Ivica Čairović

Activity of the Anglo-Saxon Missionaries Between German – Pagan – Tribes in 8th and 9th Century

pages: 281-296


Anglo-Saxon missionaries were an instrument in the spread of Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon mission began in the last decade of the 7th century in Frisia. The missions, which drew down the energy and initiative of the English church, spread south and east from there. Almost immediately the Anglo-Saxon missionaries came in contact with the Pippinids, the new dominant family in Frankish territories. The earliest monastery founded by Anglo-Saxons on the continent is Willibrord’s Abbey of Echternach (698). Pepin II, who wished to extend his influence in the Low Countries, granted free passage to Rome to Willibrord, to be consecrated Bishop of Frisia. It set the pattern for their increasing association in the first half of the 8th century as a result of their joint support of the efforts of the Anglo-Saxon missionaries. Anglo-Saxon missionaries to the continent include Saints Wilfrid, Willibrord, Willehad and Liudger. Notable among these missionaries is Saint Boniface who was active in the area of monastery of Fulda, establishing the bishoprics of Erfurt, Würzburg, Büraburg, as well as Eichstätt, Regensburg, Augsburg, Freising, Passau and Salzburg (739) further to the south- east.

Anglo-Saxon missionary activities continued into the 770s and the reign of Charlemagne, the Anglo-Saxon, Alcuin playing a major part in the Carolingian Renaissance. By 800, the Carolingian Empire was essentially Christianized, and further missionary activity, such as the Christianization of Scandinavia and the Baltic was coordinated directly from the Holy Roman Empire rather than from England. The Saxon Wars were the campaigns and insurrections of the more than thirty years from 772, when Charlemagne first entered Saxony with the intent to conquer, to 804, when the last rebellion of disaffected tribesmen was crushed. In all, eighteen battles were fought in what is now northwestern Germany. They resulted in the incorporation of Saxony into the Frankish realm and their conversion from Germanic paganism to Germanic Christianity.

West Europe was influenced by Anglo-Saxon missionaries in 8th and 9th century and it produced new movement in the faith and the culture of the tribes from that area.





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