Hotman, Or Hottoman
french paris geneva
HOTMAN, or HOTTOMAN, FRANcOIS (1524-1590), one of the most learned of French civilians, and a brilliant publicist, was born at Paris in 1524, of a family which had come, in the days of his grandfather, from Silesia. His father a counsellor of the parliament of Paris, naturally hoped to see his eldest son his successor, and gave him a legal education at Orleans. After three years' study he was made a doctor of laws, and immediately began to practise at the Paris bar. But the quibbles of pleading soon disgusted him, and to his father's annoyance he turned to the calmer study of jurisprudence. At the age of twenty-two he was named public lecturer with Baudouin at Paris, and at once gained high repute. The fortitude of Anne Dubourg under torture roused his latent enthusiasm for the Reformed opinions ; he at once gave up his career, and went in 1547 to Lyons, the outpost of Genevan theology, and thence to Geneva and Lausanne. At Lausanne he became professor of belles-lettres and history, and married a French refugee from Orleans ; in 1550 we find him in high repute as a teacher at Strasburg, where he lectured for several years to large crowds of students. in 1560, in the beginning of the civil troubles, he attached himself to Antony of Navarre, and was trusted with delicate missions from the Huguenot chiefs to German princes ; he even at one time carried credentials from Catherine de' Medici, and his speech at the Frankfort diet, which is extant, is "a model of eloquence and political shrewdness." After a while we find him professor at Valence, expounding the civil law with such success as to restore the failing credit of that university. Three years later he succeeded Cujas at Bourges ; but the civil war drove him to Orleans for refuge, whence he was sent down to Blois to negotiate the peace of 1568. He returned to Bourges only to encounter another outbreak of war and another flight, this time to Sancerre, where in the tedium of the obstinate siege he composed his Consolatio, a striking work drawn from the Bible and St Augustine. The peace of 1570 restored him once more ; but the St Bartholomew drove him away again ; and with wife and family he fled to Geneva, turning his back for ever on his country. As he went he shot at Charles IX. a Parthian shaft in his celebrated Franco-Gallia, a treatise much censured by Catholics and Huguenots alike. It breathed the true spirit of research and of Huguenot independence and even republicanism ; for it boldly appealed, in the very citadel of hereditary succession, from rights of blood to popular election, and declared that the French monarchy rested on that foundation ; the use soon made of the book by the Jesuits in their pamphlet war against Henry IV. added to its unpopularity. At Geneva Hotman was appointed professor of Roman law, and taught in peace for six years ; in 1579, however, the threatening approach of the duke of Savoy frightened him away to Basel. Thence the plague sent him to Montbeliard in 1582, where he lost his faithful wife. After making trial of Geneva once more, lie again in 1589 fled to Basel, where he died in 1590, and was buried in the cathedral.
Ilotman was a man of unfeigned piety, nor were his firm and lofty ideas on religion ever shaken; the purity of his homed ife, his devotion to wife and family, his courageous endurance of poverty and trouble, made him one of the finer characters of his age. Ilis very timidity and restlessness were but the results of a parent's anxiety for the safety of his children ; the infinite horrors of unbridled war filled him with fears for them. It was his quick intelligence and passionate temperament that made him a wanderer, and even laid him open to the suspicion of cowardice. As an author, if not original, lie certainly was not Scaliger's " vulgare ingenium." H is criticism is sound and acute, his learning beyond question scholarly and legal, his Latinity admirable, even eloquent ; he is one of the best writers of his age ; and it is not to be urged severely against bins that he cheated himself with that snare of clever and needy men, alchemy, and sought to achieve the transmutation of metals.
His chief works were - the Anti-Tribonien (150), a treatise to show that French law could not be based on Jnstinian ; the Francs-Gallia (1573), with the pamphlets in its defence; his Contra-versa, pearui ci nepotis (7 585) ; his Bottum Fulmen (1585), against the bull of Pope Sixtus; the Consolable) (published in 1591); A Treatise as the Eurharist (156(1); A Life of Cotivny(ha75), with man y other works on law. history, polities, or classical scholarship. These are mostly forgotten; but In their day they placed Francis llotman in the first rank among the learned and accomplished authors of France. A collection of his letters was published at Amsterdam in 170U.