Voltaire 1694 - 1778 (84)

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.




François Marie Arua (November 21, 1694 - May 30, 1778), more widely known as Voltaire, was a French writer, historian and philosopher famous for his spirit, one of the founders of the Enlightenment. His father was a notary and a senior official in the Ministry of Finance. He lost his mother when he was 7 years old and in 1703 he entered the Jesuit college of Louis the Great, where he remained until 1711. After studying law for two years, he began writing plays and satirical lyrics. He soon became with his writings popular in the upper class, but when he satirised the regent he was sentenced to 11 months in prison in Bastille. He continued to write in prison, changed his name to Voltaire and finished his first tragedy, Oedipus, which was played with great success. After his release in April 1718, he continued the theatrical production with undiminished success, gaining fame and money. He also began a series of profitable investment. However, he came into conflict with a young nobleman and invited him to a duel, the family of this nobleman managed to issue a secret warrant (a legal privilege of the aristocracy to neutralize their opponents) against him. Voltaire was arrested and had to choose between prison and exile. He choose England and because of that incident he became an outspoken advocate of judicial reform. During his stay in England he came into contact with the spiritual figures of the time, (John Locke, Isaac Newton and others) wrote his first English essays and finished between others a classic work in the field of biography, the history of Charles 12th of Sweden.

He returned to Paris after three years and continued his literary production with several tragedies, with notable work of this time the epic poem Errikeias, on the religious wars in France, which satirized religious intolerance, a project with great impact that sold more than 300,000 copies. In 1733 he started a relationship with Emilie du Satle and they stayed together in Lorraine, with the connivance of her husband. The bond with Emily lasted until her death in 1749. Through the influence of Madame Pompadour he became royal historian and member of the French Academy. In April 1739 took a trip to Brussels and in November 1740 in Berlin after the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia. When Emily died he accepted the invitation of Frederick to live in the yard, he went in 1750. His relations with Frederick was windy and in 1753 he hastily left Prussia and settled in Geneva. In 1759 he bought an estate in Franco-Swiss border where were gatehring many intellectuals of Europe. Voltaire continuously produced a steady stream of books (he wrote 2,000 books and pamphlets and more than 20000 letters). In 1778, covering his 84th year, he attended the first performance of his tragedy “Peace” in Paris. The journey and the reception was an apotheosis, he was thrilled and touched but shortly afterwards, on 30 May 1778, he died. Voltaire was not an atheist, he wrote that "nothing is created from nothing", "there is a God and he should be righteous", "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.

" He was however critic of religious intolerance and religious persecution, the authoritarian and illiberal mode of action of the Catholic church, defender of religious freedom, freedom of speech and separation of church from state. His philosophy was based on skepticism and rationalism, he expressed the belief for evolution and gradual humanization of society through arts, science and commerce. In politics he supported social reform but felt horrified with the possible ignorance and bigotry of people.