People

Tales of Charlotte Corday’s Head

After Charlotte Corday’s execution for assassinating Jacques-Jean Marat, her body and guillotined head were said to have been buried in Ditch No. 5 of the cemetery of the Madeleine on rue Anjou Saint-Honore in Paris. Ditch No. 4 held the body of Louis XVI, and Ditch No. 6 would be readied shortly for Marie Antoinette…

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Pierre-Paul Sirven, the Sirven Affair, and Voltaire

Protestants were unpopular in France. Because of their unpopularity, they were frequently persecuted by Catholics for their beliefs, and French authorities often ignored the basic principles of law to prosecute them unfairly. One case of a Protestant being persecuted and prosecuted unfairly involves a merchant named Jean Calas. He was tried for torturing and murdering…

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Rosalie Duthé was the First Dumb Blonde

Despite Rosalie Duthé being considered the first dumb blonde, she attracted the attention of some of the most distinguished men in Europe and France, including monarchs and future monarchs. This attraction also resulted in her becoming one of the most celebrated courtesans of her time. A nineteenth century writer noted that Duthé’s fame “equalled the…

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Luigi Lablache: An Operatic Megastar

Luigi Lablache was a famous bass singer born in Naples on 6 December 1791. His father, Nicola Lablache, was a merchant from Marseilles and his mother an Irish woman named Franziska Bietak. Lablache displayed an unusual inclination for music at an early and captured the notice of Joseph Bonaparte, who took an interest in the…

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Pierre Poulailler the 18th Century Robber

Despite being a handsome child, Pierre Poulailler acquired a reputation at birth of belonging to the devil. He demonstrated this devilish reputation when, even as a toddler, he behaved incorrigible. At the age of ten, he ran away and became a cabin-boy on a merchant ship, but his sea career did not last long. He…

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French Naturalist, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count of Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc was a naturalist whose works influenced other naturalists, such as George Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Leclerc was the eldest of five children and grew up in an upper-middle class family. In 1730, having finished school and having studied law, mathematics, and medicine, Leclerc decided the Grand Tour was in order after he met…

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Pierre Fauchard, Dentistry, and Urine in the 18th Century

French physician Pierre Fauchard is widely credited as being the “father of modern dentistry.” He joined the navy in the late seventeenth century and quickly became interested in dental ailments due to scurvy affecting most sailors on ships. After leaving the navy, he began to practice at the University of Angers Hospital where he pioneered…

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Master of Miniatures, Pastels, and Oils: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

Adélaïde Labille was the youngest of eight children. She was born in 1749 in Paris to a bourgeois haberdasher. As an adolescent she had a knack for art and studied art from a family friend, the miniaturist painter François-Elie Vincent. She also met and married a financial clerk named Louis-Nicolas Guiard in 1769. Her marriage…

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