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Anselm, St

Anselm, St (1033–1109). Archbishop of Canterbury (1093–1109). Anselm was born at Aosta in northern Italy. We are especially well informed about his life because of the biographies written by Eadmer and the archbishop's own voluminous correspondence. Inspired by a monastic vocation, he travelled to northern France in the late 1050s, where he became a monk at Le Bec and a pupil of Lanfranc. Thereafter he rose to be both prior and abbot of the monastery. A great philosopher whose works include the Monologion, the Proslogion, and Cur Deus homo, his promotion to Canterbury in March 1093 occurred after William II had kept the archbishopric vacant for four years after Lanfranc's death in order to exploit its revenues. Anselm subsequently quarrelled bitterly with both William II and Henry I. His disputes with both kings ultimately focused on his belief that obedience was owed first and foremost to the papacy; those with Rufus also concerned Anselm's desire to protect the rights of Canterbury and his wish to reform clerical and lay morals. The arguments were given a sharper edge by the way in which the late 11th-cent. papacy, during the period known as the Gregorian reform, was asserting its moral and spiritual authority at the expense of long-established customs. By 1097 the breach between Rufus and Anselm was irreparable and the archbishop went into voluntary exile. He was recalled in 1100 by Henry I, who was anxious to give an appearance of legitimacy to his rule, and Anselm was for a time able to hold ecclesiastical councils and rule the church as he wished. In time fresh quarrels developed about the practice of lay investiture of bishops, still practised in England, although prohibited by the papacy since the 1070s, and in 1103 Anselm again went into exile. A settlement was not finally reached until 1106–7. The causes of these protracted quarrels remain difficult to interpret. In particular, the question of whether Anselm was a principled but other-worldly monk out of his depth in the rough-and-tumble of politics or an astute politician who calculatingly sought to increase the church's authority is the subject of a highly charged debate. Equally, while there is probably agreement that the kings should be seen as the protectors of the long-established rights of the monarchy over the church in the face of dangerous innovations, some commentators regard the blasphemous and apparently cynical William Rufus as an oppressor whom no principled churchman could tolerate, while others think that he was mostly bluff and bluster. It is impossible to see Anselm as in any serious sense a revolutionary figure; his often-expressed wish to co-operate with kings and his determination to protect the property rights of his archbishopric—even against the papacy—clearly show this. But he possessed a sharper sense of the nature of authority and obedience than his Anglo-Norman contemporaries, a consequence undoubtedly of an outstanding philosophical mind, which made it difficult for him to accept compromises. He is in some respects representative of a changing intellectual and political climate, in which notions of authority were being redefined. His consistently expressed preference for the quiet world of the contemplative monk should not be allowed to conceal a robust personality who saw it as his God-given duty to engage with the world.

David Richard Bates

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Anselm, Saint

Saint Anselm (ăn´sĕlm), 1033?–1109, prelate in Normandy and England, archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church (1720), b. Aosta, Piedmont. After a carefree youth of travel and schooling in Burgundy he became a disciple and companion of Lanfranc, the famed theologian and prior of the monastery at Bec, which Anselm soon joined (1060). Anselm became prior (1063) and abbot (1078) and brought widespread fame to the school there. Monastic holdings in England drew him into English public life, and he won the esteem of William the Conqueror. When Lanfranc died, Anselm succeeded him as archbishop of Canterbury (1093).

He disputed the right of William II to invest him, reserving this for Pope Urban II, whom William refused to recognize. Anselm momentarily overcame the king's intransigence and took the pallium from Urban's legate. Anselm's further reform-minded efforts to free the church from ecclesiastical abuses met stiff resistance. When he went to Rome for support, William banished him and confiscated the diocesan properties. At the Council of Bari (1098) Anselm ably defended the Filioque of the creed in the East-West controversy on the procession of the Holy Spirit.

Henry I of England recalled Anselm, who proved valuable in arranging Henry's marriage to Matilda of Scotland and in gaining the support of the barons for the king in his dispute with Robert of Normandy. Conflict over lay investiture now broke out, however, and Anselm refused to consecrate bishops and abbots nominated by the king. He was again banished while appealing in Rome. Anselm eventually won (1107) Henry's agreement to surrender the right of investiture in exchange for homage from church revenues—a compromise that strengthened papal authority in the English church.

Anselm's writings mark him as one of the founders of scholasticism. A strict Augustinian, operating from the formula fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding), he believed in an essential harmony between revelation and reason. He was the first to incorporate elements of rational Aristotelian dialectics into theology. His precision and mystical insight give permanent value to such works as Cur Deus Homo? (1094–98), on the atonement. He constructed rational proofs for God's existence in Monologium (c.1070), and in the sequel Proslogium he advanced his famous ontological proof, which deduces God's existence from the human notion of a perfect being in whom nothing is lacking. In De Fide Trinitatis he defended universals against the nominalist Roscelin. He taught the Immaculate Conception of Mary in De Conceptu Virginali and is said to have instituted that feast in England. Feast: Apr. 21.

See his letters, translated by Fröhlich (1990); Walter Eadmer's Life of St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (tr. by R. W. Southern, 1962); studies by R. W. Southern (1963, 1990), C. Hartshorne (1965), D. P. Henry (1967), and G. R. Evans (1989).

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Anselm

Anselm (c.1033–1109). Monk and archbishop of Canterbury. Born in Aosta, the son of a Lombard landowner, he left Italy and became a monk of Bec, Normandy, in 1060. In 1063 he succeeded Lanfranc as prior, and in 1078 became abbot. In 1093 he succeeded Lanfranc as archbishop of Canterbury, inheriting a conflict with the king. He was in exile 1098–1100 and on his return was involved in the Investiture controversy (see GREGORY VII), spending a further period in exile 1103–7. A prolific theologian, his two most famous works were the Proslogion (1078–9) and Cur Deus Homo (1097–8). Two famous phrases express his conjunction of faith and reason: fides quaerens intellectum (‘faith seeking understanding’, his first proposed title for the Proslogion) and credo ut intelligam (‘I believe in order that I may understand’.

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"Anselm." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Anselm, St

Anselm, St (c.1033–1109), Italian-born philosopher and theologian, Archbishop of Canterbury 1093–1109. He worked to free the Church from secular control and believed that the best way to defend the faith was by intellectual reasoning. His writings include Cur Deus Homo? a mystical study on the Atonement, and Proslogion, an ontological ‘proof’ of the existence of God. His feast day is 21 April.

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Anselm of Canterbury, Saint

Anselm of Canterbury, Saint (1033–1109) English theologian, b. Italy. He was an early scholastic philosopher and became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His belief in the rational character of Christian belief led him to propose an ontological argument for the existence of God. His feast day is April 21. See also ontology

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