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Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, Abbé

Raynal, Guillaume Thomas François, Abbé (gēyōmˈ tômäˈ fräNswäˈ äbāˈ rānälˈ) [key], 1713–96, French historian and philosopher. Raynal was a priest, but he was dismissed from his parish in Paris; he then turned to writing and sought the society and collaboration of the philosophes. Two historical works, one on the Netherlands (1747) and one on the English Parliament (1748), established his career. His most important work, completed with the assistance of Denis Diderot, was a six-volume history of the European colonies in the Indies and Americas (1770). It was condemned by the Parlement of Paris (1781) for impiety and its dangerous ideas on the right of the people to revolt and to give or withhold consent to taxation. Nevertheless, the History was extremely popular, going through 30 editions between 1772 and 1789; the radical tone becoming more pronounced in later editions. Placed on the Index of the Roman Catholic Church in 1774, Raynal's book was burned and he was forced into exile in 1781. Allowed to return to France, but not Paris, in 1784; his Parisian banishment was rescinded in 1790. Elected to the States General in 1789, he refused to serve and later advocated a constitutional monarchy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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