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Medieval heretic, early critic of both the clergy and the sacramental system (especially the Eucharist) of the Church; d. Antwerp, Belgium, c. 1115. Historical sources give contradictory estimates of this man, whose activity centered in northern France and Flanders, especially Antwerp. One school described him as a gentle, humble, religious layman who, like many others of his day (see poverty movement), was concerned about the spiritual life of his contemporaries, especially priests. Yet a letter by a Utrecht canon (Monumenta Germaniae Scriptores 16:42) to the archbishop of Cologne portrays Tanchelm as a fanatic. Obviously his preaching was capable of arousing excessive passions on all sides. The Life of norbert of xanten (Monumenta Germaniae Scriptores 12:690691) says that a priest in "excessive zeal" cracked Tanchelm on the head and killed him. It was Tanchelm's rampant heresy that led the local bishop, Burchard of Cambrai, to invite Norbert of Xanten and the newly formed premonstratensians to Antwerp in 1124. There Norbert's preaching and the new Premonstratensian foundation at St. Michael's, under the direction of Waltman of Antwerp, confuted Tanchelm's attack on priests and succeeded in renewing devotion to the Eucharist. A window in Antwerp cathedral recalls the Premonstratensian victory over Tanchelm.

Bibliography: c. j. kirkfleet, History of Saint Norbert (St. Louis 1916). É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.1:3840. a. hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, 5 v. (9th ed. Berlin-Leipzig 1958) 4:9597, 380. a. borst, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3rd ed. Tübingen 195765) 6:610. j. pistorius, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 9:128788.

[l. l. rummel]