Renan, Ernest

BORN 27 Feb 1823, Tréguier, Côtes du Nord - DIED 2 Oct 1892, Paris
BIRTH NAME Renan, Joseph-Ernest
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Montmartre Cimetière, 20 Avenue Rachel (division 22)

Ernest Renan studied philosophy at the seminary of Issy-les-Moulineaux from 1840 to 1844. In 1844 he entered the college of St Sulpice, where he studied Hebrew. In 1845 he switched to Stanislas. He worked as a teacher and researched Semitic philology at the same time. He won the Volnay Prize in 1847 and worked as a master at the lycée Vendôme.

In 1856 he married Cornélie Scheffer, a niece of the painter Ary Scheffer. They had two children. One of them was the painter Ary Renan. He went on an archaeological mission to Lebanon in 1860. In 1861 he visited the holy land to research a life of Jesus. His sister Henriette died in Lebanon of malaria in 1861 and he fell seriously ill himself. In 1862 he obtained the chair of Hebrew at the Collège de France.

In 1863 he published "Vie de Jésus" which became very popular. It was the first volume of his "Histoire des Origines du Christianisme" that was published between 1863 and 1881. The book also enraged Christians and Jews because he depicted Jesus as a human being and he rejected the miracles of the Bible. Pope Pio IX even called him 'the blasphemist of Europe'. He was suspended from his teaching position until 1870. In 1869 he stood for parliament for the liberal opposition but he wasn't elected.

In "La Réforme Intellectuelle et Morale" (1871) he proposed to introduce elements from German society in France. In 1878 he was elected into the Académie Française. "Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?" was published in 1882 and in 1883 the autobiographical "Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse" followed. His last work was "Histoire du peuple d’Israël" (1887-1893). It exhausted him and he died in 1892 in Paris.

Related persons
• visited Daudet-Allard, Julia


The grave of Ary Scheffer at Montmartre Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (19 May 2005)


• Claude Augé (ed.), Larousse Universel en 2 volumes, Librarie Larousse, 1922
Ernest Renan - Wikipedia

Rendel, James Meadows

Published: 14 Mar 2020
Last update: 01 Jun 2020