Rimbert’s Vita Anskarii and Scandinavian Mission in the Ninth Century
The idea of converting Scandinavia to Christianity had been enthusiastically pursued by the Emperor Louis the Pious and Archbishop Ebbo of Rheims in the 820s. Optimism such as theirs was, however, not to last, and little progress was made between the death of Archbishop Rimbert of Hamburg-Bremen in 888 and the conversion of Harald Bluetooth a century later. This article examines how Rimbert wrote a saint’s Life about Anskar, his predecessor and ‘ apostle of the north ’, in an attempt to arrest the waning support for the mission. It considers how this was achieved by placing the text in the context of the clashes between Ebbo and his successor, Hincmar, the predestination debate and the idea that mission was fulfilling apocalyptic prophecies.