Why Were Barbarian Kings so Willing to Convert to Some Form of Christianity?

Why Were Barbarian Kings so Willing to Convert to Some Form of Christianity?

  • Submitted By: Patchy
  • Date Submitted: 08/18/2010 4:14 AM
  • Category: History Other
  • Words: 2057
  • Page: 9
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Why were Barbarian Kings so willing to convert to some form of Christianity?

In the fourth century, the Roman empire, it's subjects and the tribes outside the empire came under attack from the Hunnic hordes, led by the infamous Attila. This incursion into Europe was to change it's whole geography, barbarian tribes were to be pushed into Roman borders, and as such, a number of their leaders would come into contact with Roman culture, including it's Christian practices. There is not one concrete reason why barbarian kings were so willing to convert, although a number of factors did influence the decisions. Such factors included the influence of (converted) wives, some historians arguing that women had more influence within barbarian societies than would be initially assumed, the tolerance by Christian religious figures with regards to the continuance of pagan practices, which may lead to the ruling elite of the barbarian societies to not consider conversion as much of a big transition, that it is similar to worshipping the old gods, and thus, we can see conversion as a political tool.

As has been mentioned, the Huns had ravaged through the territories of the different Goth tribes among other barbarian tribes, as a result this pushed the different tribes towards the frontier of the empire. The relationship between the Roman empire and the different tribes now took on a different image, In the case of the Tervingi, after their encounter with the Huns, their king, Fritigern, decided to request sanctuary within the empire, and as such, the Romans accepted his request. This event brought each people into contact with one another, and placed the barbarian tribe in a situation they had not experienced before which we will see, leads them to reconsider their own spiritual culture and practices.

The Goths had previously been subject to the missionary work of the Arian missionary, Ulfila and so it is expected that some had already converted to Arian Christianity,...

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