VAGANTES, va-gan'tiz or gan'tes (Clerici vagantes, or vagi): A term applied in early canon law to those clergy who led a wandering life either because they had no benefice or because they had deserted the church to which they had been attached. As early as the fifth and sixth centuries measures were taken against them, as when the Council of Chalcedon forbade ordination without appointment to a specific church, or when the Council of Valencia (524?) threatened the vagantes with excommunication, a penalty extended by the Synod of Arles (524) to those who should give them shelter. Nevertheless, the vagantes still flourished, and frequently aided bishops and other clergy in the discharge of their duties or became chaplains in the castles of the knights, thus making their profession a trade and interfering with the orderly conditions and ministrations of the regular clergy. In 789 Charlemagne renewed the Chalcedon injunctions, and also forbade the entertainment of any clergy who could not produce letters from their bishops. But even these measures failed, and in the ninth century several synods (e.g., Mainz, 847, and Pavia, 845-850) sought to check the vagantes, and their efforts to take possession of benefices already conferred on others, while such prelates as Agobard of Lyons, in his De privilegio et jure sacerdotii, also opposed them. In the twelfth century Gerhoh of Reichersberg (q.v.) again complained of them in his Liber de simonia, but matters became far worse in the following century, when the Synods of Mainz (1261), Aschaffenburg (1292), Treves (1310), and St. Polten (1284) declared against the vagantes, while in Bavaria they were expressly excluded from the king's peaces of 1244, 1281, and 1300.
A peculiar type of vagantes arose in France in the twelfth century, later spreading to England and Germany. These were the roving minstrels, mostly dissolute students or wandering clergy, first called clerici vagantes or ribaldi ("rascals"), and later, after the early thirteenth century, chiefly known as goliardi or goliardenses, terms apparently meaning "sons of Goliath," i.e., "sons of giants." They were masters of poetic form, but many councils of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries sought to restricts the goliards and their excesses. These measures seem practically to have suppressed the goliards in France by the end of the thirteenth century; but in Germany they survived until late in the fifteenth century under various names. Hugo of Trimberg devoted a special chapter of his Renner to the ribaldi and other vagantes, while in England Chaucer alluded to them in no complimentary terms.(A. HAUCK.)
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bingham, Origines, VL, iv. 5, VIL, ii. 12, xVL, xii. 19; G. J. Planck, Geschiehte der christlich-kirch- Zichen Gesellschaftsverfassung, i. 375, ii. 100 sqq., 5 vols., Hanover, 1803-09; W. Giesebrecht, in Allgemeine Monatsschrift fur Wissenschaft und Literatur, 1853, pp. 10 13, 344-381; J. Grimm, XZeinere Schrijten, iii. 1 sqq., Berlin, 1866; O. Hubatseh, Die lateinischen Vapantenlieder des Mittelalters, Gorlitz, 1870; J. von PBugk-Harttung, Dip- lorrealisch-historisehe Forachungen, pp. 50 sqq., Goths, 1579; W. Meyer, in Festschrift der Gottinger Gesellsehaf: der Wroe aenachajten, Gbttingen, 1801; Neander, Christian Church, Vol. iii. passim.
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