The former Place Chambeau has for a long time backed on to the fortifications of the Late Empire. Before the building of the current rue Leclerc in 1612, the former Gallo-Roman cardo (on a north-south axis) stopped here.
Denis Diderot was born here at number 9, in 1713. Born into a family of cutlery makers, he studied at the nearby Jesuit College before leaving for Paris at the age of 15. An eclectic and prolific author, he wrote within many different genres, including philosophy, novels, theatre and as an art critic. Denouncing intolerance and rejecting the authority of traditional morality, he struggled, with others, for the triumph of reason and universal human happiness. His brilliant and surprisingly modern work, remains "l'Encyclopedie". Diderot was to be, with d'Alembert, the unremitting master of this work of human knowledge for more than two decades. 1884, the centenary of his death, became the occasion to rebaptise the square in his name and to raise a statue to him. The work of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the statue rests on a pedestal, which lists the principle collaborators of the encyclopaedic project.
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