Arago, François

BORN 28 Feb 1786, Estagel, Pyrénées-Orientales (near Perpignan) - DIED 2 Oct 1853, Paris
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 04, ligne 01, AD, 17)

François Arago was educated in Perpignan where he studied mathematics. His finished his studies quickly and entered the École Polytechnique in Paris in 1803. He left it in 1804 to become the secretary to the Paris Observatory. He met Pierre-Simon Laplace and others. He worked in Spain where he was imprisoned during the war with France. He escaped but when he was near to Marseilles on a ship, it was captured by a Spanish corsair and he was imprisoned again at Roses until the French captured the town.

After his return he was elected into the French Academy of Sciences. From 1812 to 1845 he lectured on astronomy as one of the astronomers of the Royal Observatory. He investigated diameters of planets, electromagnetism and other subjects.

He held liberal views and was a proponent of the abolition of slavery in the colonies. In 1848 he was a member of the temporary government after the fall of King Louis-Philippe and from 9 Mar 1848 to 24 Jun 1848 he was prime minister. When prince president Louis Napoleon required an oath from his functionaries he refused and resigned from his post as an astronomer. Although Louis Napoleon made an exception for him, he was a republican and an opponent of the new empire until his death in 1853.

• Son: Arago, Emmanuel

Related persons
• was predecessor of Cavaignac, Eugène Louis
• was opponent of Napoleon III Bonaparte
• was teacher of Quetelet, Adolphe


The grave of François Arago at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (24 Oct 2014)


Historia 229, Tallandier, Paris, 1965
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Wikipedia (EN):

Arany, János

Published: 21 Jun 2015
Last update: 10 Apr 2023