Jean-Jacques BurlamaquiJean-Jacques Burlamaqui

Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui was born in Geneva in 1694 into a family of Italian origin. Once politically influential in Lucca, Italy, Burlamaqui’s ancestors had fled religious persecution in 1591 and found refuge in the reformed Republic of Geneva. Burlamaqui read law and philosophy at the College and Academy of Geneva and was admitted to the bar in 1716. Four years later, he was named Honorary Professor. The same year, he left Geneva travelling to France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. He stayed at Oxford and Groningen, where he first came in contact with Jean Barbeyrac (1674–1744) whose translations and interpretations of the works of Samuel Pufendorf and Hugo Grotius, considerably influenced Burlamaqui’s later teachings and works. Back in Geneva, Burlamaqui was named Professor for Natural and Civil Law in 1723, a position in which he quickly distinguished himself as a skilled orator and devoted teacher. He continued to teach law at the University of Geneva until 1740, when he was forced to resign due to health reasons. In addition to his academic career, Burlamaqui followed in his family’s tradition of political leadership. In 1721, he was elected into the Genevan Council of the Two Hundred and nine years later into the Council of the Sixty. In 1742, arguably against his wishes due to his poor health, he joined the true power centre of the Republic of Geneva, the Petit Conseil. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui passed away in 1748.

Major Publications include: Principe du droit naturel (1747);

Published posthumously: Principe du droit politique (1751), both publications have been united under the title Principes du droit naturel et politique (1763); Principes du droit de la nature et des gens; Suite du droit de la nature (1766).


  • Le philosophe inconnu, present.htm, last accessed 13.02.2012.
  • Riklin, A., ‘Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui und die Genfer Aristokratie’ in Im Dienst an der Gemeinschaft, Festschrift für Dietrich Schindler zum 65. Geburtstag, Haller, W., Kölz, A., Müller, G., Thürer, D., (Basel/Frankfurt: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1989) pp. 639 – 652.
  • Kopel, D., Gallant, P., Eisen, J., ‘The Human Right of Self-Defense’ BYU Journal of Public Law, Vol. 22 (1), Fall 2007, (Publisher, Place)pp. 43-178, accessible at, last accessed 14.02.12.


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