The Info List - Lanfranc

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Lanfranc[a] (1005 x 1010 – 24 May 1089) was a celebrated Italian jurist who renounced his career to become a Benedictine monk at Bec in Normandy. He served successively as prior of Bec Abbey
Bec Abbey
and abbot of St Stephen in Normandy
and then as archbishop of Canterbury in England, following its Conquest by William the Conqueror.[1] He is also variously known as Lanfranc
of Pavia
(Italian: Lanfranco di Pavia), Lanfranc
of Bec (French: Lanfranc
du Bec), and Lanfranc
of Canterbury
(Latin: Lanfrancus Cantuariensis).


1 Early life 2 Teacher and scholar 3 Prior
and abbot 4 Archbishop of Canterbury 5 Not quite sainthood 6 Modern Commemoration 7 Sources 8 See also 9 Notes 10 Citations 11 References 12 Further reading

Early life[edit] Lanfranc
was born in the early years of the 11th century at Pavia, where later tradition held that his father, Hanbald, held a rank broadly equivalent to magistrate. He was orphaned at an early age.[2] Lanfranc
was trained in the liberal arts, at that time a field in which northern Italy was famous (there is little or no evidence to support the myth that his education included much in the way of Civil Law, and none that links him with Irnerius
of Bologna as a pioneer in the renaissance of its study). For unknown reasons at an uncertain date, he crossed the Alps, soon taking up the role of teacher in France and eventually in Normandy. About 1039 he became the master of the cathedral school at Avranches, where he taught for three years with conspicuous success. But in 1042 he embraced the monastic profession in the newly founded Bec Abbey. Until 1045 he lived at Bec in absolute seclusion.[3] Teacher and scholar[edit] Lanfranc
was then persuaded by Abbot
Herluin to open a school at Bec to relieve the monastery's poverty. From the first he was celebrated (totius Latinitatis magister). His pupils were drawn not only from France and Normandy, but also from Gascony, Flanders, Germany and Italy.[4] Many of them afterwards attained high positions in the Church; one possible student, Anselm of Badagio, became pope under the title of Alexander II; another, Anselm of Bec
Anselm of Bec
succeeded Lanfranc
as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The favourite subjects of his lectures were the trivium of grammar, logic and rhetoric and the application of these principles to theological elucidation. In one of Lanfranc's most important works, The Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul; he, 'expounded Paul the Apostle; and, wherever opportunity offered, he stated the premises, whether principal or secondary, and the conclusions of Paul's arguments in accordance with the rules of Logic'.[5] As a result of his growing reputation Lanfranc
was invited to defend the doctrine of transubstantiation against the attacks of Berengar of Tours. He took up the task with the greatest zeal, although Berengar had been his personal friend; he was the protagonist of orthodoxy at the Church Councils of Vercelli
(1050), Tours
(1054) and Rome (1059). To Lanfranc's influence is attributed the desertion of Berengar's cause by Hildebrand and the more broad-minded of the cardinals. Our knowledge of Lanfranc's polemics is chiefly derived from the tract De corpore et sanguine Domini, probably written c. 1060-63.[6] Though betraying no signs of metaphysical ability, his work was regarded as conclusive and became for a while a text-book in the schools. It is often said to be the place where the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accident was first applied to explain Eucharistic change. It is the most important of the surviving works attributed to Lanfranc. Prior
and abbot[edit] In the midst of Lanfranc's scholastic and controversial activities Lanfranc
became a political force. Later tradition told that while he was Prior
of Bec he opposed the non-canonical marriage of Duke William with Matilda of Flanders
(1053) and carried matters so far that he incurred a sentence of exile. But the quarrel was settled when he was on the point of departure, and he undertook the difficult task of obtaining the pope’s approval of the marriage. In this he was successful at the same council which witnessed his third victory over Berengar (1059), and he thus acquired a lasting claim on William's gratitude. In assessing this story it may well be relevant that no reputable source can tell what the exact impediment to marriage was. In 1066 Lanfranc
became the first Abbot
of the Abbey of Saint-Étienne at Caen
in Normandy, a monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen
which the duke had supposedly been enjoined to found as a penance for his disobedience to the Holy See. Henceforward Lanfranc
exercised a perceptible influence on his master's policy. William adopted the Cluniac programme of ecclesiastical reform, and obtained the support of Rome for his English expedition by assuming the attitude of a crusader against schism and corruption. It was Alexander II, possibly a pupil of Lanfranc's and certainly a close friend, who gave the Norman Conquest the papal benediction—a notable advantage to William at the moment, but subsequently the cause of serious embarrassments. Archbishop of Canterbury[edit] When the see of Rouen next fell vacant (1067), the thoughts of the electors turned to Lanfranc. But he declined the honour, and he was nominated to the English Primacy as Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
as soon as Stigand
had been canonically deposed on 15 August 1070. He was speedily consecrated on 29 August 1070.[7] The new archbishop at once began a policy of reorganisation and reform. His first difficulties were with Thomas of Bayeux, Archbishop-elect of York, (another former pupil) who asserted that his see was independent of Canterbury
and claimed jurisdiction over the greater part of the English Midlands. This was the beginning of a long running dispute between the sees of Canterbury
and York, usually known as the Canterbury–York dispute.[8]

Signatures at the council of Winchester. The large crosses are the signatures of William & Matilda, the one under theirs is Lanfranc's, and the other bishops' are under his.

Lanfranc, during a visit which he paid the pope for the purpose of receiving his pallium, obtained an order from Alexander that the disputed points should be settled by a council of the English Church. This was held at Winchester in 1072. At this council Lanfranc
obtained the confirmation of his primacy that he sought; nonetheless he was never able to secure its formal confirmation by the papacy, possibly as a result of the succession of Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
to the papal throne in 1073. Lanfranc
assisted William in maintaining the independence of the English Church; and appears at one time to have favoured the idea of maintaining a neutral attitude on the subject of the quarrels between papacy and empire. In the domestic affairs of England the archbishop showed more spiritual zeal. His grand aim was to extricate the Church from the fetters of corruption. He was a generous patron of monasticism. He endeavoured to enforce celibacy upon the secular clergy. Lanfranc
obtained the king's permission to deal with the affairs of the Church in synods. In the cases of Odo of Bayeux
Odo of Bayeux
(1082) (see Trial of Penenden Heath) and of William of St Calais, Bishop of Durham (1088), he used his legal ingenuity to justify the trial of bishops before a lay tribunal. Lanfranc
accelerated the process of substituting Normans for Englishmen in all preferments of importance; and although his nominees were usually respectable, it cannot be said that all of them were better than the men whom they superseded. For this admixture of secular with spiritual aims there was considerable excuse. By long tradition the primate was entitled to a leading position in the king’s councils; and the interests of the Church demanded that Lanfranc
should use his power in a manner not displeasing to the king. On several occasions when William I was absent from England Lanfranc acted as his vicegerent. Lanfranc's greatest political service to the Conqueror was rendered in 1075, when he detected and foiled the conspiracy which had been formed by the earls of Norfolk and Hereford. Waltheof, 1st Earl of Northumberland, one of the rebels, soon lost heart and confessed the conspiracy to Lanfranc, who urged Earl Roger, the earl of Hereford to return to his allegiance, and finally excommunicated him and his adherents. He interceded for Waltheof’s life and to the last spoke of the earl as an innocent sufferer for the crimes of others; he lived on terms of friendship with Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester.

Near contemporary depiction of Lanfranc
in Oxford Bodleian Library MS Bodley 569.

On the death of the Conqueror in 1087 Lanfranc
secured the succession for William Rufus, in spite of the discontent of the Anglo-Norman baronage; and in 1088 his exhortations induced the English militia to fight on the side of the new sovereign against Odo of Bayeux
Odo of Bayeux
and the other partisans of Duke Robert. He exacted promises of just government from Rufus, and was not afraid to remonstrate when the promises were disregarded. So long as he lived he was a check upon the worst propensities of the king’s administration. But his restraining hand was too soon removed. In 1089 he was stricken with fever and he died on 24 May[7] amidst universal lamentations. Notwithstanding some obvious moral and intellectual defects, he was the most eminent and the most disinterested of those who had co-operated with William I in riveting Norman rule upon the English Church and people. As a statesman he did something to uphold the traditional ideal of his office; as a primate he elevated the standards of clerical discipline and education. Conceived in the spirit of popes such as Pope Leo IX, his reforms led by a natural sequence to strained relations between Church and State; the equilibrium which he established was unstable, and depended too much upon his personal influence with the Conqueror. Not quite sainthood[edit] The efforts of Christ Church Canterbury
to secure him the status of saint seem to have had only spasmodic and limited effect beyond English Benedictine circles. However, in the period after the Council of Trent Lanfranc's name was included in the Roman Martyrology, and in the current edition maintains the rank of beatus, [9] the feast day being celebrated on 28 May.[10] Modern Commemoration[edit] In 1931 n the Archbishop Lanfranc
School (now The Archbishop Lanfranc Academy) was opened in Croydon, where he resided at the Old Palace. Christ Church University Canterbury
have named their state of the art accommodation block Lanfranc
House. He is also remembered in road names in London and Worthing, West Sussex. Sources[edit] The chief authority is the Vita Lanfranci by the monk Milo Crispin, who was precentor at Bec and died in 1149. Milo drew largely upon the Vita Herluini, composed by Gilbert Crispin, Abbot
of Westminster. The Chronicon Beccensis abbatiae, a 14th-century compilation, should also be consulted. The first edition of these two sources, and of Lanfranc's writings, is that of L. d'Achery, Beati Lanfranci opera omnia (Paris, 1648). Another edition, slightly enlarged, is that of J. A. Giles, Lanfranci opera (2 vols., Oxford, 1844). The correspondence between Lanfranc
and Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
is given in the Monumenta Gregoriana (ed. P. Jaffi, Berlin, 1865). A more modern edition (and translation) of Lanfranc's correspondence is to be found in H. Clover and M. Gibson (eds), The Letters of Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury (Oxford, 1979). His On the Body and Blood of the Lord is translated (along with Guitmund of Aversa's tract on the same matter) in volume 10 of the Fathers of the Church Medieval Continuation (Washington, DC, 2009). See also[edit]



^ (Latin: Lanfrancus; Italian: Lanfranco


This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (January 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

^ "Lanfranc." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. ^  Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Lanfranc". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  ^ Dudley, Leonard (2008). Information Revolutions in the History of the West. Cheltenham: Elgar. p. 53. ISBN 9781848442801. Retrieved 30 October 2017.  ^ Vita Heluini, in Gilbert Crispin, The Works of Gilbert Crispin, Abbot
of Westminster, ed. A.S. Abalufia and G.R. Evans, Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi(1986), pp. 194-97 ^ Sigebert of Gembloux, Liber de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticised. J.P. Migne, Patrologia Latina vol. 160, cols, 582-3, 'Paulum apostolum exposuit Lanfrancus, et ubicumque opportunitas locorum occurrit, secundum leges dialecticae proponit, assumit, concludit. Richard Southern, Saint Anselm: a Portrait in a Landscape (Cambridge, 1993), p. 40 ^ Southern, Saint Anselm, p. 44, n. 7 discusses various possible dates ^ a b Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.  ^ Barlow, Frank (1979). The English Church 1066–1154: A History of the Anglo-Norman Church. New York: Longman. pp. 39–42. ISBN 0-582-50236-5.  ^ Martyrologium Romanum, ex decreto sacrosancti oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli Pp. II promulgatum, editio [typica] altera, Typis Vaticanis, A.D. MMIV (2004), p. 308 ^ Farmer, David Hugh (2004). Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Fifth ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 309–310. ISBN 978-0-19-860949-0. 


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lanfranc". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Further reading[edit]

LePatourel, John (September 1946). "The Date of the Trial on Penenden Heath". The English Historical Review. 61 (241): 378–388. doi:10.1093/ehr/LXI.CCXLI.378. 

Catholic Church
Catholic Church

Preceded by Stigand Archbishop of Canterbury 1070–1089 Succeeded by Anselm of Canterbury (in 1093)

v t e

Archbishops of Canterbury


Augustine Laurence Mellitus Justus Honorius Deusdedit Wighard Theodore of Tarsus Berhtwald Tatwine Nothhelm Cuthbert Bregowine Jænberht Æthelhard Wulfred Feologild Ceolnoth Æthelred Plegmund Athelm Wulfhelm Oda Ælfsige Byrhthelm Dunstan Æthelgar Sigeric the Serious Ælfric of Abingdon Ælfheah Lyfing Æthelnoth Eadsige Robert of Jumièges Stigand


Lanfranc Anselm Ralph d'Escures William de Corbeil Theobald of Bec Thomas Becket Roger de Bailleul Richard of Dover Baldwin of Forde Reginald Fitz Jocelin Hubert Walter Reginald John de Gray Stephen Langton Walter d'Eynsham Richard le Grant Ralph Neville John of Sittingbourne John Blund Edmund of Abingdon Boniface William Chillenden Robert Kilwardby Robert Burnell John Peckham Robert Winchelsey Thomas Cobham Walter Reynolds Simon Mepeham John de Stratford John de Ufford Thomas Bradwardine Simon Islip William Edington Simon Langham William Whittlesey Simon Sudbury William Courtenay Thomas Arundel Roger Walden Thomas Arundel Henry Chichele John Stafford John Kemp Thomas Bourchier John Morton Thomas Langton Henry Deane William Warham Thomas Cranmer Reginald Pole


Matthew Parker Edmund Grindal John Whitgift Richard Bancroft George Abbot William Laud William Juxon Gilbert Sheldon William Sancroft John Tillotson Thomas Tenison William Wake John Potter Thomas Herring Matthew Hutton Thomas Secker Frederick Cornwallis John Moore Charles Manners-Sutton William Howley John Bird Sumner Charles Longley Archibald Campbell Tait Edward White Benson Frederick Temple Randall Davidson Cosmo Lang William Temple Geoffrey Fisher Michael Ramsey Donald Coggan Robert Runcie George Carey Rowan Williams Justin Welby

Italics indicate a person who was elected but not confirmed.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 82939845 LCCN: n85388902 ISNI: 0000 0001 0919 943X GND: 11856921X SELIBR: 237682 SUDOC: 032693176 BNF: cb118867419 (data) NDL: 00910134 ICCU: ITICCUCFIV53