I was just watching a video of the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial. The narrator said that Christianity contributed to the unification of the different warring
tribes of England in 700 AD.
"Christianity was just one cult amongst many, but unlike the cults of Rome, Christianity demanded exclusive allegiance from its followers. It was
this intolerance of other gods, and its secrecy, which rattled the Roman authorities and led to repeated persecutions of Christians. Christians were
forced to meet and worship in secret.
But a single religion with a single God appealed to the Roman Emperor Constantine. He saw that Christianity could be harnessed to unite his Empire and
achieve military success. From 313 AD onwards, Christian worship was tolerated within the Roman Empire.
During the 4th Century, British Christianity became more visible but it had not yet won over the hearts and minds of the population. Pagan beliefs
still abounded and Christianity was a minority faith.
It looked as if Paganism might again get the better of Christianity when, after the departure of the Romans, new invaders arrived: Angles, Saxons and
Jutes. Yet somehow Christianity survived on the Western edges of Britain, even during the Dark Ages. Missionary activity continued in Wales and
Ireland, and in Western Scotland Saint Columba helped to bring a distinctly Irish brand of Christianity to mainland Britain.
It could be argued that it was Augustine's famous mission in 597 AD from the Pope in Rome to King Aethelbert of Kent that really set up the future
course of Christianity in Britain, creating a strong alliance between Christianity and Kingship. Certainly the Venerable Bede wanted to see it this
way. For Bede, a Christian England was part of God's master plan. It was Providence that meant it was the destiny of the Anglo-Saxons to become
Christians, united in a single Christian nation. But how would this come about?
In the account of the Synod of Whitby in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede describes the showdown between the Irish Christianity
epitomised by Saint Columba and the international Roman brand of Christianity which had been brought by Augustine.
Bede ends his Ecclesiastical History bemoaning the laziness of the Anglo-Saxons who he saw as half-hearted Christians still holding onto Pagan
practices. An organised and disciplined parish life which would regulate the beliefs and behaviour of the British people was still to mature."
And now that Christianity is becoming less popular will it`s demise contribute to divisions within England? Nature abhors a vacuum.
The rising religion of Islam which also demands exclusive allegiance from its followers seems to be the replacement. Perhaps when the numbers of
Islamics are sufficient in East London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester there will be division of England once again.
British history can be baffling to outsiders like me, because while we count a colonial history of about 300 years, even in one short decade of
English history there are so many events and characters.
It's quite intimidating at times.
From what I gather it was a Catholic country where Protestants were oppressed and even burnt at the stake for trying to translate the Bible into
Then Henry VIII felt lusty, and in order to divorce and ditch his pious wife he split from the Pope and Rome and promptly made himself head of his own
Church of England (which every monarch still is).
Then the Catholics were hunted and had their property and books destroyed
Some felt the Restoration wasn't anti-Catholic enough because the Anglicans kept the "Popish" holidays like Christmas, and their "smells and bells"
services and iconography.
We saw the rise of the Puritans, more civil wars, a short Republic, the re-institution of the monarchy (until today) and eventually an encouragement
for the Puritans to go to America and take their unpleasantness elsewhere.
That's what I recall basically, so yes it seems it did divide England for very long and bloody wars.
Perhaps slightly less so than the 100 Year War of Europe, or other lengthy wars (that all had religious overtones), which eventually led to the
Enlightenment, when thinkers had thoroughly had enough of religion.
Through all this they did however manage to destroy Islamic "white slavery" in North Africa, and Barbary slavers who raided the English and European
coasts and ships (including some American vessels) were simply atrocious.
I hope one day the families of at least 1 million victims of this crime against humanity will get compensation from Islamic countries.
28-8-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)
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