When was the last group of pagans wiped out? I'm interested in mainland Europe and the British isles, not fringe areas like Greenland.

Edit: I am talking about authentic, contiguous, non Abrahamic religion.

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    The last record was probably around 1995, they pretty much switched to DVD after that. If you use "pagan" in the usual sense of some who does not adhere to the three "Abrahamic" religions, there are plenty left (although they are not necessarily recognized as religions by the law), so the question would need further clarification to be answerable. – Eike Pierstorff Jan 10 '16 at 13:43
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    The inquisition discovered "Stregoi" in Italy; if you search on Stregoi or strega you will find ample information. There were pagans living in Russia more recently than that. Unfortunately the term "pagan" is so fuzzy that it will be difficult to find a precise answer. I'm willing to be $$ that unless you define the term very strictly, "pagan" never really died out. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 10 '16 at 19:22
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    Re your edit: Disrespecting other people's beliefs doesn't really help your question... – yannis Jan 11 '16 at 7:38
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    "Non-Abrahamic" includes Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Daoists..... – fdb Jan 11 '16 at 11:29
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    @NeMo wrong... Your idea of what Europe looked like (and does) seems severely flawed. – jwenting Jan 11 '16 at 11:57

Pagan believers exist in Europe even now. But if you are asking of the last country which became officially Christian, this was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the grand duke Jogaila converted to Christianity (Catholicism) in 1387. (Some earlier grand dukes converted earlier but then relapsed). After the Grand Duke conversion, Christianity was forced on all population, but of course this was a long process. Some pagan communities remained on the European territory of the Russian empire till 19s century.

Conversion of a country at that time meant conversion of the leader (prince, king). After that Christianity was usually enforced on the rest of population, but this always took some time.

But the grand Duchy was the last officially pagan state, though a large part of its population (living on the territory of the former Rus principalities) was Christian (Orthodox) since earlier times. Conversion of the Grand Duchy happened as a result of dynastic union with Poland (Jogaila married a Polish princess) and eventually the states united to a single state called Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (Republic of Two Nations, usually translated into English as Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). It was partially Catholic (Poland and proper Lithuania) and part Orthodox (former Rus principalities).

Even before the union with Poland, the Grand Duchy was the largest state (by territory) in Europe, so certainly it was not a ``fringe''. Well, perhaps the largest after the Golden Horde, the European part of it, if this can really be called a state. To the East of the Rzeczpospolita was the Grand Duchy of Moscovia, the state which in 14s century was still dependent of the Golden Horde, though some maps show it as an independent state. As Moscovia was still in Europe, the Rzeczpospolita was in no sense on a fringe, but rather in Central Europe.


According to modern statistics,

In Kalmykia 37.6% of population is Buddhist (being the largest religious group there), another 3% belong to Tengrism and shamanism.

In North Ossetia-Alania, 29% belong to Ossetian native faith (Ætsæg Din). In South Ossetia it is also practised. Ossetian hunt god Æfsati is pictured below. enter image description here

In Mari El 6% belong to Mari native religion.

In Kabardino-Balkaria 3% belong to Adygh folk religion

In Bashkiria, 2% belong to Čimarij jüla and Tengrism.

In Khakassia Tengrism makes up 2%.

In Udmurtia 2% belongs to Udmurt Vos.

In Dagestan, 2% belong to Caucasian folk religion.

In Komi 1% belongs to Komi folk religion.

In Chvashia 1% belongs to Vattisen Yaly (a kind of Tengrism)

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    @Mark C. Wallace Greenland is in North America, all the listed above areas are in Europe (except South Ossetia perhaps which is separated from North Ossetia with Caucasus mountains). – Anixx Jan 10 '16 at 19:52
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    All this is in North Caucasus, really on the very fringe of Europe:-) – Alex Jan 11 '16 at 6:52
  • It is true that people in Ossetia retain many pre-Christian traditions and practices, in the same way that people in England have Christmas trees and Easter eggs, neither of which has anything to do with Christianity. However, so-called Æцæг Дин is a form of modern neo-paganism, like the self-styled “Druids” in modern England. By the way, Дин “religion” is a loanword from Arabic. As for these 29%, I would take this with a very large grain of salt. – fdb Jan 11 '16 at 11:22
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    What is the source for these statistics? The longer I thought about this answer the better it got - you've identified a good methodology to answer the question, but by posting statistics without a source you have prevented anyone else from following the methodology, and undermined the credibility of the answer. – Mark C. Wallace Jan 11 '16 at 12:21

Hat tip to @Anixx, who would deserve credit for the answer if his answer included references.

In 2010 870,000 Europeans professed adherence to folk religions; just under 5 million professed a non-Abrahamic religion. It remains to prove that these are continuous; probably the Hindu and Buddhist respondents are immigrants, and I'd argue that they aren't "pagan" whatever that means.

"Is there a God" provides a graph showing that non-Abrahamic religions have maintained a substantial membership since at least 1900 - In order to fully answer the question we need to establish that there were non-Abrahamic adherents between the inquisition and 1900.

Wikipedia lists execution of 1,175 heretics in 1794 (although it doesn't say whether it was an Abrahamic heretic, I'm going to assume that at least one was non-Abrahamic). In order to establish continuous "pagan" presence, we need to demonstrate that they existed between 1795 and 1900; I'll leave that task to others since I'm about to run out of time.

Note: "A History of Pagan Europe" is a book length answer to the question; I haven't read it, but superficially it confirms my suspicion. ** Update** Turns out the book is available & searchable on google books; page 211 references Welsh Bardist activity in 1176, 1594, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792 and 1819; this would neatly fill the gap. (OP may argue with the continuity from the Roman Era Bards, but I would counter that if there is continuity from 1176 to 1819, then this fits within the scope of the question - particularly as @CGCampbell points out, there was an implicit penalty to professing non-Abrahamic religion during the period.)

Aside I have friends who would classify Freemasonry as a form of paganism, and other friends who will emphatically (bombastically) support Roman Catholicism as paganism. I'm not proposing these seriously, but pointing out that "pagan" doesn't have a strong consensus definition. Similar claims have been made about Latter Day Saints, Quakers/Society of Friends. More seriously, if we examine the plethora of sects that emerge from the Reformation, some of them have only tenuous connections to Abrahamic religion. I'm drawing a blank on the name of the Russian sect that advocated that since the Christ wrote a blank check for salvation, it was an insult to commit only petty sins; good Christians were obliged to sin frequently and thoroughly in order to make Christ's sacrifice meaningful. I'm not going to judge their religion or their commitment, but I will submit that few mainstream Christians would endorse the opinion.

  • "... fully answer the question ... between the Inquisition and 1900." ... therein lies a major problem to answering this question. I would maintain the inquisition taught people to hide their true beliefs. There really would be no way to know the numbers of adherents of beliefs other than Christianity, esp as the inquisition(s) (mostly) coincided with the "dark ages". I'm not meaning to pick at your answer, it's good, just putting this out there. – CGCampbell Jan 11 '16 at 14:48
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    I believe Zoroastrianism remained in continuous survival from Classical Antiquity up until today in the Caucasus region. – Semaphore Jan 11 '16 at 17:44
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    @MarkC.Wallace Aren't the Caucasus traditionally regarded as Europe? – Semaphore Jan 12 '16 at 5:39
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    @Semaphore - The Caucasus are traditionally regarded as the southern border of Europe. That definition leaves it a bit vague if they are in or out, which is about right. FWIW, the map shown on Europe's Wikipedia page puts the border I believe on the watershed line (aka: Continental Divide), leaving Georgia and Azerbaijan out. – T.E.D. Jan 12 '16 at 15:31
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    @T.E.D. Europe is classically defined as north of the Colchian Phasis (Hdt. 4.38, 4:45), which means Georgia is at least partly in Europe. I concede competing definitions exist, though George is a full member of the Council of Europe. As a sidenote, I believe their northern neighbours the Ossetians and Abkhazians are partly animistic. – Semaphore Jan 12 '16 at 16:39

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