The Viking Age is a period in European history Northern European and Scandinavian history, following the Germanic Iron Age. It is the period of history when Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids and conquest. In this period, the Norsemen settled in Norse Greenland and present-day Faroe Islands, Norway, Normandy, England, Ireland, Isle of Man, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Russia and Italy. Viking travellers and colonists were seen at many points in history as brutal raiders. Many historical documents suggest that their invasion of other countries was retaliation in response to the encroachment upon tribal lands by Christian missionaries, by the Saxon Wars prosecuted by Charlemagne and his kin to the south, or were motivated by overpopulation, trade inequities, the lack of viable farmland in their homeland. Information about the Viking Age is drawn from what was written about the Vikings by their enemies, primary sources of archaeology, supplemented with secondary sources such as the Icelandic Sagas.
In England, the beginning of the Viking Age is dated to 8 June 793, when Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, a centre of learning on an island off the northeast coast of England in Northumberland. Monks were killed in the abbey, thrown into the sea to drown, or carried away as slaves along with the church treasures, giving rise to the traditional prayer—A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine, "Free us from the fury of the Northmen, Lord."Three Viking ships had beached in Weymouth Bay four years earlier, but that incursion may have been a trading expedition that went wrong rather than a piratical raid. Lindisfarne was different; the Viking devastation of Northumbria's Holy Island was reported by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin of York, who wrote: "Never before in Britain has such a terror appeared". Vikings were portrayed as wholly bloodthirsty by their enemies. In medieval English chronicles, they are described as "wolves among sheep"; the first challenges to the many anti-Viking images in Britain emerged in the 17th century.
Pioneering scholarly works on the Viking Age reached a small readership in Britain. Linguistics traced the Viking Age origins of rural proverbs. New dictionaries of the Old Norse language enabled more Victorians to read the Icelandic Sagas. In Scandinavia, the 17th-century Danish scholars Thomas Bartholin and Ole Worm and Swedish scholar Olaus Rudbeck were the first to use runic inscriptions and Icelandic Sagas as primary historical sources. During the Enlightenment and Nordic Renaissance, historians such as the Icelandic-Norwegian Thormodus Torfæus, Danish-Norwegian Ludvig Holberg, Swedish Olof von Dalin developed a more "rational" and "pragmatic" approach to historical scholarship. By the latter half of the 18th century, while the Icelandic sagas were still used as important historical sources, the Viking Age had again come to be regarded as a barbaric and uncivilised period in the history of the Nordic countries. Scholars outside Scandinavia did not begin to extensively reassess the achievements of the Vikings until the 1890s, recognising their artistry, technological skills, seamanship.
Until the history of the Viking Age had been based on Icelandic Sagas, the history of the Danes written by Saxo Grammaticus, the Kievan Rus's Primary Chronicle, Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib. Today, most scholars take these texts as sources not to be understood and are relying more on concrete archaeological findings and other direct scientific disciplines and methods; the Vikings who invaded western and eastern Europe were pagans from the same area as present-day Denmark and Sweden. They settled in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, peripheral Scotland and Canada, their North Germanic language, Old Norse, became the mother-tongue of present-day Scandinavian languages. By 801, a strong central authority appears to have been established in Jutland, the Danes were beginning to look beyond their own territory for land and plunder. In Norway, mountainous terrain and fjords formed strong natural boundaries. Communities remained independent of each other, unlike the situation in lowland Denmark. By 800, some 30 small kingdoms existed in Norway.
The sea was the easiest way of communication between the outside world. In the eighth century, Scandinavians began to build ships of war and send them on raiding expeditions which started the Viking Age; the North Sea rovers were traders, colonisers and plunderers. Many theories are posited for the cause of the Viking invasions. At the time, England and Ireland were vulnerable to attack, being divided into many different warring kingdoms in a state of internal disarray, while the Franks were well defended. Overpopulation near the Scandes, was influential. Technological advance like the use of iron, or a shortage of women due to selective female infanticide had an impact. Tensions caused by Frankish expansion to the south of Scandinavia, their subsequent attacks upon the Viking peoples, may have played a role in Viking pillaging. Harald I of Norway had displaced many peoples; as a result, these people sought for new bases to launch counter-raids against Harald. Vikings would plant crops after the winter and go raiding as soon as the ice melted on the sea return
Conservative Party (Norway)
The Conservative Party is a conservative and liberal-conservative political party in Norway. It is the major party of the Norwegian centre-right, the leading party in the governing Solberg cabinet; the current party leader is the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg. In national elections in September 2013, voters ended eight years of Labour Party rule. A coalition of the Conservative Party and the Progress Party entered office based on promises of tax cuts, better services and stricter rules on immigration, with the support of the Liberal Party and Christian Democratic Party. After winning the elections, Solberg said her win was "a historic election victory for the right-wing parties"; the party advocates economic liberalism, reduction of taxes, individual rights, defines itself as a "conservative party of progress". It has been the most outspokenly pro-European Union party in Norway, supporting Norwegian membership during both the 1972 and 1994 referendums; the party supports semi-privatization through state-funded private services and tougher law and order measures.
Founded in 1884, the Conservative Party is the second oldest political party in Norway after the Liberal Party. In the interwar era, one of the main goals for the party was to achieve a centre-right alliance against the growing labour movement, when the party went into decline. In the post-war era until 2005 the party participated in six governments; the Conservative Party of Norway was founded in 1884 after the implementation of parliamentarism in Norway. The jurist Emil Stang was elected the first chairman of the party. Stang underlined important principles for the work in Høyre; the party was to be a social party of reforms that worked within the constitutional frames set by a parliamentary democracy. Høyre's electoral support has varied. In the 1981-election, Høyre got 31.7%. It was the best election since 1924; the result in 1993 was 17%. This election was influenced by the EU membership issue; the 1997 parliamentary election resulted in the lowest support since 1945, with only 14.3% of the votes.
Høyre has since seen increased popular support, got 21.3% in the 1999 local elections and 21.2% in the 2001 parliamentary election. Throughout the years Høyre has supported a policy that aims to stimulate growth in order to avoid unemployment and raise economic strength to solve various necessary tasks in Norwegian society. In the beginning of the 20th century Høyre took the initiative to construct a modern Norwegian communications network. After the devastating First World War it was important for Høyre to work for the reconstruction of sound, economic politics. An example of this is the resolution Høyre passed in 1923 introducing old-age insurance, but because of the State's finances it was not possible to continue this effort. Høyre was the leading party in opposition in the post-war years in Norway. Høyre fought against the Labour Party's regulating policy. Høyre wanted another future for Norway consisting of creative forces. Høyre has been a protagonist in the construction of the welfare system in this country, has on several occasions taken initiative to correct injustices in social care regulations.
Additionally Høyre has advocated that the State's activity must concentrate on its basic problems and their solutions. During the post-war years Høyre has consolidated its position as a party with appeal to all parts of the nation. Non-socialist co-operation as an alternative to socialism has always been one of Høyre's main aims. Høyre has led several coalition governments; the Christian Democratic Party was one of Høyre's coalition partners both in 1983–86 and 1989–90. At the parliamentary election in 1993 it was impossible to present a credible non-socialist government alternative because Høyres former coalition parties, The Christian Democrats and the Centre Party both campaigned against Norwegian membership in the EU. Before the parliamentary election in 1997 the Labour party proclaimed that they would not be willing to govern the country if they did not obtain more than 36.9% of the votes. As it turned out, they got 35%, other parties had to form government. There were serious discussions between Høyre, The Christian Democrats and Venstre to take on this task, but the end result was that the two latter parties joined forces with the Centre Party to create a minority government without Høyre.
In the parliamentary election in September 2001, Høyre obtained 21.2 percent of the votes. After a series of discussions Høyre was once again able to take part in a coalition government, this time with the Christian Democratic Party, the Liberal Party; the total percentage obtained for these three parties at last general election was 37.5. Høyre, as the largest party in the coalition government, had 38 members in the present Storting, 10 of the 19 ministers in the Government were Høyre representatives. Høyre's three focal areas this period were to establish a rise in quality in Norway's educational system, lower taxes and produce a higher service level in state sectors. In the 2005 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 14.1% of the votes. The election outcome put Høyre back in opposition, the party got 23 members in the present Storting. In the 2009 parliamentary election, Høyre obtained 17.2% of the votes, 30 members in the present Storting. During the local elections of 2011, the party gained 27.6 percent of the vote, it has since
Eastern Norway is the geographical region of the south-eastern part of Norway. It consists of the counties Telemark, Vestfold, Østfold, Oslo, Buskerud and Hedmark. Eastern Norway is by far the most populous region of Norway, it contains the country's capital, Norway's most populous city. In Norwegian, the region is called Austlandet in contrast to Vestlandet; as of 2015, the region had 50.4 % of Norway's population. The region is bounded by mountains in the north and west, the Swedish border to the east and by Viken and Skagerrak to the south; the border towards Sørlandet is less obvious. The mountains reach a height of 2469 metres in the Jotunheimen mountain range, the highest point in the Nordic countries. Other prominent mountain ranges include part of the Dovrefjell in the far north of the region, the Rondane north east of Lillehammer and others; the high plateau of Hardangervidda extends into Western Norway. Valleys cut deep into the mountains, from east to west the main valleys are Østerdal, Valdres, Hallingdal and the many valleys of Telemark.
Østerdalen is surrounded by flat areas of conifer forests, but the others are all cut into the mountains. Most of eastern Norway's southern half is dominated of rolling hills with pine and spruce forests, agricultural land down in the valleys The area around the Oslo fjord and towards the north east are comparatively flat, there are patches of intensely cultivated lands, notably Hedmarken, Hadeland and others; the population density in the flatlands is the highest in the nation, some 40% of the nation's population lives within 200 km of Oslo. Numerous islands shelter the coasts, creating a paradise for boaters in the summer; the Norwegian dialects spoken in the south-east share a common intonation, but there is some variation in grammar and pronunciation. The dialects of the interior mountainous areas are all distinct; the dialects of the coastal areas are more similar to the written language. The eastern forests of Finnskogen were the home of an ethnic minority, immigrants from Finland that came in the 17th century.
Their language and culture was preserved into the 20th century, but now only folk tunes and food specialities remain. The southernmost group of Norway's Sami population is to be found in the north-eastern corner, in Engerdal; the culture of mountain valleys is preserved to a greater degree than the more urbanized metropolitan areas. The area is distinguished with traditional architecture, like stave churches and lafteverk, folk music and food; some are concerned for the loss of local culture in the face of modernization. There are many tourist traps, which have a tendency of becoming Disneyland versions of the actual culture in the ski resorts, which are transformed by people from the cities, with increased building of shops and vacation houses, it is common to see moose warning signs missing from their posts, because of many tourists taking them home as a souvenir. This is of course illegal, can result in a fine; the coastal region is densely populated both by European standards. This region was the early industrialized.
Traditionally the biggest export was timber and shipping, now employment in the industrial sector is in decline and most people are working in service-oriented companies. The coastal area is varied, from the metropolitan Oslo to the more quiet and idyllic old maritime city of Drøbak, the oldest city in Norway, Tønsberg There is some museum railway lines, for example the Krøder Line, where one can ride heritage steam and diesel trains on old twisty railway tracks. Oslo, the capital of Norway, has attracted people from all over Norway. Most of the immigrants settle here as well. There are numerous mosques, Hindu shrines, Sikh temples, Buddhist temples, as well as many churches, giving Oslo a cosmopolitan feel. East Norway travel guide from Wikivoyage
Hordaland is a county in Norway, bordering Sogn og Fjordane, Buskerud and Rogaland counties. Hordaland is the third largest county after Oslo by population; the county government is the Hordaland County Municipality, located in Bergen. Before 1972, the city of Bergen was its own separate county apart from Hordaland. Hordaland is the old name of the region, revived in 1919; the first element is the plural genitive case of the name of an old Germanic tribe. The last element is land; until 1919 the name of the county was Søndre Bergenhus amt which meant " southern Bergenhus amt". Hordaland's flag shows a crown in red; the flag is a banner of the coat of arms derived from the old seal of the guild of St. Olav from Onarheim in Tysnes municipality; this seal was used by the delegates of Sunnhordland in 1344 on the document to install king Haakon V of Norway. It was thus the oldest symbol used for the region and adapted as the arms and flag in 1961; the symbols refer to the patron saint of the guild, Saint Olav, King of Norway, whose symbol is an axe.
The coat-of-arms were granted on 1 December 1961. They were designed by Magnus Hardeland, but the general design had been used in the Sunnhordland region during the 14th century. In the early 20th century, leaders of the county began using the old arms as a symbol for the county once again; the arms are on a red background and consist of two golden axes that are crossed with a golden crown above them. Hordaland county has been around for more than one thousand years. Since the 7th century, the area was made up of many petty kingdoms under the Gulating and was known as Hordafylke since around the year 900. In the early 16th century, Norway was divided into four len; the Bergenhus len encompassed much of western and northern Norway. In 1662, the lens were replaced by amts. Bergenhus amt consisted of the present-day areas of Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Sunnmøre and the far northern Nordlandene amt was subordinate to Bergenhus. In the 1680s, Nordlandene and Sunnmøre were split from Bergenhus. In 1763, the amt was divided into northern and southern parts: Nordre Bergenhus amt and Søndre Bergenhus amt.
When the amt was split, the present day municipality of Gulen was split with the southern part ending up in Søndre Bergenhus amt. In 1773, the border was re-drawn so. Søndre Bergenhus amt was renamed Hordaland fylke in 1919; the city of Bergen was classified as a city-county from 1831–1972. During that time in 1915, the municipality of Årstad was annexed into Bergen. In 1972, the neighboring municipalities of Arna, Laksevåg and Åsane were annexed into the city of Bergen. At that same time, the city of Bergen lost its county status, became a part of Hordaland county. A county is the chief local administrative area in Norway; the whole country is divided into 19 counties. A county is an election area, with popular votes taking place every 4 years. In Hordaland, the government of the county is the Hordaland County Municipality, it includes. Heading the Fylkesting is the county mayor. Since 2015, the Hordaland county municipality has been led by the county mayor; the county has a County Governor, the representative of the King and Government of Norway.
Lars Sponheim is the current County Governor of Hordaland. The municipalities in Hordaland are divided among four district courts: Nordhordland, Sunnhordland and Hardanger. Hordaland is part of the Gulating Court of Appeal district based in Bergen. Nordhordland District Court: Askøy, Austrheim, Fjell, Lindås, Meland, Modalen, Os, Osterøy, Radøy, Sund, Voss, Øygarden, Gulen Sunnhordland District Court: Bømlo, Fitjar, Stord and Tysnes Bergen District Court: the city of Bergen Hardanger District Court: Eidfjord, Jondal, Odda and UlvikMost of the municipalities in Hordaland are part of the Hordaland police district. Gulen and Solund in Sogn og Fjordane county are part of the Hordaland police district. Bømlo, Fitjar and Sveio are a part of the "Haugaland and Sunnhordland" police district, along with eight other municipalities in Rogaland county. Hordaland is semi-circular in shape, it is located on the western coast of Norway, split from southwest to northeast by the long, deep Hardangerfjorden, one of Norway's main fjords and a great tourist attraction.
About half of the National park of Hardangervidda is in this county. The county includes many well-known waterfalls, such as Vøringsfossen and Stykkjedalsfossen, it includes the Folgefonna and Hardangerjøkulen glaciers. More than 60 % of the inhabitants live in the surrounding area. Other urban or semi-urban centres include Leirvik and Odda. In 1837, the counties were divided into local administrative units each with their own governments; the number and borders of these municipalities have changed over time, at present there are 33 municipalities in Hordaland. Hordaland is conventionally divided into traditional districts; the inland districts are Hardanger and Voss and the coastal districts are Sunnhordland and Nordhordland. Strilelandet is the colloquial name of a more informal region held to enc
North Germanic peoples
North Germanic peoples, sometimes called Scandinavians, Nordic peoples and in a medieval context Norsemen, are a Germanic ethnolinguistic group of the Nordic countries. They are identified by their cultural similarities, common ancestry and common use of the Proto-Norse language from around 200 AD, a language that around 800 AD became the Old Norse language, which in turn became the North Germanic languages of today; the North Germanic peoples are thought to have emerged as a distinct people in Sweden in the early centuries AD. Several North Germanic tribes are mentioned by classical writers in antiquity, in particular the Swedes, Danes and Gutes. During the subsequent Viking Age, seafaring North Germanic adventurers referred to as Vikings and settled territories throughout Europe and beyond, founding several important political entities and exploring the North Atlantic as far as North America. Ethnic groups that arose from this expansion include the Normans, the Norse-Gaels and the Rus' people.
The North Germanic peoples of the Viking Age went by various names among the cultures they encountered, but are referred to as Norsemen. With the end of the Viking Age in the 11th century, the North Germanic peoples were converted from their native Norse paganism to Christianity, while their tribal societies were centralized into the modern kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden. Modern North Germanic ethnic groups are the Danes, Icelanders and Swedes and the Faroese; these ethnic groups are referred to as Scandinavians, although Icelanders and the Faroese are sometimes excluded from that definition. The modern North Germanic languages have a common word: the word nordbo, used for both ancient and modern North Germanic peoples. In English "Norsemen" is the usual term for the speakers of Old Norse, a North Germanic language, spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th century. In the earlier period, when outside Scandinavia, they are often called Vikings.
Although the early North Germanic peoples had a common identity, it is uncertain if they had a common ethnonym. Their identity was rather expressed through the geographical and linguistic terms The North Lands and The Danish Tongue. In the Old Norse language, the term norrœnir menn, was used correspondingly to the modern English name Norsemen, referring to North Germanic peoples. In the early Medieval period, as today, "Vikings" was a common term for attacking Norsemen in connection with raids and monastic plundering by Norsemen in the British Isles; the word Vikings: Vikinger in Danish and Norwegian Bokmål, Vikingar in Swedish and Norwegian Nynorsk is not used as a word for Norsemen by natives, as "Viking" is the name for a specific occupation or activity, not a demographic group. The Vikings were people partaking in the raid; the Norse were known as Ascomanni by the Germans, Dene by the Anglo-Saxons. The Old Frankish word Nortmann "Northman" was Latinised as Normanni and entered Old French as Normands, whence the name of the Normans and of Normandy, conquered from the Franks by Vikings in the 10th century.
The Gaelic terms Finn-Gall, Dubh-Gall and Gall Goidel were used for the people of Norse descent in Ireland and Scotland, who assimilated into the Gaelic culture. Dubliners called them Ostmen, or East-people, the name Oxmanstown comes from one of their settlements; the Slavs, Muslims and other peoples of the east knew them as the Rus' or Rhōs derived from various uses of rōþs-, i.e. "related to rowing", or from the area of Roslagen in east-central Sweden, where most of the Vikings who visited the Slavic lands originated. After the Rus' established Kievan Rus' and merged with the Slavic population, the North Germanic people in the east become known as Varangians, after the bodyguards of the Byzantine known as the Varangian Guard; the Battle Axe culture emerged in the southern Scandinavia in the early 3rd millennium BC. The Proto-Germanic language is thought to have emerged from this culture through is superimposition upon the earlier megalithic cultures of the area; the Germanic tribal societies of Scandinavia were thereafter stable for thousands of years.
Scandinavia is considered the only area in Europe where the Bronze Age was delayed for a whole region. The period was characterized by the independent development of new technologies, with the peoples of southern Scandinavia developing a culture with its own characteristics, indicating the emergence of a common cultural heritage; when bronze was introduced, its importance was established, leading to the emergence of the Nordic Bronze Age. During the Iron Age the peoples of Scandinavia were engaged in the export of slaves and amber to the Roman Empire, receiving prestige goods in return; this is attested by artifacts of gold and silver that have been found at rich burials from the period. North Germanic tribes, chiefly Swedes, were engaged as middlemen in the slave trade along the Baltic coast between Balts and Slavs and the Roman Empire; the North Germanic tribes at the time were skilled metal and leather workers, which supplemented their trade in iron and amber. In his book Germania, the Roman histor
Rogaland is a county in Western Norway, bordering Hordaland, Aust-Agder, Vest-Agder counties. Rogaland is the center of the Norwegian petroleum industry. In 2016, Rogaland had an unemployment rate of one of the highest in Norway. In 2015, Rogaland had a fertility rate of 1.78 children per woman, the highest in the country. The Diocese of Stavanger for the Church of Norway includes all of Rogaland county. Rogaland is the region's Old Norse name, revived in modern times. During Denmark's rule of Norway until the year 1814, the county was named Stavanger amt, after the large city of Stavanger; the first element is the plural genitive case of rygir, referring to the name of an old Germanic tribe. The last element is land which means "land" or "region". In Old Norse times, the region was called Rygjafylki; the coat-of-arms is modern. The arms are blue with a silver pointed cross in the centre; the cross is based on the old stone cross in the oldest national monument in Norway. It was erected in memory of Erling Skjalgsson after his death in 1028.
This type of cross was common in medieval Norway. Rogaland is a coastal region with fjords and islands, the principal island being Karmøy; the vast Boknafjorden is the largest bay, with many fjords branching off from it. Stavanger/Sandnes, the third-largest urban area of Norway, is in central Rogaland and it includes the large city of Stavanger and the neighboring municipalities of Sandnes and Sola. Together, this conurbation is ranked above the city Trondheim in population rankings in Norway. There are many cities/towns in Rogaland other than Sandnes, they include Haugesund, Sauda, Kopervik, Åkrehamn, Skudeneshavn. Karmøy has large deposits of copper. Sokndal has large deposits of ilmenite. Rogaland is the most important region for oil and gas exploration in Norway, the Jæren district in Rogaland is one of the country's most important agricultural districts. There are remains in Rogaland from the earliest times, such as the excavations in a cave at Viste in Randaberg; these include. Various archeological finds stem from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
Many crosses in Irish style have been found. Rogaland was called Rygjafylke in the Viking Age. Before Harald Fairhair and the Battle of Hafrsfjord, it was a petty kingdom; the Rugians were a tribe connected with Rogaland. A series of festivals and congresses of international fame and profile are arranged, such as The Chamber Music Festival, The Maijazz Festival, The Gladmat Festival, The ONS event, held in Stavanger every second year since 1974; the ONS is a major international conference and exhibition with focus on oil and gas, other topics from the petroleum industry. The Concert Hall and Music Complex at Bjergsted and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra provide important inspiration in the Norwegian musical environment. Another annual event in Stavanger is The World Tour Beach Volleyball. During this tournament, the downtown is converted into a beach volleyball arena. Rogaland is home to many natural wonders, like Prekestolen and Gloppedalsura. In Stavanger, there is an archeological museum with many artifacts from early history in Rogaland.
An Iron Age farm at Ullandhaug in Stavanger is reconstructed on the original farm site dating back to 350–500 AD. The Viking Farm is a museum at Karmøy; the county is conventionally divided into traditional districts. These are Haugalandet north of the Boknafjorden, Ryfylke in the mountainous east, Jæren to the southwest, Dalane in the far south, the Stavanger region. Rogaland has a total of 26 municipalities: Total population: Anders Andersen Bjelland, politician Bendix Ebbell, amateur Egyptologist, Rogaland county physician from 1917 to 1935. Official county website Region Stavanger Official tourism site for the Stavanger region
Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages; the conversion of the ruler was followed by the compulsory baptism of his subjects. Some were evangelization by monks or priests, organic growth within an partly Christianized society, or by campaigns against paganism such as the conversion of pagan temples into Christian churches or the condemnation of pagan gods and practices. A strategy for Christianization was Interpretatio Christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses, due to the Christian efforts at proselytism based on the Great Commission. Reformatting native religious and cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianized form was sanctioned. In essence, it was intended that the traditions and practices still existed, but that the reasoning behind them was altered.
The existence of syncretism in Christian tradition has long been recognized by scholars. Since the 16th century and till modern days, significant scholarship was devoted to deconstruction of interpretatio christiana, i.e. tracing the roots of some Christian practices and traditions to paganism. Early works of this type have tended to be downplayed and dismissed as a form of Protestant apologetics aimed at "purification" of Christianity; the Council of Jerusalem, according to Acts 15, agreed that lack of circumcision could not be a basis for excluding Gentile believers from membership in the Jesus community. Rather, they instructed new believers to avoid "pollution of idols, things strangled, blood", expecting them to hear Moses read on the Sabbath days; these clarifications were put into writing, distributed by messengers present at the Council, were received as an encouragement to the growth of these gentiles' trust in the God of Israel as revealed in the Gospel. The Apostolic Decree thus helped to establish nascent Christianity as a unique alternative among the forms of Judaism for prospective Proselytes.
The Twelve Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers initiated the process of transforming the Jewish sect into a diaspora of communities composed of both Jews and gentiles, united by their trust in Jesus. The Armenian and Ethiopian churches are the only instances of imposition of Christianity by sovereign rulers predating the council of Nicaea; the initial conversion of the Roman Empire occurred in urban areas of Europe, where the first conversions were sometimes among members of the Jewish population. Conversions happened among the Grecian-Roman-Celtic populations over centuries initially among its urban population, with rural conversions taking place some time later; the term "pagan" is from Latin and means "villager, civilian." It is derived from this historical transition. The root of that word is present in today's word "paisan" or "paisano"; the Christianization of the Roman Empire is divided into two phases and after the year 312, which marked the momentous conversion of Constantine. By this date, Christianity had converted a significant but unknown proportion of at least the urban population of the empire including a small number of the elite classes.
Constantine ended the intermittent persecution of Christianity with the Edict of Milan, in fact a quote from a letter of the emperor Licinius by Eusebius, which granted tolerance to all religions, but mentions Christianity. Under Constantine's successors, Christianization of Roman society proceeded by fits and starts, as John Curran documented in detail. Constantine's sons did not close the temples. Although all state temples in all cities were ordered shut in 356, there is evidence that traditional sacrifices continued. Under Julian, the temples were state religious sacrifices performed once more; when Gratian, emperor 376-383, declined the office and title of Pontifex Maximus, his act brought an end to the state religion due to the position's authority and ties within the Imperial administration. Again, this process ended state official practices but not private religious devotion; as Christianity spread, many of the ancient pagan temples were defiled, destroyed, or converted into Christian sites by such figures as Martin of Tours, in the East by militant monks.
However, many temples remained open until Theodosius I's edict of Thessalonica in 381 banned haruspices and other pagan religious practices. From 389 to 393 he issued a series of decrees which led to the banning of pagan religious rites, the confiscation of their property and endowments; the Olympic Games were banned in 392 because of their association with the old religion. Further laws were passed against remaining pagan practices over the course of the following years; the effectiveness of these laws empire-wide is debatable. Christianization of the central Balkans is documented at the end of the 4th century, where Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana brought the gospel to "those mountain wolves"