D'Holbach's Coterie

D'Holbach's Coterie (la coterie holbachique was the phrase coined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau) was a group of radical French Enlightenment thinkers who met regularly at the salon of the atheist philosophe Baron d'Holbach in the years approximately 1750–1780. An enormously wealthy man, the Baron used his wealth to maintain one of the more notable and lavish Parisian salons, which soon became an important meeting place for philosophes and their guests, and where Diderot recruited at least a few of the contributors to the Encyclopédie. Meetings were held regularly twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, in d'Holbach's home in rue Royale, butte Saint-Roche. Visitors to the salon were exclusively males, and the tone of discussion was both lively and quite philosophical, extending to topics more extensive and generally more candid and more earnest than those of other salons. Few subjects were taboo, and sharp disagreements were welcomed.[1]

On every Thursday and Sunday, twelve guests--not always the same--would meet at the salon from two o'clock to seven or eight at night. Regulars at the salon included Diderot, Helvetius, d'Alembert, Raynal, Boulanger, Morellet, Saint-Lambert, Marmontel; and, occasionally, Buffon, Turgot, and Quesnay.[2] Others who attended the salon included Rousseau,Abbe Galiani, Le Roy, Duclos, Venel, Barthez, Rouelle, Roux, and Suard.[1][2] Foreigners in Paris would try to get an invitation to the salon due to its fame; in due course the salon was frequented by Hume, Sterne, Garrick, Horace Walpole, Franklin, Priestly, Adam Smith, Beccaria, and Gibbon. [2]


  1. For an in-depth discussion of d'Holbach's "coterie", see Alan Charles Kors, D'Holbach's Coterie: An Enlightenment in Paris (Princeton University Press, 1976)
  2. Will Durant (1965). The Story of Civilization Volume 9:The Age of Voltaire. Simon&Schuster. pp. 695–6.
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