François Hotman

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Francois Hotman on his deathbed, after Joos van Winghe Crispijn van de Passe (I), after Joos van Winghe - Portrait of Francois Hotman.jpg
François Hotman on his deathbed, after Joos van Winghe

François Hotman (23 August 1524 – 12 February 1590) was a French Protestant lawyer and writer, associated with the legal humanists and with the monarchomaques, who struggled against absolute monarchy. His first name is often written 'Francis' in English. His surname is Latinized by himself as Hotomanus, by others as Hotomannus and Hottomannus. He has been called "one of the first modern revolutionaries". [1]

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

The legal humanists were a group of scholars of Roman law, which arose in Italy during the Renaissance with the works of Lorenzo Valla and Andrea Alciato as a reaction against the Commentators. In the 16th century, the movement reached France, where it became very influential. They had a general disdain for the Middle Ages and felt nothing good could come from then. They also had a great love of antiquarianism and were greatly concerned with the authority and accuracy of the Corpus Iuris Civilis. Thus, they described the work of the glossators and commentators as a malignant cancer on the text. They particularly disliked the commentators because in their attempt to apply law in practice, they had moved further and further away from the texts.

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme autocratic authority, basically not being restricted by written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.



He was born in Paris, the eldest son of Pierre Hotman (1485–1554), Seigneur de Villers-St-Paul, jure uxoris and Paule de Marle, heiress of the Seigneurie de Vaugien and Villers St Paul. His grandfather Lambert Hotman, a Silesian burgher, emigrating from Emmerich, (in the Duchy of Cleves), had left his native country to go to France with Engelbert, Count of Nevers. His father Pierre, was a lawyer, practicing at the Paris Bar. Around the time of Francois' birth, Pierre was appointed to an official position in the Department of Woods and Forests (known as the 'Marble Table'). By this time, the Hotman family, that is, Pierre, his brothers and uncles were one of the most important legal families in France.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Silesia Historical region

Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Its area is about 40,000 km2 (15,444 sq mi), and its population about 8,000,000. Silesia is located along the Oder River. It consists of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia.

Emmerich am Rhein Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Emmerich am Rhein meaning Emmerich on the Rhine is a town and municipality in the northwest of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The town has a harbour and a kay at the Rhine. In terms of local government organization, it is a medium-sized city belonging to the district of Kleve in the administrative region (Regierungsbezirk) of Düsseldorf.

Pierre, a zealous Catholic and a counsellor of the parlement of Paris, intended his son for the law, and sent him at the age of fifteen to the University of Orléans. He obtained his doctorate in three years, and returned to Paris. The work of a practising lawyer was not to his taste; he turned to jurisprudence and literature, and in 1546 was appointed lecturer in Roman Law at the University of Paris. The fortitude of Anne Dubourg under torture gained his adhesion to the cause of reform.

Parlement Ancien Régime justice court

A parlement, in the Ancien Régime of France, was a provincial appellate court. In 1789, France had 13 parlements, the most important of which was the Parlement of Paris. While the English word parliament derives from this French term, parlements were not legislative bodies. They consisted of a dozen or more appellate judges, or about 1,100 judges nationwide. They were the court of final appeal of the judicial system, and typically wielded much power over a wide range of subject matter, particularly taxation. Laws and edicts issued by the Crown were not official in their respective jurisdictions until the parlements gave their assent by publishing them. The members were aristocrats called nobles of the gown who had bought or inherited their offices, and were independent of the King.

University of Orléans French university in Orléans created in 1966

The University of Orléans is a French university, in the Academy of Orléans and Tours. As of July 2015 it is a member of the regional university association Leonardo da Vinci consolidated University.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Giving up a career on which he had entered with high repute, he went in 1547 to Lyon. In the summer of 1548, at Bourges, he married Claude Aubelin (daughter of Guillaume Aubelin, Sieur de La Riviere and Francoise de Brachet). She and her father, like himself, were refugees. In October 1548 he moved to Geneva to be John Calvin's secretary. He went to Lausanne, and was elected to that university in February 1550. There, on the recommendation of Calvin, he was appointed professor of belles lettres and history. He was made a citizen of Geneva in 1553, his eldest child Jean was born there in 1552. On the invitation of the magistracy, he lectured at Strasbourg on law in October 1555, and became professor in June 1556, superseding François Baudouin, who had been his colleague in Paris. He was a member, from Strasbourg, to the Colloquy of Worms on 11 September 1557.

Lyon Prefecture and commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Lyon or Lyons is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located in the country's east-central part at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, about 470 km (292 mi) south from Paris, 320 km (199 mi) north from Marseille and 56 km (35 mi) northeast from Saint-Étienne. Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais.

Bourges Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Bourges is a city in central France on the Yèvre river. It is the capital of the department of Cher, and also was the capital of the former province of Berry.

Geneva Large city in Switzerland

Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

His fame was such that overtures were made to him by the courts of Prussia and Hesse, and by Elizabeth I of England. Twice he visited Germany, in 1556 accompanying Calvin to the Diet of Frankfurt. He was entrusted with confidential missions from the Huguenot leaders to German potentates, carrying at one time credentials from Catherine de' Medici. In 1560 he was one of the principal instigators of the Amboise conspiracy; in September of that year he was with Antoine of Navarre at Nérac. In 1562 he attached himself to Louis, prince of Condé. In 1564 he became professor of civil law at Valence, retrieving by his success the reputation of its university. In 1567 he succeeded Jacques Cujas in the chair of jurisprudence at Bourges.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital first in Königsberg and then, in 1701, in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Hesse State in Germany

Hesse or Hessia, officially the State of Hesse, is a federal state (Land) of the Federal Republic of Germany, with just over six million inhabitants. Its state capital is Wiesbaden and the largest city is Frankfurt am Main.

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Five months later his house and library were wrecked by a Catholic mob; he fled by Orléans to Paris, where Michel de l'Hôpital made him historiographer to king Charles IX. As agent for the Huguenots, he was sent to Blois to negotiate the peace of 1568. He returned to Bourges, but was driven away by the outbreak of hostilities. At Sancerre, during its siege, he composed his Consolatio (published in 1593). The peace of 1570 restored him to Bourges, whence a third time he fled the massacre of St Bartholomew (1572). In 1572 he left France forever with his family, in favour of Geneva. He there became professor of Roman law and published his 'Franco-Gallia' in 1573. On the approach of the duke of Savoy he removed to Basel in 1579. In 1580 he was appointed councillor of state to Henry of Navarre. The plague sent him in 1582 to Montbéliard, where his wife Claude died in 1583. Returning to Geneva in 1584 he developed a kind of scientific turn, dabbling in alchemy and the research for the philosopher's stone. He was admitted to the Privy Council of King Henry in December 1585. In 1589 he finally retired to Basel, where he died, leaving two sons and four daughters; he was buried in the cathedral.

Michel de lHôpital French statesman

Michel de l'Hôpital was a French statesman.

Charles IX of France King of France

Charles IX was King of France from 1560 until his death in 1574 from tuberculosis. He ascended the throne of France upon the death of his brother Francis II in 1560.

Blois Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Blois is a city and the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.


Hotman was a home-loving and genuinely pious man (as his Consolatio shows). His constant removals were inspired less by fear for himself than for his family, and he had a constitutional desire for peace. He did much for 16th century jurisprudence, having a critical knowledge of Roman sources, and a fine Latin style. He broached the idea of a national code of French law. His works were very numerous, beginning with his De gradibus cognationis (1546), and including a treatise on the Eucharist (1566); a treatise (Anti-Tribonian, 1567) to show that French law could not be based on Justinian; a life of Coligny (1575); a polemic (Brutum fulmen, 1585) directed against a bull of Sixtus V, with many other works on law, history, politics, and classical learning.

His most important work, the Franco-Gallia (1573), found favour neither with Catholics nor with Huguenots in its day (except when it suited their purposes); yet its vogue has been compared to that obtained later by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Contrat Social. It presented an Ideal of Protestant statesmanship, pleading for a representative government and an elective monarchy. It served the purpose of the Jesuits in their pamphlet war against Henry IV of France.

Family life

He had seven children by his wife:

  1. Jean Hotman, Marquis de Villers-St-Paul, Count de Hotman d 1634. He married Renee de St Martin, the former lady-in-waiting to Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
  2. Theages d 1582
  3. Daniel, Pretre de l'Oratoire d 1634
  4. Marie b 1558 Strausbourg
  5. Pierre b 1563, Counselor to the King
  6. Suzanne married first to John Menteith of Scotland, and secondly to Antoine d'Ailleboust, cousellor to Henri, Prince of Condi. Their son Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge, was the governor of New France 1648-1651.
  7. Theodora m Jean Burquenon, Secretary of this same Prince de Conde.


François Hotman [1574] (2007). Franco-Gallia (Large Print Edition): Or An Account of the Ancient Free State of France. BiblioBazaar. ISBN   1-4346-1376-3.

Salmon, J. H. M.; Hotman, François; Giesey, Ralph E. (1972). Francogallia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-08379-6.

See also


  1. Kelley, donald R. François Hotman. A revolutionary's ordeal (1973), cited in Billington, James H. (1980) Fire in the Minds of Men , Basic Books (New York), p. 18, ISBN   0-465-02405-X

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