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A Brief François Marie. Arouet de Voltaire Bio

Written by: Voltaire (François Marie. Arouet de), French poet, historian and philosopher, b. Paris 21 Nov. 1694. Educated by the Jesuits, he early distinguished himself by his wit. For a satirical pamphlet on the death of Louis XIV he was sent to the Bastille for a year and was afterwards committed again for a quarrel with the Chevalier de Rohan. On his liberation he came to England at the invitation of Lord Bolingbroke, and became acquainted with the English Freethinkers. His Lettres Philosophiques translated as “Letters on the English,” 1732, [328]gave great offence to the clergy and was condemned to be burnt. About 1735 he retired to the estate of the Marquise de Châtelet at Cirey, where he produced many plays. We may mention Mahomet, dedicated to the Pope, who was unable to see that its shafts were aimed at the pretences of the church. In 1750 he accepted the invitation of Frederick II. to reside at his court. But he could not help laughing at the great king’s poetry. The last twenty years of his life was passed at Ferney near the Genevan territory, which through his exertions became a thriving village. He did more than any other man of his century to abolish torture and other relics of barbarism, and to give just notions of history. To the last he continued to wage war against intolerance and superstition. His works comprise over a thousand pieces in seventy volumes. Over fifty works were condemned by the Index, and Voltaire used no less than one hundred and thirty different pen-names. His name has risen above the clouds of detraction made by his clerical enemies. Died 30 May, 1778.

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