Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Anselm
ANSELM, Saint (1033–1109), archbishop of Canterbury, was born at or near Aosta about the year 1033, or two years before the death of Cnut, king of England, and two years before William the Conqueror became duke of Normandy. At the date of Anselm's birth Aosta was on the borders of Lombardy and Burgundy, but was reckoned as belonging to the latter, which had ceased to be an independent kingdom by the death of Rudolph III in 1032, and had become part of the empire. There is some probability that Ermenberga, the mother of Anselm, was a niece of Rudolph III. She was also related to Odo, count of Maurienne, who, by his marriage with Adelaide, marchioness of Susa, added the valley of Aosta to his domains, and became progenitor of the royal house of Savoy. Anselm's father also, Gundulf, who was a Lombard by birth, but thoroughly naturalised at Aosta, seems to have been a kinsman to the Marchioness Adelaide. A comparison of passages in several chroniclers respecting the parentage of Anselm suggests the conclusion that he had royal blood in his veins on his mother's side, but not on his father's. At any rate both parents were well born, and held considerable property under the counts of Maurienne. It probably included the village of Gressan, about three miles south-west of Aosta. Whether a tower at Gressan, called St. Anselm's tower, can have been a part of his parents' dwelling-place, is more than doubtful, but it is likely enough that they had a house here, and the solitary anecdote of Anselm's early childhood bears the impress of the scenery amidst which he must have lived. He imagined that heaven rested upon the mountains; he dreamed that one day he climbed the mountain-side until he reached the palace of the great King, and there having reported to Him the idleness of His handmaidens, whom he had passed, lazily reaping the corn in the valley, he was refreshed with bread of heavenly purity and whiteness by the steward of the divine household (Eadmer, Vita Ans. i. 2).
It was from his mother that he first learned, as was natural, his religious ideas and love of holy things. She was a good and prudent housewife, as well as a devout woman. His father Gundulf was an impetuous man, liberal and generous to a fault. Anselm seems to have been their only son, and he had an only sister younger than himself, Richera, or Richeza, who married a man named Burgundius, by whom she became the mother of a son who bore his uncle's name. Anselm took great interest in the education of this nephew, and several letters are addressed to him (see esp. Epist. iv. 31, 52). From an early age Anselm was studious, as well as clever and amiable. He made rapid progress in learning, and grew up loving and beloved. He probably received his earliest teaching in the school of the abbey of St. Leger, near Aosta; but after a time he was entrusted to the care of a kinsman as his private tutor, who kept him so closely confined to his studies that his health gave way. He became shy and melancholy. His mother's good sense saved his reason, if not his life; she brought him home and bade her servants let him do exactly what he liked, until he gradually recovered his health and spirits (Cod. 499, Queen of Sweden's collection in Vatican library, copied by Mr. Rule, Life, vol. i. appendix).
Before he was fifteen he began to consider how he might best shape his life according to God, and he became persuaded that there was nothing in the ways of men better than the life of monks. So he went to a certain abbot whom he knew, and begged that he might be made a monk; but the abbot refused on finding that the request was made without his father's knowledge. The boy then prayed for an illness, hoping that it might induce his father to yield to his inclination. The sickness came; he sent for the abbot and implored him, as one who was about to die, to make him a monk without delay. The abbot, however, dreading the displeasure of Anselm's father, still refused; and the lad recovered. A period of reaction followed; his longing for the religious life, and even his ardour for study, cooled; he began to devote himself more to youthful sports, and after the death of his mother, being like a ship parted from its anchor, he drifted yet more completely into a worldly course of life (Eadmer, Vita, i. 3, 4). Some passages in one of his ‘Meditations’ (xvi.) would, if literally interpreted, imply that he fell into very serious sin; but there is some doubt whether he is speaking in his own person, and, even if he is, the language may be no more than the self-reproaches, rhetorically expressed, of a highly sensitive conscience. For some reason not explained, his father, Gundulf, conceived a great dislike to him, which Anselm's meekness and submission seemed rather to inflame than soften. At last in despair, when he was about twenty-three years of age, he resolved to quit his home and seek his fortune in some other land. He set out northwards, accompanied by a single clerk. In crossing Mont Cenis, Anselm was much exhausted, their provisions were spent, and but for his companion moistening his lips with snow, and the timely discovery of a morsel of bread in the wallet, he must have perished on the road. Having spent three years partly in Burgundy, partly in France, he made his way to Normandy, and took up his abode at Avranches about the year 1059. Here Lanfranc had kept a school; but he had now become prior of the abbey of Le Bec. His fame as a scholar had made that house one of the most renowned seats of learning in western Christendom, and to Bec, after a brief sojourn at Avranches, Anselm also repaired. When Anselm came to Bec, Lanfranc had been prior for several years, and the house was at the height of its reputation. Students flocked to it from all quarters, and the great men of Normandy lavished gifts upon it. Anselm threw himself heartily into the work of the place. The severity of his studies and the austerities of the monastic rule were almost more than the delicate frame could bear; but he was persuaded that the moral discipline was good for his soul, and his desire to become a monk increased in strength. But if he became a monk, whither was he to go? If to Clugny, he thought his learning would be thrown away, owing to the excessive strictness of the rule. If he remained at Bec, he thought it would be so completely overshadowed by that of Lanfranc as to be of little use. Meanwhile, by the death of his father, he became the heir of the family property. Three courses then presented themselves for selection. Should he settle at Bec, or become a hermit, or return to his native valley and administer his patrimony for the benefit of the poor? He took counsel with Lanfranc. Lanfranc advised him to consult Maurilius, archbishop of Rouen, and accompanied him on a visit to that prelate. Maurilius decided in favour of the monastic life, and so in 1060 Anselm took the cowl and remained at Bec. Three years afterwards Lanfranc was made abbot of the new house of St. Stephen at Caen, founded by Duke William. Anselm succeeded him at Bec in the office of prior. He held this post for fifteen years, 1063–78. Then Herlwin, founder and abbot, died, and for fifteen years more Anselm governed the house as abbot, 1078–93.
It was during this period of thirty years that his powers developed themselves to the full. If Lanfranc was a man of great talent, Anselm was a man of lofty genius. Both morally and intellectually his character was of a finer type. He had not only more tenderness, more breadth of sympathy, and more transparent simplicity of purpose, but far profounder and more original powers of thought. Having an absolute and unshakeable faith in Holy Scripture, he did not shrink from applying to it the full force of his reason, and therefore he was enabled, in the words of his biographer Eadmer (Vita, i. 9), to penetrate and unravel some of the most intricate and, before his time, unsolved questions touching the nature of God and of our faith. The whole day between the hours of prayer was often consumed in giving advice orally or by letter to persons, many of them of high rank, who consulted him on questions of faith or conduct; and the greater part of the night was spent either in correcting the books of the monastery (which up to that time Eadmer says were the most ill-written in the world), or in meditation and devotional exercises. He did not shrink even from the drudgery of instructing boys in the rudiments of grammar, although he owned (Epist. i. 55) that he found this an irksome task. But the work in which he most delighted and excelled was that of moulding the minds and characters of young men. For this he was eminently fitted by his affectionate sweetness and sympathy which won their hearts, by his deep piety and powerful intellect, by his acuteness in discerning character, and his practical wisdom in suggesting rules for moral conduct. He compared the age of youth to wax fitly tempered for the seal. If the wax be too hard or too soft, it will not take a clear impression. Youth, being between the two, was an apt compound of softness and hardness, which could receive lasting impressions and be turned to any shape. Similar good sense in the education of the young is manifested in his advice to an abbot who complained of the difficulty of teaching the boys brought up in his monastery. They were incorrigibly perverse, the abbot said, and although beaten continually day and night they only grew worse. ‘Beat them, do you?’ said Anselm; ‘and pray what kind of creatures are they when they are grown up?’ ‘Dull and brutal,’ was the reply. ‘You are verily unfortunate,’ said Anselm, ‘if you only succeed in turning men into beasts.’ ‘But what can we do then?’ rejoined the abbot; ‘we constrain them in every possible way, but all to no purpose.’ ‘Constrain them, my lord abbot! If you planted a young shoot in your garden, and then confined it on all sides, so that it could not put forth its branches, would it not turn out a strange misshapen thing when at last you set it free, and all from your own fault? So these children have been planted in the garden of the church to grow and bear fruit for God. But you cramp them so excessively with threats and punishments that they contract all manner of evil tempers, and doggedly resent all correction.’ After more plain speaking of this kind the abbot, with a sigh, confessed that his method of education had been all wrong, and promised to try and amend it (Eadmer, Vita, i. 29–31).
Anselm's own tact in dealing with the young was illustrated by his management of a youthful monk named Osbern. Osbern was clever, but headstrong, and set himself up as the leader of a small faction which resented the appointment of Anselm as prior. Anselm first softened him by forbearance and small indulgences. Having thus gained his affection, he gradually withdrew the indulgences, and subjected him at last to the full rigour of monastic discipline, even to the extent of punishing him with stripes—Osbern stood all these tests even in the face of taunts from his companions, and became exceedingly dear to the prior, who rejoiced over his steady growth in goodness. After a while, however, he was stricken with a mortal illness. Anselm watched him by day and night. As the end drew near, Anselm charged him, if it were possible, to reveal himself to him after death. Osbern promised and passed away. When the body was placed in the church and the brethren were chanting the psalms, Anselm retired to a corner of the building to weep and pray in secret, and at length, overpowered by weariness and sorrow, he fell asleep. In his sleep he saw certain forms of most reverend aspect, clad in the whitest of garments, enter the room where Osbern had died, and sit in a circle as if to give judgment. Presently there entered Osbern himself, pale and haggard. Anselm asked him how he fared. ‘Thrice,’ said he, ‘did the old serpent rise up against me, thrice did I fall backwards, and thrice did the bearward of the Lord deliver me.’ Then Anselm awoke and was comforted Eadmer, Vita, i. 13–16). The memory of Osbern never faded from his mind. During a whole year he offered a daily mass for Osbern's soul, and in one of his letters to his friend Gundulf, bishop of Rochester (Ep. i. 4), he writes: ‘Wherever Osbern is, his soul is my soul; farewell! farewell! I pray, I pray, I pray, remember me, and forget not the soul of Osbern my beloved, and if that seem too much for you, then forget me and remember him.’
Notwithstanding his powerful influence, Anselm shrank with extreme reluctance from the responsibility of ruling others. When he was unanimously elected abbot of Bec on the death of Herlwin, he besought the brethren with the most passionate entreaties to spare him; and it was only in deference to their persistence and the authority of the archbishop of Rouen that he yielded at last. As abbot he gave up most of the secular business of the house to such of the brethren as he could trust, and devoted himself to study, meditation, and the instruction of others. If the monastery, however, was involved in any lawsuit of importance, he took care to be present in court, in order to prevent any chicanery being practised by his own party; but if the other side used craft and sophistry, he heeded not, and occupied his time in discussing some passage in the Scriptures or some question of ethics, or calmly went to sleep. Yet if the cunning arguments of his opponents were submitted to his judgment he speedily detected the flaws in them, and tore them to pieces as if he had been wide awake and listening all the time Eadmer, Vita, i. 37). He was also obliged occasionally to visit the property of the house in various parts of Normandy and Flanders. These journeys brought him into contact with persons of all ranks and conditions, and many gave themselves and their property to the monastery. For himself he never would accept anything as his private possession Eadmer, Vita, i. 33).
He visited England soon after he became abbot, not only to look after the English possessions of his house, but also to see Lanfranc, now primate. He was received with great respect at Canterbury, and, after making an address to the monks of Christ Church, was admitted as a member of the house. Here began his acquaintance with Eadmer, one of the brotherhood, who became his most devoted friend and biographer. He has recorded the great impression which Anselm made at Canterbury by the wonderful way he discoursed and by his private conversation. His large-heartedness also was displayed on this occasion in his decision of a case which the archbishop submitted to him. Lanfranc told Anselm that he doubted the claim of one of his predecessors, Archbishop Ælfeah, to martyrdom, because, although he had been murdered by the Danes, he did not die in defence of any religious truth. Anselm, however, maintained that since Ælfeah died rather than wring a ransom from his tenants, he had died for righteousness' sake, and that he who died for righteousness would certainly have died for Christ himself who taught it, and therefore he was fully entitled to the honours of martyrdom Eadmer, Vita, i. 41–44).
The almost feminine tenderness of Anselm's nature appeared in his treatment of the lower animals, which he regarded with respect as the product of God's hand. And, as in the love of animals for their offspring he saw an emblem of the love of God for man, so in any cruelty to animals on the part of man he saw a figure of the devil's malice and his hatred to all God's creatures. Thus, one day seeing a bird teased by a boy who had fastened a string to its leg and let it fly a little way in order to pull it back again, he made him release it, saying that was just the way in which the devil served his victims. So also when a hare ran for shelter under the legs of his horse, and the hunters crowded round with noisy delight at its capture, he burst into tears and forbade them to touch it, saying that it was an apt image of the departing soul of man, which on going forth from the body was beset by the evil spirits who had pursued it all through life. So he suffered not the dogs or hunters to touch the hare (Eadmer, Lib. de Similitudinibus S. Ans. 189, 190).
William the Conqueror received his death-wound in 1087. In the presence of Anselm we are told that he who to most men seemed harsh and terrible became so mild that bystanders looked on with amazement (Eadmer, Vit. Ans. i. 47). And when he lay dying in the abbey of St. Gervase at Rouen he sent for Anselm to hear the confession of his burdened conscience. Anselm came from Bec. William, however, put off seeing him for a few days, deeming that he should get better. Meanwhile Anselm himself fell ill, and before he had recovered the king died (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. 1, 17 C). Anselm, however, was present at the strange and terrible scenes amidst which the body of the Conqueror was laid in the minster of St. Stephen at Caen.
Lanfranc crowned William the Red king of England, and in the following year, 1089, he died. William the Red was, unlike his father, profligate and profane, without reverence for goodness, or respect for law and justice. He found a minister worthy of himself in Ralph Flambard, a lowborn Norman clerk, a coarse and unscrupulous man. One simple expedient for replenishing the royal treasury was to keep the great offices of the church vacant and confiscate their revenues.
After the death of Lanfranc the see of Canterbury was kept vacant for more than three years, and its lands were farmed to the highest bidders. The whole nation was shocked by this shameless spoliation of the metropolitan see, and longed to see the man appointed to it who, on his visits to England, had won the hearts of all men, and who was admitted to have no superior in Christendom in piety and learning. But the king cared not. Meanwhile, in 1092 Hugh of Avranches, earl of Chester, invited Anselm to England, to assist him in the work of substituting monks for canons in the minster of St. Werburgh at Chester. Anselm, however, having heard the rumour which marked him out for the primacy, and fearing that the motives of his visit might be misconstrued, declined to come; but at last he was compelled to yield to the urgent entreaties of the earl, who said that he was mortally ill, and that if Anselm did not come his soul's peace in the future world might be for ever disturbed. The chapter of Bec also wished him to go, in order to get the royal exactions on their English property lightened. So he set sail from Boulogne, where he had been staying with the Countess Ida, and reached Canterbury on 8 Sept., the eve of the Nativity of the Virgin; but being hailed by monks and people as their future archbishop, he hurried away early the next morning. On his road to Chester he visited the court, where he was received with great honour, even by the king himself. Anselm asked for a private interview, in which he rebuked the king for the evil things which men said were done by him. William seems to have turned the subject off with a laugh, saying he could not prevent idle rumours, and that the holy man ought not to believe them. So they parted, and Anselm went on to Chester. Here he found Earl Hugh restored to health, and after spending some months in settling the new constitution of St. Werburgh he desired to return to Normandy; but the king would not give him leave to go. In the baseness of his soul he may have thought that Anselm secretly desired the primacy, and that even he might be induced to pay some price for it. Meanwhile the midwinter gemot, held at Gloucester, had passed a resolution that the king should be asked to allow prayers to be offered in all churches that God would put it into his heart to appoint some worthy man to the long vacant see. The king assented, but contemptuously remarked, ‘Pray what ye will; no man's prayer shall shake my purpose.’ Anselm was compelled to frame the prayer. After the gemot the king went to a royal seat at Alvestone, near Gloucester. Here one of his nobles spoke one day of the virtues of Anselm, how he was a man who loved God only, and desired nothing belonging to this fleeting world. ‘Not even the archbishopric?’ said William, with a sneer. ‘No, not even that,’ replied the other, ‘and many think with me.’ The king, however, maintained that had Anselm the least chance of it he would rush to embrace it, but ‘by the holy face of Lucca,’ he added, ‘neither he nor any one else shall be archbishop at present except myself.’ Soon after this the king was taken very ill. He was moved to Gloucester; the lay nobles, bishops, and other great men visited the sick and, as it was thought, dying man, and urged him to redress the wrongs which he had inflicted on the nation, and especially on the church. But the king's advisers felt the need of some one at this critical moment who had peculiar skill in awakening the conscience and ministering to the diseases of the soul. There was no one comparable to Anselm, and he, unconscious of the king's illness, was sojourning not far from Gloucester. He was fetched with all speed. He heard and approved of the advice already given to the king; the holy man was brought to the bedside of the royal sinner; he bade him make a clean confession of his misdeeds, solemnly promise amendment if he should recover, and promptly perform it. The king confessed, and pledged his faith that if he recovered he would rule with justice and mercy. He took the bishops to be witnesses of his promise, and to record it before the altar. Further, a proclamation was issued under the royal seal, promising all manner of reforms, ecclesiastical and civil. But the great men of the realm urged on him the duty of proving his repentance by doing immediate justice to the long vacant see of Canterbury. The sick man signified his willingness. He was asked to name the man whom he deemed worthy of such an office. He raised himself with an effort on his arm in the bed, and, pointing to Anselm, said, ‘I choose yonder holy man’ (Will. Malm. Gest. Pont. i. 48). A shout of joy rang through the chamber. When Anselm heard it he trembled and turned pale, and when the bishops tried to drag him to the king to receive the pastoral staff at his hands he resisted with all his force. The bishops took him aside and remonstrated with him. Anselm pleaded that he was an old man, unused to worldly affairs, and unfitted for the duties of so burdensome an office. Moreover, he was the subject of another realm, and he owed allegiance not only to the Duke of Normandy but to the archbishop of Rouen, and to the chapter of his own abbey. These pleas, however, were all made light of, and he was again taken to the bedside of William, who besought him by his friendship for his father and mother to yield to the general wish. Anselm was inflexible. At the king's bidding they fell down at his feet, but Anselm prostrated himself also, and could not be persuaded. Then they lost patience; they partly pushed and partly pulled him to the king's bedside. The king presented the pastoral staff; they held out Anselm's hand to take it, but he kept his hand tightly clenched; they tried to force it open till he cried aloud with pain. At length they succeeded in unclosing his forefinger, and thrust the staff in between that and the other clenched fingers. Anselm was borne rather than led into the neighbouring church, still protesting and exclaiming, ‘It is nought that ye do.’ ‘It would have been difficult,’ he says, in a letter to the monks at Bec, ‘for a looker-on to say whether a sane man was being dragged by a crowd of madmen, or whether sane men were dragging a madman along’ (Ep. iii. 1). After some ceremony in the church, Anselm went back to the king and renewed his protest in the shape of a prophecy. ‘I tell thee, my lord king, that thou wilt not die of this sickness; therefore thou mayest undo what thou hast done in my case, for I have not consented, nor do I now consent, to its being ratified.’ Then, turning to the bishops, he told them they did not know what they were doing: they were yoking an untamed bull with a weak old sheep to the plough of the church, which ought to be drawn by two strong oxen. He then burst into tears, and, faint with fatigue and distress, retired to his lodging. (Eadmer, Vit. Ans. ii. 1, 2; Hist. Nov. i. 18, 19). All this took place on the first day of Lent, 6 March 1093. The king gave orders that Anselm should be inducted without delay into the temporal possessions of the see, and that meanwhile he should reside on some of the archiepiscopal manors under the care of his friend Gundulf, bishop of Rochester. The consent of Robert, duke of Normandy, and of the archbishop of Rouen to the appointment of Anselm was easily obtained, but the monks of Bec were very reluctant to part with their beloved abbot, and it was after a long debate and by a very narrow majority that they acquiesced in the appointment (Epist. iii. 3, 6).
Meanwhile the Red King recovered, and repented of his repentance. His last state was worse than the first, and the ill which he had done before seemed good in comparison with the evil which he did now. And when Bishop Gundulf remonstrated with him he swore by his favourite oath, the holy face of Lucca, that he would never requite good for the ill which God had done to him (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. i. 19 B). He did not, however, revoke the appointment of Anselm.
In the course of the summer of 1093 William, returning from a conference at Dover with the count of Flanders, met Anselm at Rochester. Anselm then told him that he was still hesitating whether he would accept the archbishopric, but if he did it must be on three conditions: (1) that all the lands belonging to the see in the time of Lanfranc should be restored without any lawsuit or dispute, (2) that the king should see justice done in respect of lands upon which the see had a long-standing claim, (3) that in matters pertaining to God the king should take him for his counsellor and spiritual father, as he on his part would acknowledge the king as his earthly lord. Lastly he warned the king that of the two rival claimants to the papacy, Clement and Urban, he himself, in common with the whole Norman church, had acknowledged Urban, and to this choice he must adhere. The king took counsel with Count Robert of Meulan and William of St. Calais, bishop of Durham, a prelate who had a few years before been banished for appealing to the pope against a judgment of the king and witan on a purely temporal charge, but who appears throughout the transaction with Anselm one of the most zealous supporters of the royal supremacy (Freeman, Will. Rufus, i. ch. 2). The king asked Anselm to repeat his statement in the hearing of these counsellors, and after conferring with them he replied that he would restore all the lands which had belonged to the see in the time of Lanfranc, but upon the other points he should reserve his judgment.
A few days afterwards he summoned Anselm to Windsor, and begged him to accept the primacy to which he was called by the choice of the whole realm (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. i. 371). It is remarkable that neither at this point of the story nor any other is there a distinct record of any formal election, either by the monks at Canterbury or by the witan. Expressions to that effect seem to be used in a vague and rhetorical sense, and to signify no more than the general desire that the archbishopric might be conferred on Anselm, and the unanimous approval of the appointment. We must either suppose that, the general wish in favour of Anselm being notorious, a formal election was deemed unnecessary, or that, if it did take place, it was for the same reason deemed needless by the chroniclers to make any formal record of it. With the request that Anselm would accept the primacy, the king coupled a request which started a fresh difficulty. Certain lands held of the archiepiscopal see by Englishmen on tenure of knight's service before the Norman conquest had lapsed to the lord for lack of heirs during the incumbency of Lanfranc. They had, in fact, become demesne lands of the see, but during the vacancy the king had turned them into military fiefs, and he now arbitrarily summoned Anselm into the king's court in order that this arrangement might be made permanent. But Anselm refused; it would involve, he thought, a wrong to the church which the king, as advocate, had no right to inflict, and which he himself, as trustee, had no right to permit. To accept the archbishopric on such terms would be very like a simoniacal transaction. The king was so much irritated by his refusal that Anselm began to hope he might, after all, escape the burden of the office he so much dreaded (Ep. iii. 24).
This, however, was not to be. The whole nation was enraged by the king's relapse into evil courses, and was determined to force him, if possible, to a renewal of the promises which he had made during his sickness at Gloucester. A special gemot was held for this purpose at Winchester, in which the king solemnly renewed his pledges. Anselm was now persuaded to accept the archbishopric, and did homage according to custom. The royal writ was issued, announcing that the king had bestowed the archbishopric on Anselm with all the rights, powers, and possessions which belonged to the see, and with all liberties over all his men, and over as many thegns as King Edward had granted to the church (Eadm. Hist. Nov. i. 372; Fœdera, i. 5). These last words seem to imply that the point disputed at Windsor was conceded in Anselm's favour. On 5 Sept. 1093, Anselm was enthroned at Canterbury amidst a rejoicing multitude. But the solemnity and festivity of the event was disturbed by one whose appearance was a sinister omen of troubles to come. To the indignation of all, the insolent Ralph Flambard took this strange opportunity of serving a writ in the king's name for a suit against the primate. The object of the writ is not stated; we are only told that it concerned a matter with which the king's court had properly nothing to do (Eadm. Hist. Nov. i. 372).
On 4 Dec. Anselm was consecrated by Thomas of Bayeux archbishop of York, assisted by all the bishops of the southern province except Wulfstan of Worcester, Herbert of Thetford, and Osbern of Exeter. According to the old ritual, the book of the Gospels, opened at random, was laid on the shoulders of the newly consecrated prelate, and the passage at which it opened was taken as a sort of omen of his episcopate. The passage which now presented itself was, ‘He bade many, and sent his servant at supper-time to say to them that were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse.’
The Christmas gemot of 1093 was held at Gloucester. Anselm attended, and was warmly welcomed, not only by the nobility of the realm, but by the king himself. At this gemot a hostile message from Robert, duke of Normandy, was considered, and war was decreed. As usual the great need was money. The chief men offered their contributions, and Anselm offered 500 pounds of silver. The king accepted the gift graciously, but some malignant persons represented that he ought to have received a much larger sum, 2,000l. or 1,000l. at least. So a message was sent later to Anselm that his offer was rejected. Anselm sought an audience with the king, and entreated him to take the contribution, which, although his first, would not be his last. A free gift, however small, was far more valuable than a much larger one forcibly exacted. The king felt that this remark was intended as a reproof of his extortionate methods of raising money, and he angrily replied, ‘Keep your scolding and your money to yourself. I have enough of my own. Begone.’ Anselm departed, thankful, after all, that the gift had been refused, for no man could now insinuate that his gift was a preconcerted price for the archbishopric. He was urged to offer double the sum, but steadfastly refused, and bestowed his despised present on the poor. So the midwinter gemot broke up; Anselm went to his manor at Harrow, where he consecrated a church built by Lanfranc. His right was disputed by Maurice, bishop of London, in whose diocese the manor lay. The question was referred to the aged Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester (Epist. iii. 19), who decided in favour of Anselm, declaring that the primates had always exercised free spiritual rights in all their manors wherever they might be (Eadm. Hist. Nov. 372–5). On 2 Feb. 1094, the forces destined for the invasion of Normandy were collected at Hastings. Anselm and other bishops were summoned thither to invoke a blessing on the expedition. The passage of the army was delayed for more than a month by contrary winds. During this interval, on 11 Feb., Anselm, assisted by seven bishops, consecrated the church of the great abbey which the late king, in fulfilment of his vow, had reared upon the ground where his victory over Harold had been won. In one religious act, at least, the two unequal yokefellows, the fierce bull and the gentle sheep, William, the sinner, and Anselm, the saint, took part together as they stood before the altar of ‘St. Martin of the place of battle.’
On 12 Feb. Anselm consecrated Robert Bloet bishop of Lincoln in the chapel of the castle at Hastings, and on the first day of Lent he presided at the ceremony of sprinkling ashes, and preached a sermon, in which he took the opportunity of rebuking the young courtiers for their mincing gait, their effeminate dress and habits, and especially that of wearing their hair long. He refused to give the ashes of penitence or administer absolution to those who would not abandon these customs. He had good reason for attacking them, since they were the outward signs of gross and detestable vice, vice which Anselm says in one of his letters (iii. 62) had grown so common that many practised it without any consciousness of sin. The king himself was addicted to it; nevertheless Anselm tried to get his help in repressing it. In one of the daily interviews which he seems to have had with William at Hastings, he frankly told him that if he would hope for a blessing upon his expedition to Normandy or any other enterprise, he must aid in re-establishing Christianity, which had wellnigh perished out of the land. He therefore asked leave to hold a national synod of bishops, which was a time-honoured remedy in England and Normandy for ecclesiastical and moral evils. William replied that he would call a council at his own pleasure, not Anselm's; ‘and pray,’ said he, with a sneer, ‘what will you talk about in your council?’ ‘The sin of Sodom,’ answered Anselm, ‘to say nothing of other detestable vices which have become rampant. Only let the king and the primate unite their authority, and this new and monstrous growth of evil may be rooted out.’ But the heart of the Red King was hardened, and he only asked, ‘And what good will come of this matter for you?’ ‘For me, perhaps, nothing,’ replied Anselm, ‘but something, I hope, for God and for thyself.’ ‘Enough!’ rejoined the king; ‘speak no more on this subject.’ Anselm obeyed, but turned to another evil, the injury done to religion by the prolonged vacancies in the abbeys. This touched the king in two of his tenderest points, his greed of money and his royal rights. ‘What,’ he burst forth, ‘are the abbeys to you? Are they not mine? Shall you do as you like with your manors, and shall I not deal as I choose with my abbeys?’ ‘The abbeys,’ returned Anselm, ‘are yours to protect as their advocate, not to waste and destroy. They belong to God, and their revenues are intended for the support of His ministers, not of your wars.’ ‘Your words are highly offensive to me,’ said the king; ‘your predecessor would never have dared to speak thus to my father. I will do nothing for you.’ So Anselm, seeing that his words were cast to the winds, rose up and went his way. But he was deeply vexed at this loss of the royal favour, because he felt that without it he could not accomplish the reforms on which his heart was set. He sent the bishops to the king to beg that he would take him into his friendship, or, at least, say why he refused it. The bishops returned, saying that the king did not accuse Anselm of anything, but would not show him any favour, because he ‘heard not wherefore he should.’ Anselm inquired what the latter words meant. ‘The mystery,’ replied the bishops, ‘is plain. If you want peace with him, you must give plenty of money. Offer him again the 500l. which he refused, and promise him as much more, to be raised from your tenants.’ Anselm indignantly rejected such a method. It would set a disastrous precedent for buying off the king's wrath. The bishops urged him at least to repeat the offer of the 500l., but Anselm refused to give again what had been once rejected; moreover, he said he had promised it to the poor, and the greater part had already been given away. His words were reported to the king, who sent back his answer. ‘Yesterday I hated him much, to-day I hate him more, and tomorrow and henceforth I shall hate him with even bitterer hatred. I will no longer hold him as father and archbishop, and his blessing and prayers I utterly abhor and despise. Let him go where he will, and not tarry any longer to bless my voyage.’ ‘We therefore speedily left the court,’ says Eadmer, who became from this time his constant companion, ‘and abandoned the king to his will’ (Hist. Nov. i. 379 B). William crossed at length to Normandy about the middle of March. He spent much and gained little in his campaign, and returned to England on 28 Dec. 1094.
Anselm had not yet received his pallium from the pope, which, although not considered essential to the validity of archiepiscopal functions, was looked upon as an indispensable badge of metropolitan authority; and Anselm had now been a full year in office without receiving it. Some time, therefore, in February 1095, he went to Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, where the king was keeping court, and asked leave to go to Rome for his pallium. The papacy was now claimed by two rivals, Urban and Clement. Normandy had acknowledged Urban. England had not as yet acknowledged either. William asked Anselm from which of the two he intended to get his pallium. ‘From Urban,’ was the reply; and he reminded the king of the warning he had given him at Rochester, that he had, when abbot of Bec, promised allegiance to Urban, and could not recede from it. William, however, maintained that Anselm could not obey the pope against the king's will consistently with the allegiance due to himself. He had not yet acknowledged Urban, and it was neither his custom nor his father's to let any one in England acknowledge any pope without his leave. Anselm felt that the king had no right to force any one into renouncing a choice made before he became a subject. The conflict, however, between the claims of the king and of the pope on his obedience was one which he rightly thought could be settled only by the great council of the nation. He asked for such a council, and the request was granted. A great assembly of the chief men in church and state was convened for Sunday, 11 March 1095, at the royal castle of Rockingham, on the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. A crowd of bishops, abbots, nobles, monks, clerks, and laymen were gathered at an early hour in the castle and the precincts. The king and a party of privy councillors sat in a separate chamber; a messenger passed to and fro between them and the general assembly, which seems to have been either in the chapel of the castle or the great hall which may have opened out of it.
Anselm himself opened the proceedings with an address; the bishops came from the royal presence chamber to hear it. He explained the object of the assembly, which was to decide whether there was any real incompatibility between his allegiance to the king and his obedience to Urban. The bishops, who, throughout these transactions, appear as timid and obsequious courtiers, replied that the archbishop was too wise and good a man to need advice from them; but, at any rate, no advice could they give him unless he first submitted absolutely to the king's will. They reported his speech, however, to the king, who adjourned the proceedings to the morrow.
On Monday, therefore, Anselm, sitting in the midst of the assembly, asked the bishops if they were now ready with their advice. But they had only the same answer to make. Then Anselm spoke in solemn tones, with uplifted eyes and kindling countenance, ‘Since you, the shepherds of the people, who are called the leaders of the nation, will give no counsel to me, your head, save according to the will of one man, I will betake me to the chief Shepherd and Head of all, to the Angel of great counsel, and will follow the counsel which I shall receive from Him in my cause, yea, rather in His cause and that of His church. He who declared that obedience was due to St. Peter and the other apostles, and through them to the bishops, saying, “He that despiseth you despiseth me,” also taught that the things of Cæsar were to be rendered to Cæsar. By those words I will abide. In the things which are God's I will give obedience to the vicar of the blessed Peter; in things touching the earthly dignity of my lord the king, I will, to the best of my ability, give him faithful counsel and help.’ The cowardly bishops could not gainsay the words of Anselm, but neither did they dare carry them to the king. So Anselm went himself to the presence chamber, and repeated them in the audience of William. The king was exceedingly wroth, and consulted with the bishops and nobles concerning the answer to be given. Their perplexity was extreme. They broke up into small groups, each discussing how some answer might be framed. Anselm meanwhile, having retired to the place of assembly, rested his head against the wall, and went quietly to sleep. At last he was roused by a party of bishops and lay lords bearing a message from the king. He demanded an immediate answer from Anselm. As for the matter at issue between him and the primate, it needed no explanation. For themselves the bishops counselled Anselm to cast away his obedience to Urban, and freely submit, as became an archbishop of Canterbury, to the king's will in everything. Anselm replied that he certainly would not renounce his obedience to the pope, but as the day was far spent he asked leave to reserve his answer for the morrow. The bishops suspected this meant that he was wavering, or that he did not know what to say. The crafty and unscrupulous William of St. Calais, bishop of Durham, who was the leader of the bishops on the king's side, now thought he would be able to drive Anselm into a corner. He boasted to the king that he would force the primate either to renounce obedience to the pope, or to resign the archiepiscopal staff and ring. This fell in with the king's wishes. So the bishop of Durham and his party hastened back to Anselm, and informed him that no delay would be granted him unless he immediately reinvested the king with the imperial dignity of which he had robbed him by having made the bishop of Ostia pope without his authority. Anselm, having patiently listened to this peremptory address, calmly replied: ‘Whoever wishes to prove that I violate my allegiance to my earthly sovereign, because I will not renounce my obedience to the sovereign pontiff of the Holy Roman Church, let him come forward, and he will find me ready to answer him as I ought and where I ought.’ These last words disconcerted the bishop and his friend, for they understood him to mean that, as archbishop of Canterbury, he could not be judged by any one save the pope—a doctrine which it seems no one was prepared to deny. Meanwhile a murmur of sympathy with Anselm ran through the mixed throng. A soldier stepped forward, and, kneeling before the archbishop, said, ‘My lord father, thy children beseech thee, through me, not to be disquieted, but to be mindful how the blessed Job, on his dunghill, overcame the devil, and avenged Adam, who had been vanquished in Paradise.’ Anselm graciously received this odd address from the honest man, for it assured him that he had the good will of the people. The discomfited bishops returned to the king, and were loaded with reproaches. On the morrow, Tuesday, Anselm once more took his seat, awaiting the king's message. The councillors were perplexed. Even William of St. Calais had no course to recommend but force. The staff and ring might be wrested from the primate, and he himself expelled from the kingdom. But this suggestion did not please the lay nobles. It would be an awkward precedent if the first vassal in the kingdom were deprived of his fief at the king's pleasure. William, in a rage, told them that he would brook no equal in his kingdom; if the proposal of the bishop of Durham did not please them, let them consult and say what would; for, by the face of God, if they did not condemn Anselm, he would condemn them. Count Robert of Meulan then spoke: ‘As for our counsel I own I know not what to say; for when we have been devising plans all day, and considering how we can make them hang together, the archbishop innocently goes to sleep, and then when they are submitted to him, with one puff of his lips he blows them to pieces as if they were cobwebs.’ The king then turned to the bishops, but they had no suggestion to offer. Anselm was their primate, and they had no power to judge or condemn him, even had any crime been proved against him. The king then proposed that they might at least withdraw their obedience and brotherly intercourse from the archbishop. And to this strange suggestion they had the baseness to accede. Accompanied by some abbots, they announced their intention to Anselm, and informed him that the king also withdrew his trust and protection, and would no longer hold him for archbishop or spiritual father. Anselm mildly replied that they did ill to withdraw their allegiance from him because he refused to withdraw his own from the successor of the chief of the apostles. Although the king withdrew all protection from him, he would not cease to care for the king's soul; retaining the title, power, and office of archbishop, whatever oppression it might be his lot to suffer. William now tried to make the lay lords abandon the archbishop, saying, ‘No one shall be my man who chooses to be his,’ to which the nobles replied that as they never were the archbishop's men, they had no fealty to withdraw; ‘notwithstanding,’ they said, ‘he is our archbishop; to him pertains the rule of Christianity in this land, and in this respect we cannot, whilst we live here as christians, refuse his guidance.’ William dissembled his wrath, for he was afraid of offending the nobles, whose manly utterance put the craven conduct of the bishops in a more odious light. The king tightened his grip upon these wretched time-servers, required an unconditional renunciation of their obedience to Anselm, and squeezed more money out of them to buy back his favour. Anselm meanwhile requested a safe-conduct to one of the havens and leave to quit the kingdom. William heartily wished to be rid of him, but did not wish him to go while seised of the archbishopric, yet saw no way to disseise him of it. In this dilemma the nobles proposed a truce, and an adjournment of the whole question to Whitsuntide. This proposal was made on the fourth day of the meeting, Wednesday, 14 March, and Anselm assented to it (Eadm. Hist. Nov. i. 379–87). And so ended the famous meeting at Rockingham. It seemed to come to nothing; nevertheless a great moral victory had been gained.
William kept the letter of the truce with Anselm, but vented his spite by attacking his friends. He expelled Baldwin of Tournay, a monk of Bec, one of Anselm's most confidential friends, from the kingdom, he arrested his chamberlain, and worried his tenants by unjust lawsuits and imposts. His next device was to gain the pope to his side. He secretly despatched two clerks of the Chapel Royal, Gerard, afterwards archbishop of York, and William of Warelwast, afterwards bishop of Exeter, to Rome, first to ascertain which was the real pope, secondly to persuade him to send the pallium to the king, so that he might be able to bestow it on any one he pleased should he succeed in getting rid of Anselm. The envoys had no difficulty in discovering that Urban was the pope in possession. They acknowledged him in the name of the king, and obtained their request. Cardinal Walter, bishop of Albano, returned to England with them, bringing the pallium. The journey was made with all speed, in order to reach England before Whitsuntide. Great secrecy also was observed. The legate was not allowed to converse with any one, except in the presence of the envoys, and on reaching England he was hurried to the court without being allowed to tarry in Canterbury or to see Anselm. Shortly before Whitsuntide he had an interview with the king. What passed is not recorded, but it was understood that William was encouraged to hope that his wishes would be granted, and that the legate had not spoken a word on Anselm's behalf. The king now ordered a formal recognition of Urban as pope to be published throughout his dominions, and he then asked the legate that Anselm might be deposed by papal authority, promising a large annual payment to the Roman see if his request was granted. But he had overshot his mark. The cardinal flatly declared such a compact to be out of the question. Thus William had gained nothing and lost much by his dealing with Rome. He had acknowledged Urban, whom Anselm had acknowledged long ago, and, instead of getting rid of the primate, it seemed now impossible to avoid going through the form at least of reconciliation with him. This took place at Windsor, where Anselm was summoned to meet the king at Whitsuntide. He was again urged to propitiate the king by money and to receive the pallium from his hands; but he was inflexible, and the king had to give way. On the third Sunday after Trinity (10 June 1095) the legate brought the pallium with great pomp in a silver casket to Canterbury. He was met by the monks of the two monasteries of Christchurch and St. Augustine, and a vast concourse of clergy and laity. Near the cathedral the procession was met by Anselm, barefoot, but in full pontificals and attended by his suffragans. The sacred gift was laid upon the altar, thence it was taken by Anselm and presented to be kissed by those who were round about him, after which he put it on and celebrated mass (Eadm. Hist. Nov. ii. 390–2). A short interval of peace now followed. The king went northwards to put down a revolt of Robert of Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland. The archbishop stayed at Canterbury, the care of the city, and apparently of Kent, being committed to him under the king's writ and seal, against an expected attack from Normandy. So faithful was he to this trust that he refused to leave Canterbury even for a day to confer with the papal legate upon the reforms in the church which he had so much at heart (Epist. iii. 35, 36). He attended the Christmas gemot at Windsor, where his bitter adversary, William of St. Calais, died. Anselm received his confession and tended him in his dying hours with affectionate care. He had already absolved two bishops who had expressed penitence for their conduct at Rockingham, Osmund of Salisbury, the compiler of the celebrated Use of Sarum, and Robert of Hereford. Most of the other bishops now followed their example; yet there were some who still remained hostile, and when the papal legate remonstrated, they had the incredible baseness to say that Anselm was not a lawful archbishop because he had received investiture from a king who at the time was in schism with Rome, the very king to whom they themselves had paid the most obsequious homage (Epist. iii. 36).
On 18 Nov. 1095 the first crusade was preached by Urban at Clermont in Auvergne. Robert, duke of Normandy, was seized with the impulse which stirred the heart of Christendom, but his treasury was empty and his hold on his duchy was weak. He therefore mortgaged it for three years to his brother William for the sum of 10,000 marks, which the Red King undertook to raise. The sum was levied with great difficulty. The clergy were already so impoverished that to furnish contributions they were forced to part with many of their most sacred treasures. Anselm was willing to contribute, but he had not enough ready money. By the advice of Walkelin, bishop of Winchester, and Gundulf of Rochester, he borrowed 100 pounds from the monks of Christ Church on the security of his manor of Peckham, which he mortgaged to them for seven years. It turned out a very good bargain for the monks, who enlarged the east end of the cathedral out of the Peckham rents. Altogether Anselm scraped together 200 pounds, and the king seems to have been satisfied. The bargain between the king and his brother was settled in September 1096. Robert started for Palestine. William took possession of Normandy, and remained in the duchy till the following Easter, when the disturbed state of Wales brought him back to England. After holding a gemot at Windsor in April he made a great expedition into Wales, which seemed to be successful. The submission of the country turned out to be only nominal, but at the moment the Red King, by the acquisition of Normandy and reduction of Wales, appeared to have reached the height of his prosperity. A favourable opportunity seemed to have come for again pressing reforms on the king. It may have been, as Anselm believed, only another device to put off the discharge of this duty, that the king, on his return from Wales, wrote an angry letter complaining of the contingent of knights whom Anselm had furnished for the Welsh campaign. They were so ill equipped, he said, and ill trained as to have been quite useless, and Anselm must expect a summons in the King's court to ‘do him right.’ The archbishop did not think it necessary to take any notice of this petulant message. He attended the Whitsuntide gemot, and was graciously received. He again exhorted the king to set about the work of reform, but his appeals were utterly vain, and he now resolved to take the step to which his mind had been gravitating for some time. He sent a formal message to the king by some of the nobles, saying that he was driven by urgent need to ask his leave to go to Rome. The king refused the license. But Anselm had quite made up his mind that the only hope of redress for his own wrongs or the wrongs of the church lay in an appeal to the pope. He renewed his request at another gemot held in August, and again at Winchester in October. The king was now thoroughly enraged. He not only refused the license, but declared that Anselm must pay a fine for asking it. Anselm offered to give good reasons for his request, which the king declined to hear, and told him that if he did go he should seize the archbishopric and never receive him as archbishop again. An adjournment was granted for one day, and on the morrow Anselm said he still asked for the license. For the sake of his own soul, for the sake of religion, and for the king's own honour and profit, it was needful he should go, and if the king would not grant leave he must go without it, obeying God rather than man. The bishops again urged submission. ‘You have spoken well,’ said Anselm; ‘do you go to your lord, and I will cleave to my God.’ The lay barons also were now against him. He had sworn to observe the customs of the realm, and it was contrary to those customs for any man in his position to go to Rome without the king's license. Anselm replied that he had indeed promised to observe the customs, but only so far as they were in accordance with right and agreeable to the will of God. He went into the royal presence chamber, and, seating himself at the king's right hand, maintained this doctrine at some length, until the king and Count Robert of Meulan exclaimed that he was preaching a sermon, and a general uproar followed. Anselm quietly waited till it had subsided, and then summed up his argument. He then rose and departed, accompanied by the faithful Eadmer. They were followed by a messenger from William, who told Anselm that he might leave the kingdom, but must not take anything belonging to the king. ‘I have horses, clothes, and furniture,’ replied Anselm; ‘perhaps some one will say they belong to the king; if so, I will go naked and barefoot rather than abandon my purpose.’ The king sent word back that he did not wish him to go naked and barefoot, but he must be at the haven ready to cross within eleven days, and there a messenger would meet him, and let him know what he might take with him. Anselm returned to the presence chamber, and, addressing the king with a cheerful countenance, ‘My lord,’ he said, ‘I am going. … Now, therefore, not knowing when I shall see you again, I commend you to God, and as a spiritual father to a beloved son, as archbishop of Canterbury to the king of England, I would fain, before I go, give you God's blessing and my own, if you refuse it not.’ For a moment the heart of the Red King was touched; ‘his good angel perhaps spoke to him then for the last time. “I refuse not your blessing,” was his answer. The man of God arose, the king bowed his head, and Anselm made the sign of the cross over it’ (Freeman, Will. Rufus, i. 594). Then he departed, and the saint and the sinner never met again (Eadm. Hist. Nov. ii. 395–402).
This happened on 15 Oct. 1097, and Anselm immediately left Winchester for Canterbury. On the day after his arrival he took an affecting farewell of the monks. Then, in the presence of a great congregation, he took the pilgrim's staff and scrip from off the altar, and, having commended the weeping multitude to Christ, he set forth for Dover, accompanied by Eadmer and Baldwin. At Dover they found the king's chaplain, William of Warelwast, awaiting them. For fourteen days they were detained by stress of weather, during which William of Warelwast was Anselm's guest. At last the wind was favourable, and Anselm and his party hastened to the shore. But William of Warelwast forbade their embarking until their baggage had been searched. This was done upon the beach amidst the astonishment and execration of the bystanders; but nothing was found which could be seized for the king, and after this vexatious delay Anselm and his friends set sail and landed safely at Whitsand. As soon as they were out of the country, the king not only seized the estates of the see, but cancelled all acts and decrees relating to them made by the archbishop. Meanwhile Anselm, after halting a while at the monastery of St. Omer, journeyed through France and the duchy of Burgundy to Cluny, where he had a hearty welcome and spent Christmas. A curious story is told by Eadmer (Hist. Nov. ii. 404) how Odo, duke of Burgundy, tempted by the report of the archbishop's riches, set out, intending to plunder him on the way, but was so completely captivated by Anselm's manner and appearance that he accepted his kiss and his blessing, and gave him a safe conduct. The roads were deemed dangerous for travelling in the winter; so the rest of the season was spent at Lyons with the Archbishop Hugh, who was an old friend of Anselm. From Lyons he wrote a letter to Pope Urban, explaining the purpose of his coming; how he had spent four fruitless miserable years in the high office which had been forced upon him, how he had seen the church plundered and oppressed, how he had no hope of getting these evils redressed in England. He therefore sought the protection and counsel of the apostolic see. The bearers of the letter returned with a pressing invitation from the pope, and in the spring Anselm and his friends set forth. They preserved a strict incognito, for fear of robbers in the pay of the antipope Clement, and reached Rome in safety. Here they were warmly welcomed by the pope, and lodged in the Lateran. The day after they arrived there was a grand gathering of the Roman nobility at the papal palace, which Anselm attended. When he prostrated himself at the feet of the pontiff, Urban raised him up and embraced him, and made him sit by his side. He then introduced him to the assembly as the patriarch or pope of another world, a miracle of virtue and learning, the champion of the Roman see, yet so humble as to seek from the unworthy occupant the counsel which he himself was more fitted to give. In fact, Eadmer says Anselm was quite disconcerted by the pope's flattery. After the public reception Urban heard the narrative of his wrongs, and promised him his assistance (Eadm. Vit. Ans. ii. 42; Hist. Nov. ii. 405–8).
Meanwhile the season was approaching when Rome was unhealthy for strangers, and Anselm was urged by the abbot of Telese in Apulia, formerly one of his scholars at Bec, to take up his abode with him. This he did with the consent of the pope, and as the heat increased the abbot transferred him to the mountain village of Schiavi. The weary old man was enchanted with the pure cool air the seclusion and repose of this sweet retreat. He resumed the simple studious habits which he had loved so well in his happy days at Bec, and he completed his treatise on the incarnation, the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ which he had begun amidst all the turmoil of his life in England. He was obliged, however, to leave his retreat, in order to meet the pope in the camp of Duke Roger of Apulia, who was besieging Capua. Their quarters were close together, a little outside the actual camp. Eadmer tells us how all folk, including even the Saracens in the army of Count Roger of Sicily, were charmed by Anselm. William of Malmesbury (Gest. Pont. 98) says that the Red King wrote to Duke Roger to try and prejudice him against Anselm. The duke, however, was so captivated by Anselm, that he besought him to take up his abode in Apulia, offering to bestow some of his best lands upon him if he did. To this Anselm would not consent, but he entreated the pope to relieve him of the archbishopric, in which he was convinced that he could do no good whilst William was on the throne, of whose outrages on religion and morals travellers continually brought fresh tidings. Urban, however, would not release him, and for the present he returned to Schiavi, where he remained until summoned to attend the council of Bari in October 1098. At the council of Bari the question of the ‘procession of the Holy Ghost’ was discussed with the Greek delegates. A hot debate arose. The pope referred to Anselm's work on the Incarnation, and presently called on Anselm himself to step forward and vindicate the true doctrine of the Holy Ghost before the assembly. An eager crowd thronged round the papal throne, immediately below which Anselm was placed. Urban then formally introduced him, and expatiated on the wrongs which had driven him from England. His speech on the doctrinal question was delivered the next day, and is described as a masterpiece of learning and power, for which he was publicly thanked by the pope; but we have no detailed report of it. The sympathy of the council with his troubles was so strong that they unanimously urged the excommunication of the Red King, which, according to Eadmer, the pope was only hindered from promulgating by the intercession of Anselm himself. Urban, however, was a wary man, and it may be doubted whether he intended more than a demonstration (Eadm. Vit. Ans. ii. 45–9; Hist. Nov. ii. 408, 409, 413–16). Anselm and his friends accompanied the pope from Bari to Rome, and soon after their arrival shortly before Christmas, 1098, William of Warelwast appeared as advocate for the Red King. In a public audience Urban adopted a severe and threatening tone, telling him that if the king did not reinstate Anselm before the council to be held the next Easter he must expect to be excommunicated. William's agent, however, knew how to deal with the papal court. He tarried several days in Rome, and made good use of his time by a judicious distribution of gifts amongst the councillors of the pope. The result of his dealings was that the pope granted William a respite to the following Michaelmas. Anselm and his companions now began to see that they were leaning upon a broken reed, and they asked leave to return to Lyons. But the pope insisted on their remaining for the great council to be held at Easter, and meanwhile paid Anselm all possible honour. When the council assembled in St. Peter's in April 1099, there was some curiosity to see where he would be seated, as no one present had ever seen an archbishop of Canterbury attend a general council at Rome. The pope ordered him to be placed in the seat of honour in the centre of the half-circle of prelates who sat on either side of the papal chair, and therefore immediately opposite himself. Decrees were passed or renewed against simony and clerical marriages, and anathema was pronounced against the layman who should bestow investiture of an ecclesiastical benefice, or the clerk who should receive it at his hands and become his man. This decree was flatly opposed to the ‘customs’ of England and Normandy, and became the occasion of the dispute which afterwards arose between Anselm and Henry I. When the canons were to be read in St. Peter's, the pope ordered Reinger, bishop of Lucca, a man of great stature and powerful voice, to read, so that all might hear. Reinger read a little way, then suddenly stopped, and burst forth into an indignant declamation upon the uselessness of passing laws when they did nothing to right a man who was the meek victim of tyrannical oppression. ‘If you do not all know whom I mean,’ he said, ‘it is Anselm, archbishop of England;’ and he ended by smiting the floor thrice with his staff, and uttering a groan through his teeth tightly clenched. ‘Enough, enough! brother Reinger,’ said the pope; ‘good order shall be taken concerning this.’ The whole scene reads like a piece of acting. Anselm clearly suspected it to be so. At any rate nothing came of the demonstration, and the next day Anselm left Rome, ‘having obtained,’ says his biographer, with subdued irony, ‘nought of counsel or assistance save what I have related’ (Hist. Nov. ii. 418–21). They reached Lyons in safety, travelling by a circuitous route to avoid the agents of the antipope, and were heartily welcomed by Archbishop Hugh. Anselm resided with him, and assisted him in his episcopal duties.
In the following July, 1099, Pope Urban died; and on 2 Aug. 1100 William fell in the New Forest, pierced by an arrow from an unknown hand. Anselm was sojourning at the monastery of God's House (Casa Dei), not far from Brioude in Auvergne, when the tidings of William's death reached him. It was brought by two monks, one from Canterbury, the other from Bec. At first he was stupefied by the shock, and then he broke into a flood of tears. His friends were astonished at this burst of grief over such a man as William; but Anselm, in a voice broken by sobs, declared that he would rather have died himself than that the king should have perished by such a death. He then returned to Lyons, where another monk from Canterbury presently arrived, bearing a letter from the mother-church, imploring him to return and comfort his children now the tyrant was no more. Archbishop Hugh was most unwilling to part with him, but owned that it was his duty to go. Before he reached Cluny another messenger came, bringing a letter from the new king Henry and the lay lords, begging Anselm to return with all speed, and even chiding him for not coming sooner. Normandy was in a disturbed state, as Robert had just returned, and the Norman nobles were intriguing with him, or through him, against his brother. So Anselm, by Henry's advice, avoided Normandy on his journey to Whitsand, from which port he crossed to Dover. He landed on 23 Sept., and his return, after nearly three years' absence, was welcomed with transports of joy by the whole country. The hopes of the nation revived. But as regarded the relations between the king and the primate they speedily received a check. Anselm had returned, pledged, as he conceived, to obey the canons of the councils of Clermont, Bari, and Rome, which forbade clerics to receive investiture at the hands of laymen, or do homage to them for their benefices. A difficulty arose at once between him and Henry on this point. They met at Salisbury a few days after he had landed, and the king was cordial in his greeting; but the temporalities of the see of Canterbury being in his hands, he required Anselm to do homage for their restitution, according to the ancient custom of the country. Anselm replied that he could not do this in the face of the canons lately passed by the council of Rome. The king was grievously perplexed. He was most unwilling to give up the ancient rights of investiture and homage, but he was also most unwilling to quarrel with Anselm, and especially before he was firmly established on the throne. He therefore proposed a truce until the following Easter, during which envoys should be sent to Rome to induce the pope to relax the decrees in favour of the ancient custom of the realm, and meanwhile Anselm was to be reinstated in all the possessions of his see (Eadm. Hist. Nov. iii. 424–5). Anselm consented, although with little hope of the pope's yielding. Personally he does not seem to have entertained any objection to the customs in question, to which he had himself formerly conformed. His opposition to the king was simply a matter of obedience to the Roman see. While matters were thus in a state of suspense, Anselm did the king a piece of good service. Henry was anxious to marry Matilda, whose English name was Eadgyth, the daughter of Malcolm, king of Scotland, and Margaret, his wife. Margaret was a granddaughter of Eadmund Ironside, and consequently an alliance with her daughter would connect Henry with the old royal line of England. But it was said by many that Matilda or Eadgyth was a nun, and therefore could not legally be married. Matilda, however, denied that she had taken any monastic vows. Her aunt Christina, a nun in the abbey of Romsey, to whose care she had been entrusted as a child, had made her wear the veil, and wished her to become a nun, but she had always refused. Anselm laid the case before a large assembly of clerics and laymen at Lambeth. Having heard the evidence of the maiden herself and of others, they decided that she was free. Anselm heard their reasons and approved their judgment. In the presence of a vast concourse which came to witness the royal marriage, he challenged any one who disputed its legality to come forward and prove his objection. A unanimous shout of approval was the response. Anselm then celebrated and blessed the marriage on 11 Nov. 1100. Matilda was his firm friend through all his difficulties, and constantly corresponded with him when he was absent from England (see esp. Epist. iii. 55).
Easter came (1100), but the envoys had not returned from Rome. The truce therefore between Henry and Anselm was extended, and meanwhile he rendered another good service to the king. Ralph Flambard, the infamous bishop of Durham, had escaped from the Tower, in which he was imprisoned soon after Henry's accession. He made for Normandy and stirred up Robert to attempt an invasion of England. It was a critical time for Henry. The chief men of Norman birth in England wavered in their allegiance. At the Whitsuntide gemot king and nobles met with mutual suspicion. Both sides looked to Anselm as a mediator, and the king holding his hand renewed the promise of good laws which he had made at his coronation. Robert landed at Portchester in July, and the armies met near Alton. Several of the Norman barons went over to Robert's side, but, mainly owing to the indefatigable exhortations, public and private, of the archbishop, the mass of the English army and the bishops remained loyal to Henry. The brothers held a parley and came to terms without fighting. Robert gave up England. Henry gave up Normandy except Domfront, but it was only for a little time (Eadm. Hist. Nov. ii. 426–31). At last the envoys returned from Rome. They brought a letter from Pope Paschal distinctly refusing to recognise Henry's claim to invest prelates by the delivery of the pastoral staff and ring. The will of the pope and the will of the king were thus placed in direct conflict. Henry was not a violent man like Rufus, and he did not wish to quarrel with Anselm, but he was cold-blooded and resolute. Anselm was summoned to court and again asked if he would do homage and consecrate the prelates whom the king invested. Anselm replied that he must abide by the decrees of the council at which he had been present. The king proposed that a second and more distinguished embassy should be sent to Rome representing both sides. On Anselm's side were his old friend and companion Baldwin of Bec, and Alexander, a monk of Canterbury; on the side of the king were Gerard, archbishop of York, who also went to get his pallium, Herbert, bishop of Thetford, and Robert, bishop of Chester. The envoys found Paschal as inflexible as before. A letter in the same determined strain was sent to the king, and another to Anselm bidding him to persevere in his present attitude. On the return of the envoys an assembly of the great men of the realm was convened in London. An unconditional surrender was again demanded from Anselm. This he declared to be impossible in the face of the letter which he had received from the pope. Every one was allowed to read this letter. The letter to the king, on the contrary, was not made public. And now, to the bewilderment of all, the king's agents stepped forward and declared on their faith as bishops that the pope in a secret interview had bidden them tell the king that so long as he appointed good and pious prelates, and otherwise conducted himself as a good prince, the pope would not interfere with his claim to investiture, but the pope, they said, would not commit this to writing, lest other princes should quote it as a precedent. Anselm's agents expressed the greatest amazement at this announcement. The assembly was divided. Some maintained that the greatest credence must be given to letters bearing the pope's own seal and signature, others that the word of bishops must outweigh the authority of mere documents supported only by the testimony of paltry monks (monachellorum) unversed in secular affairs. In such a conflict of evidence and opinion there was clearly no alternative but to send yet another deputation to Rome to learn what the pope really had said. All that Anselm wanted to know was the truth. He wrote to the pope (Epist. iii. 73), saying that he did not wish to doubt either the letter or the bishops. Let the pope either exempt England from the decrees of the council, or let him say that they were to be obeyed, and Anselm would let them drop or he would enforce them, even at the peril of his life. Meanwhile he consented that the king should act on the assumption that the story of the bishops was true, and invest prelates with the ring and staff, and further he consented to hold intercourse with such prelates, provided he was not required to consecrate them. The king lost no time in acting on this understanding. He gave the see of Sarum to his clerk Roger, who became one of the ablest chancellors of the realm, and Hereford to another Roger who had been the steward of his larder. During this period of compromise, about Michaelmas 1102, a large mixed council was held at Westminster for the reform of abuses ecclesiastical and moral. It was the sort of national synod for which Anselm had repeatedly asked in vain during the reign of Rufus. Several abbots were deposed for simony, canons were passed against the secular habits of the clergy, and especially against their marriage and concubinage. One decree was passed against the slave traffic in England, whereby it is said men were sold like brute beasts; others were directed against those gross forms of vice which had become common during the reign of the late king (Hist. Nov. ii. 438–9; Will. Malm. Gest. Pont. i. 64). Henry seems to have violated the terms of the compromise with Anselm in asking him to consecrate the bishops whom he appointed and invested. Anselm of course refused, and Gerard of York, a timeserving courtier who was ready to consecrate anybody, was called upon to discharge the duty. But, to the general astonishment, some of the king's nominees now began to turn scrupulous. Reinhelm, bishop-elect of Hereford, sent back his ring and staff, and William Giffard, when on the point of being consecrated bishop of Winchester, declared that he would rather be spoiled of all his goods than wrongfully receive the rite at the hands of Gerard. The multitude which had come to witness the consecration applauded the resolution of William, but the king was highly displeased, and in spite of Anselm's intercession (Ep. iv. 126) William Giffard was banished.
About the middle of the following Lent, 1103, the king and Anselm met at Canterbury. The messengers had returned from Rome bringing an indignant repudiation by the pope of the story told by Gerard and the other prelates, and confirming the contents of his letters in every particular. The king, however, still demanded submission from Anselm; his patience, he said, was worn out, he would brook no more delays, the pope had nothing to do with the rights which all his predecessors had enjoyed. Anselm was, as ever, respectful, but firm; he did not wish to deprive the king of his rights, but he could not, even to save his life, disobey the canons which he had with his own ears heard promulgated in the Roman council. For the moment the aspect of things seemed blacker than ever; men even began to fear for the personal safety of the primate, when suddenly, and with a mildness which makes one think that Henry had all along been assuming more sternness that he really felt, he suggested, almost besought, Anselm to go himself to Rome and try whether he could not induce the pope to give way. Anselm asked that the proposal might be reserved for the decision of the Easter gemot, which was then about to be held at Winchester. The assembly considered it and urged him to go. He replied that since it was their will he would go, weak and aged though he was. Anselm hastened back to Canterbury, and, setting out four days afterwards, embarked at Dover and crossed once more to Whitsand. He had not to suffer any indignities this time, but travelled in the king's peace, and throughout his absence friendly letters passed between him and the king. He was warmly welcomed everywhere, more especially, of course, at Bec, where he spent the summer on account of the risk to health of visiting Rome in the hot season. By the end of August he set out. At Rome he found his old opponent William of Warelwast come to act as the king's advocate. William pleaded so skilfully that he made a great impression on some of the pope's councillors, and boldly wound up an harangue by saying, ‘Know all men present that not to save his kingdom will King Henry lose the investiture of the churches.’ ‘And before God, not to save his head will Pope Paschal let him have them,’ was the answer. Nevertheless a moderately worded letter was despatched to Henry, informing him that though the rights of investiture could not be granted, and those who received it at his hands must be excommunicated, yet he himself should be exempted from excommunication and enjoy the exercise of all other ancestral customs. In fact it was intended to be a soothing letter, and the points at issue were somewhat veiled by compliments and congratulations to the king on the birth of his son. Meanwhile Anselm and his friends set out on their homeward journey. They were conducted through the Apennines by the renowned Countess Matilda. At Placentia they were joined by William of Warelwast, who travelled with them over the Alps and then hastened to England, while Anselm went to Lyons to spend Christmas with his old friend the archbishop. Before they parted William told him that he had been bidden by the king to say that he felt the warmest regard for Anselm, and if Anselm would only be to the king all that his predecessor had been to Henry's predecessors he would be right gladly welcomed. ‘Have you no more to say?’ asked Anselm. ‘I speak to a man of understanding,’ was the reply. ‘I know what you mean,’ said Anselm, and so they parted. At Lyons Anselm sojourned for a year and a half. The king confiscated the revenues of the see of Canterbury, but two of Anselm's own men were appointed receivers, that the tenants might not be oppressed. Anselm was to be allowed whatever was convenient for his own needs, and the king continued to keep up an amicable correspondence with him. At the same time he sent another embassy to Rome. His aim seems to have been twofold. He wanted to persuade the pope to dispense with the canon against lay investiture in his favour, and meanwhile he hoped to persuade Anselm to act on the assumption that the pope would yield. He was not successful in either aim. The pope did not dare, even for the sake of securing Henry's support, openly to set aside the canons of a Roman council, although he was dilatory in action and hesitating in speech. Anselm, on the contrary, was as firm, clear, and straightforward as ever. In spite of reproachful or suppliant letters from England urging him to return to his bereaved church, he steadfastly refused until the point in dispute was settled one way or the other. He would be to Henry all that Lanfranc had been to Henry's father, if he could be put in Lanfranc's position, if the decrees which had been passed since Lanfranc's time were rescinded by the same authority which had issued them, not otherwise (Epist. iii. 93, 94, 95, 97, iv. 43, 44). The perfect straightforwardness of Anselm was in fact embarrassing both to Henry and the pope; neither of them wished to act with complete decision and honesty of purpose, nothing short of which would satisfy Anselm. He continually sent letters or messengers to the pope, but received nothing but consolatory promises which came to nothing, while from Henry he got nothing but polite excuses. At last he resolved upon an act which should force the question to a crisis. In the summer of 1105 he set out for Normandy, where the king then was. On the way he heard that Adela, countess of Blois, sister of the king, was very ill. He turned his steps to Blois, and tarried there some days till she was convalescent. Then he told her that for the wrong which her brother had done to God and to him for two years and more he was going to excommunicate him. Adela was greatly distressed, and Henry himself was alarmed when he heard of Anselm's intention. It would tarnish his reputation to undergo such a sentence from a man of Anselm's character, and might strengthen the hands of his adversaries in the critical struggle in which he was then engaged for the possession of Normandy. Through the mediation of Adela an interview was arranged between him and Anselm at Laigle on 22 July 1105. Nothing could exceed the courtesy of Henry; he restored the revenues of the see, he implored the primate to return if only he would recognise those who had been invested by the king. But Anselm insisted that permission to do this must be given from Rome. This involved yet another embassy, and there was considerable delay in sending it. Henry meanwhile added to the list of his wrongs done to the church by levying heavy taxes upon it for his expenses in the war with Normandy. He began by exacting fines from the clergy who had disobeyed the canons against marriage, but, finding the sums so raised inadequate, he imposed the tax on the whole body. The clergy were in great distress, and besought the queen, ‘good Queen Mold,’ to plead for them with the king; but though moved to tears by their sad plight she dared not interfere. In this strait even the court bishops began to turn to Anselm for help. They wrote a piteous letter, saying that if only he would return they would stand by him and fight for the honour of Christ (Ep. iii. 121). Anselm wrote a letter of sympathy (iii. 122), mixed with some gently ironical congratulations on their having perceived at last the consequences of their subservience, and expressing his regret that he could not return, anxious as he was to do so, until the pope had decided the point in dispute between him and the king. Meanwhile he wrote a severe letter of reproof to Henry (Ep. iii. 109) for taking upon himself to punish priests, a duty which pertained to bishops only, and he warned him that the money so raised would not turn to his profit. At the same time he wrote to his archdeacon and to the prior and chapter of Canterbury, ordering the penalties of deprivation or excommunication to be enforced upon those clergy who infringed the canons concerning marriage (Ep. iii. 110–12). Henry replied to Anselm in polite but evasive terms, expressing himself ready to make amends if he had offended, and promising that the archiepiscopal property should not be molested (Hist. Nov. iv. 460).
At length, in April 1106, William of Warelwast and Baldwin of Bec returned with the latest instructions of the pope. Anselm was now authorised to release from excommunication those who had broken the canons about investiture and homage. The judgment laid down no rule for the future, but it set Anselm free to return and renew intercourse with the offending bishops, and the king sent messengers to Anselm at Bec urging him to come without delay. He was detained, however, for some time, partly at Bec, partly at Jumièges, by alarming illness. Henry expressed the greatest anxiety; all his wants were to be supplied, and the king would shortly cross to Normandy and pay him a visit. His life was despaired of, but just as he seemed on the brink of death he began to recover, and on the feast of the Assumption he was well enough to see the king at Bec. At this interview the king pledged himself to release the churches henceforth from the vexatious burdens laid on them by his brother, to exact no more fines from the clergy, to compensate in the course of three years those who had already paid them, and to restore everything which he had kept in his hands belonging to the see of Canterbury. Anselm now started for England, and landing at Dover was greeted with enthusiastic joy, in which the queen took a prominent part, going to meet him, and then travelling in advance in order to arrange for his comfort at the places where he halted. Henry remained in Normandy, and before long wrote to Anselm announcing his decisive victory at Tenchebrai over his brother Robert, and the complete subjugation of Normandy, 28 Sept. 1106 (Hist. Nov. iv. 464).
The final and formal settlement of the long dispute concerning investiture was made at a large gemot held in London on 1 Aug. 1107. It was debated for three days by the king and the bishops, Anselm being absent. Some were for still insisting on the old custom, but Pope Paschal had conceded the question of homage, and so the king on his part was the more willing to concede the right of investiture. In the presence, therefore, of Anselm and a great multitude of witnesses, the king granted and decreed that thenceforth no man in England should be invested with bishopric or abbey by staff and ring either by the hand of the king or any other layman, and Anselm on his side promised that no one elected to a prelacy should be debarred from consecration on account of having done homage to the king. In accordance with this compromise appointments were immediately made to several churches which had long been destitute of incumbents without any investiture by staff and ring from lay hands. On Sunday, the 11th, Anselm consecrated several men with whom he had not been able to hold communion to bishoprics, including William Giffard to Winchester, and Reinhelm to Hereford, who had refused to be consecrated by Gerard of York, Roger to Sarum, and William of Warelwast, so long his opponent but now his friend, to Exeter (Hist. Nov. iv. 466). Anselm did not long survive the termination of his protracted struggle for the rights and liberties of the church; and during this brief remainder of his life he was repeatedly attacked by severe illness. But in the intervals he was actively engaged, and we see the same indomitable spirit at work. He not only laboured to enforce the canons of London against simony and the marriage of the clergy, but largely through his efforts the king was moved to put down false coining with a strong hand, and a stricter discipline was maintained amongst his followers, whose acts of violence, when he made his progresses, had long been a cause of misery to the people. Anselm also promoted the erection of Ely into an episcopal see to relieve the great diocese of Lincoln, and he upheld the paramount dignity of the see of Canterbury against the pretensions of Thomas, archbishop elect of York, who tried to evade making his profession of obedience, but was compelled to do so by a decree passed in a gemot at London. Nor were his literary labours diminished; he carried on a wide correspondence with distinguished persons, clerical and lay, who sought his counsel in all parts of Christendom, including Alexander, king of the Scots, Murdach, king of the Irish, and Baldwin, king of Jerusalem; and he wrote a treatise ‘concerning the agreement of foreknowledge, predestination, and the grace of God with free will.’ The composition of this treatise was delayed by frequent interruptions of illness and increasing weakness. At last he became so feeble that he had to be carried in a litter from place to place instead of riding on horseback. Till within four days of his death he was carried daily into his chapel to attend mass. Then he took to his bed. On Palm Sunday, being told by one of those who stood around him that they thought he was about to leave the world to keep his Master's Easter court, he replied, ‘If His will be so, I shall gladly obey it; but if He pleased rather that I should yet remain amongst you till I have solved a question which I am turning in my mind about the origin of the soul, I should receive it thankfully; for I know not any one who will finish it after I am gone.’ This wish, however, was not to be fulfilled. On Thursday he could no longer speak intelligibly, and on Wednesday, 21 April, at dawn he passed away, in the year 1109, the sixteenth of his pontificate and the seventy-sixth of his life. He was buried in the cathedral at Canterbury, next his friend Lanfranc, in the body of the church in front of the great rood; but his remains were afterwards removed to the chapel, beneath the south-east tower, which bears his name, and there they now rest (Eadmer, Vit. Ans. ii. c. 7; Hist. Nov. iv. 467, ad finem). If guileless simplicity, spotless integrity, faithful zeal, and patient suffering for righteousness sake give any one a claim to be called ‘saint,’ Anselm certainly deserved the title. And it was by virtue of these qualities, combined with inflexible firmness, courage, and straightforward honesty of purpose, more than by his intellectual gifts, great as they were, that he won the day in his struggle first with lawless insolence, and then with diplomatic craft. After his death he became the object of increasing veneration to men of his own time, and to later generations. Dante, in his vision of Paradise, saw him ‘among the spirits of light and power in the sphere of the sun.’ A halo of miraculous legend gathered round the story of his life. Yet, strange to say, the first demand for his canonisation made by Thomas Becket was not successful, and he was not formally placed on the roll of saints till 1494, when he suffered what has been well called the ‘indignity of canonisation’ at the hands of Roderic Borgia, Pope Alexander VI (Church's Anselm, p. 301).
A catalogue of Anselm's writings is given below. His fame as a philosopher and theologian rests mainly upon three treatises—the ‘Monologion,’ the ‘Proslogion,’ and the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’
The ‘Monologion,’ which, as the name implies, is in the form of a continuous discourse as distinguished from a dialogue, is an attempt to prove the existence and nature of God by pure reason without the aid of Scripture or of any appeal to authority. It is an application of the Platonic theory of ‘ideas’ to the demonstration of christian doctrine. Some efforts in this direction had been made by the (so-called) Dionysius the Areopagite, whose writings had become well known in western Christendom through a translation made by John Scotus Erigena. St. Augustine worked out the method more systematically in his treatise on the Trinity (lib. viii. c. 3), but not with such completeness and precision as Anselm, whose treatise is one close and compact chain of reasoning, every link being, so to speak, tightly fastened to that which precedes and follows it. Starting from the contemplation of sensible objects, he propounds the question whether the goodness in all good things, although known by different names, such as justice in a man, strength or swiftness in a horse, and so on, comes from one source or divers. All varieties of excellence, by whatever name they may be called, are resolvable at last into a few simple elements—the good, the beautiful, the great, the useful. Hence he arrives at the conclusion that all things to which any of these qualities in various degrees and forms are attributed must derive them from something which is in itself always the same, which is in itself absolutely and unchangeably good and great. As also there is a difference in natures, some being better than others, as a horse is superior to a dog, and a man to a horse, there must be one nature so superior to all others that it cannot be exceeded by any; otherwise there would be no end to the series, which is absurd. This supreme nature must be the author of its own existence: it must be ‘per se’ and ‘ex se,’ ‘by means of itself’ and ‘from itself;’ it must be ‘per se,’ for if it was by means of another that other would be the greater, which is contrary to the supposition; if it were out of nothing, then it must be brought out of nothing either by itself or by another; not by itself, for then itself would be prior to itself, which is absurd, nor by another, for then it would not be the highest nature of all. In this way he proves the eternal self-existence of the divine nature. And by similar rigorously logical methods he goes on to prove the existence and nature of the Word, and the Holy Spirit.
In the ‘Proslogion,’ so called because it is in the form of an address to God, he endeavours to prove the existence of the Deity by a shorter method—by a single deductive argument instead of a lengthened inductive chain. He had long been anxious, he says, to discover such an argument, and vexed that it continually eluded him, until at last, to his great joy, it was suddenly revealed to him. The point of departure in this case was not the contemplation of the outer but of the inner world, not of sensible objects but of the mind of man. He could prove, he thought, the being of a God out of the very saying of the fool that there was no God. That very denial involved the idea of a Being than whom no greater can be conceived; but if no greater can be conceived, then He must exist, since existence is a necessary point of perfection. This is substantially the argument which was employed by Descartes six hundred years afterwards, although there is no evidence that Descartes had any knowledge of Anselm's writings. Leibnitz, however, is inclined to suspect that he had, because he thinks that both in the style and matter of Descartes' writings he detects a larger obligation to other authors than Descartes chose to acknowledge (Epist. ad Bierlingium, 1710, v. 361, 393). It is to be noted that neither Anselm nor Descartes seeks to prove the existence of God in order to produce belief, but, starting from belief as a fact, their aim is to show that reason independently followed necessarily confirms the convictions of faith. It is remarkable that in the period between Anselm and Descartes no one seems to have adopted the same method. Anselm cannot properly be considered as the first or forerunner of the schoolmen; their method was not Platonic, but Aristotelian, a method far better adapted than Anselm's to the ordinary mind of the middle ages. In boldness, indeed, and originality of thought, Anselm was too far ahead of the intellectual standard of his day to be thoroughly understood or appreciated. The aim of the ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ is to prove the necessity of the incarnation as the only means whereby the debt of obedience due from man to God could be discharged, an adequate reparation made for his offences, and the immortality of body and soul recovered for which he was originally destined. Unlike the other two treatises, it is in the form of a dialogue, which renders it easier reading, although the reasoning is not less close and cogent. There is no apparent lack of finish in the work, although Anselm in his preface says that he should have made several additions if he could have secured some quiet leisure, but that it was begun in England amidst great distress of heart—‘in magna cordis tribulatione’—and finished during his sojourn in the province of Capua.
If his philosophical treatises exhibit the profundity, the daring originality, and masterly grasp of his intellect, his meditations and prayers reveal the spiritual side of his nature, the deep humility of his faith, and the fervour of his love towards God, while his letters show him in his more human aspect—his tender sympathy and affection, his courtesy and respectfulness, combined with firmness in maintaining what he believed to be right, and in reproving what he believed to be wrong. Thus his writings completely verify the statement of William of Malmesbury (i. § 47) that he was thoroughly spiritual and industriously learned—‘penitus sanctus, anxie doctus.’
The first complete and satisfactory edition of Anselm's works was that of Gabriel Gerberon (Paris, 1721), a monk of the congregation of St. Maur. He says in his preface that hitherto most of the copies of his works were so mutilated or disfigured by corrections that they were scarcely intelligible. He framed a new text by a careful collation of as many manuscripts as he could collect, and an examination of existing printed editions. These were—two bearing no mark of date or place of issue; one printed at Nuremberg, 1491; two at Paris, 1544 and 1549; one at Venice, 1549; two at Cologne, 1573 and 1612; and one at Lyons, 1630. Gerberon arranged the works in his edition in three divisions:—
1. The theological and philosophical, including the Monologion, the Proslogion, the attack of Gaunilo, a monk of Marmoutiers, on the same, and Anselm's reply; the ‘De Fide Trinitatis,’ the ‘De Processione Spiritus Sancti contra Græcos,’ ‘Dialogus de Casu Diaboli,’ ‘Cur Deus Homo,’ ‘De Conceptu Virginali et Originali Peccato,’ ‘Dialogus de Veritate,’ ‘Liber de Voluntate,’ ‘Dialogus de Libero Arbitrio,’ ‘De Concordiâ Præscientiæ et Prædestinationis,’ ‘De Azymo et Fermentato,’ ‘De Sacramentorum Diversitate (Waleranni epistola),’ ‘Responsio ad Waleranni Querelas,’ ‘Offendiculum Sacerdotum,’ ‘De Nuptiis Consanguineorum,’ ‘Dialogus de Grammatico,’ ‘De Voluntate Dei.’
2. Devotional and hortatory: ‘Homilies and Exhortations,’ ‘Sermo de Passione Domini,’ ‘Exhortatio ad Contemptum Temporalium et Desiderium Æternorum,’ ‘Admonitio Morienti,’ ‘Duo Carmina de Contemptu Mundi,’ ‘Liber Meditationum et Orationum xxi.,’ ‘Meditatio super Miserere,’ ‘De Pace et Concordiâ,’ ‘Tractatus Asceticus,’ ‘Oratio dicenda ante Perceptionem Corporis et Sanguinis Domini,’ ‘Salutatio ad Jesum Christum ex anecdotis sacris de Levis,’ ‘Hymni et Psalterium de S. Mariâ,’ ‘Versus de Lanfranco,’ ‘De Verbis Anselmi,’ ‘Quædam Dicta utilia ex dictis S. Anselmi.’
3. Four books of letters.
The Abbé Migne's edition, in two volumes, imperial octavo, is a reproduction of Gerberon's edition, revised, including the footnotes of ‘Henschenius,’ and the ‘Vita’ and ‘Historia Novorum’ of Eadmer. The ‘various readings’ are in this edition placed at the bottom of each page instead of being put at the end of the works, as in Gerberon's edition. The references in this article are to Migne's edition.