Is the history of religion in Poland as bloody as in Great Britain?
I am not trying to be disrespectful. I am moving to Poland at the end of May. I have been reading about Polish history and have some questions. Under the Piast Dynasty, Mieszko I, was baptized in 966, as a Catholic. Christianity became the nation’s religion, to which the most Poles converted over the next centuries. Today Catholicism is the predominant religion.
My question is – in England under Henry Vlll and his daughter, Bloody Mary – many people were killed for not accepting the Catholic faith or Henry’s version of it. Did Poland go through a similar situation? Or were the people able to make the decision on their own to convert from the belief in Svetovid, the Slavic god of war, fertility, and abundance? Or were the people persecuted and forced to change?
Answer by Mirek
It’s a topic that would be ommited by many Poles. Many Poles are still very religious and tend to percieve history (both “national” and “of catholicism”) in a bit… ahistorical way.
We don’t have any specific information about particular persecutions – we only know that Mieszko and later rulers met some resistance after conversion. Officials began to destroy pagan temples and sacred sites and it surely ended in some cases with violence. The true conversion of the entire society took few centuries. Archeologists found many sites of late medieval pagan worship. It’s not easy to “convert a state”. Imagine Italians or Americans from “Bible belt” asked to change their religion to Islam because the president said so. Would they convert peacefully? Of course not. Some may resist violently, some may still practise christian rituals in their private and “hidden” churches/chapels. But if conversion also open a way to better life (those who worshipped an “official god” surely were better percieved by king and other officials) – people will slowly change their religion. It may take few centuries, but it’s almost inevitable.
But after that Poland became very tolerant. Sure – some “witches” burned also here, but for many centuries Christians (catholic, protestant, orthodox), Jews and Muslims lived peacefully here and this religious freedom was wider than in the rest of Europe.
What do you think? Put your answer below.