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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/623

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leisure intervals as they could gain amid their swiftly following intrigues, accessions, assassinations, insurrections, invasions, and dethronements, to wholesale baptisms of Jews, pagans, and other non-Christians, so that the Church grew in numbers though the empire fell to pieces.

In the eighth century Charlemagne set about the work of evangelization on a grand scale, and for thirty-two years devoted the major part of the military resources of his empire to spreading the gospel among the heathen Saxons. He killed off possibly one hundred thousand of them—slaying forty-five hundred in cold blood at one time—and deported thousands of those he did not kill to other lands. Finally, their king and leading warriors had to bow before his puissant sword, and receive the rite of baptism. He also converted great numbers of Huns, Danes, Wends, Swedes, and Czechs.

Still a large portion of northern Europe was left under the control of the priests of Odin, and for several centuries the work of rounding up these pagans, and chasing them with blade and brand into the bosom of the Church, was a favorite occupation of princes and knights. At the end of the tenth century Olaf I succeeded in converting the Norwegians at the point of the lance, and his son followed up pagan-killing with such enthusiasm as to win himself canonization from the Church. Sweden was brought into the fold about the same time and by the same means; but it was not until the beginning of the thirteenth century that the Christianization of Denmark was completed by a grand raid of Valdemar II into Esthonia. Then the Teutonic Knights did some very successful missionary work, accompanied with much slaughter, in securing the supremacy of the Cross among the heathen of Prussia, Courland, and Livonia.

While mailed hands were thus persistently hammering the heathen of northern Europe into practicing Christian rites, the evangelization of Russia was brought about with less attrition—the Muscovites being a more submissive people. Toward the end of the tenth century Vladimir the Great decided that it was necessary to have a state religion. He studied the Jewish, Mohammedan, Roman Catholic, and Greek forms, and gave the preference to the latter. He had sixty thousand of his people baptized in one day, and the rest accepted the ordinance as fast as his agents could reach them and communicate his will.

Everywhere the result was the same. Outward compliance begat inward conviction, and the peoples whose stubborn necks were bent with most difficulty to the yoke of the Church became in time its sturdiest upholders. Hudibras says:

"The man enforced against his will
Is of the same opinion still."