German Memories In Asia - Roman Era Europe And West Asia

Rajkumar Kanagasingam
 


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The early events of Jaffna by the Portuguese recalled the historical events in the Roman era Europe and West Asia.

In the course of the centuries the Roman Empire steered into a heavy and lasting crisis.

Constant wars for the defense of borders, rising military expenditure, excessive taxes, repressive laws, rampantly growing bureaucracy and all-present corruption - all this undermined the loyalty of the Romans and provincial residents to the Roman state.

The taxes were so high that many citizens had to work for the state for most of the year, while only a little was left for themselves. The Roman citizens had turned into slaves of the state and they didn't care after sometime whether their ruler and oppressor was a Roman or a victorious Germanic conqueror.

Similarily destructive was the new religion, Christianity, starting from 313 A. D. , which disapproved of the old ideals. In 390, Roman emperor Theodosius banned the old Pagan religion. The worship of gods of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Venus and Mars was declared a crime. Led by their bishops, Christian mobs destroyed most of the pagan temples, the most beautiful buildings of ancient times, massacred philosophers and intellectuals, and destroyed the large library of Alexandria.

Even the Germanic paganism, the religion and mythology of the ancient Germanic nations with the principal gods Odin, Thor and Tyr preceding Christianization were destroyed by similar means.

The best documented form of Germanic paganism, the10th and 11th century Norse paganism with other European and West-Asian pagan traditions, such as Finnish, Slavic, Baltic, Roman and Greek were lost from the practice.

The Franks, Alamanni, Anglo-Saxons, Saxons and Frisians were christianized forcibly between the 6th and the 8th century.

The Frankish King Charlemagne conquered the Germanic tribesmen and won in all eighteen battles which were fought in the areas of northwestern Germany. The result was the incorporation of Saxony into the Frankish realm and their conversion from paganism to Christianity.

The King Charlemagne allegedly ordered at the Blood court of Verden to behead 4,500 Saxons who had been caught practising paganism after converting to Christianity. The massacre led to two straight years of constant warfare (783-785). In 783, battles in Saxony saw Saxon women throw themselves barebreasted into battle. One of them was Fastrada, daughter of a Saxon count, who, in 784, became Charlemagne's fourth wife and gradually the Franks gained the upper hand in Saxony.

In 800 A. D. Charlemagne's authority in Western Europe was further increased by his coronation as emperor in Rome and by the establishment of Holy Roman Empire. He further increased his ruthless christianisation of people who were practising Paganism.

Northern Germany had seen an aggressive Christianisation between 1096 and 1291 in the period of the crusades where the Knightly religious orders the Templars, the Knights of St John and the Teutonic Order established new towns, imperial strongholds, castles, bishops’ palaces and monasteries and conquered the native Baltic Prussians and Christianized them.

Rajkumar Kanagasingam is author of a fascinating book - “German Memories in Asia" - and you can explore more about the book and the author at AGSEP

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