Guillaume Thomas Francois Raynal, a French historian, born at St. Geniez, Guienne, April 12, 1713, died near Paris, March 6, 1796. He was educated at a college of the Jesuits, became a priest, and for some time taught theology and preached. He went to Paris in 1747, and became an assistant clergyman at the church of St. Sulpice; but he soon gave up the ministry, associated with the "philosophers," and became director of the Mercure de France. He published various historical works, and, with the assistance of Diderot and others, prepared anonymously an Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes (4 vols. 8vo, 1770). A second edition, containing attacks upon religion and government, was interdicted on Dec. 19, 1779; and when it appeared under his name at Geneva (5 vols. 4to, with atlas, 1780), a warrant was issued for his arrest, which he avoided by leaving France, and the parliament ordered his book to be burned by the executioner (May 25, 1781). In the same year he published his Tableau et révolutions des colonies anglaises dans l'Amérique Septen-trionale (2 vols. 12mo), which was immediately translated into English, and the blunders of which were pointed out in a pamphlet by Thomas Paine. For several years Raynal wandered in foreign countries, and was finally permitted to return home in 1788; in 1790 the sentence of the parliament against his Histoire philosophique was reversed.

The next year Raynal addressed to the president of the constituent assembly a letter denouncing the disorders committed in France in the name of liberty, and regretting that he "was one of those who, by expressing in their works a generous indignation against arbitrary power, had been perhaps the means of putting weapons into the hands of licentiousness and tyranny".