Anselm of Canterbury ~ Church & State – Medieval to modern

Anselm of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the Church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Called the founder of scholasticism, he is famous as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God. He became Archbishop of Canterbury under William II of England, and was exiled from England from 1097 to 1100, and again from 1105 to 1107 under Henry I of England as a result of the investiture controversy, the most significant conflict between Church and state in Medieval Europe.
Anselm’s canonization was requested by Thomas Becket in 1163.He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI. On 21 April 1909, 800 years after his death, Pope Pius X issued an encyclical “Communium Rerum”, praising Anselm, his ecclesiastical career, and his writings.


“Although Henry was primarily concened to increase the royal power , the way in which he did so extended the rule of law in a fundamental sense, replacing feuds, self help and local custom by a more stable, centralized, equitable and just system of courts and officials than had ever existed before.Becket in turn represented more than the manoeuvrings of ecclesiastical power,however much these preoccupied him.Embedded within the self-assertion of episcopal and papal power was the claim that human law is the shadow cast by divine law, that the institutions of law embody the virtue of justice.Becket represents the appeal to an absolute standard that lies beyond all secular and particular codifications.On this medieval view, as on the ancient, there is no room for the modern liberal distinction between law and morality, and there is no room for this because of what the medieval kingdom shares with the polis, as Aristotle conceived it.Both are conceived as communities in which men in company pursue the human good and not merely as – what the modern liberal state takes itself to be – providing the arena in which each individual seeks his or her own private good.”
(Alaisdair MacIntyre – After Virtue p172)

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