Thérèse Levasseur

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Thérèse Levasseur
Marie Thérèse Levasseur Veuve de Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Johann Michael Baader, aquarelle, 1791.
Born(1721-09-21)21 September 1721
Orléans, France
Died17 July 1801(1801-07-17) (aged 79)
Portrait of Marie-Therese Le Vasseur by E. Charryere, after a sepia by Naudet. ThereseLevasseur.jpg
Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Le Vasseur by E. Charryère, after a sepia by Naudet.

Marie-Thérèse Levasseur (21 September 1721 - 17 July 1801; also known as Thérèse Le Vasseur and Thérèse Lavasseur) was the domestic partner of Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. Born in Geneva, his political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political and educational thought.



Thérèse Le Vasseur came from a respected family that had fallen on hard times; her father was a local official in Orléans, and her mother was a merchant. Thérèse and her mother moved to Paris to find work, and were later joined by her father.

Le Vasseur met Rousseau in Paris in 1745. Le Vasseur was working as a laundress and chambermaid at the Hotel Saint-Quentin in the rue des Cordiers, where Rousseau took his meals. She was 24 years old at the time, he was 33. According to Rousseau, Thérèse bore him five children, all of whom were given to the Enfants-Trouvés foundling home, the first in 1746 and the others in 1747, 1748, 1751, and 1752.

They went through a legally invalid marriage ceremony at Bourgoin on August 29, 1768. Therese provided Rousseau with support and care, and when he died, she was the sole inheritor of his belongings, including manuscripts and royalties.

After Rousseau's death in 1778, she married Jean-Henri Bally, a valet of René de Girardin, in November 1779. They lived together in Le Plessis-Belleville until her death in 1801.

René de Girardin French garden designer

René Louis de Girardin, Marquis of Vauvray, was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's last pupil. He created the first French landscape garden at Ermenonville. It was inspired by Rousseau's ideas. De Girardin was the author of De la composition des paysages (1777), which strongly influenced the style of the modern French landscape garden.

Le Plessis-Belleville Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Le Plessis-Belleville is a commune in the Oise department in northern France.

Cultural references

Mount Lavasseur, Alaska, is named after her, for its proximity to Rousseau Peak.

Alaska State of the United States of America

Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east, its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest state in the United States by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015— is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

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