Languet, Hubert

, a native of France, and minister of state to Augustus elector of Saxony, was born at Viteaux in 1518; and, having passed through his studies at home, went to Italy in 1547, to complete his knowledge in the civil law, of which he commenced doctor at Padua. Thence going to Bologna, he met with one of Melancthon’s works, which raised in him a desire to be acquainted with that eminent reformer; accordingly he made a tour into Germany, on purpose to visit him at Wittenberg in Saxony, where he arrived in 1549, and shortly after embraced the protestant religion. From this time there commenced a strict friendship between him and Melancthon, so that they became inseparable companions; and Melancthon, finding Languet well acquainted with the political interest of princes, and with the history of illustrious men, was wonderfully delighted with his conversation, and his extensive fund of information, in all which he was not only minutely correct as to facts, but intelligent and judicious in his remarks and conjectures.

This connexion with Melancthon did not, however, extinguish the inclination which Languet had to travel. In 1551, he took up a resolution to visit some part of Europe every year, for which he set apart the autumn season, returning to pass the winter at Wittenberg. In the course of these travels, he made the tour of Rome in 1555, and that of Livonia and Laponia in 1558. During this last tour, he became known to Gustavus king of Sweden, who conceived a great affection for him, and engaged him to go into France, in order to bring him thence some of the best scholars and artists: for which purpose his majesty gave | him a letter of credit, dated Sept. 1, 1557. Two years after, Languet attended Adolphus count of Nassau and prince of Orange, into Italy; and at his return passed through Paris, to visit the celebrated Turnebus; but it was a great deduction from the pleasure of this interview, that he heard at this time of the death of his friend Melancthon.

In 1565, Augustus elector of Saxony invited him to his court, and appointed him envoy to that of France the same year, after which he sent him as his deputy to the diet of the empire, which was called by the emperor Maximilian in 1568, at Augsburg. Thence the same master dispatched him to Heidelberg, to negotiate some business with the elector palatine; and from Heidelberg he went to Cologne, where he acquired the esteem and confidence of Charlotte de Bourbon, princess of Orange. The elector of Saxony sent him also to the diet of Spires; and in 1570 to Stetin, in quality of plenipotentiary, for mediating a peace between the Swedes and the Muscovites, who had chosen this elector for their mediator. This prince the same year sent Languet a second time into France, to Charles IX. and the queen-mother Catharine of Medicis, in the execution of which commission he made a remarkably bold speech to the French monarch, in the name of the protestant princes in Germany. He was at Paris upon the memorable bloody feast of St. Bartholomew, in 1572, when he saved the life of Andrew Wechelius, the famous printer, in whose house he lodged; and he was also very instrumental in procuring the escape of Philip de Mornay count de Plessis; but, trusting too much to the respect due to his character of envoy, was obliged for his own safety to the good offices of John de Morvillier, who had been keeper of the seals. Upon his recal from Paris, he received orders to go to Vienna, where he was in 1574; and in 1575 he was appointed one the principal arbitrators for determining of the disputes, which had lasted for thirty years, between the houses of Longueville and Baden, concerning the succession of Rothelin.

At length, in the controversy which arose in Saxony between the Lutherans and Zuinglians, respecting the eucharist, Languet was suspected to favour the latter, and in consequence was obliged to beg leave of the elector, being then one of his chief ministers, to retire; which was granted, with a liberty to go where he pleased. He chose Prague for the place of his residence, where he was in | 1577; and in, this situation applied himself to John Casimir, count Palatine, and attended him to Ghent, in Flanders, the inhabitants of which city had chosen the count for their governor. On his quitting the government, Languet accepted an invitation from William prince of Orange, and remained with him until the bad state of his health obliged him to go in 1579 to the wells of Baden; and there he became acquainted with Thuanus, who was much struck with his conversation, probity, and judgment, not only in the sciences, but in public affairs. Thuanus tells us that Languet was so well acquainted with the affairs of Germany, that he could instruct the Germans themselves in the affairs of their own country. After Thuanus had left that place, they appear to have corresponded, and Thuanus speaks of some memoirs then in his possession, which Languet sent to him, containing an account of the present state of Germany, of the right of the diets, of the number of the circles, andi-of the order or rank of the different councils of that country.

Languet returned to Antwerp in 1580; and in 1581 the prince of Orange sent him to France to negociate a reconciliation between Charlotte of Bourbon, his consort, and her brother Louis, duke of Montpensier; which he effected. He died at Antwerp, Sept. 20, 1581, and was interred with great funeral solemnity, the prince of Orange going at the head of the train. During his illness he was visited by madam Du Plessis, who, though sick herself, attended him to his last moment. His dying words were, that “the only thing which grieved him was, that he had not been able to see mons. Du Plessis again before he died, to whom he would have left his very heart, had it been in his power: that he had wished to live to see the world reformed; but, since it became daily worse, he had no longer any business in it: that the princes of these times were strange men: that virtue had much to suffer, and little to get: that he pitied mons. Du Plessis very much, to whose share a great part of the misfortunes of the time would fall, and who would see many unhappy days; but that he must take courage, for God would assist him. For the rest, he begged one thing of him in his last farewell, namely, that he would mention something of their friendship in the first book he should publish.” This request was performed by Du Plessis, soon after, in a short preface to his treatise “Of the Truth of the Christian religion;” where he makes | the following eloge of this friend in a few comprehensive words: “Is fuit qualis multi videri volunt: is vixit qualiter optimi raori cupiunt.

Of this eminent statesman we have some works not wholly unknown in this country. The first mentioned is a history in Latin of the siege of Gotha, which Schardius has inserted in his History of Germany during the reign of Ferdinand I. but without mentioning Languet’s name. 2. “Epistolae ad principem suum Auguscum Saxonise dueem,Halle, 1699, 4to. 3. “Epistolu; Political et historical ad Philippum Sydnaeum,” 12mo. Of this collection of letters to our sir Philip Sydney, the late lord Hailes published a correct edition in 1775, 8vo. They are 91 in number, dated from 1573 to 1580, and are remarkable for purity of language and excellence of sentiment. 4. “Kpistolae ad Joachim Camerarium, &c.” and other learned men, 12mo. Carpzovius published a new edition of these at Leipsic, with additions. 5. “Hist, descriptio snscejHflR a Caesarea majestate executionU Augusto Saxoniae-iduce contra S. Romani imperil rebelles,” &0. 1568, 4to. 6. “Vindiciae contra Tyrannos, sive de principis in populum, populique in principem legitima potestate,1579, 12mo. This bears the name of Stephanus Junius Brutus, and the place Edinburgh, but the place was Basil, and it never was doubted that Languet was the author of this spirited attack on tyranny. It was often reprinted and translated into French. There are are a few other tracts attributed to Languet, but upon more questionable authority. 1


Gen. Dict.—Niceron, vol. III.—Moreri.—Saxii Onomast.