French scholar and humanist. Secretary to the French king Louis XII and librarian to Francis I, he played a major role in developing classical scholarship in France, and in founding the Collège Royal (later the Collège de France) and the library that formed the nucleus of the French national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale.. Among his best-known works is De asse (1514), a pioneering study of Roman coinage.
He was born in Paris and studied law at Orleans, before learning Greek with John Lascaris, Girolamo Aleandro and Jerome of Sparta. As a secretary and ambassador of Louis XII he visited Rome in 1503 and 1515, where he came into direct contact with the humanism that he later sought to encourage in France (though he rejected the secular emphasis of the Italian scholars). As court librarian to Francis I, he helped the king develop the idea of a centre of humanist learning that would provide an alternative to the scholasticism of the Sorbonne – the centre was originally called the Collegium Trilingue, teaching Latin, Greek and Hebrew. In 1530 Francis I founded royal lecturships in these subjects, this forming the nucleus of the Collège Royal, formally recognized in 1566.
Budé wrote on Roman law in his Annotationes ad Pandectas (1508); on coinage (in full the title is De asse et partibus eius (1514)); and the Greek language, in Commentarii linguae Graecae/Commentaries on the Greek Language (1529). In 1532 he published De philologia, a general account of classical scholarship.
Budé brought the critical approach of humanism to the study of Christian texts and set an early example of that personal interpretation of the scriptures that led to the Reformation.