Hotman, Fuancis

, in Latin Hototnanus, a learned French civilian, was born in 1524, at Paris, where his family, originally of Breslau in Silesia, had flourished for some time. He made so; rapid a progress in the belles lettres, that at the age of fifteen, he was sent to Orleans to study the civil law, and in three years was received doctor to that faculty. His father, a counsellor in parliament, had already designed him for that employment; and therer fore sent for him home, and placed him at the bar. But Hotman was soon displeased with the chicanery of the court, and applied himself vigorously to the study of the Roman law and polite literature. At the age of twentythree, he was chosen to read public lectures in the schools pf Paris: but, relishing the opinions of Luther, on account of which many persons were put to death in France, and finding that he could not profess them at Paris, he Went to Lyons in 1548. Having now nothing to expect“from his father, who was greatly irritated at the change of his religion, he left France, and retired to Geneva; where he lived some time in Calvin’s house. From hence he went to Lausanne,' where the magistrates of Bern gave him the | place of professor of polite literature. He published there some books, which, however, young as he was, were not his first publications; and married a French gentlewoman, who had also retired thither on account of religion. His merit was so universally known, that the magistrates of Strasburg offered him a professorship of civil law; which he accepted, and held till 1561, and during this period, received invitations from the duke of Prussia, the landgrave of Hesse, the dukes of Saxony, and even from queen Elizabeth of England; but did not accept them. He did not refuse, however, to go to the court of the king of Navarre, at the begining of the troubles; and he went twice into Germany, to desire assistance of Ferdinand, in the name of the princes of the blood, and even in the name of the queen-mother. The speech he made at the diet of Francfort is published. Upon his return to Strasburg, he was prevailed upon to teach civil law at Valence; which he did with such success, that he raised the reputation of that university. Three years after, he went to be professor at Bourges, by the invitation of Margaret of France, sister of Henry II. but left that city in about five months, and retired to Orleans to the heads of the party, who made great use of his advice. The peace which was made a month after, did not prevent him from apprehending the return of the storm: upon which account he retired to Sancerre, and there wrote an excellent book,” De Consolatione,“which his son published after his death. He returned afterwards to his professorship at Bourges, where he very narrowly escaped the massacre of 1572: which induced him to leave France, with a full resolution never to return. He then went to Geneva, where he read lectures upon the civil law. Some time after, he went to Basil, and taught civil law, and was so pleased with this situation, that he refused great offers from the prince of Orange and the States-general, who would have draxvn him to Leyden. The plague having obliged him to leave Basil, he retired to Montbeliard, where he lost his wife; and went afterwards to live with her sisters at Geneva. He returned once more to Basil, and there died in 1590, of a dropsy, which had kept him constantly in a state of indisposition for six years before. During this, he revised and digested his works for a new edition, which appeared at Geneva in 1599, in 3 vols. folio, with his life prefixed by Neveletus Doschius> | The first two contain treatises upon the civil law; the third, pieces relating to the government of France, and the right of succession; five books of Roman antiquities; commentaries upon Tally’s” Orations and Epistles;“notes upon Caesar’s” Commentaries,“&c. His” Franco-Gallia,“or,” Account of the free state of France,“has been translated into English by lord Molesworth, author of” The Account of Denmark." He published also several other articles without his name; but, being of the controversial kind, they were probably not thought of consequence enough to be revived in the collection of his works.

He was one of those who would never consent to be painted; but we are told, that his picture was taken while he was in his last agony. His integrity, firmness, and piety, are highly extolled by the author of his life; yet, if Baudouin may be believed (whom, however, it is more reasonable not to believe, as he was his antagonist in religious opinions), he was suspected of being avaricious: but it must be remembered, that he lost his all when he changed his religion, and had no supplies but what arose from reading lectures; for it does not appear that his wife brought him a fortune. It is very probable, however, that his lectures would have been sufficient for his subsistence; had he not been deluded by schemes of finding out the philosopher’s stone; and we find him lamenting to a friend in his last illness, that he had squandered away his substance upon this hopeful project. With all these weaknesses, he xvas esteemed one of the greatest civilians France ever produced. 1


Gen. Dict. —Niceron, vol. XI. and XX. —Moreri. Freheri Theatrum. —Saxii Onomast.