Money and its use in the thought and experience of Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury (1093–1109)
Journal of Medieval History Volume 38, Issue 2, 2012
Giles E.M. Gaspera* & Svein H. Gullbekkb
This article explores aspects of a broader question: what money meant to the inhabitants of north-western Europe in the late eleventh and early twelfth century, evidence for its use, and how it was conceptualised and discussed. The existence of money is well attested in the archaeological record. A monestised economy, central to the working of royal and comital courts, as well as mercantile, urban and rural communities, is also well documented in the archival record, perhaps most famously for Anglo-Saxon England. However, for all of the tangible numismatic material and evidence of sophistication in the management of coin production, surprisingly little attention has been paid to investigating how money was actually used, and, specifically, how the use of money in this formative period was understood, articulated and expressed. This article adopts an explicitly inter-disciplinary approach to the subject to interrogate a range of source material not previously examined in this context. It focuses on the sources associated with Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury (1093–1109), some 475 letters and the contemporary Life and complementary historical work written by his close companion Eadmer of Canterbury. The discussion opens up further dimensions of Anselm's life and thought, as well as offering a detailed insight into an individual's experience with and thinking about money in the later eleventh and early twelfth century.