Mr. Sedivy's History
Historical Figures Architecture



US Flag

Mr. Sedivy's
History Classes:

More Features:

Site Search
History QuotesHumor
Submit Links/Info
LinksWhat's New?
Shop for Stuff



Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
Christianity Comes to Britain -

Heathens Become Christians
The English invaders were "heathens." The English wore charms to keep away evil spirits. They believed in dragons, giants, and more. Their chief god was "Woden," and all Anglo-Saxon kings claimed to be descended from him.

German god, Woden
Woden, Germanic god of war. Woden is shown crowned and surrounded by
six of his sons: Vectan (Kent), Bealdeah (Wessex), Feothulgeat (Mercia),
Beldei (Northumbria), Casere (East Anglia), and Wegdam (Sussex).

English Gods / Our Calendar
There were more gods. Tiw was a war god. Thunor, was the god of thunder, the sound of which was believed. Frig was a goddess and was supposed to bring good harvests. These gods are still remembered today in the days of our week: Tuesday (Tiw), Wednesday (Woden), Thursday (Thunor), and Friday (Frig). Saturday probably comes from Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Sunday and Monday are named after the sun and moon, both worshipped by Anglo-Saxons.

Pope Gregory / King Æthelberht of Kent
Pope Gregory the Great decided to send missionaries to convert the English. Forty monks from Rome went to England in 597. The missionaries were led by Augustine. The king of Kent, Ethelbert, had a Christian wife named Bertha. He was still a heathen, but agreed to meet with Augustine as long as they would meet in the open air where they could not work their magic on him.

Ethelbert must have been surprised by the sight of shaven headed monks, wearing black Benedictine robes and chanting in a strange language. But, he decided to trust them. Ethelbert gave the monks food and shelter at Canterbury and allowed them to preach at his people. With queen Bertha's permission, the monks used an old Roman church, St. Martin.

The next year year, Ethelbert had been baptized and so had thousands of his people. (The hierarchy of the Roman Church: Pope > Cardinal > Archbishop > Bishop > Abbot > priest > monk.) Gregory made Augustine Archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Gregory gave Augustine instructions about how to set up the English Church.


Augustine did not destroy the heathen temples, but instead he decided to change them into churches, replacing the idols with altars. "Christmas" replaced the winter feast of "Yule." Easter is still named after a Saxon spring goddess, Eostre. Gregory and Augustine both died in 604. Soon afterward, there were again heathen ways. King Redwald decided to give them the best of both worlds - Christ and one for the heathens' gods!

Christianity in Ireland
Ireland became a stronghold of Christianity. Saint Patrick was a Briton who became a monk in Gaul. In the fifth century, Patrick traveled throughout Ireland preaching and baptizing the people. An Irish monk named Columba sailed across to the land of the heathen. On the island of Iona, he set up a monastery with twelve other monks. Iona remained an important center of the British - Celtic church.

Christianity in England
As you can see, Christianity came from two different directions in England - from the north, St. Patrick and Columba; and from the south, Romana and St. Augustine. The North and Midlands were led by "Celtic Christians" from Iona. They did not follow the Pope's leadership. They had a different date for Easter and Christmas. Celtic monks even had a different tonsure (haircut). It was a semicircular patch from ear to ear.

King Oswy
Northumbrian King Oswy followed Celtic practices, but his wife, the queen, had been taught Roman ways. He wanted to bring all English Christians together. He convened a synod (council) at Whitby to agree on the dating of Easter and Christmas. The bigger question was: Would Celtic Christians be willing to accept Roman leadership? In the end, the arguments of the Roman Christians convinced King Qswy. Now, only English bishops were in touch with Rome and other parts of Europe.

The Celtic Church
The Celtic church was based on monasteries. The Roman Church was organized differently. Countries were divided into large districts called "dioceses," each under a bishop with a cathedral. In later centuries, dioceses were subdivided into parishes, each with a priest to serve the needs of the people. Churches were expensive to build, so monks held outdoor services. They built "waysidecrosses" made of wood. (Some were made of carved stone.)

The greatest of all Anglo-Saxon missionaries was Boniface, a monk from Wessex. In 718, he left England never to return. He went to "heathen" Germany and personally converted thousands of the people. In 754, the "Apostle of Germany" was killed by nonbelievers.

Bede was a monk who wrote English history 300 years after the Romans left. Bede, scholar of Northumbria, grew up in Northumbria. He wrote "The History of the English Church and People," written in Latin. His parents entrusted him to the care of monks at Wearmouth. Bede left Wearmouth when he was still a boy, and spent the rest of his life of Jarrow. He carefully studied old Anglo-Saxon stories, songs and poems. Monks from all over the country sent documents to him.

Bede earned the nickname "Venerable" (worthy of respect). In 735, the year of his death, York became the home of the second archbishop.

Back to top of page

Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
| Home | Back to top of page | Site Contents |