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Learn about Voltaire’s world

We’ve gathered together some key contextual information on some of Voltaire’s most important works. Start exploring here:

Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations

Unique for its time, Voltaire’s Essai sur les mœurs encompasses the history of Europe, Africa, America and Asia to cover all ages, all continents and all religions within the overall concept of a ‘universal history’. Sam Bailey, PhD student at Durham, gives us an overview of this monumental work and explores its approach to both ‘universal history’ and women.

Commentaire historique sur les œuvres de l’auteur de la Henriade, etc.

The Commentaire historique was Voltaire’s own account of his life, works and actions. Sam Bailey, PhD student at Durham, explores how Voltaire used this work to assert control over his legacy in the face of attacks from his literary enemies.



Siècle de Louis XIV

Explore the world of Louis XIV, including the legends and myths that have endured to this day (and which Voltaire helped to popularise).



Lettres sur les Anglais

Resources to support a reading of this text, also known as the Lettres philosophiques.







Voltaire, Annales de l'Empire

Annales de l’Empire depuis Charlemagne

The publication of the Annales de l’Empire depuis Charlemagne and the Précis du Siècle de Louis XV completes the full range of first-ever critical editions of Voltaire’s histories.