Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Rabelais, Francois, the great French humorist, is, traditionally said to have been born at Chinon, the son of an apothecary or tavern-keeper. The dates of his birth vary between 1483 and 1495. He is certainly known to have been a brother of the Franciscan house at Fontenay-le-Comfe, in La Vendee, which in 1524 he left for the house of his friend Bishop Geoffroy d'Estissac at Maillezais. Though henceforth nominally a Benedictine monk, he was allowed by Pope Paul III. to practise medicine, which he studied at Montpellier. Here he graduated and lectured on Galen and Hippocrates. The most fruitful period of his life was that which Rabelais spent at Lyon (1532-35), where he frequented the society of Dolet and Desperiers and produced his masterpieces. He next became physician to Cardinal Jean du Belloy (with whom he is said to have been at school), and went with him to Rome. He afterwards entered the service of Du Belloy's elder brother. After a period of disgrace, during part of which Rabelais practised as a physician at Metz, he gained court favour by a letter to the Cardinal de Guise, to whom he wrote an account of the birth of the second son of Henri II. He was then appointed cure of Meudon, which, however, he resigned in two years. He is believed to have died at Paris in 1553. Rabelais is supposed to have edited Les Grandes et Inestimables Chroniques du Grand et Enorme Geant Gargantua, which appeared at Lyon in 1532. The first book of Pantagruel was published in 1533; but it is not certain whether the real Gargantua preceded or followed the latter. These works appeared under the name Alcofribas Nasier. The third book, specially licensed by the king (Francis I.), followed in 1546, and the fourth in 1552. They were afterwards condemned by the Sorbonne, and the sale was for some time suspended by the Parlement. Under allegorical stories of much learning and humour, but great coarseness, they convey wise condemnation of prevalent ecclesiastical and educational abuses.