Ernest RENAN

Family tree of Ernest RENAN

Author, Philosopher

FrenchBorn Joseph Ernest RENAN

French philosopher and writer

Born on February 28, 1823 in Tréguier, France , France

Died on October 02, 1892 in Paris, France

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Renan was born to a family of fishermen. His grandfather, having made a small fortune with his fishing-shack, bought a house at Tréguier and settled there, and his father, captain of a small cutter and an ardent republican, married the daughter of Royalist tradesmen from the neighbouring town of Lannion. All his life, Renan felt conflicted between his father's and his mother's political beliefs. He was five years old when his father died, and his sister, Henriette, twelve years his senior, became the moral head of the household. Having in vain attempted to keep a school for girls at Tréguier, she departed and went to Paris as teacher in a young ladies' boarding-school.



Ernest, meanwhile, was educated in the ecclesiastical seminary of his native place. His school reports describe him as "docile, patient, diligent, painstaking, thorough". While the priests taught him mathematics and Latin, his mother completed his education. Renan's mother was half Breton. Her paternal ancestors came from Bordeaux, and Renan used to say that in his own nature the Gascon and the Breton were constantly at odds.

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During the summer of 1838, Renan won all the prizes at the college of Tréguier. His sister told the doctor of the school in Paris where she taught, and he gave news to FAP Dupanloup, who was involved in organizing the ecclesiastical college of St Nicholas du Chardonnet, a school in which the young Catholicnobility and the most talented pupils of the Catholic seminaries were to be educated together, with the idea of creating friendships between the aristocracy and the priesthood. Dupanloup sent for Renan, who was only fifteen years old and had never been outside Brittany. "I learned with stupor that knowledge was not a privilege of the church ... I awoke to the meaning of the words talent, fame, celebrity." Religion seemed to him wholly different in Tréguier and in Paris. The superficial, brilliant, pseudo-scientific Catholicism of the capital did not satisfy Renan, who had accepted the austere faith of his Breton masters.



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Geographical origins

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