Canonist, in whose writings were initially codified the maxims of Gallicanism; b. Troyes, Nov. 1, 1539; d. Nogent-sur-Seine, Nov. 1, 1596. Pierre and his brother François, sons of a distinguished legal family, studied at Bourges and Valence under Cujas. Since his Calvinist background prevented admittance to the bar at Troyes, Pierre withdrew to the Protestant district of Sedan, where he codified the legal customs into law. He resided for a time at Basle and returned to France after the edict of pacification in 1570. Having escaped the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, he was converted to Catholicism in 1573. As an adherent of Henry IV, he published an anonymous letter in 1593 canonically defending the right of bishops to absolve Henry IV without papal consultation. In 1594 he codified the maxims of Gallicanism in the epic Les Libertés de l'église gallicane in 83 articles. Pithou's work formed the basis of the Four Articles of 1682. By decree of April 21, 1768, the Parlement of Daphiné gave legal enforcement to certain of Pithou's 83 articles. After resigning the post of procurator general of the Parlement of Paris he concentrated on juristic studies, editing, among other works, the Capitularies of Charlemagne and the Corpus Iuris Canonici.
Bibliography: r. naz, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 1935–65) 6:1506. l. de rosanbo, "Pierre Pithou, biographie," Revue du seizième siècle 15 (1928) 279–305. j. carreyre, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 12.2:235–38.
[b. r. piskula]