Hugues Doneau

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Hugues Doneau
(Hugo Donellus)
Hugues Doneau
Born 1527
Died 1591
Altdorf bei Nürnberg
Residence France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Bavaria
Nationality French
Known for Systematic analysis of the Corpus Juris Civilis
Scientific career
Fields Civil law
Institutions University of Bourges, Heidelberg University, University of Leiden, Altdorf Academy

Hugues Doneau, commonly referred also by the Latin form Hugo Donellus (23 December 1527, Chalon-sur-Saône – 4 May 1591, Altdorf bei Nürnberg), was a French law professor and one of the leading representatives of French legal humanism (mos Gallicus).

Life and works[edit]

Doneau, who was born into a well-respected family, studied law in Toulouse and Bourges. Bourges was then a center of legal humanism and François Douaren (Franciscus Duarenus), one of the most famous members of this movement was among Doneau's teachers at Bourges. In 1551, Doneau received a doctorate from the University of Bourges and began teaching there. However, because of his Calvinist confession, Doneau had to flee to Geneva after the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572. Doneau accepted a call from the Reformed Elector Palatine Frederick III to a professorship at Heidelberg and assumed the post in early 1573. Doneau, however, would have to relocate again in 1579 because Heidelberg and the surrounding Electoral Palatinate were converted to the Lutheran confession by Frederick's successor Louis VI (r. 1576-83), and the elector required subscription to the Formula of Concord.[1] Doneau then moved to the newly founded Leiden, but in 1587, the political circumstances forced him into exile for the third time: Doneau had to leave Leiden in 1588, because of his sympathies for Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Doneau returned to Germany and became professor of law at the Altdorf Academy (the university of the Free Imperial City of Nuremberg). He died in Altdorf in 1591.

Doneau was one of the French jurists who followed the example of Andrea Alciato (Andreas Alciatus) and applied the methods of Renaissance humanism to law. However, while many of the followers of this so-called mos Gallicus (French method) concentrated on a critical evaluation of the texts in the Corpus Iuris Civilis, Doneau was more interested in the construction of a coherent system of law. His best known work Commentarii de iure civili (commentaries on the civil law) (in part edited posthumously by Scipione Gentili) is one of the first attempts to organise the subject matter of Roman law in a logical order rather than according to the sequence of the books and titles of the Digest. Doneau also made major contributions to various specialised areas of law such as the doctrine of possession and acquisition of ownership.


  1. ^ Drüll, Dagmar (2002). Heidelberger Gelehrtenlexikon 1386-1651. Berlin: Springer. pp. 127–8. ISBN 3540435301. 
  • K. Stapelfeldt, Jan Schröder: "Hugo Donellus", in: Gerd Kleinheyer, Jan Schröder (Eds.): Deutsche und Europäische Juristen aus neun Jahrhunderten. 4th ed. Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 3-8252-0578-9, pp. 112– 115
  • Holthöfer, Ernst (2001). "Doneau, Hugues". In Michael Stolleis (ed.). Juristen: ein biographisches Lexikon; von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (in German) (2nd ed.). München: Beck. p. 182. ISBN 3-406-45957-9. 
  • Gabor Hamza, "Le développement du droit privé européen", ELTE Eötvös Kiadó, Budapest 2005. 94-95. pp. ISBN 963 463 786 8
  • Gabor Hamza, "Entstehung und Entwicklung der modernen Privatrechtsordnungen und die römischrechtliche Tradition", ELTE Eötvös Kiadó, Budapest 2009, 282-283. pp. ISBN 978 963 284 095 6
  • Gabor Hamza, "Origine e sviluppo degli ordinamenti giusprivatistici moderni in base alla tradizione del diritto romano", Andavira editora, Santiago de Compostela 2013, 270-271. pp. ISBN 978-84-8408-727-4

External links[edit]