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Biography of Nikolaus Varnbüler, 1519-1604

The following description draws primarily from the biography of Nikolaus that appears in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 39, pp. 498-499

Nikolaus was a famous professor of law in Tübingen, Germany, where he became known for his mastery of classical literature, elegant speeches, and practical expression.

Nikolaus received his initial education at home and in the schools of Lindau (Bavaria). In 1537 he went to Strasbourg to study at the academy and he stayed there for three years. From early on he was lauded by his professors for his intellectual talents. He was awarded a doctoral degree in Tübingen in 1544. He had arrived there in 1543 and graduated with his brother. He served first as an attorney at the ducal court in Tübingen, then simultaneously as a professor of Roman law in 1544. He was soon appointed to the Württemberg council and in this capacity he served four dukes of Württemberg. In 1548, after Alba's troops invaded the country, he had his first opportunity to demonstrate his political acumen. At the time, Württemberg (like other German provinces) was suffering heavily under the Spanish occupation sent by Emperor Karl V in an attempt to enforce his decrees. In order to rid Tübingen of this plague, Nikolaus was sent with Mayor Stammler to Augsburg. In 27 hours they rode from Tübingen to Augsburg and it was Nikolaus's talents that enabled them, in negotiations with the emperor and Alba, to negotiate a settlement that brought about the removal of the troops and freed Tübingen from the payment of tributes.

In the meantime, Nikolaus's reputation as an instructor was growing, such that he was first elector director in 1554. He was to hold the office again in later years. In addition to his work as a teacher and in court, he dedicated his efforts as a faculty member to the legal councils. In 1558 he succeeded Gribaldus as professor of the codex.

During those years Nikolaus assisted in drafting the first and second Württemberg land and property rights laws. In 1552 Duke Christoph submitted a draft of those rights to the faculty of the law school, in which Nikolaus was a leading member, for their review. By the end of 1553 a final draft of the rights was produced and was returned to the duke. Shortly after the publication of the rights there were many requests for clarification of several points. The fact that Christoph conferred with Nikolaus and the legal faculty before responding to those requests is proof of Nikolaus's respected status. Nikolaus also played a leading role in the ongoing negotiations leading to the second land right of 1567.

On several occasions he served as a diplomat. For example, he served at the negotiations for the Augsburg Peace of 1555. In 1576 he attended the imperial diet at Regensburg and in 1577 he represented his duke at negotiations for the Tyrolese land grants after Maximilian died. Nikolaus had been appointed a Margrave-Brandenburg councilor in 1580 and served in the Württemberg chamber court. He resigned as a professor in 1594 but remained active as a member of the senate and the faculty. Although he did not publish any literature, his lectures were famous due to his clear and elegant presentation. He significantly influenced the policies of the Tübingen law school.

Nikolaus married Regina (maiden name Walter), daughter of an Augsburg patrician, in 1547 and they celebrated their 50th anniversary on August 30, 1597, surrounded by many descendants. E. Cellius honored the occasion with a printed Latin poem. Nikolaus died a few months after his wife.

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