Page images

the March of Ancona, that the latter called a meeting of the members of that University, at which it was resolved to form an International Committee to do fitting honour to the memory of their great countryman. Professor Mancini was appropriately nominated President of that Committee, and H.R.H. Prince Humbert, the eldest son of Victor Emanuel,* King of Italy, discerning the opportuneness of the movement, accepted the office of its honorary President. We ought not to omit mention of the name of Dr. Leopardi, the Secretary of the town of San Ginesio, the birthplace of Gentilis, who, in a spirit very different from that which actuated its citizens in the sixteenth century, co-operated readily in the movement to redress the injustice of a less tolerant age. The admirers of Gentilis in this country were unwilling to be left behind in making public a similar expression of their feeling towards one, who had brought honour upon England by seeking refuge as an exile upon its free soil. An Executive Committee was accordingly organized at Oxford in November, 1875, honoured by the intelligent Presidency of H.R.H. Prince Leopold, the youngest son of H.M. Queen Victoria, and it was resolved by this Committee to carry out the twofold object of erecting a monument to the memory of the great Italian jurist in the Church of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, within which his mortal remains were interred in the year 1608, and of contributing to the expense of the republication, at the Oxford University Press, of his work, “ De Jure Belli,” under the editorship of Professor Holland. The newly-erected monument bears upon its face an inscription, which is believed to be identical with the epitaph on the original monument in the same church, the text of which has been preserved in the Bibliotheca Vetus et Nova of the younger Konigius, published at Altdorf, in 1678. The preservation of the epitaph may be attributed to the circumstance that his brother, Scipio Gentilis, was for twenty-six years a distinguished Professor

* Since these lines were written “Il Ré Galantuomo” has gone to his rest.

of Law in the Academy of Altdorf *-first as the colleague, and afterwards as the successor of Donellus.

The history of the escape of Grotius from the Fortress of Löwenstein, through the aid of his devoted wife, is well known; not so the history of the flight of Matthæus Gentilis from his native city of San Ginesio, accompanied by his second + son, Albericus. The latter was born in 1551, and was in due time sent by his father, who had been educated at the Athenæum of Pisa, to the neighbouring University of Perugia, where he graduated as full Doctor of Law in 1572. At that time his father was the inspecting physician of the town of Ascoli, where his son was forthwith elected to the office of Prætor, or Judge. Professor Holland, in his lecture, has furnished an excellent sketch of the varied fortunes of both the father and the son, for the materials of which he has been indebted in part to the Memorials of San Ginesio, by the Abate Benigni, a native of that town, published in the latter years of the last century. To those who may be desirous of a more intimate acquaintance with the misfortunes of the family of the “Gentili Rossi,” as they were termed, in contradistinction from the “Gentili Bianchi,” we commend the perusal of a more recent work, entitled “ Studj dell'Avvocato Giuseppe Speranza," Roma, 1876. For reasons connected with his religious opinions, Matthæus Gentilis soon afterwards withdrew, with his son, from Ascoli to their native town of San Ginesio, where their family circle was destined to be rudely broken up by a summons to them to appear before the Tribunal of the Inquisition at Rome. Whether they were condemned

* The University of Altdorf was incorporated, in 1809, with an University which had been founded in 1743 at Erlangen, and which still exists. It was an “ Academia " at the time when Scipio Gentilis lectured there in Law; it did not become an University until 1623.

† Alberico is generally described as the eldest son, but Benigni, whom Speranza follows, states reasons for holding him to be the second son, Manilio Gentili being his elder brother. Scipio was the sixth son.

to the galleys for contumacy by that high tribunal or by the civil power, is not quite clear, but the terror of the Holy Office caused at once a host of thoughtful people, in San Ginesio and its neighbourhood, who had embraced the doctrines of the Reformation, to emigrate forthwith from their native country, and the exodus was mainly directed to the Valteline and to the Engadine, in Switzerland. Matthæus, however, and his son, Albericus, directed their steps to Laibach, in Carniola, where Matthæus obtained and held for a short time the appointment of superintendent physician of the Duchy. Here they were joined by a younger son, Scipio, then about sixteen years of age, whose fame in subsequent years as a Professor of Law in Germany was hardly second to that of his elder brother. Their mother, Lucretia, stayed behind with her other young children, unwilling to abandon “the air and the food, and the religion of her native country.” “ If you take me hence,” she said to her husband, “ you take me to death. Recompense me for letting you go, by consenting to my staying behind,” and so the exiles went forth alone for the sake of their religion, and found a temporary resting-place in Carniola, where Matthæus, the father, remained until the tolerant policy of the House of Hapsburgh underwent a change. Meanwhile, the younger son, Scipio, who had joined his father, was sent forth by him to pursue his studies in the Universities of the Netherlands and of Germany, whilst Albericus directed his steps to England, where he hoped to turn to good account his knowledge of the Civil Law. It is believed that Albericus arrived for the first time in England in 1580, bringing with him letters of recommendation to Giambattista Castiglione, a physician of Milan, also a refugee for the sake of his religion, and præceptor of Italian to Queen Elizabeth. How he came to make the acquaintance of Dr. Tobie Matthew, at that time Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, does not appear, but from a letter* which we have perused amongst the Sloane MSS. in the British Museum (4277, No. 39, f. 66) it would appear that it was to the great kindness of Dr. Tobie Matthew that Albericus mainly owed his successful entrance upon a career which, as it proved to be one of great usefulness to his adopted country, so it brought with it much honour to himself. Professor Holland states that it was through the good offices of Battista Castiglione and of Dr. Tobie Matthew that he obtained from the Earl of Leicester, then Chancellor of the University of Oxford, letters of recommendation to the authorities of that University, in virtue of which he was forthwith admitted to teach in several of the Colleges, and was shortly afterwards authorized to lecture publicly on Civil Law. The Register Book of the University further records, under the date of 14th January, 1580, the following grace granted to him in the Congregation of Regent Masters: “Ut Albericus Gentilis, Doctor Juris Civilis Perusii creatus, sit eodem loco et gradu hic apud nos, quo est Perusii.” In this very year, in which Albericus records in a letter to the Earl of Leicester his best thanks, “as of one who had left his country for - religion's sake,” the authorities of his native town of San Ginesio issued a decree ordaining that the names of the members of the family of Gentilis, who had fled from their country to evade the summons of the Inquisition, should be erased from the roll of its citizens and from every public document, and that the penalty of infamy should attach to any one, who should hereafter propose at any time to restore them to their civil rights!

The career of Albericus as a teacher of Law in

* This letter bears date London, 13th Sept., 1604, and it is on the subject of the disputation, “ De Unione regnorum 'Britanniæ,” which Albericus had just completed. Dr. Tobie Matthew was at that time Bishop of Durham, and Albericus, in thanking him for a remittance of money, used these remarkable words: “ Nam est verissimum, quod præfatiuncula aliqua mea habet, me esse, quantus sum, per te unum.” Dr. Tobie Matthew was advanced to the Arch. bishopric of York in 1606.

England may be said to have commenced with his lectures in the College of St. John the Baptist at Oxford, in 1580 (O.S.) Another distinguished foreigner, John Hotoman, a native of France, and a graduate of the University of Valence, was incorporated at the same time with him into the Faculty of Law at Oxford. The satisfaction of Gentilis with his adopted country appears to have been great from an expression, which occurs in the preface to his first published work, “ De Interpretibus Juris Dialogi Sex,” which he dedicated in 1582 to the Earl of Leicester, and in which he dwells upon the happiness which he experienced at Oxford, “In crudeli hoc meo exilio, si est exilium potius quam beatitudo.” Henceforth almost every year of his life was marked by the appearance of a new treatise, and sometimes of several treatises. In 1584, Gentilis and John Hotoman were invited by the Council of Queen Elizabeth to advise them as to the proper course which they should adopt in dealing with Mendoza, the Ambassador of Spain in England, who had been detected in a plot against the life of the Queen, and it was by their advice that the Council was guided in merely ordering the Ambassador to quit England forthwith. That the opinion given by Gentilis on this occasion was the right opinion, Professor Holland notes to be now universally admitted, although it was opposed to an opinion given by the leading English Civilians fifteen years before in the case of Leslie, Bishop of Ross (4 Coke's Institute, p. 153).

Gentilis chose the topic, to which his attention had been on this occasion directed, as the subject of a disputation when the Earl of Leicester and Sir Philip Sydney shortly afterwards visited the Schools of Oxford in the same year, and the disputation was six months later expanded into a book, entitled “ De Legationibus,” which he dedicated to Sir Philip Sydney, whom he deservedly held in high estimation, and which was printed in London in 1585, and subsequently in Hanover in 1594. This treatise alone would have been

« PreviousContinue »