extent went hand in hand with the expansion, intensification and representation of political power. The sources describing Clovis' change of religion show at an early stage the transferral to Christianity ofthe political and social functions ofpre-Christian religion in securing a successful and prosperous life in this world. Some scholars have interpreted this process as a Germanisation of Christianity,12 but this notion is not particularly helpful for understanding what had happened. Functional pre-Christian to Christian continuity is a general phenomenon in the history of the rise of Christianity, and can similarly be observed in other Christianities of the antique and late antique world. Moreover, the term 'Germanisation' suggests the mistaken romantic idea that nations are natural entities providing an unchanging setting for historical developments.13
In Britain, new political units were created in those areas that were conquered during the course of the fifth century by invading Germanic tribes generally known as Anglo-Saxons. In the sixth century, a number of small kingdoms emerged. Among them, Kent in southern England obtained a position of supremacy in the late sixth century. The marriage of the Kentish king .thelberht to the Merovingian princess Bertha, daughter of the Frankish king Charibert I and great-granddaughter of Clovis, indicates the existence of relations with the continent. A certain Frankish bishop called Liuthard was part of Bertha's entourage. He reconstructed a church located to the east of Canterbury that dated from Roman times (and is still standing today) for the holding of church services and dedicated it to the Merovingian patron St Martin of Tours.
However, the Christianisation of Kent was not due to the Frankish bishop Liuthard, but rather began with an initiative of Pope Gregory the Great. He planned and launched a long-distance mission to Anglo-Saxon England, a novel enterprise without precedent in the history of late antique Christianities. A legend has been spun around his motives for doing so,14 but he had certainly received information from Kent. In 596, he dispatched to England a group of Roman monks under the direction of the abbot Augustine. At the same time,
12 James C. Russell, The Germanization of early medieval Christianity.
13 Cf.PatrickJ. Geary, The myth of nations.
14 Cf. The earliest Life of Gregory the Great, by an anonymous monk of Whitby 9 (ed. Colgrave, 90-3): Gregory met young Anglians at the Roman slave market and considered the names of their people, their king, and their kingdom a call to mission: Anguli -Angeli Dei (Anglians - God's angels), Aelli - Alleluja. Laus enim Dei esse debet illic (.lie (king of Deira) - Hallelujah, the praise of God should be said there), Deire - De iraDei confugientes adfidem (Deira (between Humber and Tees) - from the wrath of God they take refuge to faith). For a slightly different version, see Bede, Ecclesiastical history 3.1 (eds. Colgrave and Mynors, 132-5).
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