When Christians made their theological push into Europe, suppressing native religions and supplanting them with a foreign God, some pagans resisted by secretly practicing their old religion, while others resisted by meeting force with force. One such case of forceful resistance was by Tore Hund or Thorir the Hound, a powerful Viking born around 990 AD, during the first incursions of Christianity into Norway.
Today, many people around the world still resort to violence over religion, more than 1,000 years after Tore Hund killed King Olaf II or Saint Olaf, who reportedly made a deal to impose Christianity on Norway in exchange for the help of other European powers. Tore killed Olaf at the battle of Stiklestad. There, an army of farmers and laborers overwhelmed the king’s army.
To the modern Asatruar (worshipers of the old Norse gods), neo-pagans, and the pagans of his own time, Tore Hund is a hero. Tore is remembered not only for fiercely protecting his religion, but for being a leader of the common people, who bravely stood against the powerful nobility that throughout history has taken so much and given so little.
Paganism is considered a minor religion now in that it has only a few million followers as compared to hundreds of millions of worshipers in the major religions. That said, some writers have alluded to the parallels between Christian and pagan theology. Some say Christianity owes a lot to paganism, though these claims are mired in controversy.
According to the 13th century Heimskringla: The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway by Snorri Sturluson, Olaf went around forcing free people to convert to Christianity with violence and threats. For example, Struluson wrote of Olaf’s rampaging in 1023 in the region of Hordaland:
When the Thing was concluded the bondes [free men, many of whom were farmers and laborers] still remained assembled; and when the king observed this he went on board his ships, rowed in the night right across the water, landed in the country there, and began to plunder and burn. The day after the king's men rowed from one point of land to another, and over all the king ordered the habitations to be set on fire. Now when the bondes who were assembled saw what the king was doing, namely, plundering and burning, and saw the smoke and flame of their houses, they dispersed, and each hastened to his own home to see if he could find those he had left. As soon as there came a dispersion among the crowd, the one slipped away after the other, until the whole multitude was dissolved. Then the king rowed across the lake again, burning also on that side of the country. Now came the bondes to him begging for mercy, and offering to submit to him. He gave every man who came to him peace if he desired it, and restored to him his goods; and nobody refused to adopt Christianity. The king then had the people christened, and took hostages from the bondes. He ordered churches to be built and consecrated, and placed teachers in them.
Tore Hund is not the only Viking or Norseman to reject Christianity. In the article on Paganism in Barbara G. Walker’s The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, it says:
In the 10th century, King Haakon of Norway was fiercely opposed when he tried to institute Christianity. His people rebelled, burned the new Christian churches and forced Haakon to eat the horse-liver sacrifices and drink New Year toasts to Woden, Frey, Bragi and the totemic clan. Some rulers themselves rejected the new faith out of hand. Alcuin announced in the 8th century that there would never be any hope of Christianizing the Danes. Their king was ‘harder than a stone and wilder than any beast,” and would have none of Rome’s God.
People of the Asatru religion honor Tore Hund, Haakon and other Norsemen who resisted the Christianization of Scandinavia.
Christianization of Scandinavia
Scandinavia was Christianized by the 12th century, though the people still practiced some of the old ways and held some of the old beliefs. Many pagan gods, heroes, holy places, festivals and rites were subsumed into Christianity. Walker writes: “Though the old deities were re-defined as devils, nominal Christians continued to believe in them as firmly as they believed in Christ. … The Christian church had no holidays of its own; every feast in the Christian calendar was borrowed from the pagans, including Easter and Christmas.
“It could be said that Christianity and paganism co-exist even now, for the great part of Christian worship, sacraments and theology come from the pagan heritage.”
Featured image: The death of King Olaf at the hands of Tore Hund, Viking chief (Wikimedia Commons)
By Mark Miller
And yet we use the version of the Bible that has over thirty thousand KNOWN errors of translation.
scandinavian paganism and christianization by terrorism
scandinavian paganism and christianization by terrorism
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.