Pasquier, Etienne
(1529-1615)
   French antiquarian and jurist. After preparation at the University of Paris, he studied law under the most distingished jurists of his century. The result of his varied edu-cational background was a strong sense of the relativity of laws, quite contrary to the traditional belief in the primacy and universal validity of Roman law. This background and his own strong sense of French identity led him to investigate the historical origins of French laws, customs, and institutions, beginning with the ancient Gauls and con-tinuing through the Frankish, Capetian, and Valois reigns down to his own time. This interest in the medieval roots of French laws and in-stitutions was contrary to the narrowly classical interests of human-ist historiography but profoundly harmonious with the strong na-tional sentiment that was growing up in 16th-century France.
   Pasquier's researches were compiled into the vast Recherches de la France / Researches on France, of which the first volume appeared in 1560, the seventh and last in 1611; two additional books were later edited from drafts left unfinished at his death. He based his historical works not on the narratives of earlier authors but on careful search-ing for original documents that demonstrated the gradual emergence of the French monarchy as the nucleus of the nation. Pasquier entered the practice of law at Paris in 1549 and had a distinguished legal and judicial career. As legal counsel for the successful effort by the Uni-versity of Paris to prevent the establishment of Jesuit colleges in France in 1564, he portrayed the Jesuits as agents of a papal tyranny that for centuries had encroached on the liberties of the Gallican church. During the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598), Pasquier was an outspoken enemy of the extreme Catholics who seized con-trol of Paris in 1588 and fought to block the lawful heir, Henry of Navarre, from the throne because he was a Protestant. Pasquier was one of the moderate Catholics known as politiques, who backed a strong monarchy that could reunify the country and end the civil wars.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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