Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 7: François Quesnay (1694–1774) and Physiocracy

Arnaud Orain and Philippe Steiner


Education, Surgery and Medicine François Quesnay and Physiocracy François Quesnay was born into a family of well-to-do ploughmen in the little parish of Méré (near Versailles) on 4 June 1694. The story goes that he only began reading and writing at the age of 11 but that he then went on to study Latin and Greek by himself. What is sure is that after his father’s death in 1707 he became the pupil of a surgeon named Jean de la Vigne. With a view to finding a more lucrative profession, Quesnay started an apprenticeship (1711–16) with the engraver Pierre de Rochefort in Paris. He also registered for courses at the Faculty of Medicine and the famous College of Surgery of Saint-Côme. He abandoned engraving and received his letters as a Master in Surgery on 9 August 1718. He had married Jeanne-Catherine Dauphin, the daughter of a minor craftsman from Paris, on 30 January 1717 and they settled down in the city of Mantes to the west of Paris where Quesnay set up as a surgeon. His skill enabled him to become a respected practitioner and he was involved in the controversy on blood-letting with the physician Jean-Baptiste Silva. In 1734 Quesnay became personal surgeon to the Duke of Villeroy and left Mantes for Paris. While under the patronage of Villeroy, Quesnay was also being looked after by François Gigot de La Peyronie, first surgeon to the King, who introduced Quesnay into the Surgeon’s College...

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