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affairs now claimed by the king and recognised by the bishops. In this way, the church of the Frankish kingdom came to constitute a new ecclesiastical unit. The Catholic bishops in the Visigothic kingdom had already embarked on a similar course and with the approval of the Arian king Alarich II, whom they included in their prayers, had presented themselves as a new autonomous church at the Council of Agde in 506. At the Third Council of Toledo in 589, the Spanish-Visigothic church also made its appearance as an autonomous body. The development of the Celtic church is another instance of the fragmentation of Western Christendom. In its wake, the significance of Rome's ecclesiastical position was, in fact, diminished.

However, it is already possible to discern the beginnings of a countervailing development in 664 at the so-called synod of Whitby, during the Northumbrian dispute over the date of Easter. King Oswiu of Northumbria decided that following the Roman model in matters of ecclesiastical practice was indispensable. For Oswiu, this was not the solution of a theoretical conflict of norms, but an issue of personal religious commitment to the more powerful patron, in this case St Peter, as a witness to Roman tradition. This orientation towards the Roman model was only the first stage in a protracted process that led, via the Bonifatian church reform in the Carolingian kingdom of the eighth century, to the formation of a Western Christianity centred on the papacy in Rome.

Remigius of Reims created the bishoprics of Arras and Tournai while Clovis (d. 511) was still alive, but this attempt to make inroads into the area of pagan Frankish settlement north of the river Somme was premature. It was not yet possible to maintain either of the bishoprics. Frankish Christianisation was initially limited to the ruling class close to the king and to those Franks living in the zone of Roman Christian continuity within the Merovingian kingdom. However, Christianity appears to have emerged relatively early in the southern German peripheral lands of the Frankish kingdom. The Bavarian dynasty of the Agilolfingians that was set up by the Franks in the mid-sixth century was probably Christian from the outset. Gold foil crosses of Lombard type are to be found in southern German burial sites dating from as early as the first half of the seventh century, providing indications of temporary Christian influences from Italy. In the early seventh century, in the vicinity of Bregenz on the eastern side of Lake Constance, Columban of Luxeuil encountered Alemans who were apparently baptised but were taking part in pagan celebrations.

Both in the pagan heartland of the Frankish kingdom and in its periphery, Christianity did not become established on a broad basis until the seventh century. The process of Christianisation was long in duration and to a considerable

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