LANFRANC

 

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LANFRANC, the most eminent of the foreign churchmen who rose to distinction in the medieval Church of England, was born of a noble family at Pavia, in 1005, and educated, partly at Pavia, partly at Bologna, for the profession of the law. For a time he followed the profession of an advocate at Pavia; but in the hope of greater distinction, he removed to France, and founded at Avranches a school of law, which soon became one of the most popular in France. Having been waylaid and all but murdered by robbers during one of his journeys to Rouen, he was carried to the monastery of Bec, where he was treated with much tenderness; and the deep religious impressions there received determined him to abandon the world and become himself a monk. He was soon (1041) chosen prior of the monastery; and his reputation for piety, as well as the fame for theological learning which he acquired, especially in his controversy on the Eucharist with Berengar, led to his translation in 1062 to the still more important monastery of St Stephen, at Caen, recently founded by William, Duke of Normandy. Having enjoyed the confidence of that prince for many years, he was selected by him, after the conquest of England, to fill the primatial see of Canterbury, and he was induced with much reluctance to accept it in 1070. Having once, however, undertaken the charge, he entered zealously into the policy of his sovereign; and under his spiritual rule the Church of England received as strong an infusion of the Norman element as was forced upon the political system of England by the iron hand of the Conqueror. L. outlived William; and to his influence the historians mainly ascribe the peaceful submission with which that monarch's successor, Rufus, was accepted by the kingdom, as well as the comparative moderation of the earlier years of Rufus's reign. The tyranny which has made the name of Rufus odious dates mainly after the death of L., which occurred in 1089, in the 84th year of his age. His chief writings are - Commentaries on the Epistles of St Paul, the Treatise against Berengar, and Sermons. His letters, however, are very interesting. The first complete edition of his works is that of D'Achery (fol. Paris, 1648). They are also found in the Bibliotheca Patrum. See Milman's Latin Christianity, vol. iii. pp. 438440, and also Dr Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, vol. ii. 1861.

 

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UPDATED: 18 April 2014

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