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    S. Vaughn, Archbishop Anselm 1093–1109 (Brian Patrick McGuire)


    Mittelalter – Moyen Âge (500–1500)

    Sally N. Vaughn, Archbishop Anselm 1093–1109. Bec Missionary, Canterbury Primate, Patriarch of Another World, Aldershot, Hampshire (Ashgate Publishing) 2012, XXI–287 p. (The Archbishops of Canterbury Series), ISBN 978-1-4094-0121-6, GBP 55,00.

    rezensiert von/compte rendu rédigé par

    Brian Patrick McGuire, Kalundborg

    The Archbishops of Canterbury series promises » authoritative studies « on these men (and hopefully one day women), and Sally Vaughn’s work on Anselm certainly presents this archbishop in a full and convincing manner. This book is the work of a mature scholar who has had time to review a lifetime of reading and thinking about Anselm. In 166 pages of text and under a hundred pages of documents, thankfully in both Latin and English, Vaughn provides what must be the most complete and succinct introduction to Anselm now available.

    Back in the early 1970s I remember telling R. W. Southern that he had to take into consideration the challenge of Sally Vaughn in seeing Anselm as a politically adept player in the power politics of England. Southern’s view in his 1963 biography, » Saint Anselm and his Biographer « , was that the man was not really interested in such influence, for he wanted to withdraw into conversations with God. In his 1990 revised study, » Saint Anselm. A Portrait in a Landscape « , Southern took into consideration Vaughn’s view of Anselm. He did not entirely agree with her, but he had enjoyed fruitful contacts with her in discussing their common archbishop, and certainly he modified his interpretation and provided a more politically-aware Anselm.

    Sally Vaughn has in this volume given a valuable introduction and overview for anyone interested in the history of the Christian Church in the Middle Ages and in English medieval history. She sees Anselm as contributing to realignments in power that took place in Rome and England at the end of the eleventh century, in the aftermath of what we call the Gregorian Reform. The » Introduction: Anselm’s Story through his Letters in Lambeth 59 « takes its point of departure in this central manuscript and provides an overview of the various interpretations of Anselm’s life and works that have emerged since the 1950s. Vaughn also has some superb observations about Eadmer, Anselm’s biographer and the author of the » Historia Novorum « , the outward record of Anselm’s political involvements that has survived in a single manuscript.

    In Chapter 2, » The Bec Background: A Missionary Mentality « , we are shown how Bec was at the very centre of a group of monasteries that ultimately were dependent on it. Vaughn looks at this network almost as a proto-Cistercian structure, and at times I think she overemphasizes Bec’s prominence. She speaks of » almost a Bec order « (p. 38). In Chapter 3, dealing with Anselm’s election, she claims that the sources » suggest that Bec vows of obedience were permanent: The monks owed obedience to the abbot in perpetuity « (p. 60). Here as elsewhere Vaughn can push her evidence too far. Her exclusive concentration on Anselm and his world sometimes fails to convince, as when she claims that a letter to the new archbishop of Lund indicates » that somehow Denmark should be subject to Canterbury as well « (p. 160). Vaughn qualifies this statement, but it remains as an indication of how she can overemphasize Anselm’s significance. I think the letter can be interpreted as a friendly acknowledgement of mutual concerns and nothing more.

    The Fourth is perhaps the most exciting chapter, for it contains the drama of Anselm’s dealings with William Rufus, » An Old Sheep Yoked to a Wild Bull « . This image contrasts with the harmony achieved under Rufus’s successor, Henry, » Two Oxen Pulling the Plow of the Church through the Land of England « , which makes up Chapter 6. Chapter 4 manages to balance information about royal politics with Anselm’s agenda, but in Chapter 5, » Interlude: Anselm in Exile and the Death of a King « , Vaughn slips into a narrative which is more a national history, in which the English Church is but one player. Perhaps these developments can only be described in such a manner, but as a reader I found it hard to find Anselm’s role.

    At the same time I have difficulty in accepting Vaughn’s view that Anselm did not really want the pope to have much influence in England. Why is it that Anselm when he had lost his case with Rufus appealed to the pope and headed for Italy? I remember Southern, as visiting professor at Berkeley in 1968, saying that in his view Anselm was looking for a father figure and sought it in vain in the pope. Even if Anselm as primate had great ambitions, he clearly subordinated himself to papal authority and looked to it as a last resort. In this context I find Vaughn’s view of Anselm’s ambitions and achievements as too triumphalistic.

    This tendency comes across most clearly in the final chapter, » Patriarch of Another World: The Primacy at its Height and the Problem of York « . Southern emphasized that Anselm did not succeed in carrying through his agenda in putting the archbishop of York in place, and so his memory at Canterbury was darkened, something that his biographer Eadmer felt obliged to defend. For Vaughn this unfinished business is not vital in appreciating Anselm’s achievement.

    For anyone interested in the growth of Anselm’s influence as abbot, churchman, and shared ruler of England, this study and its documents will provide a welcome and eminently readable companion. But Vaughn tries also to cover in passing the progression of Anselm’s writings, and here I find her descriptions insufficient. Her pages on the »Cur Deus Homo« fail to convey why the work is revolutionary in theology. Perhaps she has left this understanding of the Redemption to Southern and others, but it is as if she limits herself to seeing Anselm’s theology in terms of themes that can be linked to his involvements in the events of his time.

    There are endless studies of Anselm’s philosophy and theology, and I am not saying that Vaughn should have tried to rival these. Her attempt to look at intellectual history in terms of political background is intriguing, but her results leave something to be desired.

    The debate about Anselm continues, and I am grateful to Sally Vaughn for her signal contributions to it. Yet I remain in disagreement about the person with whom we are dealing, for she claims that he » applied in England the superb administrative skills he had learned as abbot of Bec to order his see in the smallest details « (p. 158). Yes, Anselm did attend to the tiniest of details, but is this the mark of a good administrator? What about a talent for handing over authority to others and trusting them to take care of minor concerns? Again, my argument with Vaughn is that she makes Anselm into much more of a success than I think he was. He accomplished much, but he was always weighed down by a sense of incompleteness. For him the Rule of Saint Benedict’s strictures about the abbot’s being responsible on Judgment Day were a constant reminder of all for which he would have to answer. Vaughn’s view is quite different, and I am grateful to her for making her interpretation so clear. This study is a welcome contribution to our appreciation of Anselm, even if I harbor a different one.

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    PSJ Metadata
    Brian Patrick McGuire
    S. Vaughn, Archbishop Anselm 1093–1109 (Brian Patrick McGuire)
    CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0
    Hohes Mittelalter (1050-1350)
    Europa nördlich und westlich der Italienischen Halbinsel / Alte Welt
    Kirchen- und Religionsgeschichte
    6. - 12. Jh.
    4015701-5 118503278 4020517-4
    1033-1109
    Europa (4015701-5), Anselmus Cantuariensis (118503278), Geschichte (4020517-4)
    PDF document vaughn_mcGuire.docx.pdf — PDF document, 105 KB
    S. Vaughn, Archbishop Anselm 1093–1109 (Brian Patrick McGuire)
    In: Francia-Recensio 2013/1 | Mittelalter - Moyen Âge (500-1500)
    URL: https://prae.perspectivia.net/publikationen/francia/francia-recensio/2013-1/MA/vaughn_mcGuire
    Veröffentlicht am: 12.03.2013 16:20
    Zugriff vom: 22.07.2019 05:24
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