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A German jurist and publicist, b. of Protestant parents in 1577 at Tubingen, Würtemberg; d. 15 September, 1638 at Ingolstadt, Bavaria. He studied jurisprudence and graduated as Doctor of Law in 1598; and in 1610 became professor of law at Tubingen. He was held in high regard as a teacher, and his counsel was frequently sought in juridical questions by the civil administration. His studies extended beyond his specialty; he acquired the knowledge of nine languages; perused the Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers, and of the medieval mystics. His inclination towards the Catholic religion grew with his knowledge of it. He was publicly converted at Heilbronn in 1635. Two years later, he accepted the chair of Roman Law at the University of Ingoldstadt. He was considering the offer of a professorship at the University of Bologna, tendered him by Pope Urban VIII, when he died. On his death-bed he conjured his wife to embrace the Catholic faith; three months later she was received into the Church with her eight-year old daughter. The nobleness of character and erudition of Besoldus have been recognized even by his opponents, although an attempt was made to ascribe his conversion to interested motives. His works are very numerous. His publication of three volumes of documents from the Stuttgart archives gave offence because their contents tended to prove that the immediate dependency of the Würtemberg monasteries on the Empire (Reichsunmittelbarkeit) implied for the local dukes the obligation of restoring the confiscated religious property. His writings are important for the history of the causes of the Thirty Years War.
Rass, Convertiten (Freiburg, 1867), V, 310-328; Gunter, Religionsedikt von 1629 (Stuttgart, 1902), 294-306; Stintzing, Gesch. d. deutschen Rechtswissensch, (1880), I, 692 sqq.; Stemmer-Bruck, in Kirchenlex., II, 526-528.