-- Extracted from Were The Fathers Of The Christian Church Philhellenes? at Michael Kalopoulos' site Greatlie.com
«As for myself I consider the Greek culture nonsense, uttered by an evil demon and the saddest of affairs»
GEORGIUS MONACHUS Chronogr. ON THARRA
Note the philobarbarian attitude of Saint John Chrysostom:
«The more a nation looks barbaric and is estranged from Greek culture, the more our teachings shine - this (faithful) barbarian has conquered the entire world and while all Greek culture is extinguished and destroyed, his (the barbarian's) shines brighter every day».
JOHN CHRYSOSTOM forbids use of Greek names
«None must call his children the (Greek) ancestors' names, be that of their father, their mother, their grandfather or their great grandfather, but instead you must use those of the righteous (of the Old Testament)
John Chrysostom De inani gloria et de educandis liberis (690) 641.65
Below follow some snippets of what happened to the Hellenes (Greeks following their ancient ethnic culture, they were known as the early Gentiles), their religion and their culture.
The complete chronology of the Christian persecution against the Hellenes can be found at the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes
Immediately after its full legalisation, the Christian Church attacks the Gentiles: The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis.
Emperor Constantine, following the instructions of his mother Helen, destroys the Temple of God Asclepius in Aigeai of Cilicia and many Temples of Goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenice, Baalbek, etc
In Skythopolis, Syria, christians organise the first death camps for the torture and execution of arrested Gentiles from all around the Empire.
361 to 363
Religious tolerance and restoration of Pagan cults declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the Pagan Emperor Flavius Claudius Julianus.
Assassination of Emperor Julianus (26th June).
Emperor Flavius Jovianus orders the burning of the Library of Antioch. An Imperial edict (11th September) orders the death penalty for all Gentiles that worship their ancestral Gods or practice Divination ("sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi uriositas"). Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December) order the confiscation of all properties of Pagan Temples and the death penalty for participation in Pagan rituals, even private ones.
On 24th February, a new edict of Theodosius prohibits not only visits to Pagan Temples but also looking at vandalised statues. New heavy persecutions all around the Empire. In Alexandria, Egypt, the Gentiles, led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights, finally lock themselves inside the fortified Temple of God Serapis (The Serapeion). After a violent siege, the christians occupy the building, demolish it, burn its famous Library and profane the cult images.
The Pythian, Aktia and Olympic Games are outlawed as part of the Hellenic "idolatry". Christians sack the Temples of Olympia.
"Demolish them!" Emperor Flavius Arcadius orders all the still erect Pagan Temples demolished.
Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of God Dionysus in Vesai and baptises all the Gentiles of this area.
The christian mob of Carthage lynches Gentiles and destroys Temples and "idols". In Gaza too, the local bishop, also a..,"Saint", Porphyrius sends his followers to lynch Gentiles and demolish the remaining nine still active Temples of the city. The 15th Council of Chalkedon orders all christians that still keep good relations with their gentile relatives to be excommunicated (even after their death).
John Chrysostom sends his hordes of gray-clad monks armed with clubs and iron bars to destroy the "idols" in all the cities of Palestine
A new edict outlaws once more all non-christian acts of worship.
The inquisitor Hypatius, alias "The Sword of God", exterminates the last Gentiles of Bithynia. In Constantinople (7th December), all non-christian army officers, public employees and judges are dismissed.
Emperor Theodosius II, declares (8th June) that the Religion of the Gentiles is nothing more than "demon worship" and orders all those who persist in practicing it to be punished by imprisonment and tortured.
The Temple of Goddess Athena (Parthenon) on the Acropolis of Athens is sacked. Athenian Pagans are persecuted.
440 to 450
The christians demolish all the monuments, altars and Temples of Athens, Olympia, and other Greek cities.
Theodosius II orders all non-christian books burned.
All the Temples of Aphrodisias (City of Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and its Libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stauroupolis (City of the Cross).
More "underground" Pagan priests are discovered, arrested, burlesqued, tortured and executed in Alexandria, Egypt.
Emperor Justinianus outlaws the Athenian Philosophical Academy, which has its property confiscated.
The inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus, a fanatical monk, leads a crusade against the Gentiles of Asia Minor.
Emperor Justinianus allows the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus to convert the Gentiles of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia in Asia Minor. Within 35 years of this crusade, 99 churches and 12 monasteries are built on the sites of demolished Pagan Temples.
Hundreds of Gentiles are put to death in Constantinople by the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus.
Justinianus orders the notorious inquisitor Amantius to go to Antioch, to find, arrest, torture and exterminate the last Gentiles of the city and burn all the private libraries down.
578 to 582
Christians torture and crucify Gentile Hellenes all around the Eastern Empire, and exterminate the last Gentiles of Heliopolis (Baalbek).
The "Penthekte" Council of Constantinople prohibits the remains of Calends, Brumalia, Anthesteria, and other Pagan / Dionysian festivals.
The Gentile Hellenes of Laconia, Greece, resist successfully the attempt of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to convert them to Christianity.
950 to 988
Violent conversion of the last Gentile Hellenes of Laconia by the Armenian "Saint" Nikon.
With pious enthusiasm the ancient pagan temples, works of art and libraries were destroyed, and trampled by rampant Christians in a frenzied religious demolition craze. Under the command of bishops and abbots Christian monks were often the most active. The Greek called them "swinish black-cloths", because "they looked like men but lived like pigs".Link
A contemporary writer tells us"armed with clubs or stones and swords they ran to the temples, some without these weapons only with their bare hands and feet"As soon as they had destroyed one temple, they dashed away to the next. They toppled over walls, smashed idols, statues and art-objects and altars, and stole the temples wealth for themselves.
-- (Libanios "Pro temples" 389 AD).
In 391, Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria and his army of mad monks burnt down the Great Library of Alexandria. All its books, around 700,000 of them - on history, science, literature and philosophy - were destroyed.
Socrates Scholasticus reports the following:More about Bishop Theophilius of Alexandria and his kind here.Demolition of the Idolatrous Temples at Alexandria, and the Consequent Conflict between the Pagans and Christians.Link
At the solicitation of Theophilus bishop of Alexandria the emperor issued an order at this time for the demolition of the heathen temples in that city; commanding also that it should be put in execution under the direction of Theophilus. Seizing this opportunity, Theophilus exerted himself to the utmost ... he caused the Mithreum to be cleaned out... Then he destroyed the Serapeum... and he had the phalli of Priapus carried through the midst of the forum. ... the heathen temples... were therefore razed to the ground, and the images of their gods molten into pots and other convenient utensils for the use of the Alexandrian church ...
In 412 CE Theophilus' nephew Cyril succeeded him.
Hypatia was the daughter of the Museum's last great mathematician Theon, officially head of the Neoplatonist school. She was a philosopher and astronomer, superior to her father and so considered the intellectual head of the Neoplatonist school.
"Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child-mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after-years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth - often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you can not get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable."Link
Thus it happened one day that Cyril, bishop of the opposition sect [i.e. Christianity] was passing by Hypatia's house, and he saw a great crowd of people and horses in front of her door. Some were arriving, some departing, and others standing around. When he asked why there was a crowd there and what all the fuss was about, he was told by her followers that it was the house of Hypatia the philosopher and she was about to greet them. When Cyril learned this he was so struck with envy that he immediately began plotting her murder and the most heinous form of murder at that.-- Damascius in Life of Isidore, reproduced in The Suda (the Byzantine encyclopaedia)
Hypatia symbolized learning and science, which Christians considered pagan, and so she attracted Christian hatred and jealousy of Paganism with its heretical scientific teachings.
[The Christians] waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her with tiles [ostrakois, literally oystershells]. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.-- Socrates Scholasticus in Ecclesiastical History, describing Hypatia's death
Cyril was incensed that Hypatia's reputation and talents were giving the cause of paganism a dangerous prestige, and thereby preventing the 'progress of the Faith'.Bishop Cyril was sainted for this.
In Alexandria, Egypt, the mob urged by the bishop Cyrillus, attacks a few days before the judaeo-christian Pascha (Pesach-Easter) and hacks to pieces the famous and beautiful philosopher Hypatia. Pieces of her body are paraded by the christian mob through the streets of Alexandria, and are finally burned together with her books in a place called Cynaron.
After Hypatia's murder the scholars left en masse and Alexandria became steadily less stable. It was overrun by those monks who evolved into the Copts and who were opposed to scientific and classical knowledge. Some time later, Alexandria revolted against Constantinople. It splintered into two factions contending between two Patriarchs, and eventually Alexander's city fell to Moslem conquerors who, of like mind to their Christian predecessors, had the last of the library burned in 686 CE - as fuel in the bath-houses.See more: Chapter II - Athanasius to Hypatia from Crimes of Christianity by G W Foote and J M Wheeler
The monks, who rushed with tumultuous fury from the desert, distinguished themselves by their zeal and diligence ... In almost every province of the Roman world, an army of fanatics, without authority and without discipline, invaded the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of antiquity still displays the ravages of those barbarians who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction.Link
– Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 28)
"When Constantine the Great, made so by the assistance and valor of the Christian soldiers, had attained to be the only Roman Emperor, he also himself became a Christian, and caused the temples of the heathen gods to be demolished, and authorised Christian religion only to be public."Link
-- Crimes of Christianity, by G W Foote and J M Wheeler, quoting Hobbes
Constantine's mother Helen claimed that several places located on the exact sites of old Roman temples in Palestine had formed important places in Christ's life. On her instructions, Constantine ordered these shrines destroyed and had Churches replace them. Thus, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was constructed on top of a temple dedicated to Venus. Over the demolished Adonis temple was raised the Church of the Nativity of Betlehem. Both Churches were built in the 4th century.
Book: Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian origins by Joan Taylor.
Likewise, in Cordoba, the Mezquita cathedral was built on top of a mosque which had replaced a much older church which had been built over the original Roman temple on that site.
On the Crimean peninsula, the Orthodox Church is trying to get their abbey back which had been taken away by the communists. The abbey is known to have originally been a pagan place of worship.
The 4th century bishop Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, Asia Minor lived around 270-345/352 C.E. and is considered a Christian saint. Celebration of Santa Claus, known as the bishop Sinterklaas/Sint Nikolaas in the Netherlands, was derived from this bishop. His feast day is December 6, supposedly the date of his death. Besides the alleged miracles and kindness to children, he is remembered for having destroyed several pagan temples, including a temple of the Roman Goddess Diana (Greek Artemis). Diana's birth was celebrated on December 6, which is why this date was chosen for Nicholas' feast day: so that it may overshadow and replace the pre-Christian celebration.
The monastery of St. Benedict is built over an Apollo temple that Christians destroyed at Monte Cassino, Italy. In fact, the destruction of Apollo's temple had been attributed to St. Benedict himself, who was also credited with founding the Benedictine monastic order. However, it seems St. Benedict is a manufactured hero taking the credit for the havoc wreaked by the usual Christian mob. In order to imitate the great destructive tendencies of the earlier and real Saints like Cyril and others, Christians in later times were known to invent several fictitious Saints to attribute the glorious acts of temple-destruction perpetrated by Christian mobs. In this way, such historic Christian acts of heroism would be remembered for centuries, centred on a local Christian hero instead of an anonymous mob.
The name Benedict - occurring both in St. Benedict and the Benedictine order created in the Saint's name - is itself derived from the Greco-Roman solar deity Apollo, who the Romans referred to as Apollo Benedictus meaning "Apollo, the Blessed". See In the Name of the Gods by David Elkington. With this typical move, the early Church and its zealous followers tried to replace the deity worshipped in the locale of Monte Cassino with a Christian character that took over Apollo's name, probably because the locals could not be stopped in their reverence for "Benedictus".
St. Demetra, recognised by the Greek Orthodox Church, is another remnant of the pre-Christian past. Since the Greeks did not stop worshipping Demeter, who was the Greek Goddess of fruitfulness, the Church made her into a Christian saint.
A few other pre-Christian temple sites taken over by Christians who built Churches on them:
St. Peter, Rome Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome Santa Maria Rotunda, (the Pantheon) Rome Notre Dame, Paris St. Paul, London The Black Virgins found in churches and monasteries in Spain and Italy are images of the Egyptian Goddess Isis and Her son Horus
"The cave of the Vatican belonged to Mithra until 376 A.D., when a city prefect suppressed the cult of the rival Savior and seized the shrine in the name of Christ, on the very birthday of the pagan god, December 25."
-- Barbara G. Walker (The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets)
The throne in the Vatican Mithraeum, upon which the Pater Patrum ("Father of Fathers", the head priest of Mithraism) was customarily seated, was also taken. It is now the throne of St. Peter, though it is adorned by Mithraic carvings and is older than the later Vatican Church. Seated upon it now is the Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope (from Papa meaning father, late vulgarization of Latin Pater).Paul says, 'They drank from that spiritual rock and that rock was Christ' (I Cor. 10:4).These are identical words to those found in the Mithraic scriptures, except that the name Mithra is used instead of Christ. The Vatican hill in Rome that is regarded as sacred to Peter, the Christian rock, was already sacred to Mithra. Many Mithraic remains have been found there. The merging of the worship of Attis into that of Mithra, then later into that of Jesus, was effected almost without interruption.
-- The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read (various authors)
Christian Bishops of Rome pre-empted the Mithraic high priest's title of Pater Patrum, which became Papa, or Pope. [Link]
See more of what happened to ancient Rome:
- an online book that is "dedicated to all those who have died because of the cross".
It includes a chapter on The Destruction of the Temples and a few other chapters are about what happened to specific temples.
The Epicurean Kelsos (Celsus) of the 2nd century CE wrote the Alethes Logos ("True Word"). It was a criticism of Christianity wherein Celsus explained that he wrote it not just to refute the "false word" of Christianity but also to explain why the religion had to be suppressed. Roman intellectuals were much impressed by the work, such that it greatly impeded Christianity's spread among the educated classes. So much so in fact, that only the greatest intellectual in Christianity could attempt to reply to it. Only 80 years later could such a man be found among the Christian ranks: Origen of Alexandria.
And yet, the Church later on considered Origen himself to be a heretic. Of course, Celsus did not have a chance to make a rebuttal of his own, since Origen's attempts to refute his criticism took place long after he had died.
Christian emperors had done away with all other writings of Celsus, and even Alethes Logos only managed to survive in pieces: those parts of it that were used by Origen in his attempted refutation titled Contra Celsus.
In the 2nd century, Celsus refuted Christianity's claims with arguments that are still employed today and remain unsatisfactorily answered.
See the book: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians by Celsus. Celsus' True Word has been pieced together and translated.
The voluntary converts of early Christianity were from among the uneducated people, who would therefore have been an easy target for conversion:
According to Roman sources, the Christians ...in Rome ...were considered a small, uneducated group of religious troublemakers from the lowest social classes, operating in the shadowy sides of society.Link
Concerning the Christian teachers of [his] age Celsus writes as follows:"You may see weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate of rustic fellows, who dare not speak a word before wise men, when they can get a company of children and silly women together, set up to teach strange paradoxes among them."-- The Christ, by John E. Remsberg
...the new sect of the Christians was almost entirely composed of the dregs of the populace, of peasants and mechanists, of boys and women, of beggars and slaves, the last of whom might sometimes introduce the missionaries into the rich and noble families to whom they belonged. These obscure teachers ... are as mute in public as they are loquacious and dogmatical in private. Whilst they cautiously avoid the dangerous encounter of philosophers, they mingle with the rude and illiterate crowd, and insinuate themselves into these minds whom their age, their sex, or their best education had the best disposed to receive the impression of superstitious errors.Eventually, Christianity triumphed when, with the conversion of Emperor Constantine and his pro-Christian laws, its followers forced it down others' throats:
-- The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
Link - that's 5% of the entire Roman empire, according to the most favourable calculation. But even that, it turns out, is too optimistic."According to the irreproachable testimony of Origen, the proportion of the faithful was very inconsiderable when compared with the multitude of an unbelieving world; but, as we are left without any distinct information, it is impossible to determine, and it is difficult even to conjecture, the real numbers of the primitive Christians. The most favorable calculation, however, that can be deduced from the examples of Antioch and of Rome will not permit us to imagine that more than a twentieth part of the subjects of the empire had enlisted themselves under the banner of the Cross before the important conversion of Constantine." [17:8]What an edifying spectacle to the philosopher! Behold the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus, whose yoke was easy and his burden light, forced by its professors down the throats of their Pagan neighbors, who outnumbered them by nearly twenty to one!
-- The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
-- Crimes of Christianity, by G W Foote & J M Wheeler
Writing at a later time, when more information was available than historian Gibbon had access to, Joseph McCabe states:
Professor V. Schultze, a Protestant scholar, in his "Geschichte des Untergangs des griechisch-romischen Heidentums" (2 vols., 1892) ... his figures amount to three million six hundred and fifty thousand. ... But even the figure of three million, seven hundred and fifty thousand is too high.See more: The Christian population in the empire before Constantine
... it is liberal to grant, in the year 310, three million nominal Christians amongst the hundred millions of the Roman Empire; and the persecution had driven most of these back to the temples. Moreover, the vast majority were in rural Armenia (to which Schultze assigns no less than two million out of his three million seven hundred and fifty thousand), Syria, and Asia Minor. The gospel, after nearly three centuries of propaganda, was a failure.
-- The Story of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe
With Constantine now championing Christianity:
When Christianity came under imperial favour under Constantine in the early fourth century, the Christians amounted to no more than five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire.  Even after the conversion of Constantine the growth of the religion was by no means rapid. In Antioch, certainly one of the most important and oldest centers of Christianity, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius (emperor from 379-395), Christians made up no more than twenty percent of the population which numbered about half a million.  These considerations show that Christianity did not spread like wildfire with its self-evident truths compelling people to immediately embrace the religion.From: The Spread of Nascent Christianity
In fact, it is a historical fact that by the beginning of the fourth century the Christian church was already on its death throes; partly due to the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian (245-313) and due to the intense competition for converts by the rival religion, Mithraism.
If there is one historical figure who contributed more than anybody else to the actual growth of Christianity it was, not Jesus, not Paul, but the Roman Emperor Constantine (c274-337). Had Christianity not found favour with Constantine, and his successors, who eventually suppressed Mithraism, this ancient Persian Sun-cult could well have become the predominant religion in Europe.
When Constantine became Emperor of the reunited Roman Empire in the year 324, he gave political, legal and economic support to the Christian church. These included giving the bishops power to settle disputes between Christians, exempting all the priests from municipal taxes and giving them annual allowances. He also enacted some anti-pagan laws.  Some of his laws allowed the churches to enrich themselves substantially by preying on believing rich proselytes, especially the women.
The siphoning of the church for the money of these women were so bad that Emperor Valentinian (d375), fifty years after Constantine, had to command the Damasus (c304-384), Bishop of Rome to limit their extravagant donations. The successors of Constantine carried further these pro-Christian anti-pagan laws. The Emperor Honorius (384-423), for instance, enacted laws which allowed Christian church to take over the vacated pagan temples and to confiscate meeting houses and properties of those sects considered heretical. This then was how Christianity actually spread. Through some historical accident which put them in the good books of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. ... Subsequently it spread and consolidated its power through persecutions of other religions. In other words, the cause of the rise of Christianity is not to be found in superior theology or morals, but in a ruthless political persecution of its enemies.
According to the last great Roman Emperor Julian (a pagan, unlike his predecessor), Christianity was the destroyer of the civilization it grew up in. According to historian Gibbon, the wise Stoic (pagan) Emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius was of the same opinion. The other Stoic emperors did not have a much better opinion:
All the Stoic Emperors detested Christianity as a mean superstition and an anti-social philosophy. The Empire was laboring, and a sect which cut off its members from civic and imperial life deserved no indulgence.The pluralistic and tolerant Julian was proven right: he was assassinated. Since that time until today, the suspects have been Christians, dedicated as the Church was to re-establishing its stranglehold on Rome. Christian soldiers in the Roman army pierced Julian during a battle with the Persians. They had already attempted the assassination before.
-- The Story of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, historian and former Franciscan monk
The cherished Christian version of the murder was that Bishop Basil of Caesarea supposedly had a prophetic dream, wherein Julian "the Apostate"'s death was ordered by Jesus Christ himself and executed by St. Mercurius (the Roman God Mercury turned into a Christian Saint by the usual methods). Of course, the murder "miraculously" took place as foretold in Bishop Basil's dream. In reality this is merely the way the early Church denoted the covert assassination - with a "Persian spear" - of the pagan Emperor.
Gibbon ends his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
"I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion."
Pagan Greece and Rome had been comparable with ourselves in character and conduct. With the triumph of Christianity and the fall of Rome, Europe sank steadily age by age until it reached the unprecedented degradation of the Iron Age.
-- The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, historian and former Franciscan monk
"To the victor belong the spoils--and the history....a historical reconstruction is still largely dependent on what has survived, or more precisely on what the victors have permitted to survive and what their successors have gone on to edit and collect.
-- The Excellent Empire - The Fall of Rome and the Triumph of the Church, by Jaroslav Pelikan
"That force was often used in the conversion of northern peoples is undeniable, and it was used with a ferocity and violence beyond anything the conquistadors did in the Americas and far beyond anything that happened in modern Africa or Asia ..."Link
-- Andrew Walls (The Missionary Movement in Christian History, p72)
'Wherever we look, bishops were encouraging the landed elites... to take firm and coercive action to make the peasantry Christian ...Link
Like it or not, this is what our sources tell us over and over again. Demonstrations of the power of the Christian God meant conversion. Miracles, wonders, exorcisms, temple-torching and shrine-smashing were in themselves acts of evangelisation."
-- Richard Fletcher (The Conversion of Europe, p45)
In c.777, Charlemagne, a devout Christian, after conquering the Saxon rebels, gave them a choice between baptism and execution. When they refused to convert, he had 4500 of them beheaded in one morning.
-- A World Lit Only by Fire - The Medieval Mind and The Renaissance, by William Manchester
To the pagan German his [Charlemagne's] sword was a grim, but convincing missionary." (Draper, The Intellectual Development of Europe, i, 374.) This secular authority is confirmed by this clerical admission; that under the Carlovingian Empire, "in war conversion went hand in hand with victory; in peace Charles ruled through bishops. ..."
-- Forgery in Christianity, by Joseph Wheless
It is estimated that Europe was Christianised at a cost of about 8 to 10 million lives.Link
Even after nominal conversion, there was much residual resistance to the new cult, which was alien and unappealing to the people it was imposed on. The clergy claimed authority from an unfamiliar eastern saviour and his God, defaming all the pagans' local, ancestral deities (many worshipped since the Neolithic age) as demons. ...Many refused to give up their pagan Goddess.
...Moreover, familiar laws and lifestyle were declared wholly sinful. It's hardly surprising that there arose heresy after heresy to confront the conquering church.
Etymological clues exist of a forlorn pagan resistance to 'conversion' –Link
BIGOT, meaning an obstinate and intolerant holder of particular religious opinions, arrived in English via French. It originated centuries before among Germanic/Frankish tribes of Gaul. 'Bei Gott' ('By God') mocked the exclamation frequently used by the crusading Christian missionaries who were bludgeoning the tribes into conversion.
CRETIN, a stunted or intellectually subnormal person, came into English in the 18th century from Franco-Provençal 'creitin' or 'crestin', again both ancient in origin, derived from the Old French 'chretien' and the Lombard, 'cristanei' – meaning "Christian"!
The slaughter of the SaxonsLink
c. 550 CE. Germanic beliefs are outlawed in the Frankish kingdom. All heathen temples and symbols are ordered to be destroyed. Heathen songs, dances and holidays forbidden under pain of extreme punishment.
719 CE. Frankish Christian missionaries ravage Frisia with fire and sword.
January 774 CE. Charlemagne vows to convert the Saxons, or, failing that, to wipe them out.
780 CE. Charlemagne decrees the death penalty for all who fail to be baptised, who fail to keep Christian festivals, who cremate their dead, who are hostile toward Christians, etc etc.
782 CE. 4,500 Saxon nobles are beheaded in one day at Verden on the Aller for refusing to convert.804 CE. The last heathen resistance in Saxony is put down. In thirty years of genocide, from 774 to 804, two thirds of the Saxons have been killed.
About Charlemagne's vow and the slaughter of the 4500 Saxon nobles:
On coming to the throne in 768, Charlemagne launched a vicious campaign of evangelism against the Saxons of Germany by cutting down their sacred tree – the World Tree or Yggdrasil – located in the north German forest near present day Marburg. The Roman roads, un-maintained but still serviceable, aided the rapid deployment of his troops.Link
The Saxons resisted 'conversion' with a passion and in 772, at Quierzy (today an insignificant village on the Oise about a 100 miles northwest of Paris). A frustrated Charlemagne, urged on by his bishops, issued a proclamation that he would kill every Saxon who refused to accept Jesus Christ. From that time on he kept a special detachment of Christian priests who doubled as his executioners. Pagan practices, such as eating meat during Lent, cremation of the dead and pretending to be baptized ("dogs returning to their vomit") were all made punishable by death.
In fulfillment of his vow, in a single day at Verden in 782, Charlemagne had 4500 Saxon prisoners beheaded for slipping back to their old gods. He then went off to Mass and had his dinner....Remarkably, the Saxons resisted Charlemagne's onslaught for more than 30 years.
Christians viewed their destruction of the sacred Yggdrasil tree as a sign of the spiritual defeat of their enemies.
The British Isles
597 CE. The Augustinian mission arrives in Kent. Its aim is to convert heathen kings, who will then force the new religion on their followers. The situation is confusing, because kings seldom live to a great age, and their successors often repudiate the alien faith.
616 CE. Athelfrith, heathen king of Northumbria, defeats a huge Christian crusade at Chester.
617 CE. Athelfrith slain at battle of River Idle. His neurotic rival Edwin becomes king, and is subsequently converted to Christianity, forcing his subjects to give up their old faith.
653 CE. King Sigibert foists Christianity on heathen Essex.
654 CE. Penda of Mercia, the last great heathen Anglo-Saxon king, is slain by Christians at the battle of Winwæd. Only Sussex and the Isle of Wight hold out (for a short time) against Christianity.
Late 8th century onwards. Heathen Scandinavians settle all parts of British Isles.
1066 CE onwards. William the Conquerer is still passing laws against paganism. Its last redoubt, in practice if not in theory, is the Border counties which form a buffer between England and Scotland.1603 CE. James VI of Scotland becomes also James I of England. He crushes the Borderers and destroys their separate culture.
ScandinaviaFrom: The bloody war of Christians against Pagans
994 CE. Olaf Tryggvason adopts Christianity in exchange for accepting a vast amount of protection money from the English. Through a brutal campaign that tolerates no opposition he "converts" Norway to Christianity. With Norway fall Shetland, the Orkneys and the Faroes.
c.1000 CE. Olaf holds prominent Icelandic pagans hostage and demands that Iceland accept the new religion. Iceland falls.
After 1000 CE. On the death of Olaf Norway returns gladly to paganism.
1016 CE. Olaf the Stout, later called St Olaf, seizes the throne of Norway. He murders, blinds and maims heathens. Heathen temples are ruthlessly robbed and destroyed. The great temple at Uppsala in Sweden is destroyed by Christian fanatics.
About this important shrine of the Swedes at Uppsala:
1083 The temple at Uppsala (Sweden) is destroyed, and construction of a church on the site is initiated.From: Chronology of Sweden
After its painful conversion, Sweden attacked and conquered Finland, enforcing Christianity on the pre-Christian Finns.
The Sami are a people who have been living in the Scandinavian regions for 10,000 years or more. They had moved around the northern regions with the reindeer herd and the change of the seasons. After the conversion of the Norse of Scandinavia, the Christian Norse took over Sami land and persecuted the Sami who were still practising their pre-Christian religion.
1542: The Swedish King Gustav Vasa declares that 'All unused lands belongs to God, us and the Swedish Crown'
1685: Burning of the Sami drums, persecution of those who practice the old religion, destruction of holy sites and idols.Link
1693: Lars Nilsson from Arjeplog is burned at the stake for "Witchcraft" after he tried to save the life of his grandson who had fallen into a creek.
Sami people were converted to Christianity by force and shamanic practices were forbidden. [Link]
With the support of the King the church condemned the Saami faith as magic and idolatry. When the Saami refused to submit they were made examples of. In the Spring of 1693, a nåjd named Lars Nilsson was burned in the square at Arjeplog.
Christians bring "civilizing" Christianity to the Gaelic Irish
16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops "pacified and civilized" Ireland, where only Gaelic "wild Irish", "unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing."From: Victims of the Christian Faith at The Christian Heritage
One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that"the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies... and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie", which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused "greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde".Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]
[SH99, 225] D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.
For material on this topic, refer to:
- The bloody war of Christians against Pagans
- The section The Northern Crusades discusses how a number of crushing Crusades were enacted against the still pagan Eastern-Europeans to bring them into the Christian fold.
- Conversion of the heathens of north Europe
- Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons of Britain
- Boniface and the Oak of Donar Contains excerpts from The Life of St. Boniface by Willibald (written between 754 and 768 C.E.) and shows how the early Christians had no respect for what was sacred to the heathens. Saint Boniface is attributed the cutting down of the sacred Oak Tree of Donar (Thor, the Thunder God). Willibald's biography was the then usual propaganda which made it look like the Christians did the right thing.