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Biographical Sketch of Lazare Carnot

  • Charles Coulston Gillispie
  • Raffaele Pisano
Chapter
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 19)

Abstract

Known to French history as the “Organizer of Victory” in the wars of the Revolution, and to engineering mechanics for the principle of continuity in the transmission of power, Lazare–Nicolas–Marguerite Carnot (1753–1823) remains one of the very few men of science and of politics whose career in each domain deserves serious attention on its own merits. His father, Claude , lawyer and notary, was among the considerable bourgeois of the small Burgundian town of Nolay, west of Beaune and thus on the opposite side of the ridge from the superb vineyards of the Côte–d’Or. Members of the family still own the ancestral home. Carnot’s most notable descendants have been his elder son Nicolas–Léonard Sadi (1796–1832), a principal founder of the science of thermodynamics, and the latter’s nephew, also called Sadi, President of the French Republic from 1887 until his assassination in 1894. A minor versifier himself, Lazare named his heir after a Persian poet whose work he admired in translation. His younger son, Hippolyte (1801–1888), wrote the first biography, a source of major importance for the personal details of his father’s life. Carnot had his early education in the Oratorian Collège (a school) at Autun. Thereafter his father enrolled him in a tutoring school in Paris, which specialized in preparing candidates for the entrance examinations to the service schools that trained cadets for the Navy, the Artillery, and the Royal Corps of Engineers . Strong in technique and low in prestige, the Corps of Engineers was the only branch of military service in which a commoner might hold a commission. On completing the normal course of 2 years, Carnot graduated from its school at Mézières at the age of 20 in 1773. Gaspard Monge teacher of mathematics and physics, was then at the height of his influence over the cadets.

Keywords

Public Safety French Revolution Political Career French Republic French History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Coulston Gillispie
    • 1
  • Raffaele Pisano
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HistoryPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.SCité University of Lille 1LilleFrance

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