Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU

Family tree of Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU

Author, Philosopher

FrenchBorn Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU

Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th-century Enlightenment

Born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland , Switzerland

Died on July 2, 1778 in Ermenonville, France , France

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Rousseau was born in Geneva, which, since 1536, had been a Huguenot republic and the seat of Calvinism. (Geneva is now in Switzerland.) Rousseau was proud that his family, of the moyen order (or middle-class), had voting rights in the city. Throughout his life, he described himself as a citizen of Geneva.

In theory, Geneva was governed democratically by its male voting citizens, a minority of the population. In fact, the city was ruled by a secretive executive committee, called the "Little Council," which was made up of 25 members of its wealthiest families. In 1707, a patriot called Pierre Fatio protested at this situation, and the Little Council had him shot. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father Isaac was not in the city at this time, but Jean-Jacques's grandfather supported Fatio and was penalized for it.


Rousseau's father, Isaac Rousseau, was a watchmaker who, notwithstanding his artisan status, was well educated and a lover of music. "A Genevan watchmaker," Rousseau wrote, "is a man who can be introduced anywhere; a Parisian watchmaker is only fit to talk about watches."

Rousseau's mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, the daughter of a Calvinist preacher, died of puerperal fever nine days after his birth. He and his older brother François were brought up by their father and a paternal aunt, also named Suzanne.

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