Vikings: How the Pagans Became Christians (Part 1 of 2)
In the Viking sagas, their Norse gods met their Doomsday when Ragnarok broke on the sky. Not all Norse gods were dead. But the major gods like Odin and Thor fell in the battle. Some of the survivors carried their glorious stories to join the new world. The Vikings met the end of the religious belief, too. They converted themselves into the new belief but some of their pagan religions are still heard in this day and age. Their mythological tales somehow predicted their own course of history.
Why The Vikings Converted Themselves Into Christians?
Frankly, there was a bundle of reasons why the Vikings changed their belief. One thing to remember is that their religious conversion didn't go through violence in most parts.
The Vikings once lost most of their business deals because their partners were the Christians. Christian traders tent to do business with other Christian traders. This was a way for them to help people of their community get rich. They discriminated the Vikings whom they called pagans or the barbarians.
The Vikings, wanting to do business with the Christians, had to wear the cross while meeting the Christians. But while they travelled back home, they would change the cross to the Thor's Hammer pendant.
The archaeological mold to create the Viking cross and the Viking Thor Hammer Mjolnir Pendant
But it took the Vikings centuries to convert themselves into the Christians. Though some Viking kings turned themselves into Christians, many of their people still chose to believe in their old tradition.
The shift into Christianity helped the Kings to protect his power. In the Viking belief, killing a king was not a crime if it was for the good of the whole clan. The Viking king somewhat resembled the modern Chief Executive who the shareholders selected. As long as the CEO could run the company and make a profit, nothing would happen. If the business didn't go well, the shareholders would blame for the CEO and overthrow him.
But the king to the Christians was different. He was the Holy Man. And killing a King would mean an insult against the God. Though the political problems still ended the life of the Christian Kings, killing this Holy Man was something terrible.
According to the historians and professors, the Viking women tent to convert themselves into Christians more enthusiastically than men. Because the Christians had many other rights for the women.
The Viking women, in fact, enjoyed the earliest women rights. This was among the first traces of civilization in the Viking community
The Christian belief provided the women with security. Because it didn't allow the men to have the extramarital affairs. The baby born in wedlock would enjoy more priority. Though the men could still support the baby born out of wedlock, that baby would never pose a threat to the proper wife and her children.
Moreover, while the Vikings accepted the infanticide, it was totally banned in the Christian community. The Viking man as the master of the house had the right to decide who lived inside his house could abandon his children because of sickness or innate disability.
But we cannot deny the fact that the Vikings were so much ahead of their time regarding the women rights. While the tribes at the same time viewed their women as the ribs of the men, the Vikings granted their women with basic rights. The Viking women could divorce their husband, own land, have a strong social rank, etc.
Peace and Security Reason
As time progressed, the Vikings showed less interest in the raiding activities. Because they quickly realized raiding would not supply them with much wealth. They wanted to focus more on the farm and trading. Any hostile army travelling around would either destroy their house or kill their beloved.
The Vikings quickly realized that raiding was not the major source to make them richer
Peace was what they wanted. And the Christians seemed to put peace and security in their uppermost priority. The Holy Man or the King was elected to establish and keep the peace.
Three major Scandinavian countries had their own ways to convert religion. Norway might be part that resorted much to violence to force their people to abandon their belief.