Why did Poland and Hungary not choose Orthodox Christianity?

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Closed
Aug 2013
956
Italy
In East Europe, most of the Slavic peoples plus the Romanians converted in the early Middle Ages to the Orthodox Christian faith. Most of the Poles and Hungarians, however, opted for Catholicism. What were the historical and cultural factors which contributed to this choice?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
The early Polish state was more influenced by the HRE than anything else. They sent St Adalbert as a missionary. When Mieszko formed the first Polish state, his wife, Dubrouca from Bohemia, influenced his conversion. She was from the Latin church. The west has always had a large influence over most of what is Poland today.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,860
Western Eurasia
There was no particular cultural reasons for it in case of Hungary, just the accident of politics in the 970s. the Byzantine christian missionary activity in fact predated the western one among the early Hungarians. Hungarians encountered Byzantine christianity earlier, the earliest tribal chiefs who converted, did it in Byzantium. The first missionary bishop was also sent from there.
But the battle of Arcadiopolis was crushial event in 970, when the Kievan-Bulgarian-Hungarian-Pecheneg coalition was defeated and ceased the Balkan raids too of the Hungarians. This and the Byzantine expansion in the Balkans could be a shock and the Hungarian grand prince feeled more threatened by Byzantium so looked for diplomatic opportunities in the west. immedietly they sent embassy to the Holy Roman Empire, asked for missionaries from there and the new hungarian grand prince Géza recieved baptism from German missionary. He remained just a nominal christian, but then later his son, the later first Hungarian king, Stephen I recieved a catholic upbringing since his birth. Apart from the pressure of international politics it could also be a factor for the western orientation of the grand prince that other "separatist" tribal chiefs already picked Byzantine christianity in the eastern and souteastern part of the Carpathian basin, so if he also went for the byzantine rite, he wouldn't be the "senior" figure in it.
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
It seems the HRE, which was primarily Germanic it is leadership, was the influencing factor.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,860
Western Eurasia
well yeah there was no much option due to geography :)) Also in case of Poland i think there could be hardly any viable opportunity to interact directly with Byzantine christianity in the 10th century since Kiev itself was just starting to adopt byzantine christianity around the same time (official christianization of Kiev was about 1-2 decades after the first Polish ruler's conversion). So simply in their case it wasn't really an alternative to pick christianity from other source.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2019
95
West Virginia
The Magyar did a good job of establishing themselves where prior occupants of the Pannonian plain had failed. They did this by conforming to the political expectations of the Western Europeans, who were the ones who'd eliminated earlier migrants to Pannonia. Rather than remain distinct as had Attila, they adopted Western ways, one could say.

In the case of Poland, the "missionary" activity of the Teutonic Knights and other German forces was intense, persistent and brutal.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,461
Dispargum
We discourage resurrection of threads that have been dead for more than two years. If you wish to discuss this topic, start a new thread.
 
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