I suspect I won't be able to get any good answers but I think it's worth asking anyway.

I'm curious about what Christian demographics looked like at different points in history. For example what percentage of the Christian world was Roman Catholic and what percentage were Eastern Orthodox at the time of the great schism? I'm also interested in the fine-details, for example what percentage of Christians were Greek Orthodox, what percentage were Russian Orthodox, what percentage were Ukrainian Orthodox? etc.

To narrow down the period a bit, I'm curious about demographics at the time of the reformation and to be really specific, I'll make it the date that Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in Wittenburg.

To reiterate: I'm looking for an exhaustive coverage of the entire Christian world at the time, including the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Church of the East, any minor heretical sects of the day. What was the population percentage of each respective group?

For an example of what I'm looking for, this page on wikipedia does an outstanding job of breaking down the demographic statistics for today. I'm wondering if there is anything similar for the time of the reformation?

Note: the reason I'm asking is because I was perusing the statistics for today, and I was completely blown away by the dominance of Latin-Rite Catholicism. Roman Rite Catholicism is in the majority by far, completely dwarfing the other communions and churches, and I was wondering if it has always been this way.

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    Prior to the advent of Islam, Orthodox Christianity was the dominant branch, stretching from Greece and parts of eastern Europe down through Egypt to Sudan, across Asia Minor and the Near East to central Asia and even into China. Irish Christianity was also originally aligned to the East. Feb 13, 2017 at 5:52
  • @DickHarfield that's interesting. I knew that the Oriental Orthodox had North Africa and India covered, and that the Church of the East stretched out all the way to China, but I didn't know the Eastern Orthodox had a major presence in these areas too Feb 13, 2017 at 5:54
  • As a general aside, I reckon it would be great to have a population graph that shows the demographics as history progresses. Would be interesting to see the changes in Christian populations throughout all of history Feb 13, 2017 at 5:56
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    To make sure you did not misunderstand me, I said "Orthodox Christianity" and referred to it as a branch of Christianity, ie broader than one denomination. It was the Nestorians who went to China - they were Orthodox, but separate from the 'Greek Orthodox'.. I have seen the stelae in Xi'an (but of course could not read them). Feb 13, 2017 at 6:01
  • When Dr. Martin Luther, O. S. A. posted his 95 theses on the door at Wittenberg, he was a Roman Catholic Priest, and there were not yet any "Lutherans". There would not be any "Lutherans" for several years, in the aftermath of the Diet of Wurms in 1521.
    – brasshat
    Feb 13, 2017 at 6:13

1 Answer 1


This is not exactly what you are looking for, but this Wikipedia page estimates population by country in the year 1000 AD.

Since the Byzantine Empire, Kievan Rus and Volga Bulgaria would have been countries under one of the four eastern Sees, we could estimate the total number of Christians following the eastern Rite to be around 20 million.

Those countries under the See of Rome would have included the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Arles, the Principality of Hungary, Poland, the Kingdom of England, the Duchy of Brittany, the Kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Scotland, and, finally, Norway and Iceland, which amounts to around 23 million.

This is very rough, since there were some who practiced the eastern rite within the west, and some who practiced the western rite within the east, and we are not counting Christians who lived within the Moslem countries, but a rough estimate seems to suggest that the breakdown was roughly 50-50 at the time of the Great Schism (1054).

Wikipedia provides population estimates by country for 1500 and 1600 as well, so one could extend this exercise for those periods as well.

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