René Descartes was born on March 31, 1596 in a village in Touraine, France, which is now called La Haye-Descartes. His mother died shortly after he was born (thirteen months). About 1606, René entered the Jesuit college of La Fleche, in which a relative of his, Father Charlet, a theologian would watch out for him. Because of his delicate health, Descartes was allowed to spend mornings in bed, meditating, reading, and writing -a habit he maintained for most of his life.
He left La Fleche, because he was more confused about knowledge, and he did not get his thirst for knowledge fulfilled. He then studied at the University of Poitiers in 1615-16, earning a bachelor's degree and a licentiate in law there.
At the age of twenty-two he left Paris and join the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau. In the next year he was transferred to the army of Maximailian. Duke of Bavaria. But in the night of November 10, 1619, he had a series of three dreams, that he interpreted as a message from God tell him to devote his life to the rational quest for certain truth. After ending his voluntary military service he went back to Paris.
The social life in Paris was too distracting, so he moved to Holland in 1628. He lived in Holland until 1649. During this time, he avoided reading any scholastic texts.
He wrote a couple of works in Holland, but when he heard of the Inquisition condemning Galileo to death for his thoughts, as well as, other thinkers, he decided to suppress his works.
In late 1604, Descartes' daughter, though he was never married, and father died.
Descartes' philosophy became famous during the last decade of his life. Descartes was later accused of heresy at the University of Leyden and wrote a letter of self-defense to its trustees in 1647. He feared that he might be arrested and killed, like Galileo, but that never happened.
In around 1648, Queen Christina of Sweden invited him to come to her court to instruct her in philosophy. Despite his cautious reluctance, Descartes accepted her invitation. She sent an admiral with a warship to carry him to Sweden, and Descartes left for Stockholm in September of 1649. This was the costliest mistake of his life.
He reached Stockholm with no trouble, but when he got there the Queen wanted him to instruct her at 5 AM. He was still used to sleeping in, and staying in bed studying. This combined with the cold weather, cause him to catch pneumonia in a few months. He died on February 11, 1650, and his body was taken back to France in 1666, and buried. After his death the church added his works to the Index of Forbidden Books, in 1663.
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