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Honorius Magister


Archdeacon of Richmond and outstanding canonist of the Anglo-Norman school of the late 12th century; date and place of birth unknown; d. Richmond, c. 121013. His scholastic career covered the period c. 1185 to 1195. He belonged to a group of English decretists active in Paris c. 1186 to 1190 (richard de mores, the anonymous author of the Summa Omnis qui iuste, and others). During this time he wrote his only known work, the Summa decretalium questionum. It introduced a new didatic and literary method, soon to be imitated by others: a systematic treatise combined with the dialectical discussion and solution of problems of interpretation or, sometimes, of cases. Honorius's Summa grew out of a formal course given on Fridays (questiones veneriales secundum mag. Honorium in one MS); it is preserved in seven MSS, which is more than for any other work of the Anglo-Norman school of the time, indicating its success. Honorius taught at Oxford from 1192 (perhaps earlier) until 1195, when he entered the service of Abp. Geoffrey Plantagenet of York. In 1198 Geoffrey conferred the archdeaconry of Richmond upon Master Honorius, but the cathedral chapter of York sided with the king's candidate and refused his installation. This was the beginning of a lengthy and complex litigation, in the course of which Archbishop Geoffrey broke with Honorius; for a time two interlocking lawsuits were pending in Rome, where from 1201 Honorius pleaded his case in person. On the main issue Pope innocent iii finally pronounced sentence in his favor (June 1, 1202). Soon thereafter Honorius became a member of the household of Abp. Hubert Walter of Canterbury, for whom he performed important services. After the archbishop's death he was one of the proctors for King John in Rome (1205) in the great Canterbury election case. But a few years later he was stripped of all his possessions and in prison for a debt of 300 marks he owed the crown from the years of his struggle for Richmond. His name occurs for the last time in the records of the exchequer by Michaelmas in 1210. He must have died between that date and 1213, when the first mention is made of his successor in the Archdeaconry of Richmond.

Bibliography: s. kuttner and e. rathbone,"Anglo-Norman Canonists of the 12th Century," Traditio 7 (194951) 304316, 326, 344347, full coverage of sources and bibliog. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 2: 956957; 3:xxix. Bulletin of the Institute of Research and Study in Medieval Canon Law in Traditio 11 (1955) 448.

[s. kuttner]

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