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Thread: Alternate History Question: What if the Vikings Didn't Convert to Christianity?

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    Alternate History Question: What if the Vikings Didn't Convert to Christianity?

    Just something I have wondered about. I think if they hadn't converted and Norse Paganism was the official religion of Scandinavian nations even to today events like The Russo-Japanese War, World War I, World War II would set the stage for a Religious Cold War. I mention The Russo-Japanese War because it could have become World War I because of the Alliance situation and the conditions of other nations joining in. I am tried so I will post more when I wake up. Just wanted to ask before I go to bed.

    Personally alternate history is a great subject but hard to write or debate about. Also the issue of it being sci-fi or not does effect the idea of talking about it to a degree. If time travel is is involved then it is sci-fi. If it's simply something like What if Germany won Stalingrad then it is not sci-fi. It's not a easy subject no matter how you slice it.

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    Interesting question. Here are a couple of scenarios I've read on other sites:

    Any answer to this question would of course be highly speculative as it would contain just too many unknown variables. For example, under what conditions did Scandinavia not convert to Christianity? Was the norther part of Germany also not converted? How about England, also not converted? Because the Christian ideas was spread from those places. But how could i call my self a wise *ss if not attempting to answer this question?

    So to answer this question, it would be good to study how Scandinavia actually was Christianized between the 8th and the 12th centuries and then we would need to factor out the important events taking place that made it happen and go from there. There are of course many events, and i´ll briefly touch upon some them.

    Missions north
    The missions made by Ansgar and others was one important factor, taking place in and after the 9th century. Ansgar was given the misson to evangelize Denmark, Sweden and Norway after he was given the Archbishopric of Hamburg. He initially failed but others was later more successful and eventually established the Archbishopric of Lund.

    Viking expansion south
    Another one is that many Pagan (Viking) leaders of the North converted to Christianity after years of being exposed to christianity through the travels to England and northern France for example, or to pledge allegiance to neighboring powerful christian Lords. An important example of this is the first Danish king to convert to Christianity, Harald Klak, who had himself baptised during his exile in order to receive the support of Louis the Pious - King of Aquitaine in late 700s. He was the son of Charlemange and was co-Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire with his father from 813.

    Another one is that of the Viking chieftain Rollo and king Charles the simple of France in 911. Rollo obtained Normandy and Brittany if he pledged allegiance to Charles and agree to baptize him self. Now why would a Viking earl such as Rollo and others suddenly drop their old beliefs? One reason would of course be to achieve power and land, another one could also have been the belief of Christians as Victorious and lucky, as often depicted by the Germans. There were political reasons for the conversions and and they were often voluntarily made


    There are many other components to the Christianization of Scandinavia, and each region has its story and progress. It was gradual and took several centuries. In many cases Pagan culture were intertwined with the christian to form a new evolved tradition. Christianization was more of an evolution than a revolution (many areas was not as deeply converted as others - the Samis remained unconverted until the 18th century) and with Christianization came many new ideas and knowledge spread by monks and missionaries. I think the ideas coming along with the Bible was the important ones, not the Bible it self - this is the essence of the question i think.

    A Pagan middle age in Scandinavia?
    So, the missions north and the Viking expansions south would both have failed or would not have taken place at all for some reason and hence the ideas of Christianity and related ideas never reached the north in time.

    How could the relative primitive societies of Scandinavia have flourished without the new inventions imported during the Christianization? Did they for other reasons abandon the runic alphabet (Futhark) writing system and started to employ the greek alphabet instead to allow the spread of new ideas and technology without letting the Bible spread? Would they have been able to trade with the Christian south (the all important Hanseatic league for example)?. Because if they would not have adopted many of the new important gains in agricultural, trade/finance, administration and war technology they would probably have fallen victim of the Crusades of the 11th and 12th century, both from the east and west. The English kings (maybe of even deeper Frankish origin under these circumstances) would probably have gone north/east instead of going to the middle east and the Teutonic Knights would probably not have stopped either. Religious wars would probably have ensured for centuries - just like we would expect looking at our actual history.

    Conclusion
    I would say Christianization at some point after 11th century would have been more or less inevitable. Because for the northern Pagan peoples to sustain to this day (more or less, whatever "fully converted" should be interpreted as) there must have been not one but many great discoveries and internal transformations of revolutional character (early on and along the way) to occur to withstand the strength of the neighboring Christian cultures. So in any case - there is no guarantee that there would be any more Pagan traditions or ceremonies left today, taking the non-christian path than there actually are in reality - such as Jul (Christmas) or Midsommar or our language.
    The Great Heathen Army is more successful and pushes out/refurbishes the ecclesial strongholds of Papal influence in England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland. No more direct influence on Britain for the Papacy without mounting an offensive.

    But for the Raven Banner to plant itself firmly on English soil, it will have to have killed & maimed many people. People who in our world would be ancestors of some of the most influential people on earth. You've also got different people moving around to different places. Not to mention the impossible to quantify small-scale differences this wil cause on things we can't even see.
    Sources:
    https://www.quora.com/How-different-...o-Christianity
    https://www.religiousforums.com/thre...ianity.185305/

    My view is that it would have had both positive and negative consequences.

    Negatives: they could have missed out on some factors and inventions from the modern/civilised world, different types of relations, trades and communications. Since the Viking raids would have either stopped or become less frequent, especially with the rise of castle building and new defence systems, they would have had to struggle to keep up with the rise of the Christian world. Vikings might have had to become mercenaries and fight for foreign armies to feed themselves and families. At the worst case, they could have been opposed, alone and forced to convert to Islam. Perhaps the idea of Europe would have been different, since Europe for a long time was a Christian civilisational cradle.

    Positives: more Heathen traditions preserved, less taboo opinions about pre-Christian practices. Maybe the above-mentioned limitations would have made them have a closer knit society and force them to become even more self-sufficient.

    However, probably christianisation would have been achieved at a later point, with the Crusades for example.

    We've to look at the positives, in Scandinavia a lot of the heathen practices have been incorporated in both religious and secular cultures.

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    Siebenbürgerin good information but I am more so looking for more modern time Vikings. Also I have read books like: Rising Sun Victorious, Third Reich Victorious, Cold War Hot and so on. That is the mind frame of this question.


    As for Ansgar what if he was killed? Yes someone would have taken his place if war didn't break out. But that's the thing about Alternate History there is a lot of guessing.

    As for Rollo and the other traitors many things could have happened to prevent that from happening. Such as illness and or death. Caused by the weather for example.

    As for the technology issue while it is true civilizations have fallen because of lack of technology nations like Japan forced themselves to advance. Because of that it is realistic to believe the Vikings could do the same. Not the perfect example I know but it is worth mentioning.

    Also that religious forums link. I am the one that posted that thread. I haven't been to that site in a long while.

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