AHQ: Gothic Italy survives; religious development in Francia?

An interesting incident of our timeline is that Clovis I, the Merovingian conqueror of Gaul, converted from paganism to the Nicene Orthodoxy of his wife, Clotilde, rather than the Arianism espoused by the Gothic and Burgundian kingdoms to his south. He did this in 496, significantly before Justinian's war for Italy and the eventual extinction of Arianism that was only completed in the late seventh century under the Lombards.

With that timeline in mind, I don't think there's good reason to believe that Arianism's fate was in any way sealed during Clovis' time, or even during the following century. So let's imagine that the Ostrogoths continue their reign over Italy into the seventh century and beyond, with a PoD after Clovis' conversion ("No Justinian" is popular for obvious reasons, but there are several PoDs we could discuss here). Nicene Orthodoxy is now split between Francia and Byzantium, with a more or less authoritative Arian Italy in between - especially considering that Italy isn't devastated by Justinian's war. A few questions arise:

1. Can Frankish Orthodoxy survive against the Arian pressure? Clovis’ conversion already ran a little against the grain IOTL; the hostile Burgundy, Spain, and Italy to the south seem like great opportunities for treason among disaffected Frankish nobles.

2. Does the Franks' (presumable) lack of communication with Constantinople encourage divergences between Frankish and Byzantine Orthodoxy? A feudal, heroic, only recently post-pagan *Gallician church wouldn't have much in common with the bureaucratic patriarchates of the East. OTOH, post-Roman Gaul still had some literate men and artisans - like OTL's Gregory of Tours - that could lend moral weight to the Frankish cause. Will they be enough to keep Gallo-Roman culture stable?

3. Might those hypothetical divergences spiral into separate religious traditions, and eventually separate religions?

4. What happens to the remaining German, English, and eventually Scandinavian pagans? Would a two-way, or even three-way, split within European Christianity weaken Christianisation in the North, or paradoxically strengthen it if the Franks seek "backup"? IOTL the centres of power in the West moved from the Mediterranean inland between the sixth and tenth centuries, but surely that's at least partially because of the subordination of Italy to northern states during that timeframe. If Italy stays its own course, independent from the Franks, would the latter influence the North as much as they did IOTL, or would they keep their focus on the established powers of the Mediterranean?

A lot of questions, thanks for reading this far. I'm curious what you all think.
 
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1. Can Frankish Orthodoxy survive against the Arian pressure? Clovis’ conversion already ran a little against the grain IOTL; the hostile Burgundy, Spain, and Italy to the south seem like great opportunities for treason among disaffected Frankish nobles.

2. Does the Franks' (presumable) lack of communication with Constantinople encourage divergences between Frankish and Byzantine Orthodoxy? A feudal, heroic, only recently post-pagan *Gallician church wouldn't have much in common with the bureaucratic patriarchates of the East.

3. Might those divergences spiral into separate religious traditions, and eventually separate religions?

4. What happens to the remaining German, English, and eventually Scandinavian pagans? Would a two-way, or even three-way, split within European Christianity weaken Christianisation in the North, or paradoxically strengthen it if the Franks seek "backup"? IOTL the centres of power in the West moved from the Mediterranean inland between the sixth and tenth centuries, but surely that's at least partially because of the subordination of Italy to northern states during that timeframe. If Italy stays its own course, independent from the Franks, would the latter influence the North as much as they did IOTL, or would they keep their focus on the established powers of the Mediterranean?

A lot of questions, thanks for reading this far. I'm curious what you all think.
1) With a population that is almost completely Nicene, it would be better to ask the question the other way around: Can Gothic Arianism survive both internal and external pressures?
2) Likely, although the backbone of both churches would be almost the same, local roman aristocrats embracing a religious career as a mean to exert soft power inside their own kingdom/empire. Also talking about feudalism at this point in time might be a little premature;
3) Something like OTL Orthodoxy and Catholicism? Of course, but that would hardly count as two different religions. Catholics are seen as schismatic, a different branch of Christianity but still Christians. I am not even sure they are considered heretics, even though there are some doctrinal differences between the two (it is not just a leadership-issue thing);
4) Anything could happen here, from a later reconquest of Italy, to an Ostrogothic kingdom that goes native, remains politically relevant or even just falls to infighting;
 
1) With a population that is almost completely Nicene, it would be better to ask the question the other way around: Can Gothic Arianism survive both internal and external pressures?
2) Likely, although the backbone of both churches would be almost the same, local roman aristocrats embracing a religious career as a mean to exert soft power inside their own kingdom/empire.
Now, I'm a fan of Arianism (as an AH option), so I may be a little biased, but these seem to conflict in your assessment. IOTL, Arianism's course was interrupted several times by major destabilising events - Justinian's war, of course, but also the constant strife among the Goths themselves - that could have been butterflied by several different PoDs. No Arian power really stood more than a century without a catastrophic challenge to their legitimacy. If Theoderic had managed to arrange a clear Amal succession, as he had planned, I don't believe that the popularity of Orthodoxy among the Latin population would necessarily have held up. Especially if the Byzantines don't have the guts to seek their "liberation", which without Justinian is very plausible, and especially if a somewhat wily successor to Theoderic manages to balance intolerance and assimilation well enough to make Arianism a fast track to success among the Latin elite. There’s a snowball effect there, too: a 10% Arian Latin population is much, much easier for the Goths to work with than a 5% Arian one.

I'd even argue that, prior to Clovis or maybe even Justinian, Arianism might well seem to have won in the West. Discounting it as a vital force in Europe until at least the seventh century always strikes me as rather presentist. Romanisation meant making Germanic customs into Roman ones nearly as often as it meant ditching Germanic customs for Roman ones - just ask "Mario" and "Luigi"!
 
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Now, I'm a fan of Arianism (as an AH option), so I may be a little biased, but these seem to conflict in your assessment. IOTL, Arianism's course was interrupted several times by major destabilising events - Justinian's war, of course, but also the constant strife among the Goths themselves - that could have been butterflied by several different PoDs.
What about the Visigoths and later the Lombards?
No Arian power really stood more than a century without a catastrophic challenge to their legitimacy. If Theoderic had managed to arrange a clear Amal succession, as he had planned, I don't believe that the popularity of Orthodoxy among the Latin population would necessarily have held up.
It did for centuries under the Lombards.
Especially if the Byzantines don't have the guts to seek their "liberation", which without Justinian is very plausible, and especially if a somewhat wily successor to Theoderic manages to balance intolerance and assimilation well enough
Roman emperors several times tried to balance assimilation, persecution,banishment and compromise on the issue of Chalcedon. It didn’t work out well for them. Why would it for the Ostrogoths on the issue of Nicea, especially when they are an insignificant minority in Italy itself?
to make Arianism a fast track to success among the Latin elite. There’s a snowball effect there, too: a 10% Arian Latin population is much, much easier for the Goths to work with than a 5% Arian one.
What is the incentive for the Roman elites to join the barbarian version of Christianity and forsake their own identity? Access to positions of power? That was already a thing while remaining loyal to Nicea. The Barbarians need the Romans as much as the Romans need the Barbarians.
I'd even argue that, prior to Clovis or maybe even Justinian, Arianism might well seem to have won in the West.
That depends of the definition of victory: if by victory you mean Arianism being the religion of the rulers, then it would qualify as a victory. However, if we define victory as Arianism taking roots among the common people in the long term then we can’t really see much progress in that field.
just ask "Mario" and "Luigi"!
What do you mean?
 
What about the Visigoths and later the Lombards?
Visigoths were the last Arian power that survived and the Lombards were seriously divided and Byzantine held a lot of the peninsula.
Roman emperors several times tried to balance assimilation, persecution,banishment and compromise on the issue of Chalcedon. It didn’t work out well for them. Why would it for the Ostrogoths on the issue of Nicea, especially when they are an insignificant minority in Italy itself?
This is a meaningless comparison, Roman emperors didn't have a single stance and didn't held it for generations or centuries.
What is the incentive for the Roman elites to join the barbarian version of Christianity and forsake their own identity?
Ask the Christians that converted to Islam
Access to positions of power? That was already a thing while remaining loyal to Nicea. The Barbarians need the Romans as much as the Romans need the Barbarians.
Again, Islam and Arabs.
However, if we define victory as Arianism taking roots among the common people in the long term then we can’t really see much progress in that field.
The idea that the recently Christianized common populace had any strong feelings over Christian theology is simply non-sense.
 
Visigoths were the last Arian power that survived
They did convert to Nicea in the end, didn't they?
and the Lombards were seriously divided and Byzantine held a lot of the peninsula.
So what? It is not like the Exarchate was in a position to (or cared to) force Nicea on them. They converted on their own. The fact that they were divided doesn’t change anything.
This is a meaningless comparison, Roman emperors didn't have a single stance and didn't held it for generations or centuries.
Most emperors post Chalcedonia (with one exception) were of the idea that Chalcedonia had to remain in one form or the other. They were not unanimous in the policy to pursue in order to mend the rift, but they were on the same page when it came to not undo the result of the council. It is actually a good comparison because, unlike in the East where the anti-Chalcedonians comprised a good portion of the population and the church itself, the Arians were an insignificant minority in Italy. Ergo barbarian attempts to impose Arianism in Italy would be even less successful than similar attempts in the East to deny the issue of Chalcedonia.
Ask the Christians that converted to Islam
Barbarian power rested on the support of the roman elites and the whole imperial fiction to a degree that was not true during the Arab conquest of the East. The Arabs were an alternative to roman authority in the East, barbarian were mostly upholders of that same authority (at least at first).
Again, Islam and Arabs.
Do you realize that the context is entirely different? That the Arabs were external conquerors while the barbarians were a well-integrated element inside the empire that had to walk a dangerous line between preserving their own interest and ensuring that the Roman who mattered kept supporting them? That by the time the Arabs came, the East was mostly dissatisfied with Constantinople and yet even in this case the local population sticked to their own version of Christianity for a long while?
The idea that the recently Christianized common populace had any strong feelings over Christian theology is simply non-sense.
They may have not understood the finesse of the theological differences between “them” and “others”, but they were more likely to stick to the interpretation of Christianity inherited from their father, supported by the popular Patriarch closest to them and therefore more likely to earn them eternal salvation instead of changing their view because their emperor/king has decree so. How come Roman emperors could not handwave the issue of Anti-Chalcedonian feelings if the population was not so attached to theology? Was it just a few stubborn bishops? How about banishing/replacing them? Oh, wait it didn’t work.
Not to mention how the people of Constantinople itself were willing to rebel against the heretic Anastasius. Not to mention the army of Thrace. Were they exceptionally more interested in theological matters?
 
They did convert to Nicea in the end, didn't they?

So what? It is not like the Exarchate was in a position to (or cared to) force Nicea on them. They converted on their own. The fact that they were divided doesn’t change anything.
Ignoring the specific political situation that lead to the conversion essentially renders any debate pointless.

Most emperors post Chalcedonia (with one exception) were of the idea that Chalcedonia had to remain in one form or the other. They were not unanimous in the policy to pursue in order to mend the rift, but they were on the same page when it came to not undo the result of the council. It is actually a good comparison because, unlike in the East where the anti-Chalcedonians comprised a good portion of the population and the church itself, the Arians were an insignificant minority in Italy. Ergo barbarian attempts to impose Arianism in Italy would be even less successful than similar attempts in the East to deny the issue of Chalcedonia.
Even for Chalcedonian emperors there were many barriers, for example Justinian's wife was non-Chalcedonian.
Barbarian power rested on the support of the roman elites and the whole imperial fiction to a degree that was not true during the Arab conquest of the East. The Arabs were an alternative to roman authority in the East, barbarian were mostly upholders of that same authority (at least at first).
Ok, but why does it have to be this way? If you don't make an actual argument then all of this is purely a happenstance of OTL.

Do you realize that the context is entirely different? That the Arabs were external conquerors while the barbarians were a well-integrated element inside the empire that had to walk a dangerous line between preserving their own interest and ensuring that the Roman who mattered kept supporting them? That by the time the Arabs came, the East was mostly dissatisfied with Constantinople and yet even in this case the local population sticked to their own version of Christianity for a long while?
Just because they were "integrated" , whatever that means, doesn't mean they have to respect or rely on the entirety of Roman aristocracy and Church more than the Arabs did(which they definitely did in their first generations of rule, contrary to what you imply)
Also again why do you think they HAVE to walk this supposed dangerous line? The Visigoths remained Arian for generations without collapsing and the Italians didn't actually welcome the Byzantines with open hands during the Gothic wars just because of the religious ties.
They may have not understood the finesse of the theological differences between “them” and “others”, but they were more likely to stick to the interpretation of Christianity inherited from their father, supported by the popular Patriarch closest to them and therefore more likely to earn them eternal salvation instead of changing their view because their emperor/king has decree so.
The video below shows proof that even bishops surrendered in face of heavy persecution, peasants are not yet opinionated enough to keep allegiances indefinitely.
How come Roman emperors could not handwave the issue of Anti-Chalcedonian feelings if the population was not so attached to theology? Was it just a few stubborn bishops? How about banishing/replacing them? Oh, wait it didn’t work.
It did actually work insofar as the state was strong and persecution lasted long enough, look at this:
Anyway the example of Islam yet again is here, if supposedly the identity of the non-Chalcedonian people was SO strong, why did they mostly convert to Islam within 3-4 centuries?
Not to mention how the people of Constantinople itself were willing to rebel against the heretic Anastasius. Not to mention the army of Thrace. Were they exceptionally more interested in theological matters?
The minority of urban dwellers of the capital where important religious figure reside are not comparable to the majority of rural dwellers that possibly/probably didn't even have a local church at the time and weren't even fully Christianized(see the video)
 
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I think if the Justinian reconquest did not happen the Franks might conquer Septimania earlier from the Goths with Byzantine help...
 
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