French Revolution

Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

On March 28, 1794, French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist Nicolas de Condorcet died a mysterious death in prison after a period of flight from French Revolutionary authorities. He is probably best known for the Condorcet method, which in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public instruction, constitutionalism,…
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The Battle of Valmy

The Battle of Valmy

On September 20, 1792, the Battle of Valmy was fought. It was the first major victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution. Although being a small and localized victory, Valmy became a huge psychological victory for the Revolution at large. Overall, it permitted the development of the French Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that it is regarded as one of…
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Jacques-Louis Davids History Paintings

Jacques-Louis Davids History Paintings

On August 30, 1748, influential French painter in the Neoclassical style Jacques-Louis David was born. He is considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity. Early years David was born in the year when new excavations at the ash-buried ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum were beginning to…
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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

On August 1, 1744, French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was born. Lamarck was an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology. “Do we not therefore perceive that by the action of the laws of organization . . . nature has in favorable times, places, and climates multiplied…
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Vivant Denon and the Science of Egyptology

Vivant Denon and the Science of Egyptology

On January 4, 1747, French artist, writer, diplomat, author, and archaeologist Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon was born. He was appointed as the first Director of the Louvre Museum by Napoleon. His two-volume Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte (“Journey in Lower and Upper Egypt“, 1802), was the foundation of modern Egyptology. Early Years The Chevalier Dominique-Vivant Denon was born on 4 January 1747 near Chalon-sur-Saône as the son of a lawyer…
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Jean-Rondolphe Perronet and the Bridges of Paris

Jean-Rondolphe Perronet and the Bridges of Paris

Jean-Rodolphe Perronet (1708-1794) On October 27, 1708, French architect and structural engineer Jean-Rodolphe Perronet was born. He is best known for his many stone arch bridges, among them his most popular work, the Paris Pont de la Concorde. Jean-Rodolphe Perronet was born in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris, the son of a Swiss Guardsman. At 17 he entered the architectural practice of Jean Beausire, “first architect” to the city of Paris, as…
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Nicolas-Jacques Conté and the Pencil

Nicolas-Jacques Conté and the Pencil

Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755-1805) On August 4, 1755, French painter, inventor, army officer and balloonist, Nicolas-Jacques Conté was born. Among others, he is credited with the invention of the modern pencil. Moreover, some consider him one of the greatest inventive minds of the eighteenth century. He distinguished himself for his mechanical genius which was of great avail to the French army in Egypt. Napoleon Bonaparte called him “a universal man with taste, understanding…
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Charles Augustin de Coulomb and the Electrostatic Force

Charles Augustin de Coulomb and the Electrostatic Force

On June 14, 1736, French physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb was born. He is best known for developing Coulomb’s law, the definition of the electrostatic force of attraction and repulsion, but also did important work on friction. The SI unit of electric charge, the coulomb, was named after him. Charles Augustin de Coulomb received a good education in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and botany since both sides of his family were respected and quite wealthy…
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Gaspard Monge and his System of Descriptive Geometry

Gaspard Monge and his System of Descriptive Geometry

On May 10, 1746, French mathematician Gaspard Monge, Comte de Péluse was born. He is best known for being the inventor of descriptive geometry as the mathematical basis of technical drawing, and being the father of differential geometry. During the French Revolution Monge served as the Minister of the Marine, and was involved in the reform of the French educational system, helping to found the École Polytechnique. “Descriptive geometry has two objects: the first is…
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