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PIERRE PITHOU (1539-1596)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 666 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PIERRE PITHOU (1539-1596), French lawyer and scholar, was born at Troyes on the 1st of November 1539. His taste for literature was early seen, and his father Pierre (1496-1556) cultivated it to the utmost. He was called to the Paris bar in 1560. On the outbreak of the second war of religion in 1567, Pithou, who was a Calvinist, withdrew to Sedan and afterwards to Basel, whence he returned to France on the publication of the edict of pacification. Soon after-wards he accompanied the due de Montmorency on his embassy to England, returning shortly before the massacre of St Bartholomew, in which he narrowly escaped with his life. Next year he followed the example of Henry of Navarre by abjuring the Protestant faith. Henry, shortly after his own accession to the throne of France, recognized Pithou's talents and services by bestowing upon him various legal appointments. The most important work of his life was his co-operation in the production of the Satire Menippee (1593), which did so much to damage the cause of the League; the harangue of the Sieur d'Aubray is usually attributed to his pen. He died at Nogentsur-Seine on the 1st of November 1596. His valuable library, specially rich in MSS., was for the most part transferred to what is now the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Pithou wrote a great number of legal and historical books, besides preparing editions of several ancient: authors. His earliest publication was Adversariorum subsecivorum lib. II. (1565). Perhaps his edition of the Leges Visigothorum (1579) was his most valuable contribution to historical science; in the same line he edited the Capitula of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, and Charles the Bald in 1588, and he also assisted his brother Francois in preparing an edition of the Corpus juris canonici (1687). His Libertes de l'eglise gallicane (1594) is reprinted in his Opera sacra juridica his orica miscellanea collecta (1609). In classical literature he was the first who made the world acquainted with the Fables of Phaedrus (1596) ; he also edited the Pervigilium Veneris (1587), and Juvenal and Persius (1585). Three of Pithou's brothers acquired distinction as jurists: JEAN (1524–1602), author of Traite de police et du gouvernement des republiques, and, in collaboration with his twin brother NIcoLAS (1524–1598), of Institution du mariage chretien; and FRANCOIS (1543–1621), author of Glossarium ad libros capitularium (1588), Traite de l'excommunication et de l'interdit, &c. (1587).
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