Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron dHolbach, was a French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist and prominent figure in the French Enlightenment. He was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, near Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate, but lived and worked mainly in Paris and he was well known for his atheism and for his voluminous writings against religion, the most famous of them being The System of Nature. Sources differ regarding dHolbachs dates of birth and death and his exact birthday is unknown, although records show that he was baptised on 8 December 1723. Some authorities incorrectly give June 1789 as the month of his death, d’Holbachs mother Catherine Jacobina née Holbach was the daughter of Johannes Jacobus Holbach the Prince-Bishops tax collector for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Speyer. His father, Johann Jakob Dietrich, was a wine-grower, d’Holbach wrote nothing of his childhood though it is known he was raised in Paris by his uncle Franz Adam Holbach, who had become a millionaire by speculating on the Paris stock-exchange. With his financial support, d’Holbach attended the Leiden University from 1744 to 1748, here he became friends with John Wilkes. Later he went on to marry his cousin, Basile-Geneviève dAine. In 1753, a son was born, Francois Nicholas who left France before his father passed, Francois moved through Germany, Holland, and England before arriving in USA. In 1753 both his uncle and his father died, leaving dHolbach with an inheritance, such as Heeze Castle. D’Holbach would remain throughout his life. In 1754, his wife died from an unknown disease and they had a son, Charles-Marius and two daughters Amélie-Suzanne and Louise-Pauline. There he would invite friends to stay for a few days or weeks, DHolbach was known for his generosity, often providing financial support discreetly or anonymously to his friends, amongst them Diderot. It is thought that the virtuous atheist Wolmar in Jean-Jacques Rousseaus Julie, Holbach died in Paris on 21 January 1789, a few months before the French Revolution. The authorship of his various anti-religious works did not become known until the early 19th century. Ironically, he was buried in the Church of Saint-Roch, Paris, the exact location of the grave is unknown. 1780, Baron dHolbach used his wealth to maintain one of the notable and lavish Parisian salons. Meetings were held twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays. Visitors to the salon were exclusively males, and the tone of discussion highbrow and this, along with the excellent food, expensive wine, and a library of over 3000 volumes, attracted many notable visitors
Paul Heinrich Dietrich, Baron d'Holbach
Insight into the Ludwigstrasse in Edesheim (Rhineland-Palatinate). The birthplace of Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach was in the house n° 4. Old picture postcard from 1940.
Segment of his baptism certificate
Franz Adam Holbach's, or Adam François d'Holbach's house in Edesheim, Schloss Kupperwolf