Voltaire, Selections from the Philosophical Dictionary


Voltaire was the pen name of François–Marie Arouet (1694–1778), an Enlightenment writer known for his plays and histories and his acerbic criticism of the French Catholic Church. This set of selections is from his Philosophical Dictionary of 1764. They demonstrate his range of reading, including travel literature about China, but the main target remains religious bigotry and fanaticism,... Read More »

Detail of Durer's "Last Supper" from his Passion series showing Jesus holding one of his disciples

Wetmore Print Collection

While the responsibility of providing historical context for these images remains with the instructor, the images themselves will delight and puzzle students—and, if they are properly prepared, will provide good insight into the historical periods in question as well.

Zalkind–Hourwitz, Vindication of the Jews (1789)


In 1789, 40,000 Jews lived in France, most of them in the eastern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. In some respects, they were better treated than Calvinists under the laws of the monarchy; Jews could legally practice their religion, though their other activities were severely restricted. They had no civil or political rights, except the right to be judged by their own separate courts, and... Read More »