• Saints, Pagans and the Creation of a Christian Community in Early Carolingian Frisia

    Ricky Broome (see profile)
    Early Medieval
    Christianity, Europe, History, Middle Ages, Missionaries--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages XV
    Conf. Org.:
    Sidney Sussex College
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    16/12/2011 - 18/12/2011
    Carolingian, Frisia, European history, Medieval history, Missionary studies
    Permanent URL:
    In this paper I examine three pieces of early ninth-century Frisian hagiography: Liudger’s Vita Gregorii abbatis Traiectensis, Altfrid’s Vita Liudgeri and the anonymous Vita altera Bonifatii. Between them, these texts commemorate three generations of missionaries who left a lasting impact on Frisia. This commemoration was vital for cementing the sense of community in the region and can be divided into three categories: the presentation of thenature of missionary work; the interaction between the saints and the Franks; and the portrayal of pagans and paganism. The first two factors were important for establishing the impact the missionaries had on Frisia itself, and the way they worked with Christian leaders from outside Frisia. The third factor was important for showing the audience how the saints had confronted Christianity’s enemies. The Lives of Gregory and Liudger provide some insights into the Christianisation of Frisia. More importantly, though, they show how the process was remembered by Christians in the years after Boniface’s martyrdom in 754, and the way in which the saint and his disciples could be used as focal points for a new Frisian community united by Christianity. They also show how Boniface and Christianity could be used as points of contact with the wider Frankish world. The Vita altera stands somewhat apart from this tradition, but it too shows the importance of the idea of Boniface as a cultural figurehead and a focal point for notions of community, although as shall be shown, the author had a different kind of community in mind to that envisaged by Liudger and Altfrid.
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
    Share this:


    Item Name: pdf saints_pagans_and_the_creation_of_a_chri.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 433