1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Languet, Hubert

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LANGUET, HUBERT (1518-1381), French Huguenot writer and diplomat, was born at Vitteaux in Burgundy, of which town his father was governor. He received his early education from a distinguished Hellenist, Jean Perelle, and displayed remarkable ability in Greek and Latin. He studied law, theology and science at the university of Poitiers from 1536 to 1539; then, after some travel, attended the universities of Bologna and Padua, receiving the doctorate from the latter in 1548. At Bologna he read Melanchthon's Loci communes theologiae and was so impressed by it that in 1549 he went to Wittenberg to see the author, and shortly afterwards became a Protestant. He made his headquarters at Wittenberg until the death of Melanchthon in 1560, although during that period, as well as throughout the rest of his life, he travelled extensively in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, and even Finland and Lapland. In 1557 he declined the invitation of Gustavus I. to enter the service of Sweden, but two years later accepted a similar invitation of Augustus I., elector of Saxony. He showed great ability in diplomacy, particularly in organizing the Protestants. He represented the elector at the French court from 1561 to 1572 except when the religious and political troubles in France occasionally compelled him temporarily to withdraw. He performed many minor diplomatic missions for the elector, and in 1567 accompanied him to the siege of Gotha. He delivered a violent harangue before Charles IX. of France in 1570 on behalf of the Protestant princes, and escaped death on St Bartholomew's Day (1572) only through the intervention of Jean de Morvilliers, the moderate and influential bishop of Orleans. He represented the elector of Saxony at the imperial court from 1573 to 1577. Financial embarrassment and disgust at the Protestant controversies in which he was forced to participate caused him to seek recall from the imperial court. His request being granted, Languet spent the last years of his life mainly in the Low Countries, and though nominally still in the service of the elector, he undertook a mission to England for John Casimir of Bavaria and was a valuable adviser to William the Silent, prince of Orange. Languet died at Antwerp on the 30th of September 1581.

His correspondence is important, for the history of the 16th century. Three hundred and twenty-nine letters to Augustus of Saxony dating from the 17th of November 1565 to the 8th of September 1581 , and one hundred and eleven letters to the chancellor Mordeisen dating from November 1559 to the summer of 1565, are preserved in MS. in the Saxon archives, and were published by Ludovicus at Halle in 1699 under the title Arcana seculi decimi sexti. One hundred and eight letters to Camerarius were published at Groningen in 1646 under the title Langueti Epistolae ad Joach. Camerarium, patrem et filium; and ninety-six to his great friend Sir Philip Sidney, dating from the 22nd of April 1573 to the 28th of October 1580, appeared at Frankfort in 1633 and have been translated into English by S. A. Pears (London, 1845). The Historica Descriptio of the siege and capture of Gotha appeared in 1568 and has been translated into French and German. The authorship of the work by which Languet is best known has been disputed. It is entitled Vindiciae contra tyrannos, sive de principis in populum populique in principem legitima potestate, Stephano Junio Bruto Celta auctore, and is thought to have been published at Basel (1579) although it bears the imprint of Edinburgh. It has been attributed to Beza, Hotman, Casaubon and Duplessis-Mornay, by divers writers on various grounds — to the last-named on the very respectable authority of Grotius. The authorship of Languet was supported by Peter Bayle (for reasons stated in the form of a supplement to the Dictionnaire) and confirmed by practically all later writers. The work has been frequently reprinted, the Leipzig edition (1846) containing a life of Languet by Treitschke. A French translation appeared in 1581 and an English translation in 1689. The work upholds the doctrine of resistance, but affirms that resistance must come from properly constituted authorities and objects to anything which savours of anabaptism or other extreme views. The Apologie ou défence du très illustre Prince Guillaume contre le ban et l'édit du roi d'Espagne (Leiden, 1581) is sometimes attributed to Languet. There seems little doubt, however, that it was really the work of the prince himself, with the help either of Languet (Groen van Prinsterer, Archives) or of Pierre de Villiers (Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic; and Blok, History of the People of the Netherlands).

See Ph. de la Mare, Vie d'Hubert Languet (Halle, 1700); E. and E. Haag, La France protestante; H. Chevreul, Hubert Languet (Paris, 1852); J. Blasel, Hubert Languet (Breslau, 1872); O. Scholz, Hubert Languet als kursächsischer Berichterstatter u. Gesandter in Frankreich während 1560-1572 (Halle, 1875); G. Touchard, De politica Huberti Langueti (Paris, 1898). There is a good article on Languet by P. Tschackert in Hauck's Real-Encyklopädie, 3rd ed., xi. 274-280.