Johann Mcolaus Von Hontheim, a German jurisconsult, born in Treves, Jan. 27, 1701, died at Montquintin in Luxemburg, Sept. 2, 1790. He was educated at the Jesuit school in Treves, studied jurisprudence at Louvain and Leyden, and became doctor of law in 1724. In 1728 he was appointed ecclesiastical counsellor of the consistory in Treves, in 1732 professor of civil law; and in 1748 he was made bishop of Myriophis in partibus, and suffragan of the see of Treves. He became favorably known for erudition, and published several works, the most famous of which is De Statu Ecctesioe et legitima Potestate Romani Pontificis (4to, 1763), published under the pseudonyme of Justinus Febronius. In this work, which attracted great attention and was translated into French and Italian, he took ultra-Gallican or national views, and propounded a system of church government which has been called Febronianism. It was condemned in Germany and in France, as well as by Clement XIII., to whom it was dedicated, and drew forth a number of replies, the most noteworthy of which were those of Zaccaria and Ballerini. In 1778 -the author issued a retractation, but this was followed by a commentary (1781) which threw doubts on his sincerity.
His doctrines led to the congress at Ems; but as the French revolution swept away the Gallican church and the civil constitution of the clergy, Hontheim's ideas lay dormant until the present century, when they have been revived in the Old Catholic movement.