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Philip of Harvengt and Anselm of Havelberg: The Premonstratensian Vision of Time

  • Carol Neel (a1)


During the past two decades, a spate of interpretive studies has addressed the spirituality of regular canons in the twelfth century. Caroline Bynum's Docere Verbo et Exemplo, most notably, has established that there was a distinctive canonical perspective on medieval religious reform. In Bynum's work in particular, the works of two Augustinian canons of the Order of Prémontré, Anselm of Havelberg (d. 1158) and Philip of Harvengt (d. 1183), figure importantly. Both Anselm and Philip—the one a bishop on the Slavic frontier and the other abbot of a double community in Brabant—were prominent apologists for their order's place among a proliferation of new religious groups. But recent scholarship has so far suggested no particular community of ideas between these two eminent twelfth-century Premonstratensians. Nor, more generally, has the ideology and spirituality of canons of their order, founded in 1121 by the Belgian nobleman Norbert of Xanten, been set clearly apart in more than name from the thought and practice of other groups of contemporary Augustinians.



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This article was prepared at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, in the fall of 1992. Thanks are due to colleagues and staff members at HMML and at St. John's Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research for their support of this project.

1. Bynum, Caroline Walker, Docere verbo et exemplo: An Aspect of Twelfth-Century Spirituality, Harvard Theological Studies 31 (Missoula, Mont., 1979), esp. pp. 195197.Material from this mongraph is revised as an article in Bynum's collection of essays on medieval spiritual life: “The Spirituality of the Regular Canons in the Twelfth Century,” in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley, Calif., 1982), pp. 2258.See also Libellus de diversis ordinibus et professionibus qui sunt in aecclesia, ed. and trans. Constable, Giles and Smith, Bernard (Oxford, 1972), pp. xi–xxix;Bischoff, Guntram, “Early Premonstratensian Eschatology: The Apocalyptic Myth,” in Spirituality of Western Christendom, ed. Elder, E. Rozanne, Cistercian Studies 30 (Kalamazoo, Mich., 1976), pp. 4171;Weinfurter, Stefan, “Norbert von Xanten als Reformkanoniker und Stifter des Prämonstratenserordens,” in Norbert von Xanten: Adliger, Ordensstifter, Kirchenfürst, ed. Elm, Kaspar (Cologne, 1984), pp. 159188.These studies generally fail to address Francois Petit's old assertion that the Premonstratensians were uniquely significant for their role mediating between traditional monasticism and later mendicancy.See Petit, Francois, La spiritualité des Prémontrés au XIIe et XIIIe siècles (Paris, 1947), esp. pp. 266268

2. Two recent studies of Anselm outline the central problems in his work and discuss scholarly treatments: Morrison, Karl, “Anselm of Havelberg: Play and the Dilemma of Historical Progress,” in Religion, Culture and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies in Honor of Richard E. Sullivan, ed. Noble, Thomas F. X. and Contreni, John J. (Kalamazoo, Mich. 1987), pp. 219256;Lees, Jay Terry, “Anselm of Havelberg: ‘Ecclesia’ and ‘Historia’ in the Twelfth Century‘ (Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 1983). A revision of Lee's dissertation is currently under review for publication, and will be fundamental to any new study of Premonstratensian thought in the Middle Ages.Finally, Berschin, Walter offers the most recently published compact summary of Anselm scholarship, although he is oblivious of studies in English during the last decade, “Anselm von Havelberg und die Anfange einer Geschichtstheologie des hohen Mittelalters,” Literaturwissenschaftliches jahrbuch, n.s. 29 (1988): 225232.For a basic discussion of Philip of Harvengt, assembling references to editions and manuscripts as well as older scholarship, see Sijen, G. P.'s two-part article, “Philippe de Harveng, abbé de Bonne-Espérance,” Analecta Praemonstratensia [AP] 14 (1938): 3752and “Les oeuvres de Philippe de Harveng, abbé de Bonne-Espérance,” AP 15 (1939): 129166.See also Roby, Douglass, “Philip of Harvengt's Contribution to the Question of Passage from One Religious Order to Another,” AP 53 (1973): 69100. There remains no substantial study focusing on Philip of Harvengt's theology and hagiography.

3. Bischoff has indeed suggested in his study of Eberwin of Steinfeld that Premonstratensian eschatology was distinctive. Bischoff, , “Early Premonstratensian Eschatology,” pp. 59, 70. The present study accepts Bischoff's point, but focuses on sources for the order's representation of historical time. There is, nevertheless, a clear connection among Premonstratensian visions of the past, present, and future.

4. Engen, John Van, Rupert of Deutz (Berkeley, Calif., 1983), p. 47 and n. 143. The lone manuscript of Rupert's text is Brussels, Bibl. roy. MS 9368, fols. 73v–81v.Found in Catalogus codicum hagiographicum bibliothecae regiae Bruxellensis, ed. Society of Bollandists, Analecta Bollandiana 2–8 (Brussels, 18861889), 2:328;see Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, ed. Society of Bollandists (Brussels, 18981901), 1:126.

5. For a summary of the history and current state of discussion of the history of the Rule of Saint Augustine, see Zumkeller, Adolar, Augustine's Ideal of the Religious Life, trans. Edmund Colledge (New York, 1986), pp. 283287 and nn. 9–12.The standard critical study is Verheijen, Luc, La règie de Saint Augustin, 2 vols. (Paris, 1967).

6. Philip's Vita Augustini is published in the Patrologia Latina collection of his writings, all of which are reproduced from the seventeenth-century edition: Opera omnia, ed. Chamart, Nicolas (Douai, 1620).Philip's works fill an entire volume: Patrologia, Series Latina [PL], ed. Migne, J.-P., 222 vols. (Paris, 18411864), vol. 203. The text of Vila beati Augustini Hipponensis episcopi is found in cols. 1205–1234.

7. See, for instance, Sijen's comments in “Oeuvres,” p. 156.See, still more depreciatory, in the context of a general discussion of twelfth-century hagiography, de Ghellinck, Joseph, L' Essor de la littérature latine au XIIe siècle, 2nd ed. (Brussels, 1954), p. 405.

8. This confusion is evident, for instance, even in the Brussels catalog. See Catalogus codicum hagiographicum, 1:290–292, where an Augustine vita is identified as the text of Jordan of Saxony (Quedlinburg) but the publication is cited as the text attributed to Philip of Harvengt in PL 203; yet the same catalog entry includes a note from the fourteenth-century manuscript itself (cod. sig. 1351–1372, fol. 47v) clarifying the matter: “Haec Possidonius [!] et in legenda famosa.—Sciendum est quod legenda famosa appellatur hie legenda quaedam sollempnis et antiqua stilo venusto more veterum compilata a quodam qui Philippum se nominat.”" This manuscript note continues with the remark that this particular text is popular in Augustinian and Premonstratensian communities: “Et habetur illa legenda in multis antiquis monasteriis canonicorum regularium et Praemonstratensium.”The same manuscript is identified as cod. 1130 in the general Brussels catalog, Catalogue des manuscrits de la bibliothèque royale de Belgique 2, ed. Gheyn, J.van den (Brussels, 1902), pp. 163165.

9. Sijen's well-detailed biography is found in “Philippe de Harvengt.”

10. Philip's vita Augustini survives in at least fourteen complete or partial manuscript copies. Sijen, “Oeuvres,” pp. 155–156.

11. The distinctiveness of the content of book one of Anselm's Anticimenon has led to its frequent consideration as separate from the latter two books. This artificial division of the work is rightly criticized by Morrison, , “Anselm of Havelberg,” pp. 219–220.The distinctiveness of book one nevertheless demands attention. The separate edition and facing French translation therefore remain useful: Dialogues, livre I: “Renouveau dans l'église,” ed. and trans. Salet, Gaston, Sources Chrétiennes 118 (Paris, 1966). Anselm's complete text appears as Dialogi in PL 188: cols. 139–1248.

12. Among basic discussions of Anselm as theologian of history, see Grundman, Herbert, Studien über Joachim von Floris (Leipzig, 1927), esp. pp. 9294;Kamlah, Wilhelm, Apokalypse und Geschichtstheologie: Die mittelalterliche Auslegung der Apokalypse vor Joachim von Fiore (Berlin, 1935; reprint Vaduz, 1965), pp. 6170;Rauh, Horst Dieter, Das Bild des Antichrist im Mittelalter: Von Tyconius mm Deutschen Symbolismus (Münster, 1979), pp. 292299.Further bibliography is assembled by Braun, Joachim in Die Deutsche Literature des Mittelalters, Verfasserlexkon, 2nd ed., ed. Buchberger, Michael, 10 vols. (Berlin, 1978), 1, col. 391.For the received assessment of Anselm's thought in American scholarship, see McGinn, Bernard, Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (New York, 1979), pp. 109110.

13. McGinn, , Visions of the End, pp. 109–110.Lees qualifies the assessment of Anselm's work as “progressivist” (pp. 316–321).Morrison, as well, assembles the bibliography of the progressivist interpretation and attacks it directly (“Anselm of Havelberg,” p. 219 and n. 2, pp. 245–246).

14. Lees, , “Anselm of Havelberg,” pp. 322–325.

15. “Praemisi autem librum de una forma credendi et multiformitate vivendi.” Salet Dialogues, livre 1, p. 30.

16. Sijen writes that this vita was, further, Philip's first literary effort (“Oeuvres,” p. 156). But Philip says in the prologue to his Passio S. Salvii martyris only that the life of Augustine was his first such (hagiographical) work: “nihil tale vel ante vel postea feci” (PL 203, col. 1312).

17. Sijen, , “Philippe de Harveng,” p. 41.

18. Sijen collects and interprets the evidence from Philip's letters about his painful expulsion from Bonne-Espérance, from which he returned triumphantly and was soon after elected abbot (“Philippe of Harveng,” pp. 42–48).Oda of Rivreulle did not die until 1158. It seems improbable that Philip wrote down her story immediately, although his text offers no more specific evidence of its date of composition.See Backmund, Norbert, Die mittelalterlichen Geschichtsschreiber des Prämonslratenserordens, Bibliotheca Analectorum Praemonstratensium 10 (Averbode, 1972), pp. 206208.

19. Epistola apologetica pro canonicis regularibus, PL 188, col. 1131–1136.

20. “Et fit mira Dei dispensatione, quod a generatione in generationem succrescente semper nova religione, renovatur ut aquilae juventus Ecclesiae, quo et sublimius in contemplatione volare queat, et subtilius quasi irreverberatus oculis radios veri solis contueri valeat” (Salet, Dialogues, livre 1, p. 104).

21. See, for instance, a discussion of Otto of Freising's famous description of the world's decay in the prologue to his chronicle in Mierow, Charles Christopher, The Two Cities: A Chronicle of Universal History to the Year 1146 A.D. (New York, 1928), pp. 5860.

22. Braun, Joachim Wilhelm, “Studien zur Überlieferung der Werke Anselms von Havelberg I: Die Überlieferung des Anticimenon,” Deutches Archiv für Erforschung des' Miltelalters 28 (1972): 136.

23. Lees, , “Anselm of Havelberg,” pp. 206–211.

24. “Resurrectionem enim quamdam significavit nobis.… Dicitur aquila, cum senectute corporis pressa fuerit, immoderatione rostri crescentis cibum capere non posse.… [D]icitur collidere et percutere ad petram ipsum quasi labium suum superius, quo nimis crescente edendi aditus clauditur.… Accedit ad cibum, et omnia reparantur: erit post senectutem tamquam iuvenis aquila…volat excelsa sicut antea, fit in ea quaedam resurrectio,” (Enarratio in psalmos 102.9, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina [CCL] 40 [Turnhout, 1956], p. 1459).See also, among many parallel texts: Hugh of Saint Victor, De bestiis et aliis rebus, PL 177, col. 137;Gerhoh of Reichersberg, Commentani in psalmos, PL 194, cols. 610–611.

25. The later anonymous prologue to Augustine's commentary on the gospel of John was the primary source of this image: In Iohannis evangelium tractatus CXXIV, ed. Willems, Radbod, CCL 36 (Turnhout, 1954), p. xiv.A survey of the allegorical indexes of the PL affirms that the eagle was primarily a figure for John as the evangelist and as the prophetic speaker of the Apocalypse; some seventeen citations refer to the eagle as an image for John or for John and the human intelligence or soul, while eight use the eagle for the devil, and a scattered few single texts adopt the eagle respectively as figure for the soul only, the saints collectively, the Fathers of the church collectively, philosophers, vices, scriptures, Jove, and Christ himself (PL 219, cols. 163, 187, 235). In none does the eagle refer specifically to Augustine or to regular religious.See also, for the eagle as image in visual arts, Réau, Louis, Iconographie de l'art Chrétien, 3 vols. (Paris, 19551958), 1: 8486; the eagle served as an image for both Christ and John, and further for regeneration through baptism, ascension, and last judgment.

26. “[M]ultis quorumdam fratrum precibus coactus” (Salet, Dialogues, livre 1, p. 30).

27. “Quia enim fratres cum quibus conversabar devotione accensi…petierunt ut de eodem beato confessore aliquid compendiosus conarer scribere” (PL 203, col. 1205).

28. PL 203, col. 1205.

29. Philip's little work on Augustine occupies twenty-nine PL columns, as opposed to Possidius's thirty-three. See Possidius, Vila sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis episcopi, PL 32, cols. 33–66.

30. Compare Possidius, PL 32, col. 35; Philip, PL 203, cols. 1207–1209.

31. “[A]d diligendum, quaerendum, tenendum sapientiam” (PL 203, col. 1207).

32. Philip expands upon Possidius's narration of Augustine's life in community in both Madaura and Hippo (compare Possidius, PL 32, cols. 37, 42; Philip, PL 203, cols. 1219, 1221).Philip uses much of the same language, but adds a lengthy discussion informed by twelfth-century polemic among orders on Augustine's successful blending of the roles of Mary and Martha, that is of (contemplative) monks and (active) clergy (col. 1218).As Bynum has noticed, Anselm of Havelberg, in an explicitly apologetic work “changing the traditional exegesis of the story of Mary and Martha,” likewise portrayed the mixed life as higher than contemplative pursuit alone.See Bynum Jesus as Mother, p. 33 and n. 38;compare Anselm, Epistola apologetica, PL 188, cols. 1131–1132.

33. “Reverberatus enim infirmitate propria, in solis aeterni radium defigere non praevalebat oculum, et cum eniteretur, recedebat horrore” (PL 203, col. 1210).

34. “Cum igitur evectus supra se, cibum hunc esse grandium nosset, relapsus apud se nil secum ferebat, nisi memoriam amantem, et quasi olefacta desiderantem, quae comedere nondum posse” (Philip, PL 203, col. 1210).Compare Augustine, Enarrationes in psalmos, CCL 40, 1459 and n. 25 above.See also Augustine's one brief autobiographical usage of the image of the rejuvenated eagle in Confessionum libri XIII 11.11, CCL 27, ed. Verheijen, Luke (Turnhout, 1981), p. 200: “quoniam renovabitur iuventus mea sicut aquilae.”

35. “Hoc nimirum ardore irremisso amplexatus, in hoc die et nocte meditatus, in ejus radiis aquilinum intuitum fixit, et quamvis in terris corpore versaretur, tamen spiritu in coelestibus vixit” (Philip, PL 203, col 1230).

36. See n. 25 above.

37. Hugh of Saint Victor, Expositio moralis in Abdiam, PL 175, col. 378: “Sophistae vero, et philosophi ut aquila. Aquilae nempe juxta aliquid visi sunt philosophi et sophistae, dum cordis oculis ad solem justitiae erigunt, dum aciem mentis in ipsum veritatis radium irreverberate figunt. Sed aquila inde statim retrahitur; quia post acceptam veritatis insitam notitiam, elationis merito philosophus et sophista ad errorum caliginem revertuntur.” Although an exhaustive search of Hugh's and others' work for this image is virtually impossible, it would seem from this unflattering reference to pagan philosophers as eagles that Hugh would have been unlikely to have employed it, as Philip did, for the philosopher Augustine who eventually, as theologian, reached eternal truth.

38. For discussion of the early lives of Norbert, see Grauwen, Wilfried M., “Die Quellen zur Geschichte Norberts von Xanten,” in Norbert von Xanten, pp. 15–33.

39. “[E]t quod docebat, velut aquila provocans ad volandum pullos suos operibus demonstrabat. Erant enim exhortationes et sermones, non de terra, nee terrenum saporem quemlibet praetendentes.… Volabat quidem mente et ore ad requiescendum, et suos auditores volare faciebat.… Unde quidam ex Fratribus assidentes, in tanto meritis excessu rapti sunt, ut de locis, in quibus sedebant, surgerent: et circa se pennas quaerentes invenire putarent, statim se volare existimantes et requiescere” (Vila Norberti archiepiscopi Magdeburgensis, Acta Sanctorum, ed. Society of Bollandists, Junii I [Paris, 1867], p. 823).

40. Grauwen, , “Die Quellen zur Geschichte,” p. 15.This point supports Bischoff's suggestion that Norbert himself may have influenced Eberwin of Steinfeld's and Anselm of Havelberg's markedly similar theologies of history (Bischoff, “Early Premonstratensian Eschatology,” pp. 57–59).The apparent rootedness of Premonstratensian imagery in Augustinian apologetic and hagiography, however, tends to minimize the importance of the influence of Rupert of Deutz, which Bischoff argues shaped Norbert's and his followers' ideas (pp. 59–67).

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