Updated:
Original:
Year
1778

Voltaire is welcomed home

On this day in 1778, some 300 people visit Voltaire following his return to Paris. Voltaire had been in exile for 28 years.

Born Francois-Marie Arouet to middle-class parents in Paris in 1694, Voltaire began to study law as a young man but quit to become a playwright. He made a name for himself with classical tragedies and also wrote poetry. In 1717, he was arrested for his satirical poem La Henriade, which attacked politics and religion. Voltaire spent nearly a year in the Bastille as punishment.

Voltaire’s time in prison failed to dry up his satirical pen. In 1726, government disapproval of his work forced him to flee to England. He returned several years later and continued to write plays. In 1734, his Lettres Philosophiques criticized established religions and political institutions, and he was again forced to flee Paris. He retreated to the region of Champagne, where he lived with his mistress and patroness, Madame du Chételet. In 1750, he moved to Berlin on the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia and later settled in Switzerland, where he wrote his best-known work, Candide. After 28 years, he returned to Paris and was greeted by hundreds of intellectuals. He died in Paris in May 1778.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The world’s fourth space power

From the Kagoshima Space Center on the east coast of Japan’s Ohsumi Peninsula, Ohsumi, Japan’s first satellite, is successfully launched into an orbit around Earth. The achievement made Japan the world’s fourth space power, after the Soviet Union in 1957, the United States in ...read more

Virgin Mary appears to St. Bernadette

In southern France, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, a 14-year-old French peasant girl, first claims to have seen the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and a central figure in the Roman Catholic religion. The apparitions, which totaled 18 before the end of the year, occurred in a ...read more

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela released from prison

Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released from prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990. In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, where he became a ...read more

Yalta Conference ends

On February 11, 1945, a week of intensive bargaining by the leaders of the three major Allied powers ends in Yalta, a Soviet resort town on the Black Sea. It was the second conference of the “Big Three” Allied leaders–U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister ...read more

Sacagawea gives birth to Pompey

Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian interpreter and guide to the Lewis and Clark expedition, gives birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first met the young Sacagawea while spending the winter among the Mandan Indians along the Upper ...read more

Birth control pioneer arrested

Emma Goldman, a crusader for women’s rights and social justice, is arrested in New York City for lecturing and distributing materials about birth control. She was accused of violating the Comstock Act of 1873, which made it a federal offense to disseminate contraceptive devices ...read more