Anselm of Havelberg

Anselm of Havelberg[1] (c. 1100 – 1158) was a German bishop and statesman, and a secular and religious ambassador to Constantinople. He was a Premonstratensian, a defender of his order[2][3] and a critic of the monastic life of his time, and a theorist of Christian history. According to Friedrich Heer, "the peculiar course of Anselm's life made this much-travelled man the theologian of development, of progress, of the right of novelty in the Church".[4]


Anselm's birthplace is uncertain. He was a pupil of Norbert of Xanten at Laon, and then was appointed to the Bishopric of Havelberg in the Northern March. Because Havelberg was then controlled by the Polabian Slavs, Anselm's provisional seat was in Jerichow. He served as papal legate and overall commander of the 1147 Wendish Crusade. After Havelberg was recovered by the Saxons during the campaign, cathedral construction was begun.[5]

Anselm was sent by Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor, to Constantinople in 1136.[6] in the hope of a Byzantine alliance. He held theological discussions with Nicetas of Nicomedia,[7] an account of which he wrote later as his Dialogues, at the request of Pope Eugenius III. His account tended to play down the theological differences, including the filioque clause,[8] but was more stark on the political issues. A later encounter with Basil of Achrida in 1154 proved fruitless[9]

Anselm also served as Archbishop of Ravenna from 1155-8.[10] He died in Milan.


Anselm's works include De ordine canonicorum regularium, Apologeticum pro ordine canonicorum regularium, and the three Dialogi (Greek title Antikeimenon[11]), in the Patrologia Latina.


  1. ^ Anselm von Havelberg, Anselmus Havelbergensis, Anselmus episcopus Havelbergensis.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-03-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link): "Anselm of Havelberg (+ 1158), in his Apologetic Epistle, showed that the active life and the contemplative life - later referred to as the "mixed life" can be perfectly blended in the life of the canons".
  3. ^ [1]: :The first treatise on the mixed life was that of the regular canon Anselm of Havelberg, who argued that the supreme model of religious life, Christ, practiced contemplation and action equally".
  4. ^ The Intellectual Life of Europe (English translation, 1966), p.90.
  5. ^ TRANSROMANICA - The Romanesque Routes of European Heritage
  6. ^ [2]: "Again in 1135 Lothair III had sent as ambassador to John Comnenus a Premonstratensian Canon Anselm afterwards Bishop of Havelberg, who held a debate with Nicetas Archbishop of Nicomedia. According to the report which he subsequently drew up at the request of Eugenius III, the points discussed were the procession of the Holy Ghost, the use of unleavened bread and the claims of Rome".
  7. ^ I. S. Robinson, The Papacy 1073-1198 (1990), p.182.
  8. ^ The Filioque: a Church-Dividing Issue? An Agreed statement (...) Archived 2010-08-06 at the Wayback Machine (Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas)
  9. ^ Walter Berschin - 5. The Metropolis Constantinople
  10. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Ravenna
  11. ^ Online text [3].


  • Dialogues/Anselme de Havelberg (1966, Paris: Les editions du Cerf)
  • Carol Neel, Philip of Harvengt and Anselm of Havelberg: The Premonstratensian Vision of Time, Church History, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 483–493
  • Jay T. Lees (1998) Anselm of Havelberg: deeds into words in the twelfth century
  • Sebastian Sigler (2005), Anselm von Havelberg: Beiträge zum Lebensbild eines Politikers, Theologen und königlichen Gesandten im 12. Jahrhundert

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