Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

St Anselm

John Dillon posted the following piece about St Anselm on the Medieval Religion discussion group to mark his feast today [ slightly adapted by the Clever Boy] :

Anselm (also Anselm of Aosta and Anselm of Bec) was born at Aosta in the extreme northwest of today's Italy and studied in Burgundy.  Drawn by the reputation of its abbot Lanfranc, he moved on to the abbey of Le Bec in Normandy.  Anselm was already an important theologian at the time of his election there as abbot in 1078 (his enthronement took place early in the following year).  While abbot, Anselm followed Lanfranc to Canterbury.  He succeeded him as archbishop there in 1093.  Difficulties with King William II over church/state relationships caused Anselm to spend the late 1090s on the continent, where he found time to add to his substantial body of writing.  Recalled by King Henry I in 1100, he went into a second exile in 1103 and returned only in 1106 after the King had renounced lay investiture, taxation of the church, and confiscation of its property.

Anselm died in 1109; he was buried in Canterbury cathedral.  His Vita by his much younger associate Eadmer (BHL 525, etc.) is deservedly famous; the same author's Miracula of Anselm (BHL 534) provides early attestation of his cult.  St. Thomas Becket failed in an attempt to have Anselm canonized.  King Henry VII was more successful in 1492, getting Pope Alexander VI to authorize Anselm's cult for England.  In 1690, in the wake of England's Glorious Revolution, Anselm was added to the general Roman Calendar.  In 1720, at the request of the Stuart claimant King James III, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

Some period-pertinent images of St. Anselm of Canterbury:

a) as depicted in a late eleventh-century copy, written at  Jumièges, of his Monologion (Rouen, Bibliothèque Jacques Villon, ms. 359):


b) as depicted (presenting to Matilda of Tuscany a copy of the book) in a twelfth-century copy of his Orationes sive Meditationes (Admont, Stiftsbibliothek, cod. 289, fol. 1v):



This is an adaptation of the normal iconography of auctorial presentation to an abbot or bishop but with Matilda taking the place of the author-presenter and shown large rather than small (as would be the case with a subordinate presenter).  See Paolo Golinelli's discussion of this problematic image at
pp. 1-3 of his "The Relations between Anselm of Canterbury and Mathilda of  Tuscany" at: www.paologolinelli.it/1/upload/st.anselm.doc

c) as depicted (at centre, between St. Remigius of Reims and St. Omer) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (c. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 29r, sc. 2B):

d) as depicted (author portrait) in a late fourteenth- or very early fifteenth-century book of prayers to the BVM with an Office for her (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, ms. 520, fol. 171r):


e) as depicted (at right; at left, the BVM) in a late fifteenth-century copy of the Interrogatio Sancti Anselmi de Passione Domini in the prose form of its German-language version St. Anselmi Fragen an Maria (1494; München, BSB, Cgm 134, fol. 3v):

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