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The Contribution of French Jurists to the Humanism of the Renaissance1

  • Linton C. Stevens (a1)

Extract

How to define humanism as a description of the intellectual activities of the Renaissance is a much vexed question. Whereas Italian humanism was dominated by the professional rhetoricians who imitated classical models and founded classical philology, French humanism, stimulated by the discovery of Greek learning, preoccupied by moral problems, attempted to achieve a fusion of Christian and classical erudition. The interests of the humanists, which included Greek fathers of the church and Byzantine authors as well as the traditional classic writers, were encyclopedic, as in Budé and Jacques Peletier, and philosophic, as in Montaigne and Charron.

Although humanists were to be found in all classes of society, from nobles, ecclesiastics, courtiers, professors, and doctors to printers and merchants, the legal profession appears to have had among its members more distinguished humanists than are to be found in any other one group.

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The preparation of this article was made possible by a grant-in-aid from the Research Committee of the University of Alabama. An earlier version of it was read at the Southeastern Renaissance Conference at Chapel Hill, N. C, April 17-18, 1953.

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2 For a discussion of the provenience of the word “humanist,” see Campana, Augusto, “The Origin of the Word ‘Humanist,’Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, IX (1946), 6062 , and Kristeller, Paul O., “Humanism and Scholasticism in the Italian Renaissance,” Byzantion, XVII (1944-45), 366. For the characteristics of Italian humanism, see Kristeller, ibid., 353 ff. Walter Rüegg defines a humanist as follows: “Der Humanist muss auf der Höhe seiner Zeit sein: dies wird von Erasmus immer wieder betont. Als Mann des 16. Jahrhunderts müsse er die Probleme seiner Zeit ebenso lebendig und aus der Verantwortung seines gebildeten Subjektes heraus gestalten, wie es Cicero für seine Zeit getan” (Cicero und der Humanismus [Zürich, 1946], 123).

3 Cf. Barat, J., “L'Influence de Tiraqueau sur Rabelais,” Revue des Études rabelaisiennes, III (1905), 253—75 and Ch. Perrat, “Rabelais et le de nobilitate de Tiraqueau,” Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, XVI (1954), 41. For an explanation of Rabelais’ legal puns, see Plattard, Jean, L'Adolescence de Rabelais en Poitou (Paris, 1923), 145 ff.

4 See especially Hubrecht, Georges, “Montaigue, Jurist,” IVe centenaire de la nais sauce de Montaigne. Conferences organisées par la ville de Bordeaux (Bordeaux, 1933), 239-99.

5 For Boyssoné, see Febvre, Lucien, Le Probleme de l'incroyance au XVIe siècle (Paris, 1942), 25, 283 ; Pasquier, E., Recherches de la France (Paris, 1621), 902 , praises the intelligence of Le Caron; for Du Fail, see Philipot, E., La vie et l'oeuvre litteraire de Noël du Fail (Paris, 1914); Sainéan, L., L'lnfluence et la réputation de Rabelais (Paris, 1930), discusses the conteurs.

6 “Pandectorum numerosis voluminibus, sacrarumque constitutionum sanctionibus me devincio. Quo in gramine, deus optime, quid non reperi? que artium referta magis magisque ferax? que magis equitati et honestati consentanea? que maior virtutum excultrix? que potior mastyx vitiorum? que voluptates domat promtius? Quid in quoque genere tam sublime: tam arduum: tam magnificum: quod non in veterum illorum iure consultorum voluminibus conditum insertumque delitescat?” In Murarasu, D., La poésie néolatine (Paris, 1928), 54.

7 Loisel, Antoine, “Pasquier ou Dialogue des Advocates du Parlement de Paris,” in Dupin, M., Profession d'avocat, Recueil de Pièces (Paris, 1832), I, 214-15.

8 “During the Renaissance, not only theologians and scientists, but also politicians, physicians, classical philologists, literary men, and artists were driven to philosophic reflection” (Kristeller, P. O. and Randall, J. H., “The Study of the Philosophies of the Renaissance,” Journal of the History of Ideas, II [1941], 449).

9 Some law students studied Greek at the time they were studying jurisprudence. Henri de Mesmes and Guy du Faur de Pibrac while law students at the University of Toulouse read Sophocles, Aristophanes, or Euripides every day; see Lefranc, Abel, La vie quotidienne au temps de la renaissance (Paris, 1938), 194. See also Stevens, Linton C., “The Motivation for Hellenic Studies in the French Renaissance,” Studies in Philology, XLVII(1950), 113-25.

10 Ioanis Corasii, iureconsulti clarissimi, senatorisque Regij Tolosae meritissimi, De iuris arte libellus: Quo instituuntur legum studiosi, universum lus populi Romani dispersum ante, divulsum et dissipatum, in artis rationem, formamque reducere (Lyons, 1560). 15.

11 “Senza la ricerca filologica non c'è umanesimo giacchè non c'è che un atteggiamento generico di difesa della cultura classica che può ritrovarsi in tutte le epoche e perciò non ne caratterizza nessuna” (Nicola Abbagnano, Sloria della filosofia, Vol. II, Part 1 [Turin, 1949], 3).

12 Pierre Jourda describes this search for the truth characteristic of the jurists as an important aspect of humanism: “II vient, ce désir d'une vérité plus vraie (si j'ose dire), de ce qui caractérisait d'abord l'Humanisme: le culte de l'antiquité, le culte du savoir, le culte des textes, le mépris des gloses et des commentateurs” (“Humanisme français au XVIe siècle,” Quelques aspects de l'Humanisme médiéval [Paris, 1943], 59).

13 ”… ac sine Graecae linguae cognitione Latinam mancam atque debilem esse: quod nemo doctiorum diffitebatur. Nisi vero credimus ducenta Pandectarum loca sine eius cognitione satis intelligi posse, aut nisi inficias ibimus totum pene titulum, De excusationibus. a iuris autonbus Graece scriptum fuisse, sicque a Tribuniano relictum quod ipsum facile est cernere ex genere styli, qui sordidus et obscurus videtur cum stylo Iurisconsultorum compositus: nee ex Graeco traductus, sed extortus utriusque linguae ignorantia, quomodo et in multis aliis locis Pandectarum” (Annotationes Gulieltni Budaei parisiensis secretarii regit in XXIIII pandectarum libros [Lyons, 1551], 554).

14 “Sein Urteil war einseitig, denn, wie wir wissen, fühlten sich audi die Intellektuellen zu der ‘neuen Religion’ hingezogen. Er teilte damit die auffassung des Königs Franz und seiner Ratgeber, die die reformatorische Bewegung als ‘Religion der kleinen Leute’ bezeichneten” ( Bohatec, Josef, Budé und Calvin [Graz, 1950], 100 ). Among the numerous Protestant lawyers, the following might be mentioned: Jacques Cujas, F. de Ferrières, Pierre Daniel, Jean Cadurce, François Baudouin, Hugues Doneau, Nicole Berault, François Hotman, Denis Godefroy, Charles du Moulin, Innocent Gentillet, and Bonnefoi of Valence.

15 Moeller, Ernst V., Ein Beitrag zur Entstebungsgeschichte der modernen Jurisprudenz (Breslau, 1907), 96. Alciato was also interested in many authors, both classic and modern, who had little to do with the science of law. Besides Galen, Hutten, Luther, and Tacitus, mentioned in a letter to F. Calvo, Sept. 26, 1520, he writes in another letter, dated Oct. 4, 1521: “Velim diligenter cures Epigrammatum Latinorum collectanea. Possis ex Phoedri haeredibus aliquid eorum habere, ex Bembo, Beroaldo Juniore, Anselmo Georgio, Nicolao Archicomite, Andrea Nauclerio, Sannazaro et quos alios idoneos iudicaveris” ( Barni, Gian Luigi, Le Lettere di Andrea Alciato giureconsulto [Florence, 1953], 4, 37 ).

16 “Et ne vos iam dudum viae a me proposite cupidos, diutius suspendam, hanc ego ad legum civilium studia foeliciter tractanda, optimam viam esse existimo, ut quis prius se bonarum literarum viatico instruat, quam iter discendi iura civilia capessat. Et ne quis vestrum, optimi iuvenes, erret, bonas literas appello artes dicendi, cuius modi est grammatica, dialectica, rhetorica. Bonas artes voco, historiarum iuxta ac Poetices cognitionem. Bonas artes nomino philosophiae partes, quarum una naturae arcana indagat, altera mores civiles fingit. Denique bonas literas appello tarn graecae quam latinae literaturae cognitionem quae hoc nomine bonae literae vocantur, quod cum aliis sublimius artium professionibus, turn iurisprudentiae adprime bono existunt: id quod dum singulatim comprobaro, vos quaeso, uti coepistis, benignas mihi dicenti praebete aures” (Processus Compendium, atque adeo iuris utriusque praxis expeditissima [Paris, 1537], 250).

17 Barni, , Le Lettere, 6970.

18 Barni, , “Bellum justum e bellum injustum nel pensiero del giureconsulto Andrea Alciato,” Bibl. Hum. Ren., XIV (1952), 335.

19 See M. Verne, Vie de Cujas (Cour d'appel de Grenoble, audience solennelle de rentrée, 3 Oct., 1938), 17.

20 Flach, Jacques, “Cujas. Les Glossateurs et les bartolistes,” Nouvelle Revue Historique de droit français et Stranger (Paris, 1883), 216.

21 Spangenberg, Ernst, lacob Cujas und seine zeitgenossen (Leipzig, 1822), 61.

22 Vicentius Gravina, De Jurisprudentia, in Selecta Latinitatis Scripta of Aemilius Springhetti, S. J. (Rome, 1951), 533. His skill as an archaeologist and a paleographer was revealed in his deciphering of the donation of Hildevara and of the Charta plenariae securitatis. He made ample use of the latter in his Novellarum constitutionum imp. Justiniani expositio of 1570. See also Delisle, Leopold, “Cujas déchiffreur de papyrus,” Mélanges offerts à M. Emile Chastelain (Paris, 1910), 486-91.

23 Spangenberg, , op. cit., 9. His contributions to moral philosophy are revealed in his Commentaire sur les sentences de Paul of 1557. See also Cabatous, L., “Etudes sur les jurisconsultes,” Revue de législation et de jurisprudence, X (1839), 37.

24 Pasquier admits that many others would add Doneau to his list (Recherches de la France, 902).

25 Eyssell, M. A. P. Th., Doneau, sa vie et ses outrages (Dijon, 1860), 159.

26 Condanari, Slavomir, “Humanismus und Rechtswissenschaft,” Ewiger Humanismus, VIII (1947), 11.

27 “A principibus est auctoritas iuris peritis et intelligentibus via et recta ratio docendi” (Hugonis Donelli iurisconsulti commentariorum de iure chili [Frankfurt, 1596], I, 5).

28 “Quid enim? iurisprudentia notitia est rerum gestarum, seu historiarum, notitia physicae, aut medicinae, notitia astrologiae, mathematicae, et aliarum rerum, quae aliis artibus traduntur? Atqui et hae artes sunt de rebus humanis, quarum notitia nihil minus, quam ex iure percipitur” (ibid., 48).

29 Ibid., V, 278.

30 Eyssell, , op. cit., 92, 102.

31 See Berriat-Saint-Prix, , Histoire du droit romain (Paris, 1821), 551. Hotman calls Cujas “Tritapostata, temulentus, turbulentus, santimonialium confessor”; see also Brocaille, Etienne, Etude sur François Hotman. La Franco-Gallia (Dijon, 1902), 1820.

32 Stintzing, R., Geschichte der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft (Munich, 1880), I, 384.

33 “Neque Jus civile Romanorum initio conditum esse, ut aequitatem et jus naturale omnibus gentibus aeque conveniens repraesentet, sed ut praerogativem stabiliret civium Romanorum in gradu eminentiori, prae reliquis Italiae populis, quod multis exemplis ostendit” (Antitribonianus sive Dissertatio de studio legum [Leipzig, 1567], chap. 10).

34 Buisson, Albert, Michel de L'Hospital (Paris, 1950), 17.

35 Baudrillart, Henri, Jean Bodin et son temps (Paris, 1953), 5051.

36 Dufey, P. J. S., Oeuvres inedites de Michel L'Hospital (Paris, 1825), I, 70. For his efforts in behalf of religious tolerance, see the recent article by Keller, Abraham Charles, “Michel de L'Hospital and the Edict of Toleration of 1562,” Bibl. Hum. Ren., XIV (1952), 301310. See also Heritier, Jean, Michel de L'Hospital (Paris, 1943), who calls L'Hospital the precursor of Vico and Montesquieu. The humanistic and philosophic aspects of law have been well expressed by Salutati in his De nohilitate legum: “Tractat enim ars legalis atque considerat qualiter politicus homo debeat operari: que considerata sancit et iubet. Scientia vero legalis, quoniam humanorum actuum, qui de voluntate et libertatis artibrio profiscuntur, regulatrix est, et animam quae vult et eius partes, habitus, atque potentias speculatur” (cited by Giuseppe Saitta in II pensiero italiano nell'umanesimo e nel renascimento, I: L'umanesimo [Bologna, 1949], 158).

37 Naef, H., “La jeunesse de Jean Bodin ou les conversions oubliées,” Bibl. Hum. Ren., VIII (1946), 141.

38 Mesnard, Pierre, “Introduction à la méthode de l'histoire de Jean Bodin,” Bibl. Hum. Ren., XII (1950), 321 ; see also Reynolds, Beatrice, Proponents of Limited Monarchy in Sixteenth Century France: Francis Hotman and Jean Bodin (New York, 1931).

39 Naef, , op. cit., 155.

40 Gardot, André, “Jean Bodin, Sa place parmi les fondateurs du droit international,” Académie de droit international, Recueil de Cours, IV (1934), 561.

41 Ibid., 514.

42 Baudrillart, Henri, op. cit., 50.

43 Although he contributed to political theory, Loys Le Roy was not a jurist but is known chiefly as a Hellenist and translator; see Becker, A. Henri, Un humaniste au XVV Steele. Loys Le Roy (Paris, 1896).

1 The preparation of this article was made possible by a grant-in-aid from the Research Committee of the University of Alabama. An earlier version of it was read at the Southeastern Renaissance Conference at Chapel Hill, N. C, April 17-18, 1953.

The Contribution of French Jurists to the Humanism of the Renaissance1

  • Linton C. Stevens (a1)

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