Berengarius

, or Berenger, the celebrated archdeacon of Angers, was born at Tours in the beginning of the eleventh century, of an opulent family, and became the disciple of the famous Fulbert of Chartres, under whom he made rapid progress in grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, and what were then called the liberal arts. On his return to his country in 1030, he was appointed scholastic, or master of the school of St. Martin. His reputation soon reaching foreign parts, the number of his scholars greatly increased, and many of them were afterwards advanced to high rank in the church; nor did he quit his school when made archdeacon of Angers in 1039. The opinions, which have given him a name in ecclesiastical history, were said to have been first occasioned by a pique. In a dispute with Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, on a very trivial question, he happened to be defeated, and what was worse, his scholars began to go over to that rival. Berengarius, on this, took Erigena for his model, and attacked the mystery of the eucharist, as the popish writers term it, but in plain language, the doctrine of transubstantiation. Bruno, bishop of Angers, Hugh, of Langres, and Adelman, of Brescia, in vain endeavoured to cure him of his heresy, and his writings, which were taken to Rome, were condemned in two councils held by pope Leo IX. in 1050, and himself excommunicated. He then went to the abbey of Preaux in Normandy, hoping to be protected by duke William, surnamed the Bastard, but that young prince summonsed a meeting of the ablest bishops and divines, who again condemned Berengarius, and the council of Paris, in Oct. 1050, deprived him of all his benefices. This loss he is said to have felt more severely than their spiritual inflictions, and it disposed him to retract his sentiments in the council of Tours, in 1055, in consequence of which he was received into church-communion. In 1059 he was cited to the council at Rome, by pope Nicholas II. and having been confuted by Abbo and Laniranc, he | abjured his errors, burnt his books, yet had no sooner reached France, than he protested against his recantation, as extorted by fear, and returned to his studies with the same spirit of inquiry. At length, however, Gregory VII having called a new council at Rome in 1078, Berengei more seriously abjured his opinions, returned to France, and passed the remaining years of his life in privacy and penance. He died Jan. 6, 1088, aged ninety. There have been many disputes betwixt protestant and popish authors, as to the reality or sincerity of his final recantation. His sentiments, however, did not perish on his recantation, or his death, and he may be considered as having contributed to that great reformation in the church which afterwards was carried into lasting effect by his successors. The greater part of his works are lost, but some are preserved among the works of Lanfranc, in the collections of d’Acheri and Martenne; and, in 1770, Lessing discovered and published his answer to Lanfranc, “De corpore et sanguine Jesu Christi.1

1

Dupin. Mosheim.- Biog. Universelle. —Moreri, —Saxii Onomasticon.