CUJAS, JACQUES (or CUJACIUS, JACQUES) (or as he called himself, JACQUES DE CUJAS) (1520-1590), French jurisconsult, was born at Toulouse, where his father, whose name was Cujaus, was a fuller. Having taught himself Latin and Greek, he studied law under Arnoul Ferrier, then professor at Toulouse, and rapidly gained a great reputation as a lecturer on Justinian. In 1554 he was appointed professor of law at Cahors, and about a year after L'Hopital called him to Bourges. Duaren, however, who also held a professorship at Bourges, stirred up the students against the new professor, and such was the disorder produced in consequence that Cujas was glad to yield to the storm, and accept an invitation he had received to the university of Valence. Recalled to Bourges at the death of Duaren in 1559, he remained there till 1567, when he returned to Valence. There he gained a European reputation, and collected students from all parts of the continent, among whom were Joseph Scaliger and de Thou. In 1573 Charles IX. appointed Cujas counsellor to the parlement of Grenoble, and in the following year a pension was bestowed on him by Henry III. Margaret of Savoy induced him to remove to Turin; but after a few months (1575) he once more took his old place at Bourges. But the religious wars drove him thence. He was called by the king to Paris, and permission was granted him by the parlement to lecture on civil law in the university of the capital. A year after, however, he finally took up his residence at Bourges, where he remained till his death in 1590, in spite of a handsome offer made him by Gregory XIII. in 1 584 to attract him to Bologna.
The life of Cujas was altogether that of a scholar and teacher. In the religious wars which filled all the thoughts of his contemporaries he steadily refused to take any part. Nihil hoc ad edictum praeioris, " this has nothing to do with the edict of the praetor," was his usual answer to those who spoke to him on the subject. His surpassing merit as a jurisconsult consisted in the fact that he turned from the ignorant commentators on Roman law to the Roman law itself. He consulted a very large number of manuscripts, of which he had collected more than 500 in his own library; but, unfortunately, he left orders in his will that his library should be divided among a number of purchasers, and his collection was thus scattered, and in great part lost. His emendations, of which a large number were published under the title of Animadversiones et observaiiones, were not confined to lawbooks, but extended to many of the Latin and Greek classical authors. In jurisprudence his study was far from being devoted solely to Justinian ; he recovered and gave to the world a part of the Theodosian Code, with explanations; and he procured the manuscript of the Basilica, a Greek abridgment of Justinian, afterwards published by Fabrot (see BASILICA). He also composed a commentary on the Consueludines Feudorum, and on some books of the Decretals. In the Paratitla, or summaries which he made of the Digest, and particularly of the Code of Justinian, he condensed into short axioms the elementary principles of law, and gave definitions remarkable for their admirable clearness and precision. His lessons, which he never dictated, were continuous discourses, for which he made no other preparation than that of profound meditation on the subjects to be discussed. He was impatient of interruption, and upon the least noise he would instantly quit the chair and retire. He was strongly attached to his pupils, and Scaliger affirms that he lost more than 4000 livres by lending money to such of them as were in want.
In his lifetime Cujas published an edition of his works (Neville, !577)- It is beautiful and exact, but incomplete; it is now very scarce. The edition of Colombet (1634) is also incomplete. Fabrot, however, collected the whole in the edition which he published at Paris (1658), in 10 vols. folio, and which was reprinted at Naples (1722, 1727), in II vols. folio, and at Naples and at Venice (1758), in 10 vols. folio, with an index forming an eleventh volume. In the editions of Naples and Venice there are some additions not to be found in that of Fabrot, particularly a general table, which will be found very useful, and interpretations of all the Greek words used by Cujas.
See Papire-Masson, Vie de Cujas (Paris, 1590); Terrasson, Histoire de la jurisprudence romaine, and Melanges d'histoire, de litterature, et de jurisprudence; Bernard!, loge de Cujas (Lyons, 1775); Hugo, Civilistisches Magazin; Berriat Saint Prix, Memoires dt Cujas, appended to his Histoire du droit romain; Biographic universelle; Gravina, De orlu et progressu juris civilis; Spangenberg, Cujacius and seine Zeitgenossen (Leipzig, 1882).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)