People

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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Famous 19th Century French Swindler, Anthelme Collet

One of the most audacious and successful nineteenth century swindlers, or as the French say, chevaliers d’industrie, was Anthelme Collet, a man described as a rather “ill-favoured looking fellow.” Collet was born on 10 April 1785, in Belley, a commune in the Ain department in eastern France. By the time he was 35 years old,…

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Jean Sylvain Bailly – Mayor of Paris

Jean-Sylvain Bailly was born 15 September 1736 in Paris at the Louvre. He was the son of Jacques Bailly, an artist and supervisor of the Louvre. As Bailly’s family was involved with the arts, it was only natural he would follow in their footsteps, which he did initially, showing talent in poetry and letters. However,…

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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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Bernadette Soubirous and the Healing Waters of Lourdes

Bernadette Soubirous was the daughter of a miller and laundress born on 7 January 1844. She lived in Lourdes in the south of France, and, on 11 February 1858, at the age of fourteen, she, her younger sister, and a friend were gathering wood in an area near some poplars. At one point they came…

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