Defining Paganism: Processes of Christianisation in the Early Middle Ages

A workshop

13 May 2016 |14.00-18.00 |University of Utrecht, Drift 6 room 0.07

This workshop discusses the processes of Christianisation in the Early Middle Ages. The focus shall be on concepts of ‘paganism’ as employed in these processes. This should provide a basis to discuss what can be known about ‘pagan religions’ in this period in order to develop further methodological and theoretical reflexions on the topic.

Each participant will give a short presentation (max. 20 minutes) based on his or her own research. Scholars of different levels will contribute to the workshop – from senior researchers to master students. Plenty of time will be reserved for debate, as it is the aim of this workshop to exchange perspectives. The workshop is open to all.

To stimulate debate the following reading material is recommended:

James Palmer, ‘Defining Paganism in the Carolingian  World’, Early Medieval Europe, 15, 4 (2007), 402–425.

Please access this  title in your local library or, if unavailable, write to

PROGRAMME (Workshop_Paganism_PDF):

14:00-14:20  ‘Christianity and paganism: some preliminary thoughts’, Rob Meens (UU)

14:20-14:40   ‘Who are the pagans? Religious problems and Christian idealisations in  Adam of Bremen’s Gesta Hammaburgensis’, Lukas Grzybowski (USP; FAPESP)

14:40-15:00   ‘Regulating “Paganism” in the Penitentials?’, Elaine Pereira Farrell (IRC; UU; UCD)

15:00-15:30   Master Students’ presentations (UU): Nina Crowther, Birgit ter Horst, Annemarie Veenstra

15:30-15:50    Discussions

15:50-16:10    Coffee Break

16:10-16:30   ‘Some perspectives on reconstructing the pre-Christian religion of the Frisians’,  Han Nijdam (Fryske Akademie)

16:30-16:50   ‘More questions than answers: the (lack of) evidence for religion in Merovingian archaeology’, Martine van Haperen (UL)

16:50-17:10   ‘Why early medieval prognostics are no “pagan relics”’, Carine van Rhijn (UU)

17:10-17:30    Discussions

17:30-18:00    Final Remarks, Roy Flechner (UCD) & Marco Mostert (UU)


Picture taken by Erik Goosmann

Event organized by Elaine Pereira Farrell and Rob Meens

Funded by: