Voltaire Timeline

Ed Uthman, MD

Last updated 18 Feb 2012

A summary of events that occurred in the lifetime of Voltaire. Items pertaining specifically to his life are in bold.

1694. Francois-Marie Arouet born Nov 21, Paris.

1698. Voyage of Paramour Pink with Edmund Halley, first sea voyage for pure scientific exploration.

1704. Arouet enters Jesuit school, College Louis-le-Grand.

1705. Edmund Halley predicts 1758 return of 1682 comet that now bears his name.

1707. England and Scotland become United Kingdom of Great Britain.

1713. Smallpox inoculation (precursor of vaccination) introduced from Turkey to Britain by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Was to be long championed by Voltaire in France, against fierce resistance by French clergy and physicians.

1714. Daniel Fahrenheit invents mercury thermometer.

1715. Death of Louis XIV (Sep 1); begin regency of Philippe d'Orleans, a champion of arts, sciences, and education.

1717. Arouet accused of writing libelous poems; gets 11 months in Bastille.

1718. Arouet adopts name "Voltaire."

1722. European discovery of Easter Island by Jacob Roggeveen.

1725. Voltaire offends Rohan family, is sentenced to Bastille, then negotiates exile in Great Britain for three years.

1728. Invention of accurate ship's chronometer by John Harrison; first textbook of dentistry by Pierre Fauchard.

1729. Voltaire returns to Paris.

1732. Benjamin Franklin first publishes Poor Richard's Almanac.

1733. Voltaire publishes "Letters concerning the English Nation," now called "Philosophical Letters." Flees to Cirey, Lorraine; lives with mistress/collaborator Émilie du ChČtelet for 15 years.

1735. Carolus Linnaeus publishes Systema Naturae, introduces genus-species nomenclature still used today.

1737. Element cobalt discovered by Georg Brandt.

1745. Voltaire appointed Royal Historiographer of France.

1746. Voltaire elected to the French Academy.

1747. Voltaire publishes first "philosophical tale," Zadig.

1748. Discovery of osmosis by Jean-Antoine Nollet.

1749. Emilie du Chatelet dies in childbirth at age 42.

1750. Voltaire moves to Potsdam under sponsorship of Frederick the Great.

1751. First modern encyclopedia published by Denis Diderot; element nickel discovered by Axel Frederick Cronstedt.

1752. Great Britain accepts the Gregorian calendar. Sep 3-13 vanish.

1753. Voltaire leaves Potsdam over quarrel with Frederick; denied entry into France; eventually settles in Geneva (1755).

1754. Discovery of carbon dioxide by Joseph Black.

1755. Earthquake devastates Lisbon, Portugal, on Nov 1, killing as many as 60,000.

1758. Halley's comet returns, as predicted in 1705.

1759. Voltaire buys estate at Ferney, France, near Swiss border.

1759. Voltaire writes his most famous philosophical tale, Candide.

1760. Giovanni Battista Morgagni publishes series of 640 autopsies and becomes the founder of modern pathology.

1766. Element hydrogen is discovered by Henry Cavendish.

1772. Element nitrogen discovered by Daniel Rutherford.

1774. Element oxygen discovered by Joseph Priestly; chlorine isolated by Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

1775. Use of digitalis to treat edema described by William Withering.

1778. Voltaire returns to Paris after 20 years, dies on May 30 (age 84) at the height of fame, officially denied Christian burial but buried secretly at the abbey of ScelliŹres, Champagne.

1791. Voltaire's remains brought to Paris for entombment in the Pantheon; procession attended by a million people.

1986. Discovery of asteroid dubbed "5676 Voltaire."

2006. Crater on Martian moon Deimos named "Voltaire."