My scientist, Comte de Buffon!

(Georges-Louis Leclerc) ~By: Adrianna Schoonover~

The Early Years of a Comte

Georges-Louis Leclerc was born on September 7th, 1707. He was born in Montbard, Burgundy, France to Benjamin Leclerc and Anne-Christine Marlin, both from families of civil servants. He was named after his godfather, Georges Blaisot, the tax-farmer of the Duke of Savoy for all of Sicily, and when he died, he left a large amount of his fortune to Gerges-Louis. His family purchased an estate near Buffon and he attended the Jesuit College of Godrans in Dijon. From 1723–1726 he then studied law in Dijon, before he left to study mathematics and medicine at the University of Angers. He then went on expensive travels through France and Italy with the Duke of Kingston. After this, he went home to secure his inheritance (after his mother died and his father was getting remarried), He repurchased Buffon which his father sold off, and once he did, he used his fortune to go to Paris and purse science, mathematics and mechanics.

The Hardships of a 1700's Scientist

While pursing his studies, he found himself faced with hardships. During this time period, thoughts on creation and nature were based upon the church's teachings. This consisted of Separate Creation, which was the belief that all creatures were made separately by God and organized into a hierarchy, while another was that we had a 6,000 year limit on the age of the planet. He refused to believe this, and ventured to find his own answers. There were probably people who did not agree with this way to go about things, but he continued to look at nature and life in a strictly scientific manner.

How Did the Comte de Buffon Contribute to Science?

The Comte de Buffon published a translation of Stephen Hale's "Vegetable Staticks", and in the preface he put his view on the scientific method. He also published a translation of "Fluxions" by Isaac Newton. In that preface he compared and contrasted Newton and Gottfriend Wilhelm Leibniz over calculus. He researched on the properties of timbers and their improvement in Burgundy forests. He then wrote "Historie Naturelle", an encyclopedia about everything in the natural world at that time. 100 years before Darwin, he discussed in this book, the relation of Man to apes and their common ancestry. He believed in organic change, yet did not provide any coherent mechanism to explain the changes. He thought the environment acted directly on organic particles. Again he published another book titled "Les Epoques de la Nature" where he challenged the views of the church by saying the Earth was much older than their 6,000 year birthrate. Georges-Louis Leclerc started evolutionist ideas, challenging the church and coming up with his own theories that continue to be believed by many people today.


"Old Earth, Ancient Life: Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte De Buffon." Old Earth, Ancient Life: Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte De Buffon. Understanding Evolution, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Piveteau, Jean. "Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count De Buffon (French Naturalist)."Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

Comte de Buffon