Christendom, the kingdom of Christ in its diffusion among men on the earth. In the way of territorial extension, Christendom has been enlarging almost without interruption from the beginning. In the second and third centuries congregations were established in all parts of the Roman empire, and beyond the limits of the empire it collected churches in Parthia, Persia, and India, and extended to several barbarous nations whose languages had never been reduced to writing. The conversion of Constantine established the first Christian state. By A.D. 423 the whole eastern portion of the Roman empire was free from paganism, which lingered a little longer in the western, without, however, disputing any longer the ascendency. In the fifth and sixth centuries Christianity conquered in great part Northern Africa, Spain, Gaul, Scotland, England, and a number of the German tribes. The erection of the empire of Charlemagne paved the way for the conversion of Northern Europe. The Saxons consented to accept Christianity in 803, and Scandinavia in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Thence it spread soon to Iceland and Greenland. The conversion of the Sclavonians of Eastern Europe commenced in the ninth century, and was nearly completed in the twelfth. In the tenth and eleventh centuries the dissemination of Christianity in Hungary, Transylvania, and Russia commenced. At the same time, its territory was lessened in Western Asia, Northern Africa, and a part of Southern Europe, by the progress of Mohammedanism. In the period from the eleventh to the sixteenth century the conversion of Northern Europe, and in particular of Pomerania, Esthonia, and Livonia, was completed. A part of Eastern Europe, however, was gained by the Mohammedans, but, on the other hand, a large new territory was secured to Christianity in Western Africa, East India, and America, in connection with the discoveries of the Portuguese and Spaniards. After the sixteenth century the newly-discovered continent of America began to be filled up by a Christian population, thus making the second Christian continent. The Roman Church for some time seemed successful in Christianizing Eastern Asia, especially China and Japan, but its progress was stopped by persecution. In the eighteenth century a new Christian state sprang up in South Africa, in connection with the political rule of the Dutch and the English. The nineteenth century opened with brighter prospects than any preceding. In South Africa the territory of Christian nations extended; in Western Africa, Liberia was founded as a Christian republic; in Northern Africa, Algeria is filling up with a Christian population; and in Eastern Africa, Abyssinia, which, in spite of its isolation, has preserved since the fourth century a kind of Christianity, promises to re-enter the union of the Christian states. Australia has already become the third Christian division of the world, with only a few weak remnants of paganism. In Asia the Karens of Farther India have been brought under the influence of Christianity, while in the north nearly one third of the continent I forms part of a Christian state. Thus the territory of Christianity at present comprises three out of the five large divisions of the world, with a considerable part of the two others. Moreover, large territories in Asia and Africa, though not yet Christianized, are under the dominion of Christian nations, and hardly a single country is at present left into which Christian I missionaries have not forced their way. Thus the time seems near when the extent of Christendom will coincide with the extent of the earth. The following estimate of the Christian population of the world is based upon the latest (1889) works on political and ecclesiastical statistics:
Total Pop. Roman Catholics Protestant Christian America 93,108,000 51,500,000 38,000,000 89,500,000 Europe 355,000,000 142,000,000 65,000,000 277,000,000 Asia 783,650,000 5,000,000 725,000 15,725,000 Africa 185,790,000 1,500,000 725,000 6,000,000
Australia Polynesia 30,000,000 1,000,000 1,550,000 5,000,000 Total 1,447,548,000 201,000,000 106,000,000 393,225,000
See also Smith, Tables of Church History. SEE CHRISTIANITY.