Hugo Donellus

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Hugo Donellus, engraving by Crispin van Passe

Hugo Donellus , also Hugues Doneau (born December 23, 1527 in Chalon-sur-Saône , † May 4, 1591 in Altdorf near Nuremberg ) was a French lawyer and humanist .


Coming from a respected family, he experienced such outbursts of violence from his first teachers that he initially decided not to take up studies. However, his father was able to teach him better and kept the alternative in mind of either becoming a swineherd or studying. Donellus opted for the latter: he attended the University of Toulouse and the University of Bourges , where he received his doctorate in law in 1551 with the support of François Douaren (Franciscus Duarenus) and began teaching as a professor in the same year . He dealt with François Baudouin (Franciscus Balduin; 1520–1573) and Jacques Cujas (Jacobus Cujacius). As a staunch Calvinist , he and François Hotman (Franciscus Hotomannus) stood up for the Huguenots , and the disputes over the question of religious war came to a head. The massacre occurred on Bartholomew's Night and Donellus, as a Protestant, had to flee to Geneva in 1572 .

From there he went, on the call of Elector Friedrich III. from the Palatinate to Heidelberg University . Here he took up a professorship on February 17, 1573, rose over the years of his presence in Heidelberg to the first professor at the law faculty and married. After Ludwig VI. came to power from the Palatinate , his Lutheran convictions began to drive the Calvinists out, so that in 1579 he went to the newly founded University of Leiden .

Despite some disputes, Donellus stayed there for the time being and refused a call to the University of Altdorf in 1582 and a call to the University of Heidelberg in 1583 . However, the clashes intensified and he was suspected of having participated in the conspiracy of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester . This intended to subject Holland to the English crown. Thereupon Donellus was dismissed from his position on August 25, 1587.

At the end of the year the Nuremberg Council started talks with him and tried to win him over to the University of Altdorf. After arriving in Nuremberg on May 30, 1588, he gave his inaugural address on August 8 at the Academy. In Altdorf, Donellus was considered a famous personality who worked in close friendship with his former student Scipione Gentili and got involved in disputes with Hubert van Giffen (Hubertus Giphanius).


Doneau was one of the French jurists who followed Andrea Alciato's example and applied the methods of Renaissance humanism to law. However, while many of the successors were based on the French method , which focused on a critical evaluation of the texts in the Corpus iuris civilis , Doneau was interested in building a coherent system of law.

His best-known work "Commentarii de Iure civili" (Commentaries on civil law) is one of the first attempts to deal with the subject of Roman law in a logical order instead of orienting it on the order of the books and titles of the Justinian legislation. In this epochal work, he resolved a number of contradictions that he encountered in the Roman sources of the Digests , Institutions and the Codex . In the interest of the educational requirement, he often resolved them unceremoniously within the framework of general dogmas, since he was interested in a legal system of the highest possible generality. Doneau also made major contributions to various specialized areas of law such as the doctrine of possession and acquisition of the proprietor .


Commentarius ad titulum Digestorum De praescriptis verbis et in factum actionibus , 1574
  • Commentaria in tit. Padectarum de usuris, nautico fonere, de fructibus, caussa et accessionibus et de mora, Paris 1556
  • Ad legem Justiniani de sententiis quae pro eo quod interest proferuntur, sive de eo quod interest, liber Paris 1561, Neustadt 1580, Altdorf 1589 also published under the title a Donello recognitus (Ap. Carterium 1596, Leiden 1630)
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Dig. De rebus dubiis, Bouges 1571, Antwerp 1584
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Cod. De pactis et transactt., Bouges 1572, Paris 1573, Cologne 1574
  • Zachariae Furnestri Defensio pro justo et innocente tot millium animarum sanguine in Gallia effuso adversus Molucii calumnias, 1573, 1579
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Dig. De praescriptis verbis et in factum actionibus, Heidelberg 1574, 1580
  • Commentaria ad tit. Inst. De actionibus, Antwerp 1581, 1596, 1620
  • Tractatus de pignoribus et hypothecis, Frankfurt
  • Tractatus de aedilitio edicto, evictionibus, et duplae stipulatione, de probationibus, fide instrumentorum et testibus, Frankfurt
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Dig de rebus creditis seu munto, de jurejurando, de in litem jurando, condictione ex lege, triticiaria, et de eo quod certo loco, Antwerp 1582, Frankfurt 1626
  • Commentaria Ad Codicis Justinianei partes quasdam, 1587
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Digestorum de diversis regulis juris, Antwerp
  • Commentaria Ad tit. Dig. De Verborum obligationibus, Frankfurt 1599
  • Commentarium de jure civili viginti octo, in quibus jus civile universum singulari artificatio atque doctrina explicatum continetur, Frankfurt 1595, 1596
  • Hugonis Donelli opera postuma et aliorum quaedam, ex biblotheca Sciponis Gentilis, Hanover 1604
  • Opera cur. and Barth. Franc. Pellegrini, published together in Lucerne 1762–1770 in twelve folios


The sculptor Philipp Kittler from Schwabach near Nuremberg created the statue of Hugo Donellus on the jury and justice building in Nuremberg.


Web links

Commons : Hugo Donellus  - collection of images, videos and audio files