Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, born in Pavia about 1005, died in Canterbury, England, May 24, 1089. He studied civil law in the university of Bologna, and after practising in Pavia established himself at Avranches in Normandy, where he taught jurisprudence. While on a journey to Rouen he was attacked by robbers, who left him for dead, but was rescued by the monks of the Benedictine abbey of Bee; he entered that order, and in 1046 was chosen prior of Bee. He opened a school to which pupils resorted from England, France, Germany, Flanders, and even Italy. Among the learned men whom his reputation attracted thither was Berengarius, archdeacon of Angers, with whom he carried on a famous controversy on the subject of the eucharist. He denounced the illegal marriage of Duke William of Normandy with his cousin, daughter of the count of Flanders, and was ordered to leave Normandy; but he had an interview with the duke in 1053, became his friend, and procured for him a dispensation from the pope legalizing the marriage. William appointed him a councillor of state, and in 1066 abbot of the newly erected monastery in Caen, where he established a school.
In 1067 he declined the archbishopric of Rouen, to which he was chosen by the people; but William caused him to be elected to the see of Canterbury, vacant by the deposition of Stigand, and he was consecrated in 1070. He successfully established the claims of his see to the primacy of England, and gave proof of his attachment to William by placing in vacant bishoprics and over the chief religious houses ecclesiastics of known fidelity to the Norman interest. The chief direction of affairs both in church and state was committed to his hands whenever the king was absent in Normandy. He crowned William Rufus, on whose accession he was intrusted with the government. He improved the discipline of the monastic bodies, enforced the celibacy of the priesthood, established schools, convents, and hospitals, and built churches and cathedrals. His works, consisting of commentaries on St. Paul's epistles, letters, sermons, and his treatise on the eucharist against Berengarius, were published in Paris in 1648 (new ed. by Giles, 2 vols., Oxford, 1844-'5).