Berengarius (Berenger), an ecclesiastic who played a conspicuous part in the 11th century as an opponent of the doctrine of transub-stantiation, supposed to have been born at Tours in 998, and to have died there in 1088. He resided at Tours during the greater part of his life, and held a canonry in the church of St. Martin, though he was at the same time archdeacon of Angers. His opponents, Guit-mund and Berthold, describe him as a man of shallow intellect and little erudition, whose chief dialectic weapons were the use of terms in a novel signification, and the employment of opprobrious epithets. It is difficult to discover precisely what was his doctrine of the eucharist, although it is certain that he denied transubstantiation. He commenced his attack on this dogma in 1045, and was supported at first by several bishops, the chief of whom were Bishop Bruno of Angers and Bishop Frollant of Senlis, as well as by a still larger number of the inferior clergy and students. Philip I., king of France, countenanced him for a time, from political reasons. The bishops abandoned him, however, at a later period, and all political countenance was withdrawn from him.
The opinion of Berengarius. together with that of John Scotus Erigena, whom he professed to follow, was first condemned by a council at Rome. A public dispute which he held with two monks of Bee, before William of Normandy, ended also unfavorably for him. Soon after (1050) two synods were held, the first at Vercelli, the second at Paris, to both of which he was invited, and where, on his failing to appear, his doctrine was condemned. In 1054 a synod was held at Tours, by the papal legate Hildebrand (afterward Gregory VII.), where Berengarius retracted his doctrine, and signed the formula of faith presented to him, without any attempt to defend himself. As he continued, however, to preach and propagate his doctrine, it was condemned again by Victor II. in 1055; by Nicholas II. and a synod of 113 bishops at Rome in 1059, where Berengarius made a new retraction; by the French synods of Angers, Rouen, St. Maixent, and Poitiers, between 1062 and 1076; by two synods at Rome in 1078 and 1079; and finally by the synod of Bordeaux in 1080. At these last three synods Berengarius renewed his recantation in the most precise language, but after each one, except the last, continued to teach his doctrine as before.
After the last recantation he certainly abstained from attacking the doctrine of the Roman church, and he is said to have died in her communion. The remains of his works are to be found in the collections of D'AchSry and Martene, and in a more recent publication by Vischer (Berlin, 1834).