The arrival of the Christians and the conversion of much of France had a massive impact on French life. Not only were many aspects of life and culture changed, but there was also a significant change in how people were ruled. This is seen in the story of Clovis I, who became king of France. Clovis was not French but German, and he converted to Christianity in 496CE, around 15 years after he became king.
The history of Christianity in France goes back to the Roman era. It is believed that there were some Christian communities in Gaul during the first century. The spread of Christianity to France is considered a part of the process of Westernization, which was a significant trend in Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. See this well-researched book Germigny that talks about the church history.
- The history of Christianity in France can be divided into three periods:
- The Gallo-Roman period (i.e., from its founding to around 558)
- The Germanic, Frankish, and Viking eras (i.e., from 558 until 1054)
- The French Kingdom and Franco-Norman period (i.e., from 1054 until modern times).
French Christians and the Protestant Reformation
In France, the Reformation was a time of great change. The Catholic Church saw huge protests from Christians who felt the establishment was not considering their ideas. In France, it resulted in an era of religious protest by Christians who felt their voices were not being heard.
For centuries, Catholics and Protestants have been fighting over religious interpretations. Do you know what sparked the Protestant Reformation?
In 1517 Martin Luther published his “Ninety-Five Theses.” This document was a response to the Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences. Indulgences were pardons for sins the church granted, sold to reduce time in purgatory. Luther’s ninety-five thesis challenged this idea, saying it was not based on scripture.
Religious Revolution and Civil War Begins
The country was in turmoil, and the people were unhappy with the royal rule. The religious revolution began in 1642 and was a significant factor leading to the civil war. The country’s people were disappointed with King Charles I’s rule and wanted religious reforms.
The Christian community was still greatly oppressed for centuries until a major revolution occurred in 1789, overthrew the monarchy and aristocracy, and established a new revolutionary government.
Different regions throughout France have their own Christian culture because religion has been integrated into society over time. For example, Bretagne is ethnically Celtic and has a deep religious history which can be seen through its many Celtic Christian festivals.