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François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), commonly known as Voltaire, was a French writer, historian and philosopher of the Enlightenment. He was famous for his attacks on Catholic Church, as well as his advocacy of freedom of religion and expression and separation of church and state.


At a young age, Voltaire was already popular within Parisian society. He wrote several works, including the tragedy Hérode et Mariamne. In 1725, he quarreled with the nobleman Chevalier de Rohan over an actress. As Voltaire left the Hôtel de Sully, he was attacked by Rohan's servants, whose master had him imprisoned in the Bastille. Voltaire was eventually cleared, and received an annuity of 1200 livres.[1] Following the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, Voltaire wrote a long poem on the tragedy.[2]

Despite proclaiming the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais church to be a masterpiece, Voltaire was a critic of organized religion, as well as fellow philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. During his career, Voltaire was a patron of the Café Procope.[1]


In 1778, Marie Tussaud created her first wax figures of Voltaire and Rousseau.[1]

Following Voltaire's death, his ideas and writings became an inspiration for the revolutionaries of the French Revolution, including Maximilien de Robespierre. His remains were placed in the Panthéon.[1] During the revolution, the Parisian Rite of the Templar Order took an interest in Voltaire's remains, and attempted to move them from the Panthéon to their headquarters at the Temple. However, the local Assassins killed the Templars' grave robber.[3]


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