It was on this date, February 26, 1802, that French Romantic novelist, poet and dramatist Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, the son of an officer in Napoleon’s army and a Mason. His parents, both atheists, divorced, and Hugo, who was never baptized, was reared by his mother. She took the family to Italy for two years when Hugo was 5, returning him to be educated in France – under a defrocked priest named La Rivière. Due in large part to the Church’s indifference to the plight of the working class under the monarchy, which crushed their opposition, Hugo evolved from non-practicing Catholic to a Voltairean Deism…
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Originally published February 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
Abbot Gregor Mendel was a freethinker who entered a monastery to study science.