Catholic and Arian Christianity c. 500 CE


Map Code: Ax02389

Arian Christianity, which held that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the father, was a heretical brand of Christianity that took route amongst many of the people whom Rome called “barbarians”. Alaric the Visigoth, and Genseric the Vandal, who sacked Rome in for 410 and 455 CE, respectively, were both Aryans. Ricimer, the Romanised Sueve general who orchestrated the murders of four successive Roman emperors from 456–72 CE, was also Arian. The final demise of the Western Empire in 476 was executed by the Goth Odoacer, who was yet another Arian. The Frankish warlord Clovis (481–511) united the Frankish tribes then drove the Aryan Visigoths out of Gaul. He converted to Catholicism, and his Merovingian Empire pre-figured the successor Carolingian dynasty and the Holy Roman Empire, established by Charlemagne. Most barbarian leaders were tolerant of other strains of Christianity and the sway of Arianism in the west was broad but shallow. The 5th-century popes, who were painfully aware of their lack of access to temporal power, asserted papal primacy.

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