Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury 1033 – 1109

Anselem of BecBorn – around 1033
Died – 21st April 1109
Father – Gundulph
Mother – Ermenberga
Spouse – Did not marry
Children – No children

1033 (around)
Anselem of Bec was born Anselmo d’Aosta to Gundulph and Emrmenberga in Aosta, Burgundy. His father was a nobleman from Lombard, his mother is believed to have been the granddaughter of Conrad the Peaceful, King of Burgundy.
1034 (1st August)
A succession crisis in Burgundy led to war and the annexation of parts of Burgundy including Aosta. As a result Anselem’s parents lost land.
1038 (around)
Very little is known of Anselem’s early life but as the son of nobility he would have received an education, possibly by a tutor or at a monastery.
1048 (during)
Anselem wanted to become a monk and tried to enter a monastery, but his father refused consent and Anselem was turned away.
1049 (during)
After being prevented from following his chosen career, Anselem became ill and gave up studying.
1056 (during)
Anselem left home. He made his way across the Alps then travelled through Burgundy and France.
1059 (during)
Having learned that fellow Burgundian, Lanfranc of Pavia, was Prior of the Benedictine Abbey of our Lady of Bec, Anselem travelled to Normandy.
1060 (during)
Anselem entered the Benedictine Abbey in Bec as a novice.
1063 (during)
William II Duke of Normandy requested that Lanfranc become abbot of his new Abbey of St Stephen in Caen.
1063 (during)
Anselem was elected Prior of the Abbey of our Lady of Bec.
1067 (around)
Following the Norman Conquest of England by William Duke of Normandy, the Abbey of Our Lady in Bec had been granted land in England.
1070 (during)
Anselem’s friend, Lanfranc, was created Archbishop of Canterbury in England.
1070 (around)
It is known that Anselem travelled to England on occasions to oversee the administration of the Abbey’s land and to visit his friend Lanfranc. He also visited William Duke of Normandy, now King William I.
1076 (around)
Anselem wrote Monologion, also known as Faith Seeking Understanding and An Address on God’s Existence.
1078 (around)
Anselem wrote Proslogium, also known as A Monologue on the Reason for Faith.
1078 (26th August)
Abbot Herluin of Bec, who had founded the Abbey in Bec, died. Anselem was elected as the new Abbot.
1079 (22nd February)
Anselem of Bec was consecrated Abbot of Our Lady of Bec by the Bishop of Évreux.
1080 (around)
Anselem began writing the first of a number of Dialogues.
1087 (9th September)
King William I died. He was succeeded by his son Robert in Normandy and his son, William in England.
1089 (24th May)
Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, died. Before his death, Bec had been acknowledged as successor. However, King William II decided not to appoint a successor.
1093 (6th March)
William was taken ill and believing he was dying appointed Anselem of Bec as Archbishop of Canterbury. However, Anselem was reluctant to take the position and stated that he was too old for such a position.
1093 (24th August)
After being pressured by the English clergy, Anselem presented King William II with a set of conditions under which he would accept the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. William, who was not dying after all, could not withdraw the appointment and reluctantly agreed to return Church lands he had confiscated.
1093 (25th September)
Anselem of Bec was invested as Archbishop of Canterbury. He began working for Church reform and removal of Royal interference in Church matters.
1094 (February)
William quarrelled with Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury over the way William conducted himself. William and his favourite, Ranulf Flambard, enjoyed partying and having fun, a pastime he financed by raising taxes and selling church offices.
1095 (25th February)
The Council of Rockingham
This was held to try to settle the ongoing disputes between King William II and Anselem of Bec. The Council was unsuccessful.
1095 (May)
The Pope intervened in the dispute between William II and Anselem of Bec. He sent Walter of Albano as Papal Legate to England. The Legate’s remit was to find reconciliation between the King and Archbishop. The Legate managed to find a solution and the two men were reconciled.
1097 (8th November)
William and Anselem of Bec had another disagreement. William wanted Anselem to provide him with Knights for a campaign in Wales but the Archbishop refused stating that William had not fulfilled his promise to reform the Church. Anselem then left England for Rome. William confiscated the Archbishop’s lands.
1098 (April)
Anselem of Bec reached Rome. He stayed with Pope Urban II.
1099 (Easter)
Anselem was still in Rome and attended the Easter Council at St Peter’s Basilica. Pope Urban II announced a ban lay investiture. This meant that church appointments should only be made by Bishops and Archbishops and not by monarchs. The Pope also stated that Church officials should not pay homage to Kings.
1099 (after Easter)
Having received a definitive answer to the relationship between Kings and Church, Bec began the journey back to England stopping in various towns along the way.
1100 (2nd August)
King William II was killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. The arrow was fired by Walter Tirel, one of the party that had accompanied the King. Historians are divided as to whether William’s death was an accident or an assassination.
1100 (2nd August)
William’s younger brother, Henry knew that his elder brother Robert was away on crusade and seized the throne as King Henry I of England.
1100 (October)
Anselem received an invitation from King Henry I to return to England. Upon his return, Anselem refused to pay homage to Henry stating that the Pope had ordered against this. Anselem refused to acknowledge those bishops and abbots that Henry had appointed, claiming that appointments could only be made by high churchmen. This put Henry in an awkward position since the bishops and abbots he had appointed were great landowners and he needed their support.
1100 (late)
King Henry I sent an embassy to the new Pope Paschal II appealing against the ban on lay investiture claiming that the right to appoint church positions was traditionally in the hands of the monarch.
1101 (during)
Pope Paschal replied to King Henry stating that the ban on lay investiture made by Pope Urban II was to be upheld.
1102 (September)
Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, held a general church council in London. He established the Gregorian Reform in England. The Gregorian Reform maintained the independence of the clergy. It also set moral standards for clerics which included celibacy and sobriety.
1103 (27th April)
Having sent a second deputation to Rome, Henry I now falsley claimed that the Pope had now agreed that clerics should pay homage to their monarch. Anselem of Bec refused and instead made the journey to Rome to find out for himself.
1104 (during)
After meeting with Anselem, Pope Paschal excommunicated those English Bishops that had been appointed by the King.
1105 (22nd July)
Henry and Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury finally reached an agreement over their differences following a meeting at L’Aigle. Henry gave up his right to invest clergy but in return it was agreed that churchmen should pay homage to the King in respect of land owned by their church.
1106 (15th August)
King Henry I travelled to Bec in Normandy to meet with Anselem who was refusing to return to England. Henry agreed to restore all confiscated land to Canterbury and to exempt the clergy from taxation for three years.
1106 (late)
Anselem of Bec returned to England.
1108 (during)
Adelaide and William Adelin, the children of King Henry I, were placed in the care of Anselem, Archbishop of Canterbury, while their father was in Normandy.
1109 (21st April)
Anselem of Bec died in Canterbury.

 

Published May 17 2022 @ 1:03 pm – Updated – May 17, 2022 @ 1:05 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Anselem of Bec 1033 – 1109. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/anselem-of-bec-1033-1109 Last accessed July 6th, 2022