, these Rus’ envoys swear by their
or by their gods Perun and Volos (presumably Fenno-Balto-Slavic
renditions of Scandinavian gods in connection with the translation
The 911 Treaty is
quoted at greater length than its predecessor. It is reciprocal
in nature and can be divided into 15 articles in addition to an
introduction and a note on its ratification. The copy translated
in the chronicle seems to be the one issued by the Russian part.
Again all envoys sent by Prince Oleg, now 15 in number,
appear to be Scandinavians – “Karl, Ingjald, Farulf, Vermund,
Hrollaf, Gunnar, Harold, Kami, Frithleif, Hroarr, Angantyr, Throand,
Leithulf, Fast, and Steinvith.” The text contains a number of
stipulations where the Byzantine part is referred to as either
Greeks or Christians almost as if the two words were synonymous,
whereas the Russians are simply referred to as Rus’.
Once more the Russians are presented as exclusively
pagan, which is clearly reflected both in the opening article,
where the “firm oath sworn upon our weapons according to our religion
and our law” is mentioned and in the note on the ratification,
As a convention and an inviolable
pledge binding equally upon you Greeks and upon us Rus’, we have
caused the present treaty to be transcribed in vermillion script
upon parchment in duplicate. In the name of the Holy Cross and
the Holy and Indivisible Trinity of your one true God, your
Emperor has confirmed it by his signature and handed it to our
envoys. According to our own faith and the custom of our nation,
we have sworn to your Emperor, who rules over you by the grace
of God, that we will neither violate ourselves, nor allow any
of our subjects to violate the peace and amity assured by the
articles thus concluded between us. ... thus concluded between
us this second of September, in the year of Creation 6420 (911),
fifteenth of the indiction (italics, JHL).
The next treaty,
containing 16 articles, was concluded in 944. This time the text
appears to be the version issued in name of the Byzantine part,
but now the chronicle text reveals that another copy was issued
in the name of the Russian part. The treaty names 49 or 50 Rus’
envoys. The first 23 are said each to represent one Kievan potentate
from Prince Igor downwards thus providing us with 23 additional
The remaining 26 or 27 envoys are said to be merchants.
Thus the treaty altogether contains 72 or 73 names by whom or
on whose behalf it is concluded on the part of the Russians. Again
almost all names are clearly Scandinavian with only a few that
may be interpreted on the basis of alternative ethnicity.
In contrast to the previous treaties, the 944 treaty,
whenever it’s relevant, distinguishes between Russians that are
still pagan and Russians who have become Christian, starting with
the first article,
If any inhabitant of the land of Rus’
thinks to violate this amity, may such of these transgressors
as have adopted the Christian faith incur condign punishment from
Almighty God in the shape of damnation and destruction both in
this world and the next. If any of these transgressors be not
baptized, may they receive help neither from God nor from Perun:
may they not be protected by their own shields, but may they rather
be slain by their own swords, laid low by their own arrows or
by any of their own weapons, and may they be in bondage forever.
And where necessary the
treaty stipulates in separate articles “the Christian Rus’ shall
so swear according to their faith, and the non-Christians after
their custom”. The treaty text itself ends by stating that,
Upon receipt of this
document, they [the Russians] shall then bind themselves by oath
to observe the truth as agreed upon between us and inscribed upon
this parchment, wherein our names are written.
Then, quoting the treaty
copy issued in the name of the Russians, the text stipulates that
the ratification was to consist of two separate, parallel acts.
First, one performed by the Christian Rus’,
Those of us who are baptized
have sworn in the Cathedral, by the church of St. Elias, upon
the Holy Cross set before us, and upon this parchment, to abide
by all that is written herein, and not to violate any of its stipulations.
May whosoever of our compatriots, Prince or common, baptized or
un-baptized, who does so violate them, have no succour from God,
but may he be slave in this life and in the life to come, and
may he perish by his own arms.”
Next follows an act performed
by their pagan compatriots,
“The un-baptized Rus’
shall lay down their shields, their naked swords, their armlets,
and their other weapons, and shall swear to all that is inscribed
upon this parchment, to be faithfully observed forever by Igor’,
all his boyars, and all the people from the land of Rus’. If any
of the princes or any Russian subject, whether Christian or non-Christian,
violates the terms of this instrument, he shall merit death by
his own weapons, and be accursed of God and of Perun because he
violated his oath.
The chronicler then describes
how the Russian envoys return to Kiev together with their Greek
counterparts. These reported to Prince Igor’ that his envoys had
received the pledge of the Greek emperors, who had now “sent us
to receive your oath and that of your followers.” Accordingly,
in the morning,
Igor’ summoned the envoys, and went to a hill on which there was
a statue of Perun. The Rus’ laid down their weapons, their shields,
and their gold ornaments, and Igor' and his people took oath (at
least, such as were pagans), while the Christian Rus’ took oath
in the church of St. Elias, which is above the creek, in the vicinity
of the Pasýncha square and the quarter of the Khazars. This was,
in fact, the cathedral church, since many of the Varangians were
It is obvious that
a significant number of Varangians in Rus’ between 911 and 944
must have chosen to be baptized and that Christianity by the time,
when the 944 Treaty was concluded, had already obtained a semi-official
status. To some extent this is reminiscent of Birka and Hedeby
in Ansgar’s time. But in contrast to Birka and Hedeby we know
that in Kiev Christianity continued to exist until the official
adoption of Christianity in 988/89. Thus a decade after the conclusion
of the treaty, the widow of Prince Igor’, Princess Olga, at the
time still ruling in the name of her young son, Sviatoslav, agreed
to be baptised in Constantinople. Soon after Olga, presumably
in order to lessen Byzantine influence, invited missionaries from
the Western Church, to Kiev. This brought the later archbishop
of Magdeburg, Adalbert, to Kiev approximately in 960,
Despite the pagan backlash under Sviatoslav, Christianity
continued to develop after his early death. Already before Vladimir
Sviatoslavich decided to adopt Christianity, his older brother
Iaropolk Sviatoslavich had begun to build on the links Olga had
formed, expanding relations to the West.
It is against this background we have to see the figure
of 400 churches in Kiev only a generation after Vladimir’s official
baptism, as reported by Thietmar of Merseburg (†1018).
No doubt the figure is inflated. Still, it is based on an eyewitness
In the same context Thietmar refer to the seemingly
abundant presence of Danes in Kiev, here presumably used as a
collective noun for Scandinavians.
Varangians as carriers of Christian influences
The Russo-Byzantine treaties
show that Varangians in considerable numbers adopted the Christian
faith long before any of the rulers of the countries in the periphery
decided to follow suit. Therefore the Varangians were also potential
carriers of Christian influences. But did they in fact function
On this question we do
not have sources on par with the treaties. But we may well ask
if it is not exactly as a result of the Varangian activity that
we see a significant Anglo-Saxon influence on the early Scandinavian
churches, despite the influence from the German Empire and despite
the fact that the Scandinavian churches after the adoption of
Christianity became subordinated to the Hamburg-Bremen Church.
And is it not also this activity that is reflected in the early
influence from the east we find in both Finland and perhaps even
In Finland this is
most noticeable in the adoption of a number of central Christian
concepts in the Finnish language of Church-Slavonic origin: the
Finnish words for cross, priest, pagan, bible (risti, pappi,
pakana, raamattu) and perhaps a few others. This can only
be seen as an early Christian presence in the region, significantly
predating the so-called Age of the Crusades, with which conversion
of the Finns to Christianity and their integration into Sweden
and the Western Church is otherwise linked.
In Sweden possible influence
from the east is linked to two controversial persons or perhaps
rather controversial theories concerning two persons that may
show influences from the Eastern Church in the 11th
One concerns the
mysterious bishop Osmund who plays such a prominent, if negative,
role in Adam of Bremen’s history of the Hamburg-Bremen Church.
Adam presents Osmund as a vagrant, self-promoted and more or less
illegitimate bishop, who had presumably in the 1050-60s functioned
as bishop at the royal court in Sweden, thus violating the postulated
exclusive right of the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen to appoint
and consecrate bishops in Sweden.
According to Adam
Osmund had found it difficult to find anyone who would consecrate
him as bishop, before he finally managed to be consecrated by
a “certain Archbishop of Polania.” This expression has
given rise to much speculation as to who the Archbishop was and
where Polania was located. As to the location there seems to be
two possibilities. Polania could be Poland, as for instance Henrik
Janson has argued.
Osmund is, however, just as likely to have been consecrated
in Kiev. There the Swedish-linked prince, Iaroslav the Wise, had
without the consent of Constantinople managed in 1051 to have
the first Russian-born, one Ilarion, appointed to the metropolitan
see. And Kiev was after all the centre of the Slavonic tribe the
Polianians. Furthermore the position the two bishops had
at their respective courts was to a large extent similar and could
in both places be seen as an expression of similar princely aspirations
towards creating independent church provinces – independent of
Constantinople and Hamburg-Bremen respectively.
Judged on the basis
of his later career, Osmund was probably an Anglo-Saxon,
and as such his presence in Sweden can be seen as
part of the Anglo-Saxon influence in the Scandinavian churches.
Considering further that England was located at the north western
end of what we can call the Varangian axis, where Scandinavia
and Rus’ were in the middle and Byzantium at the south-eastern
end, Osmund would as an Anglo-Saxon also be more likely to be
associated with the Varangian entourage of Swedish-linked Kiev
The other “controversial”
theory concerns the possible identification of a priest, present
in Novgorod in 1047, when Prince Iaroslav’s Swedish queen with
their son, Vladimir, as Prince of Novgorod, held court there.
In that year the priest entered a colophon in a manuscript of
the Book of Psalms he had transcribed, presumably from Glagolitic
into Cyrillic. In the colophon he gave his name as Pop (Priest)
The name is unusual not least for a priest because
in Russian it could mean something like “the Foul Vampire.” Therefore
this name, according to the Swedish Slavicist, Anders Sjöberg,
could hardly have been his real name. Consequently Sjöberg tried
to find an alternative explanation for the name. Considering the
presence of a Swedish court in Novgorod at the time, Sjöberg suggested
that Upir was not in fact a Russian name but a Russian transcription
of the Swedish name, Öpir. Futhermore the second part of Upir’s
name, likhyi, could semantically correspond to the Swedish word
“ofeigr”. Precisely Öpir Ofeigr is the name with which one of
Sweden’s most prolific rune-carvers in the second half of the
11th century, Öpir, signed his stones, of which there
are perhaps 100. That led Sjöberg to suggest that the two, Upir
in Novgorod and Öpir in Sweden, had in fact been one and the same
The reason for this
priest Upir, to move to Sweden and become the rune-carver (and
perhaps priest) Öpir was not difficult to find. In 1050 Queen
Ingegerd died in Novgorod followed two years later by her son,
Vladimir. The Swedish court must soon after have been dissolved,
when Prince Iaroslav instead of his dead son placed the Byzantine-linked
as governor in Novgorod. This could be the reason
for Upir-Öpir, presumably with a number of other members of the
Swedish colony in Novgorod, to move back to Sweden.
If Sjöberg’s theory is correct it is easily explained
how Christian elements from both East and West could interchange
and influence one another in the region.
However, even if
we do not accept Sjöberg’s theory,
the evidence of the Runic stones in eleventh-century
Sweden are in themselves of great interest in connection with
the spread of Christian impulses to and from Sweden.
A significant proportion
of the stones mention travels out of Sweden of one kind or another.
Early Stones (prior to c. 1030s) are almost equally distributed
between journeys to the east, to Rus’ and beyond, and journeys
to the west, primarily England. In later stones journeys to the
As such these stones provide further evidence of Varangian
mobility. In this particular context, however, it is of greater
interest to observe that stones made in commemoration of people
who travelled outside Sweden contain more Christian elements than
do other stones. In fact the frequency of Christian elements on
travellers’ stones are nearly twice as high as in non-travellers’
This is a fact that suggests that those who travelled
did indeed become major carriers of Christianity.
Varangians and the schism between the Eastern and Western
If Varangians, travelling
along the axis from Byzantium through Rus’ and Scandinavia to
England, were indeed significant carriers of Christian influences,
it is, of course, unfortunate to exclude their main area of activity,
Rus’, from a comparative study of the Christianization of the
periphery in the 10th-11th century. That
it has been done, just the same, is possibly the result of some
of the implicit assumptions
It is a well-known fact
that the relations between the churches of Rome and Constantinople
in general deteriorated from at least the 9th century
onwards, with the famous culmination in 1054. And it is also a
fact that this eventually led to a divided Europe, when all of
Europe had been Christianized by and integrated into one or the
other of these churches. What is less clear is the speed with
which this division manifested itself in various regions.
We have seen that Russian
rulers already in the early stages of Christianization despite
the geographically natural links to Byzantium and the Greek Orthodox
Church repeatedly sought to establish links to the West and the
Western Church. We know that the ruling prince in Kiev, Iaroslav,
just before the strife between Rome and Constantinople reached
a first climax in 1054, attempted to lessen Greek influence on
the Russian church by appointing a Russian-born to the metropolitan
see against the wishes of Constantinople.
We also know that the
Latin rite in Kiev co-existed with Orthodox Christianity,
at least among the Varangians, for a long time. Thus according
to the first chapter in the Paterikon of the Kievan Cave Monastery
(preserved in a version from the early 13th century),
this later famous monastery owes its foundation, at least materially,
to an event that took place in the late 1060s or early 1070s.
At this time a prominent Varangian in Kiev by the name Shimon,
said to be a nephew of that Hakon (Iakun), perhaps of the Norwegian
Ladejarl-dynasty, who in 1024 had led a detachment of Varangians
in Prince Iaroslav’s army, decided together with his household
of no less than 3000 souls, including his priests, to stop being
a “Varangian” and instead become a “Christian” by exchanging his
Latin rite for the Orthodox. As the Paterikon describes it, this
decision was not the result of any external pressure to change
rite but the result of a vision Shimon had had, after surviving
a defeat at the hands of the Polovtsy.
Until then it had obviously been entirely possible
for him both to adhere to the Latin rite and at the same time
to occupy a prominent position in Kievan society.
That this should
be so is not surprising. After all it was still felt possible
in the Russian Church towards the middle of the 12th
century to adopt the veneration of Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon
(in short Varangian) saints such as Canute, Benedikt (Canute’s
brother), Alban, Magnus (of Orkney), Olaf and Botulph. These “Varangian”
saints were thus included among Orthodox martyrs in the litany
of a prayer to the Trinity.
Even as late as c.
1200 recent archaeological finds suggest both that Scandinavians
were still active in Russian service and that they could still
adhere to the Latin rite. Thus among the finds on a Russian fortress
hill in the border region between the Polotsk principality and
the new crusader states, in layers dated to the twelfth–thirteenth
centuries, were also heaps of gnawed bones from domestic animals.
Of these bones more than a hundred turned out to be adorned with
various kinds of graffiti and inscriptions. Among the latter were
both inscriptions in Cyrillic and what has been characterized
as Scandinavian “everyday” – as opposed to monumental – runes.
Some of these suggest that adherents of the Latin rite were present
among the Orthodox majority.
Seen against this background
it would seem that the collaboration between the Byzantine
Church and the papacy rather than the Western Church as such,
which had characterized the earlier Cyrillo-Methodian mission,
was still operating in Rus’ at least until c. 1200. In fact it
is only in the third of the above mentioned stages, the stage
of the crusades, that a rupture between the Eastern and Western
Churches can be observed in relations between Rus’ and its neighbours.
This leads me to conclude
with the following observations pertaining to the East-West schism
and the question of export/import between a centre in the west
and the periphery.
When Christianity towards
the end of the ninth century first took hold in Central Europe
in what was then Great Moravia, two missionary movements came
to compete with one another. An already active Latin mission representing
the Frankish or Carolingian Church and a mission for which a new
liturgical language had been created, Church Slavonic. This Church
Slavonic mission represented a joint effort by Byzantium and Rome.
It failed first of all because the Latin mission of the Frankish
church, protesting against the use of a new liturgical language,
was able to apply political pressure against this joint venture
by the two old European church centres, a pressure these were
unable to oppose. Some later popes exposed to the same pressure
also occasionally had to line up with the Frankish Church.
Still, at that time
the division between the churches was not so much between East
and West as it was between North and South, especially in Western
Europe. And it is my contention that the later East-West conflict
within the churches never came to play a significant part in Europe’s
northern and eastern periphery during the period, c. 950-1050,
on which I have been concentrating. In fact it was only during
the reform papacy, which signified a virtual take-over of the
papacy by the Frankish Church (Cluny), that the last vestiges
of the Cyrillo-Methodian mission was eradicated in the West with
the abolition of Church-Slavonic liturgy in the Sazáva Monastery
Therefore, I think
it is true to say that it was only then the schisma between North
and South, between the papacy and the Frankish Church, was eliminated,
to a certain extent to be replaced by the antagonism between the
papacy and the German Reichskirche. Until then there was
hardly any one centre in the west, which monopolized religious
export to the periphery and from which the periphery had to or
was even forced to import. During this period Varangians travelled
the whole periphery, lifting Christian and other influences on
the way and depositing them where they could take root.
Therefore any comparative study of Christianization of the
periphery has to take Varangian activity into account and, consequently,
also include Rus’ in the comparison.
Biblioteka literatury Drevnei RusiVol.
4. Sankt Peterburg 1997.
The Russian Primary Chronicle, Laurentian
Text. Ed. Samuel Hazard Cross, &
Olgerd P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor,Cambridge, Mass. 1953.
Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII. Ed. E. Emerton, New York
Laws of Rus' - Tenth to Fifteenth Centuries.The Laws of Russia,
Series I, Medieval Russia. Vol. I. Ed. Daniel H. Kaiser , Salt
Lake City, 1992).
russkikh letopisei Vol1, reprint of 2d ed. Moskva1997.
Thietmar von Merseburg, Chronik,
Benedikz, B. S. “The Evolution of
the Varangian Regiment in the Byzantine Army.” Byzantinische
Zeitschrift 62, 1969, pp. 20-24.
Blöndal, Sigfus, The Varangians
of Byzantium. An aspect of Byzantine military history translated,
revised and rewritten by Benedikt S. Benedikz. Cambridge 1978.
Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII. Ed. E. Emerton, New York
Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Ungarischen.
Ed.. Loránd Benkő et al,Budapest, 1993-1997
Franklin, Simon, Writing, Society
and Culture in Early Rus, c. 950-1300, Cambridge
Franklin, Simon & Jonathan Shepard,
The Emergence of Rus 750-1200. Longman History of Russia.
Vol. 1, London 1996.
Gustafsson, Berndt, “Osmundus episcopus
e Suedia.” Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift 59 årg., 1959 (1960),
Janson, Henrik, Templum nobilissimum.
Adam av Bremen, Uppsalatemplet och konfliktlinjerna i Europa kring
år 1975. Göteborg 1998.
Jansson, Ingmar, “Warfare, Trade
or Colonisation? Some General Remarks on the Eastern Expansion
of the Scandinavians in the Viking Period”, The Rural Viking
in Russia and Sweden, Ed. Pär Hansson, Örebro 1997, 9-64.
Larsson, Mats G., Runstenar och
utlandsfärder Aspekter på det senvikingatida samhället med utgångspunkt
i de fasta fornlämningarna. Acta Archaeologica Lundensia,
series in 8° No 18. Lund 1990.
Lexikon des Mittelalters Vol
3, München 1986.
Lind, J. H., “The Martyria of Odense
and a Twelfth Century Russian Prayer. To the Question of Bohemian
Influence on Russian Religious Literature.” The Slavonic and
East European Review 68 (1990), pp. 1-21.
Lind, J. H.( 2001a), “Consequences
of the Baltic Crusades in Target Areas. The Case of Karelia.”
In Murray, Alan V. (ed.), Crusade and Conversion on
the Baltic Frontier1150-1500. Aldershot 2001, pp. 133-49.
Lind, Dzh. ( 2001b), “Poniatie »nemtsy«kak
natsional’no-konfessional’noe opredelenie. Ego proiskhozhdenie
i rannie sluchai upotrebleniia”, Srednie veka 62, Moskva
2001, pp. 96-102
Lind, J. H., “Russian Echoes of the
Crusading Movement 1147-1478. Impulses and Responses.” Middelalderforum.
Tverrfaglig tidsskrift for middelalderstudier 3. Årg. 1-2.
Oslo 2003, pp. 210-35.
Lind, J. H. (2004a), “The Concept
of ‘Europeanisation’ on the Baltic Rim as Seen from the East.”
In Staecker, Jörn (ed.), The European Frontiers. Clashes and
Compromises in the Middle Ages. Lund Studies in Medieval Archaeology
Vol. 33; CCC papers Vol. 7. Lund 2004, pp. 41-44.
Lind, J. H. (2004b), “Collaboration
and confrontation between East and West on the Baltic Rim as result
of the Baltic crusades.” In Kattinger, Detlef & Olesen, Jens
E. & Wernicke, Horst (ed.), Der Ostseeraum und Kontinentaleuropa
(1100-1600), Schwerin 2004, pp. 123-26.
Lind, J. H. & Carsten Selch
Jensen, Kurt Villads Jensen Ane L. Bysted, Danske Korstog.
Krig og Mission i Østersøen. København 2004
Mel’nikova, E.A. (ed.), Drevniaia
Rus’ v svete zarubezhnykh istochnikov. Moskva 1999.
Mel'nikova, E.A., Skandinavskie
runicheskie nadpisi, Novye nakhodki i interpretatsii, Moskva
“Iarl Riognval’d Ul’vsson i ego potomki na Rusi (o proiskhozhdenii
ladozhsko-novgorodskogo posadnichego roda Rogovichei-Guriatinichei)”,
Pamiatniki Stariny. Kontseptsii, Otkrytiia, Versii.
Pamiati Vasiliia Dmitrievicha Beleckogo 1919-1997Vol II, Sankt
Peterburg – Pskov 1997, pp. 80-84.
Nazarenko, A.V., Drevniaia Rus’
na mezhdunarodnykh putiakh. Mezhdistsiplinarnye ocherki kul’turnykh
torgovykh, politicheskikh sviazei IX-XII vekov, Moskva 2001
Purhonen, Paula, Kristinuskon
saapumisesta Suomeen (p. 184-97: English summary: On arrival
of Christianity in Finland. A Study in the archaeology of Religion),
Schramm, Gottfried, “Die Waräger:
osteuropäische Schicksale einer nordgermanischen Gruppenbezeichnung”,
Die Welt der Slawen, 28, 1983, s. 38-67.
Sjöberg, Anders, Orthodoxe Mission
in Schweden im 11. Jahrhundert? in: Society and trade in the
Baltic during the Viking Age. Papers of the VIIth Visby Symposium,
August 15th-19th, 1983. = Acta Visbyensia VII, (ed.
Sven-Olof Lindquist), Uddevalla 1985, p. 69-78.
Stender-Petersen, Adolf, Die Varägersage
als Quelle der Altrussischen Chronik. Leipzig 1934,
Vasmer, Max, Russisches etymologisches
Wörterbuch Bd. 1. Heidelberg 1953.
Zhivov, V.M., Razyskaniia v oblasti
istorii i predystorii russkoi kul’tury, Moskva 2002.
Marit Åhlén: Runristaren Öpir.
En monografi. Uppsala 1997.
After this paper had been given at the Dies Medievales
2004 (Helsinki, 13th to15th August), I
was informed by Professor Bagge both that the
projects of the two centres were now one and the same project
and that a specialist in Russian studies had now been linked
to the project. On neither point, however, was there
any trace in the respective internet presentations, when they
were accessed again immediately after the conclusion of the
accessed 150804 and preserved in reproducible form.
This particular point has earlier been made in a paper
read at one of the seminars of the Swedish-sponsored Baltic
project, Culture, Clash or Compromise, formed on the
basis of similar concepts concerning Christianization and Europeanization
as the CRASSH and CMS projects, cf. Lind 2004a, pp. 41-44.
It has of course to be kept in mind both that Christianization
was an ongoing process, not limited to the date of a country’s
official adoption of Christianity, and that it is open to debate
what exactly Christianization of a country and its people involved.
English Varangian (cf. Greek Varangos, Old Rus.
Variag, Old Norse Væring) will be used in the
present context, although it seems only to have replaced the
older designation of Scandinavians, Rus’, during the
10th and 11th centuries, when Rus’ had
come to signify Russians in general, that is, Slavs and, in
the north, their Baltic and Finnic confederates. On the term
see e.g. Schramm.
Stender-Petersen 1934. On Varangians in Byzantium, see
Benedikz 1969 and Blöndal 1978.
Often unsatisfactorily labelled “The Nestor Chronicle” or,
worse, “Primary Chronicle”, as in the work referred to in following
note. This title, however, ought to be reserved for the predecessor
of Povest’ vremennykh let, Nachal’nyi svod (literally Primary
Chronicle), preserved as part of the First Novgorod Chronicle,
The Russian Primary Chronicle, p. 59; the Russian
original, Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei 1, cols
On the ancient “Waffeneid” among Germanic peoples, cf. Lexikon
des Mittelalters Vol 3, col. 1678.
Here and in the other quotations I have used Cross &
Sherbowitz-Wetzor’s translation but have exchanged their rendition
of “Rus’”, “Russes,” with the by now more familiar original.
The Russian Primary Chronicle, pp. 64-65; Polnoe
sobranie russkikh letopisei 1, cols 30-31; also in Russian
and English translation in The Laws of Rus', pp. 2-3.
In accordance with Byzantine practice, presumably two versions
were issued, one in each party’s name.
Compare for instance, “Whatsoever Russ kills a Christian,
or whatsoever Christian kills a Russ, shall die” and “no penalty
shall be exacted for his death by either Greeks or Rus’.”
The treaty in its entirety in The Russian Primary Chronicle,
pp. 65-69; Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei 1, cols
32-37; The Laws of Rus', pp. 4-7 (Kaiser inappropriately
translates Russian Variag/Variazi with Viking(s)).
Most of these 23 potentates are otherwise not known to us
but the fact that they are represented by envoys casts a surprising
light on the structure of Kievan society at the time.
The English translation in The Russian Primary Chronicle
does not simply transcribe the Russian original but attempts
to identify a Scandinavian counterpart. Therefore the list of
names especially in the 944 Treaty may appear more Scandinavian
than it actually is.
The Russian Primary Chronicle, pp. 73-77; Polnoe
sobranie russkikh letopisei 1, cols. 46-54; The Laws
of Rus', pp. 8-12.
See the chapter, “Metropolia totius Sclavorum gentis” on
his mission in Nazarenko 2001, pp.311-38.
See chapter “Nakanune kreshcheniia: Iaropolk Sviatoslovich
i Otton II”, in Nazarenko 2001, pp. 339-90.
Thietmar, p. 474. Cf. Mel’nikova (ed.) 1999, pp. 270-74.
This corresponds to the presence of both Christian artefacts
and changes in burial customs seen as Christian, which predates
the crusades by at least a century.
Janson 1998, pp. 105-75.
Franklin 2002, p. 95.
Ostromir was married to the Byzantine
Sjöberg 1985. Some prominent second-generation
Swedes did, however, stay in Novgorod, where they as posadniks,
generation after generation, were able to hold the highest civil
office in Novgorod after it had become a city-republic, cf.
The runologist Marit Åhlén in her dissertation from 1997
on the rune-carver Öpir rejects Sjöberg’s suggestion, Åhlén
1997, pp. 21-23. In contrast, the historian Henrik Janson, in
his dissertation from 1999, in the section, “Mälardalen, Novgorod
och Bysans vid 1000-talets mitt”, largely accepts Sjöberg’s
identification, supporting it with additional evidence on the
basis of the political situation in Novgorod after the deaths
of Ingegerd and Vladimir, cf. Janson 1998, pp. 152-62.
Mats G. Larsson 1990, p. 64.
Mats G. Larsson 1990, pp. 89-91
Published with commentary in Biblioteka,
This is further developed in Lind. & al. 2004, pp.
194-98, and Lind 2004b, pp. 123-26. The Runic inscriptions are
now published in Mel’nikova 2001, pp. 213-247.
It has to be said that it is not difficult
to find polemical treaties against the Latin rite in Russia,
mainly emanating from the Greek clergy in Kiev. Still it is
noteworthy to observe the wholehearted support for Frederick
Barbarossa’s crusade expressed in the Hypatian Chronicle’s account
of his defeat, cf. Lind 2003, 210-11.
See Pope Gregory's refusal in 1080 of
the request by Vratislav II of Bohemia for permission to use
the Slavonic liturgy, in The Correspondence of Pope Gregory
VII, p. 148, cf. Lind 2001a, pp. 140-41, and chapters “Slavia
Christiana”, and “Etnicheskom i religioznom samosoznanii Nestora
letopistsa” in Zhivov 2002, pp. 116-69, 170-86.
A possible indication of the geographical range of Varangian
activity may be provided by various loanwords, compare for instance
the sequence: viking >Rus. vitiaz > Hung.
vitéz with the joint semantic content of hero
orperformer of deeds, cf. Etymologisches Wörterbuch
des Ungarischen p. 1647 and Vasmer 1953, pp. 206-07. The
distribution of related forms of vitiaz/vitéz in Eastern and
South-Eastern Europe does make it difficult to establish the
exact route the loan took. The fact that this distribution by
and large corresponds to the distribution of a word like nemtsi,
coined for the Latin missionaries, opposing the Slavonic
liturgy, suggests that its spread happened during Cyrillo-Methodian
times and immediately after, cf. Lind 2001b. On the commercial
links that could explain this range, cf Shepard in Franklin
& Shepard 1996, pp. 88-89; Mel’nikova (ed.) 1990, pp. 264-66,