Magister Vacarius

Master Vacarius the Lombard is a law teacher and a canon of Southwell Minster, holding the prebend of Norwell Overhall, where he has a moated manor house next to the church. He is the author of Liber Pauperum, a nine-volume textbook on Justinian law aimed at poor students.

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Vacarius studied law at the university of Bologna in the 1130s, during the time of the Four Doctors. He graduated with the title of Magister c. 1140 giving him the right to teach law.   During the mid-1140s, while England was still in the civil war known as the Anarchy, he joined the household of Theobald of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury. Hew would spend the rest of his life in England, aside from visits to ROme and France. At Catnerbury he taught law and wrote several legal tracts. He took holy orders by 1155, though he would have been a clerk in minor orders at least since his time in Bologna.   Some time etween 1159 and 1161 (possibly after Archbishop Theobald's death in 1161) he transferred to the household of Roger de Pont l'Eveque, Archbishop of York. Roger had served alongside Vacarius as one of Theobald's household clerks, and the two seem to have been friends. Roger had been Archbishop of York since 1154.   In 1164 he served as Archbishop Roger's messenger to Pope Alexander III, who was then in Paris, to present the Archbishop's claim to consecrate the Bishop of St Andrew's, establishing York as the archdiocese covering Scotland.   In 1166 Archbishop Roger awarded Vacarius with the prebend of Norwell Overhall, where the Archbishops of York had an impressive manor house, now for Vacarius' use. The prebend was attached to the Collegiate Church of St Mary at Southwell (also known as Southwell Minster).   In 1171 he was instrumental in clearing Archbishop Roger is any wrongdoing in the murder of Arhcbishop Thomas Becket, whom Archbishop Roger had constantly quarrelled. Pope Alexander III specifically asked Archbishop Rotrou of Rouen and Bishop Theobald of Amiens to accept the evidence of Vacarius and his fellow law expert from Beverley Minster, Magister Angerus of Beverley, as evidence. They were both present when Archbishop Roger was formally absolved in Aum├óle, Normandy, on 6 December of that year.   For some years Vacarius was regularly appointed the Pope Alexander III's judge-delegate in England until the Pope's death in 1181, usually in partnership with Magister Angerus of Beverley or the Abbot of Fountains Abbey. He also worked closely with Hugh le Puiset, Bishop of Durham. This role meant he had to travel frequently. While he has always taken his responsibiltiies to the Chapter of Southwell seriously, and is very involved in the running of the collegiate church, his role as the pope's judge-delegate took him to Lincoln, York and Norwich to hear cases, and his academic writing often took him to Oxford.   Following Archbishop Roger's death in 1181, there was a long period when no Archbishop was appointed. Magister Vacarius worked with King Henry II's nominee, the king's illegitimate son Geoffrey, both before and after his appointment. Though he is not elderly he still travels, though not as frequently.   Vacarius was not the only Lombard in Southwell. Of the 10 prebendiary canons at the Minster around 1195, another four were Lombards - Peter de Capella, Andrew Lombard, his brother Martin Lombard, and Vacarius' own nephew, Reginald. Reginald's prebend was a new creation of 1191-1194, created out the prebend at Norwell OVerhall at Vacarius' request (though he retained the far larger part of the prebend for himself).
Date of Death
Year of Birth
1120 AD 72 Years old


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