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Fulfilling Gregory’s goal: the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon people

Fulfilling Gregory’s goal: the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon people

By Patricia Walker

Master’s Thesis, University of Alberta, 1994

Pope Gregory dictating, from a 10th-century manuscript

Abstract: The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons in the seventh century AD was a complex process that involved several stages. The Roman missionaries who came to southern England in the late sixth century had an agenda for carrying out the conversion. This agenda entailed the attainment of the cooperation of the English kings, the establishment of an ecclesiastical institution based on a Continental diocesan organization, and finally the conversion of the common folk.

Progress toward the achievement of this goal was impeded by the interference of Irish missionaries in the north of England, who had their own methods of introducing Christianity to a pagan people. By studying literary sources rarely used by historians, as well as re-examining historical sources such as Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, various Saints’ Lives and legal documents, this thesis will discuss the Roman agenda, the apparent conflict between the Roman and Irish missionaries, and will conclude with a chapter on the Anglo-Saxons’ reception of the new doctrine.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Alberta

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