The Influence and Persistence of Paganism in Ancient and Medieval Europe

TLDR Paganism, the ancient rooted religions that existed before Christianity, faced challenges from the spread of Christianity but managed to persist in some areas. The incorporation of pagan elements into Christianity and the mysterious nature of pre-Christian religions in Europe add to the complexity of understanding their true meaning and practices.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Paganism is a term that was coined by Christians to describe a separate category of religion, and while it is difficult to fully understand the meaning and intentions behind ancient pagan rituals, there is evidence from written sources and art that provides some insight.
05:59 Paganism is a term coined to describe those who follow the old, rooted religions instead of Christianity, and Christianity was successful in wiping out indigenous religions by converting local leaders and exploiting the lack of resistance from these religions.
10:49 The presence of pagan iconography in early medieval Christianity, such as the Green Man and Sheila and the gigs, was initially thought to reflect a covert resistance or intentional co-option, but research in the 1980s and 1990s suggests that these figures were purely decorative and had no pagan meaning.
15:38 Christianity incorporated many elements of pre-Christian religions, including pagan iconography, forms of worship, and seasonal festivals, as well as adopting philosophical ideas from late antique paganism.
20:41 Lithuania was the last officially existing European pagan state, surviving until the end of the 14th century, and its paganism was resilient because nobody wanted to convert it, resulting in successful defense against crusades and the eventual conversion to Christianity through marriage alliances.
26:05 The existence and practices of the druids in northwestern Europe at the dawn of history are only known through brief descriptions by Greek and Roman writers, which are both admiring and hostile, making it difficult to determine their true nature and role in society.
30:53 The Romans adopted and consecrated many of the deities and shrines of the natives in Roman Britain, providing some insight into pre-Roman religion, but beyond that, there is little knowledge of religion, society, and political structures in Britain before the Romans arrived.
35:58 The prehistoric monuments in Britain reflect different attitudes towards the supernatural and humanity's relationship to the cosmos, but the exact understanding of these expressions and religious changes remains a mystery.
41:17 Stonehenge's purpose and the activities that took place there remain uncertain, but it is clear that it held some kind of sacred significance and offers a connection to the people who built it.
46:22 The Red Lady of Pavelland, a young man buried 34,000 years ago in a cave on the Gower Peninsula, represents the earliest evidence of paganism and ceremonial burial in Britain.
Categories: History

Browse more History