Jacques Cujas (Cujacius), a French jurist, born in Toulouse about 1522, died in Bourges, Oct. 4,1590. He was the son of a tanner, and was educated at the university of Toulouse; spent several years in acquiring a knowledge of law, and of ancient languages, history, grammar, philosophy, mathematics, and poetry; and at the age of 25 commenced a course of instruction on the Institutes of Justinian. In 1554 the professorship of Roman law in the univer-.sity of Toulouse became vacant, and Cujas, not being chosen to it, left Toulouse, and accepted a vacant chair at Cahors; but in 1555 he repaired to Bourges, then perhaps the chief seat of the study of civil law. The jealousy of rival professors having forced him to leave this place, he went to Paris, and published a portion of his works, including the Observationum et Emendationum XXVIII libri, which, in the hyperbolical language of the time, received the name of opus incompardbile, opus divinum. In 1557 he was invited to fill a chair in Valence, whence in 1560, one of his rivals in Bourges being dead, he was called to that city, and there his principal works were published.
In 1566 he went to Turin to lecture in the university, and in 1567 returned to France, fixing his residence at Valence. In June, 1577, he finally returned to Bourges, which he never afterward quitted. The latter part of his life was clouded by domestic cares and by distress at the unhappy condition of his country. After the assassination of Henry III. in 1589, the league, who were powerful in Bourges, endeavored to extort from Cujas a written opinion in favor of the claims of Cardinal Bourbon to the succession. He refused, exclaiming, "It is not for me to corrupt the laws of my country." He died soon after, broken-hearted, it is supposed, at the evils which preyed upon France. The jurists of Europe agree in considering him the greatest, as he was among the first of modern interpreters of the civil law. Besides the Institutes, Pandects, etc, of Justinian, he published, with explanations, a part of the Theo-doslan code, the Basilica, a Greek version of the laws of Justinian, and commentaries on the Cojisuctudines Feudorum, and on some books of the Decretals. His "Observations and Corrections," extending not merely to books of law, but to a number of Greek and Latin authors, have been of great value to philologists.
The edition of Fabrot (10 vols, fob, Paris, 1658) was the first complete collection of his writings; but the reprints at Naples, Venice, and Modena, in 1758-83, in 11 vols, folio, and at Prato in 1836-'47, in 13 vols. 8vo, contain important additions. Cujas was also distinguished as a teacher. In 1850 Toulouse erected a statue to him.