Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim

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HONTHEIM, Johann Nikolaus von (1701–1790), a zealous opponent of Ultramontanism, was born at Treves, January 27, 1701. After receiving his early education at the Jesuit college of his native town, he studied jurisprudence both there and at Louvain and Leyden. On obtaining the degree of doctor of laws at Treves in 1724 he took the ecclesiastical habit, and went to Rome in order to make himself acquainted with the forms of the curia. Returning to Treves in 1728, he was appointed ecclesiastical councillor of the consistory, in 1732 professor of law, in 1741 privy councillor of the archbishop, and in 1748 suffragan of the see. In 1750 he published at Treves Historia Trevirensis diplomatica, and in 1763, under the pseudonym of Justinus Febronius, De Statu ecclesiæ et legitima potestate Romani Pontificis liber singularis, in which he maintained the Gallican theory that the supreme authority of the church was vested not in the pope but in the general council. This work he in perfect simplicity and sincerity dedicated to Pope Clement XIII., who, however, condemned it and caused it to be burned at Rome. When Hontheim was discovered to be the author he was induced to make a retractation, but in his Febronius abbreviatus et emendatus (Vienna, 1771) and Febronii commentarius (Vienna, 1781) he nevertheless gave further currency to his old views. He died at Montquintin, Luxembourg, September 2, 1790.