Emilie du Chatelet, or the Bold Ambition of a Scientific Woman

Emilie du Chatelet, or the Bold Ambition of a Scientific Woman

“This translation, which the most learned men in France should have made, and which others should study, was undertaken and completed by a woman, to the amazement and glory of her country.” With this posthumous tribute to the woman who had been his companion and also his muse, Voltaire began the introduction to his book. Mathematical principles of natural philosophy, the first French-language edition of Isaac Newton's major work. A rich translation we owe to Gabrielle-Emilie de Breteuil, Marchioness du Châtelet, to whom she devoted the last five years of her life, until her last breath.

Emily was born in 1706 into a noble family that had access to the royal court. His father rarely gave him the same education as his brothers. Thus, she learned Latin, ancient Greek, and German, as well as playing the harp, dancing, singing, and fencing. Above all, from a young age Emilie met poets and scientists who were welcomed into the family living room, such as Fontenelle, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Academy of Sciences at the time, who gave her her first scientific lessons. She quickly became passionate about mathematics and physics while attending the court of the regent, Philippe d'Orléans.

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