Arouet, usually known by his pen name of Voltaire, was a brilliant philosopher, scientist, satirist, and critic of the French government.
Several of his writings or activities that the Royal government considered improper led him to be imprisoned, or threatened with imprisonment. In 1726 he was given a choice between prison or exile: he chose exile, and lived in London for years. He was interested in, among many other things, Isaac Newton's mathematics and natural science, and John Locke's theories of government.
He returned to Paris at 83 years old; a brief meeting with Franklin was engineered, which created great excitement in many circles of French society. He died at 91, but he continued to be regarded as one of France's guiding lights.