• LOCATION 19 | The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I

    Beaumarchais

    You'll see two tombs on your right with Chinese writing followed by a white tomb surrounded by a square of white stone. This is our next host.

    Make your way over to him.

    Pierre-Augustin Caron started from humble beginnings then married a rich noblewoman. She gave him the title de Beaumarchais, and died the year after, leaving him comfortable. Lucky him. Then he did it again, this time the richer lady lasted three years before croaking, scoring Beaumarchais a jackpot of a life of leisure. It didn't last, as lengthy court battles over the inheritance and disfavor from the crown left him having to hustle to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

    He financed the sale of arms for both the American war for independence and then the French revolution. Both proved a financial disaster for Beaumarchais, as the Americans never paid him, and neither the French government under Louis the 15th nor the République fully reimbursed him.

    His writings, and those of his contemporaries in the 'century of light,' inspired democratic thought. Both the Barber of Seville by Rossini and the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart were operas adapted from his plays. The former was written by Beaumarchais from an English jail cell, captured for spying on behalf of France. The latter got him thrown into a French jail cell, for lines considered too libertarian by King Louis the 16th. Still, he claimed the words as his own, and even created the notion of copyright for written works, which became law under the first Republic.

    Artist and champion of individual rights? Or insolent profiteer? Beaumarchais was a controversial character, whose driving self-interest gave birth to the world's first democracies.

    Leave Beaumarchais on your right and continue to climb the cobblestone path. Keep a lookout on the right for a tall dome labeled Bibesco.

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The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I