France

Gaston Maspero and the Sea Peoples

Gaston Maspero and the Sea Peoples

On June 23, 1846, French egyptologist Gaston Camille Charles Maspero was born. Maspero is best known for popularizing the term “Sea Peoples“. He was director general of excavations and antiquities for the Egyptian government, who was responsible for locating a collective royal tomb of prime historic importance. Gaston Maspero studied at the École normale and met Egyptologist Auguste Mariette in 1867, back then the commissioner for the Egyptian section of the…
Gustave Courbet and French Realism

Gustave Courbet and French Realism

On June 10, 1819, French painter Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was born, who led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists. Gustave Courbet was born in in Ornans, a village in the Franche-Comté in eastern France, to Régis and Sylvie Oudot Courbet, a prosperous farming family with anti-monarchical…
The Writings of Victor Hugo

The Writings of Victor Hugo

On May 22, 1854, French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement Victor Hugo passed away. Hugo is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections. Victor Hugo was born in 1802 in Besançon in the eastern region of Franche-Comté, the…
Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

On May 13, 1713, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist Alexis Claude Clairaut was born. Clairaut was one of the key figures in the expedition to Lapland that helped to confirm Newton’s theory for the figure of the Earth. In that context, Clairaut worked out a mathematical result now known as “Clairaut’s theorem”. He also tackled the gravitational three-body problem, being the first to obtain a satisfactory result for the apsidal…
The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

The Instruments of Jean-Charles de Borda

On May 4, 1733, French mathematician, physicist, political scientist, and sailor Jean-Charles de Borda was born. De Borda noted for his studies of fluid mechanics and his development of instruments for navigation and geodesy, the study of the size and shape of the Earth. He is one of 72 scientists commemorated by plaques on the Eiffel tower. Jean-Charles de Borda grew up in Dax, France as part of a noble family.…
Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran and the Improvement of Spectroscopy

Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran and the Improvement of Spectroscopy

On April 18, 1838, French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran was born. Lecoq de Boisbaudran improved spectroscopic methods which had recently been developed by Paul Kirchhoff. Furthermore he is known for his discoveries of the chemical elements gallium, samarium and dysprosium. Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran belonged to the ancient Protestant nobility of Poitou and Angoumois, whose considerable fortune, however, disappeared after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Since the property…
Édouard Lartet –  a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology

Édouard Lartet – a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology

On April 15, 1801, French geologist and paleontologist Édouard Lartet was born. Lartet was a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology, who is chiefly credited with discovering man’s earliest art and with establishing a date for the Upper Paleolithic Period of the Stone Age. His most striking discovery was a mammoth tooth, found in a cave, upon which was a drawing of a mammoth. This was clear proof that man lived at the same…
Jacques Lacan – the most controversial figure in French Psychiatry

Jacques Lacan – the most controversial figure in French Psychiatry

On April 13, 1901, French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan was born. Lacan has been called “the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud“. He influenced many leading French intellectuals in the 1960s and the 1970s, especially those associated with post-structuralism. His ideas had a significant impact on post-structuralism, critical theory, linguistics, 20th-century French philosophy, film theory and clinical psychoanalysis. Jacques Lacan was rejected for military service and decided to enter medical school.…
Cardinal Richelieu and the Académie Francaise

Cardinal Richelieu and the Académie Francaise

On February 22, 1635, on the urging of Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France, King Louis XIII of France, formally established the Académie française, the French academy. It is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie consists of forty members, known informally as les immortels (the immortals). The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged…
Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois and the Order of the Chemical Elements

Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois and the Order of the Chemical Elements

On January 20, 1820, French geologist and mineralogist  Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois was born. De Chancourtois was the first to arrange the chemical elements in order of atomic weights in 1862. De Chancourtois only published his paper, but did not publish his actual graph with the irregular arrangement. Although his publication was significant, it was ignored by chemists as it was written in terms of geology. It was Dmitri Mendeleev’s table published…
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