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François Rabelais (1493 - 1553)

French humanist. First a novice of the Franciscan order, then a monk at Fontenay-le-Comte, where he studied Greek and Latin, as well as science, philology, and law, and finally entered the Benedictine order at Maillezais. Later he left the monastery and studied medicine, moved to Lyons, one of the intellectual centres of France, where practiced medicine and edited Latin works. Rabelais began to write humorous pamphlets. His satirical works revealed an astute observer of the social and political events. In 1532 he published - using a pseudonym - Pantagruel, that would be the start of his successful Gargantua series. Despite the great popularity of his book, both it and his follow-up book were condemned by the academics at the Sorbonne for their unorthodox ideas and by the Roman Catholic Church for its derision of certain religious practices. Thanks to the support from members of the prominent Du Bellay family, Rabelais received the approval from King François I to continue to publish his collection. When the king died the author was frowned upon by the academic elite. Rabelais was frequently in Italy, in Rome and Turin. Only the protection of Du Bellay saved Rabelais after the condemnation of his novel by the Sorbonne. Later he taught medicine at Montpelier, and in 1547 became curate of St. Christophe de Jambe and of Meudon.

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