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9 - François Hotman

(1524–1590)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2019

Olivier Descamps
Affiliation:
Pantheon-Assas University, Paris
Rafael Domingo
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

François Hotman (1524–1590), scion of an upwardly mobile family of noblesse de robeof German descent and son of a judge responsible for the persecution of heretics, became the most fervent follower of John Calvin among the first generation of his pupils. Against his father, Hotman chose not only his confession but also his career as a professor. A brilliant lawyer and erudite historian, he wrote of new methods of law and history (mos gallicus). His historical analysis and legal deductions fought against the beginnings of French absolutism. In his famous Francogallia (1573), he argued for the necessary co-responsibility of the magistrates alongside the monarch, particularly in the form of the French Estates, and for a reign based on written law and inviolable subjective rights. The old Roman law therefore had to be amended according to the demands of his time (Anti-Tribonian, 1603). Through these writings, Hotman translated into law or political theory concepts that had been developed by Calvin or Melanchthon only as theological arguments. Hotman’s ideas did not prevail in his time, but they influenced positions of the French Revolutionaries, making him among the first to lay the foundation for a rule of law and libertarian rights. 
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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