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Constantin François de Chassebœuf Volney, comte de

Volney, Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de (kôNstäNtăNˈ fräNswäˈ də shäsböfˈ kôNt də vôlnāˈ) [key], 1757–1820, French scholar. He traveled in Egypt and Syria in the 1780s and wrote an account of his journey, Voyage en Syrie et en Égypte (1787); notable for its exact descriptions, it was useful to Napoleon during his Egyptian campaign. Volney served as deputy (1789) to the States-General, as secretary (1790) of the National Assembly, and later, after spending some time in the United States, as senator under Napoleon, who made him a count in 1808; he was also a member of the chamber of peers under Louis XVIII. His principal work, Les Ruines; ou, Méditation sur les révolutions des empires (1791), which popularized religious skepticism, was influential not only in France but also in England and the United States; it went through many translations and editions and stimulated much controversy. His writings also include works on the United States, on ancient history, and on Arabic.

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

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