Pierre Bayle, 1647 - 1706

Pierre Bayle was a French scholar, philosopher, and theologian.  His defense of French Protestantism, Critique générale de l'histoire du calvinisme de M. Maimbourg (1683), was condemned by Catholic authorities and burned in Paris.  Later works such as Commentaire philosophique (1686) and Continuation des pensées diverses (1704) stressed religious tolerance, defended the "rights of the erring conscience," admitted the plausibility of atheism from a moral and a theoretical point of view, and were denounced by the Protestants as well.  In 1684 Bayle began publication of an influential literary and philosophical review, Nouvelles de la république des lettres, one of the first scholarly journals of modern times.  His most famous and major work, Dictionnaire historique et critique (1696, 1702), had an enormous impact on late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century thought.