Basic Information• Born November 21, 1694 –died May 30,1778.• Born in Paris, France• Part of the upper middle class• Writer and a poet• (Cronk,1)
Early Life Dropped out of Law School to become a writer. Best known for his tragedies in the theatre realm. Voltaire’s name was actually Francois- Marie Arouet (Thacker, 3). May 16,1717 he was imprisoned for about a year in Bastille. He was sent to prison due to a poem he wrote titled “La Henriad” This poem criticized politics and religion of the government during this particular time (Darrow, 1).
A New Name While imprison in changed his name to Voltaire. He wrote a tragedy during his imprisonment and this play brought him fame. After being imprison, he chose to be exiled to England in 1725 instead of being imprisoned again. He was exiled a second time because he had insulted a power young noblemen at the time (Voltaire| Author and Philosopher).
While in Exile 1726-1729, the length of his exile in England. While in England he studied English’s constitutional monarchy, and it’s religious tolerance of people. He would later write a book praising English customs and institutions. He was forced to leave Paris again in 1734 because of this book, the French thought he was criticizing them (Voltaire- New World Encyclopedia).
Beliefs Voltaire was known for his defense of civil liberties Particularly towards freedom of religion and right to a fair trial. He was influenced by political philosophers like John Locke (Shank, 1)
Role During the Enlightenment Unlike many he was not interested in music or the art, he was concerned with language and writing (Voltaire Biography, 1). Some of his work were satires where he challenged many of the beliefs of the day. Some believe that Voltaire provided the “voice” of the enlightenment through his plays and poems he produced during this time (Cronk,1). Voltaire at this time was well beloved by the people and it is believed that many of his writings had an effect on developing the French Revolution in the years coming (Darrow, 1).
Legacy He Left Behind He believed in using reason and justice in much of his writing Since he was writing during the Enlightenment it makes since he would focus on using reason. He was very optimistic in the sense that he was hoping for a secular, tolerant society. He believed this could be done through scientific advances, social and political reform, and getting rid of a singular dominant religion. He beliefs and writing influenced many such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. He was best known for his crusade against tyranny through his writing and is beloved by many for his wit and satirical writing fashion (Voltaire| Author and Philosopher).
Bibliography Cronk, N. E. "Voltaire Foundation: Voltaire Biography." Voltaire Foundation: Welcome. Web. 22 Jan. 2012. <http://www.voltaire.ox.ac.uk/www_vf/about_voltaire/enlightenment.ssi>. Darrow, Clarence. "Voltaire." Positive Atheism (since 1995) Join the Struggle Against Anti-Atheist Bigotry! Web. 22 Jan. 2012. http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/darrow5.htm. Shank, J.B., "Voltaire", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2010/entries/voltaire/. Thacker, Christopher. Voltaire. London: Routledge and K. Paul, 1971. 3. Print. "Voltaire | Author and Philosopher." Lucidcafé Interactive Café and Information Resource. Web. 22 Jan. 2012. <http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95nov/voltaire.html>. "Voltaire Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.com." Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com. Web. 22 Jan. 2012. http://www.biography.com/people/voltaire-9520178. "Voltaire -." New World Encyclopedia. 17 Oct. 2008. Web. 22 Jan. 2012. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Voltaire>.