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1694, Nov 211713-17781778, May 30
a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate of several liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.
 Timeline (9)
11/21/1694-François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, is born
05/16/1717- Voltaire is imprisoned in the Bastille
11/18/1718- Voltaire's Oedipus premieres in Paris
12/11/1730- Voltaire's Brutus premieres in Paris 
08/13/1732- Voltaire's Zaïre premieres in Paris
03/25/1753- Voltaire leaves the court of Frederick II of Prussia 
01/11/1765-Frisia bans Voltaire's A Treatise on Toleration  
02/11/1778- Voltaire is welcomed home
03/30/1778-Playwright Voltaire crowned with laurel wreath 
 Quotes (20) • View in Quotations
Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.
Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
God created woman to tame man.
God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous'. And God granted it.
If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?
In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished – unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
It is the characteristic of the most stringent censorships that they give credibility to the opinions [that] they attack.
Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.
Men argue. Nature acts.
Men will not be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.
To succeed in this world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.
 Contemporaries
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102
Voltaire1694, Nov 211713
 
17781778, May 30

Haquin Spegel1645, Jun 141670
 
17141714, Apr 17
 a religious author and hymn writer who held several bishop's seats for the Lutheran Swedish Churc...
William Dampier1651, Sep1673
 
17151715, Mar
 the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumn...
Naphtali Cohen16491690
 
17181718
 a Russo-German rabbi and kabalist born in Ostrowo in Ukraine. He belonged to a family of rabbis i...
Thomas Parnell1679, Sep 111705
 
17181718, Oct 24
 an Anglo-Irish poet and clergyman who was a friend of both Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. He ...
Seamus O Fearghailunknown1711
 
1718unknown
 an Irish poet and scribe, fl. 1711-1718. Paul Walsh (priest) wrote of him in 1920: "James O Farr...
Samuel Schotten16441685
 
17191719, Jul 5
  He became Rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1685. Shmuel Schotten HaCohen was born ...
Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach1656, Jul 201671
 
17231723, Apr 5
 an Austrian architect, sculptor, and architectural historian whose Baroque architecture profoundl...
Richard Boultonunknown1697
 
1724unknown
 a physician and author from England. Boulton was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, and for s...
Cotton Mather1663, Feb 121685
 
17261728, Feb 13
 a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphle...
George Sewellunknown1713
 
17261726
 an English physician and poet, known as a controversialist and hack-writer. In early life Sewell ...
Richard Blackmore1654, Jan 221682
 
17271729, Oct 9
 an English poet and physician, is remembered primarily as the object of satire and as an example ...
Daniel Defoe1660 ca1697
 
17281731, Apr
 an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy, most famous for his novel Robinson C...
David Nieto16541702
 
17281728, Jan 10
 the Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community in London, later succeeded in this capac...
Colen Campbell1676, Jun 151712
 
17291729, Sep 13
 a pioneering Scottish architect and architectural writer, credited as a founder of the Georgian s...
Samuel Izacke of Devonunknown1720
 
 
1729unknown
 a Chamberlain of the City of Exeter and an antiquarian. He was the son of Richard Izacke (c.1624...
Captain Charles Johnsonunknown1720
 
 
1729unknown
  the British author of the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most n...
Seon Mac Solaidhunknown1720
 
 
1729unknown
 an Irish poet and scribe. A native of Harmanstown, parish of Stackallen, County Meath, Paul Walsh...
Sean O Cathainunknown1720
 
 
1729unknown
 an Irish scribe. Little is known of Ó Catháin. He transcribed Trí Biorghaoithe an Bháis – ...
William Wake1657, Jan 261716
 
 
17371737, Jan 24
 a priest and Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England from 1716 until his death in 1737....
Tobias Fitchunknown1720
 
 
1739unknown
 wrote a journal of his mission from Charleston to the Creeks. Succeeded Colonel Chicken as Indian...
John Bowackunknown1730
 
 
1739unknown
 a British topographer, for many years a writing-master at Westminster School. In 1705-6, when liv...
George Englandunknown1730
 
 
1739unknown
 an English divine and author. England was a member of the England family which flourished at Yarm...
John Zenger1697, Oct 261730
 
 
17391746, Jul 28
 a German American printer and journalist in New York City. Zenger printed The New York Weekly Jou...
Hristofor Zhefarovich1690 ca1730
 
 
17391753
 an 18th-century painter, engraver, writer and poet and a notable proponent of Pan-Slavism. His na...
Melchior de Polignac1661, Oct 111683
 
17421742, Nov 20
 a French diplomat, Cardinal and neo-Latin poet. During the last years of Louis XIV, Abbé de Poli...
John Atkins16851703
 
17421757
 a British Royal naval surgeon. Atkins published two books, both of which have had more than one e...
Richard Tipperunknown1709
 
1742unknown
 an Irish scribe. Richard Tipper lived at Mitchelstown, parish of Castleknock, County Dublin. He l...
Eric Benzelius the Younger1675, Jan 71742
 
 
17431743, Sep 23
 a priest, theologian, librarian, bishop of Linköping, 1731-1742 and Archbishop of Uppsala, Swede...
Charlotte-Catherine Patin1672 ca1683
 
17441744
 a 17th- and 18th-century French writer and art critic. Granddaughter of medical doctor and letter...
John Potter1674 ca1737
 
 
17471747, Oct 10
 the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Church of England from 1737-1747. He was the son of a linen...
Gavril Stefanovic Venclovicunknown1680
 
1749unknown
 a Serbian priest, writer, poet, orator, philosopher, and illuminator. He was one of the first and...
Jonathan Swift1667, Nov 301690
 
17491745, Oct 19
 an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Torie...
Johann Heinrich Zedler1706, Jan 71727
 
 
17491751, Mar 21
 a bookseller and publisher. His most important achievement was the creation of a German encyclope...
Thomas Cannonunknown1740
 
 
1749unknown
 an English author of the 18th century. He wrote what may be the earliest published defence of hom...
John Wood the Elder17041725
 
 
17541754, May 23
 an English architect, working mainly in Bath. In 1740 he surveyed Stonehenge and the Stanton Drew...
Aaron Hart16701692
 
17561756
 the first chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1...
Simon Awad16831708
 
17561756, Feb 12
 the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch from 1743 to his death in 1756, remembered as an Arab writer. I...
Samuel Richardson1689, Aug 191706
 
17581761, Jul 4
 an 18th-century English writer and printer. He is best known for his three epistolary novels: Pam...
Pope Benedict XIV1675, Mar 311740
 
 
17581758, May 3
 Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1740 until his death in1758. Perhaps one of the greatest s...
Alexander Volckunknown1740
 
 
1759unknown
 the city scribe for the Wetteravian town of Büdingen in Hesse, Germany during the mid 18th centu...
John Angellunknown1750
 
 
1759unknown
 an Irish professional shorthand writer. Angell was from Dublin, and professor of the art there. A...
Zhiyanzhai unknown1750
 
 
1759unknown
 the pseudonym of an early, mysterious commentator of the 18th-century Chinese novel Dream of the ...
Francesco Vanneschiunknown1732
 
 
1760unknown
 an Italian opera manager, director and librettist. He was known as having been active as a libret...
Richard Brookesunknown1721
 
 
1763unknown
 an English physician and author of compilations and translations on medicine, surgery, natural hi...
Firmin Abauzit1679, Nov 111698
 
17671767, Mar 20
 a French scholar who worked on physics, theology and philosophy, and served as librarian in Genev...
Laurence Sterne1713, Nov 241737
 
 
17681768, Mar 18
 an Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinion...
Menonunknown1739
 
 
1768unknown
 the pseudonym of an 18th-century French cookbook author; his true identity is unknown. His numero...
Thomas Secker16931758
 
 
17681768, Aug 3
 the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England from 1758 until his death in 1768. In 1737 ...
Johann Joachim Quantz1697, Jan 301716
 
 
17691773, Jul 12
 a German flutist, flute maker and composer. He composed hundreds of flute sonatas and concertos, ...
William Storkunknown1750
 
 
17691768
 an oculist in England and the American colonies, and subsequently settled in the British colony o...
Pal Bajaiunknown1760
 
 
1769unknown
 a Hungarian Franciscan friar of the Observant reform and spiritual writer during the 18th century...
Marie-Anne de Roumier-Robertunknown1760
 
 
1769unknown
 an 18th-century French writer. Very little is known about her life. She wrote one of the earliest...
David Hume1711, Apr 261736
 
 
17711776, Aug 25
 a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highl...
Tobias Smollett1721, Mar 191748
 
 
17711771, Sep 17
 a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures o...
Walter Galeunknown1750
 
 
1771unknown
 the first schoolmaster of the Mayfield Charity School in Mayfield, East Sussex, now the Mayfield ...
Thomas Nugent1700 ca1749
 
 
17721772, Apr 27
 an erudite Irish historian and travel writer. Today he is known most of all for his travelogue of...
Juniusunknown1769
 
 
1772unknown
 the pseudonym of a writer who contributed a series of letters to the Public Advertiser, from 21 J...
James Ferguson [3]1710, Apr 251720
 
 
17731776, Nov 17
  a Scottish astronomer, instrument and globe maker. It is, as the inventor and improver of astron...
Jean-Jacques Rousseau1712, Jun 281739
 
 
17761778, Jul 2
 a philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the ...
Robert Rogers1731, Nov 71746
 
17791795, May 18
 an American colonial frontiersman. Rogers served in the British army during both the French and I...
Thomas Edwards [4]17291751
 
17791785
 an Anglican clergyman and divine. In 1759 Edwards published The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace pr...
George Andrewsunknown1770
 
1779unknown
 a barrister-at-law. Andrews published reports of cases argued in the court of King's Bench during...
M.D.T. Bienvilleunknown1770
 
1779unknown
 an obscure French doctor, he wrote the first full-length study abount nymphomania, entitled Nymph...
Sophia Briscoeunknown1770
 
1779unknown
 an 18th-century English novelist. Little is known of her life. Briscoe was the author of the epis...
Hemmou Talbunknown1760
 
1780unknown
 a Moroccan poet from the 18th century writing in Berber (Tashelhit). His nickname was bab n umarg...
Jose Francisco de Isla1703, Apr 241722
 
17811781, Nov 2
 a Spanish Jesuit, celebrated as a preacher and a humorist and satirist of the stamp of Miguel de ...
Samuel Johnson1709, Sep 181744
 
17811784, Dec 13
 an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moral...
John Witherspoon1723, Feb 51745
 
17811794, Nov 15
  a Scots Presbyterian minister and a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence a...
Cesar-Francois Cassini de Thury1714, Jun 171735
 
17841784, Sep 4
 a French astronomer and cartographer. His chief works are: La méridienne de l’Observatoire Roy...
Benjamin Calau17241743
 
17851785
 a German portrait painter, who used an encaustic technique. He painted some portraits for Johann ...
Patience Wright17251770
 
17851786, Mar 23
 the first recognized American-born sculptor. She chiefly created wax figures of people. She loved...
Rudjer Boscovich1711, May 181740
 
17861787, Feb 13
 a Ragusan physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian, Jesuit p...
Jupiter Hammon1711, Oct 171760
 
17861806 ca
 a black poet who in 1761 became the first African-American writer to be published in the present-...
Maurycy Beniowski1746, Sep 201762
 
17861786, May 23
 a Hungarian nobleman of Polish and Hungarian ancestry. He was an explorer, writer, the self-decla...
Benjamin Franklin1705, Jan 61718
 
17891790, Apr 17
 one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading aut...
Adam Smith1723, Jun 51748
 
17891790, Jul 17
 a Scottish economist, philosopher, and author. He was a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political...
Ethan Allen1737, Jan 101757
 
17891789, Feb 12
 a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, lay theologian, and American Revolut...
Isaac Alexanderunknown1770
 
1789unknown
 a German author. He lived in South Germany in the second half of the 18th century, and wrote on p...
John Ledyard1751, Nov1770
 
17891789, Jan 10
 an American explorer and adventurer. In June 1776, Ledyard joined Captain James Cook's third and ...
James Bruce1730, Dec 141762
 
17901794, Apr 27
 a Scottish traveller and travel writer who spent more than a dozen years in North Africa and Ethi...
Phebe Gibbesunknown1764
 
17901805
 an 18th-century English novelist and early feminist. She authored twenty-two books between 1764 a...
Robert Burns1759, Jan 251775
 
17901796, Jul 21
 a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celeb...
Francis Hopkinson1737, Sep 211761
 
17911791, May 9
 designed the first official American flag. He was an author, a composer, and one of the signers o...
Carl Michael Bellman1740, Feb 41768
 
17911795, Feb 11
 a Swedish songwriter, composer, musician, poet and entertainer. He is a central figure in the Swe...
George Whatleyunknown1772
 
1791unknown
 a contemporary, friend and correspondent of Benjamin Franklin. He was also Vice-President (1772-1...
Sir William Chambers1723, Feb 231740
 
17961796, Mar 10
 a Scottish-Swedish architect, based in London. Among his best-known works are Somerset House, Lon...
Horace Walpole1717, Sep 241737
 
17971797, Mar 2
 an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician. He had Strawberry Hill...
Giacomo Casanova1725, Apr 21742
 
17971798, Jun 4
 an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. His autobiography, Histoire de ma v...
Benjamin Banneker1731, Nov 91753
 
17971806, Oct 9
 a free African American almanac author, surveyor, naturalist and farmer. His knowledge of astrono...
Ashley Bowen1728, Jan 81741
 
17991813
 the first American sailor to write an autobiography. Although Bowen's career as a sailor was not ...
Thomas Paine [2]1736, Jan 291761
 
18041809, Jun 8
 an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary. One of...
Xosefa Xovellanos1745, Jun 41740
 
18091807
 the younger sister of Asturian politician illustrated Gaspar Melchor de Xovellanos and prominent ...
Joseph Quesnel1746, Nov 151766
 
18091809, Jul 2/3
 a French Canadian composer, poet, and playwright. Among his works were two operas, Colas et Colin...
William Batt1744, Jun 181770
 
18091812, Feb 9
 an English physician, chemist, and botanist. On completing his studies he returned to England, bu...
Jean-Dominique Cassini1748 Jun 301768
 
18101845, Oct 18
 a French astronomer, he succeeded his father as director of the observatory. He published in 177...
Louis Antoine de Bougainville1729, Nov 121753
 
18111811, Aug 31
 a French admiral and explorer. A contemporary of the British explorer James Cook, he took part in...
Paul Revere1734, Dec 211756
 
18111818, May 10
 an American silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and a Patriot in the American Revolution....
Joaquim Machado de Castro1731, Jun 191770
 
18221822, Nov 17
 one of Portugal's foremost sculptors, and a celebrated figure throughout Europe in the eighteenth...
Thomas Jefferson1743, Apr 21767
 
18241826, Jul 4
 an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and ...
William Hull1753, Jun 241775
 
18251825, Nov 29
 an American soldier and politician. He fought in the American Revolution and was appointed as Gov...
Richard Allen [2]1760, Feb 141777
 
18311831, Mar 26
 a minister, educator, writer, and one of America's most active and influential black leaders. In ...
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe1749, Aug 281770
 
18321832, Mar 22
 a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a varie...
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