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Thread: The Conversion of the Vikings of Dublin

  1. #1
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    The Conversion of the Vikings of Dublin

    In the Spirit of Christmas:


    The Conversion of the Vikings of Dublin.
    In Medieval Dublin XIV,
    edited by Seán Duffy.


    Gwendolyn Sheldon


    The Conversion of the Vikings in Ireland

    Before beginning any discussion of the Viking impact on the church in Ireland, it is necessary to discuss those features of the Irish church that distinguished it from the English or Frankish churches and the extent to which they did so. For many years scholarly views on the pre-Norman Irish church were shaped by Kathleen Hughes’ The church in early Irish society, in which Hughes described a church that, at its beginning in the fifth century, looked like a primitive version of any other local church. It was governed by bishops who ruled over territorially defined dioceses. Because of the peculiar nature of Irish society, however, this entirely conventional system was gradually superseded – though never completely – by one in which real power rested with abbots who governed over monastic paruchiae, which were not territorially limited. In addition, Hughes drew attention to the strongly dynastic nature of the Irish church, according to which the right to administer a particular church and collect revenues often belonged to the members of a family, whose claim to this right rested on their kinship with the saint who had founded the church. This model was not seriously challenged until 1984, when Richard Sharpe argued that the theory of two competing systems, one, characterized by territorial bishoprics, which was supplanted by another, characterized by scattered monastic paruchiae, had little evidence to support it. Instead, he proposed that the early medieval Irish church was marked by both episcopal and abbatial government and that the relationship between these two systems was marked more by harmony and continuity rather than confrontation …



    https://www.academia.edu/7871302/_Th...ard=view-paper
    Paper Trail: 43.8% English, 29.7% Scottish, 12.5% Irish, 6.25% German, 6.25% Italian & 1.5% French. Or: 86% British Isles, 6.25% German, 6.25% Italian & 1.5% French.
    LDNA(c): 86.3% British Isles (48.6% English, 37.7% Scottish & Irish), 7.8% NW Germanic, 5.9% Europe South (Aegian 3.4%, Tuscany 1.3%, Sardinia 1.1%)
    BigY 700: I1-Z140 >I-F2642 >Y1966 >Y3649 >A13241 >Y3647 >A13248 (circa 620 AD) >A13242/YSEQ (circa 765 AD) >FT80854 (circa 1650 AD).

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  3. #2
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    well, I always understood that the best way the Irish converted the Vikings was a 2 step process:
    1-run the Viking through with good Irish steel
    2-plant him in good Irish ground



    Ohhhh, you meant the religious conversion.....sorry, my bad

    Ignore the above possibly loutish, semi boiled and potentially derailing comments and put it down to a bit too much Irish Whiskey in the eggnog and then, a few too many Irish Creams after a massive turkey dinner


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    I was interested in these lines: "Another difference between the history of the Vikings in Ireland and that of the Vikings in other countries is the fact that there is significant evidence to suggest that the Scandinavians took far longer to convert to Christianity than they did in other countries. Indeed, after noting how long it took the Scandinavians in Ireland to both convert and assimilate into Irish society, Lesley Abrams suggests that the Irish church might have taken an Old Testament view of the Norsemen, seeing them as being not the chosen people of God and therefore not able to be converted."
    I admire Bede, but that reminds me of his earlier attitude to the Celtic Christians of Britain, and the later common idea that the faith arrived here with St Augustine.
    I need to do more reading on Scandinavian Ireland but this seems to contrast with the England of Oda, a Viking's son. Thanks for posting this JMcB.

    Edit: there was also the Celtic language barrier of course. The Angles had only left the Danish lands a few centuries before 865 so communication and potential for conversion must have been relatively easy in what became the Danelaw...
    Last edited by JonikW; 12-27-2019 at 12:45 AM.
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    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonikW View Post
    I was interested in these lines: "Another difference between the history of the Vikings in Ireland and that of the Vikings in other countries is the fact that there is significant evidence to suggest that the Scandinavians took far longer to convert to Christianity than they did in other countries. Indeed, after noting how long it took the Scandinavians in Ireland to both convert and assimilate into Irish society, Lesley Abrams suggests that the Irish church might have taken an Old Testament view of the Norsemen, seeing them as being not the chosen people of God and therefore not able to be converted."
    I admire Bede, but that reminds me of his earlier attitude to the Celtic Christians of Britain, and the later common idea that the faith arrived here with St Augustine.
    I need to do more reading on Scandinavian Ireland but this seems to contrast with the England of Oda, a Viking's son. Thanks for posting this JMcB.

    Edit: there was also the Celtic language barrier of course. The Angles had only left the Danish lands a few centuries before 865 so communication and potential for conversion must have been relatively easy in what became the Danelaw...

    Hello JonikW,

    It was my pleasure!

    You might also find the following by Clare Downham to be of interest:

    “The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds an enduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures.
    One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change which affected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often [been] portrayed as late converts, with Christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt Christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision”

    […]

    “This article is not intended to convey the impression that vikings always converted rapidly once they settled in a Christian society. Rather the interpretation tends towards syncretism and a rather complex road to religious change (a pattern which has been highlighted by Lesley Abrams). The stereotype that vikings from Ireland were markedly more heathen than vikings from England can be challenged. This can be argued from varied evidence: intermarriage between vikings and Irish; the adoption of Christian names among the viking elite; the behaviour of some viking kings in relation to the Church; the discovery of objects of a Christian nature in Dublin; the survival of ecclesiastical structures in the hinterland of viking settlements; and the influence of Gaelic cults in viking held areas. Perhaps the last member of the Dublin dynasty to die without baptism was Rögnvaldr whose death is reported in 921”.


    From: Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion
    By Clare Downham


    The March in the Islands of the Medieval West,
    Eds. J. Ní Ghradaigh & E. O'Byrne, 2012 Clare Downham


    https://www.academia.edu/2020479/Rel..._of_Conversion
    Last edited by JMcB; 12-27-2019 at 04:29 AM.
    Paper Trail: 43.8% English, 29.7% Scottish, 12.5% Irish, 6.25% German, 6.25% Italian & 1.5% French. Or: 86% British Isles, 6.25% German, 6.25% Italian & 1.5% French.
    LDNA(c): 86.3% British Isles (48.6% English, 37.7% Scottish & Irish), 7.8% NW Germanic, 5.9% Europe South (Aegian 3.4%, Tuscany 1.3%, Sardinia 1.1%)
    BigY 700: I1-Z140 >I-F2642 >Y1966 >Y3649 >A13241 >Y3647 >A13248 (circa 620 AD) >A13242/YSEQ (circa 765 AD) >FT80854 (circa 1650 AD).

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    naming the settlement Dubh- Linn, blackpool rather than "Svartkulp" like it would have beeen in Norway indicates some (token) sensitivity to local language. But regarding conversion, Icelandic experience is worth quoting. Adoption of Christianity took place at a famous session of parliament where it was agreed that a country could not exist in peace with two religions.

    The extermination theory (Clontarf) is convincing.Still change was slow; estates had their own churches and priests were appointed by the lord (causing controversy with the bishops). Icelandic law specified that presumably unlike other servants "You must not beat your priest" .

    The earlier system had unity of religion and state, where the chieftain officiated at ceremonies . The UK church is still officially headed by the head of state. Even as late as in post reformatorial Britain there was a king who expressed regret that he had not been able to avert bad harvests, so connections between the temporal and sacred persisted.

    p.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ph. View Post
    naming the settlement Dubh- Linn, blackpool rather than "Svartkulp" like it would have beeen in Norway indicates some (token) sensitivity to local language.
    p.
    It might just indicate that the name was widely known in many lands and not worth replacing. Dover probably retained its Celtic name in this way because it had long been a famous landmark. Same with London.
    Living DNA's former Cautious mode:
    Wales-related ancestry: 86.8%
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    North England-related ancestry: 5.2%
    Y line: Peak District, England. Big Y match: Scania, Sweden; TMRCA 1,100 ybp (YFull);
    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales
    Mother's Y: traces to Llanvair Discoed, Wales

  12. #7
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    The Gaelic names Dubh Linn and Baile Atha Cliath indicate that Dublin was not founded by the Norse unlike Wicklow, Arklow, Wexford and Waterford etc.

    I am not sure that even these cities were continuously in Norse hands as history shows periods when they were overrun and the Norse fled, returning only after a period in "exile". This might help to explain the lateness to adopt Christianity by the Norse in Ireland, which might have only happened once they had time to consolidate and sufficiently intermarry and adopt the religion of their mothers.

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