Jean-François Regnard was born into a prosperous Parisian family of merchants. He was the only son in a family of five children. When he was only two years old, his father died, and he was reared by his mother and four elder sisters. He seems to have been very close to his mother, a shrewd businesswoman in whose hands the family business flourished. Regnard received a good education without, however, applying himself seriously to his studies. At the age of fifteen, he went to work for his brother-in-law, who sold jewelry and all types of dress goods. His brother-in-law’s business firm was also involved in exporting, and this gave the young Regnard the opportunity to travel extensively to many exotic places such as Turkey.
On coming of age, Regnard found himself independently wealthy and this newly inherited fortune allowed him to indulge further his passion for travel. He set forth for Italy in 1673 and proceeded to Constantinople (now Istanbul), where he spent nearly two years. On his way home, he again passed through Italy, and at Venice is said to have been lucky enough to win at the gaming table a sum that enabled him to pay all the expenses of his journey and bring home, in addition, the sum of ten thousand crowns. After a brief interval in France, he undertook a second trip to Italy in 1678, where he met another young Frenchman, Aucousteaux de Fercourt, who shared his penchant for traveling. The new friends went to Bologna, where Regnard made the acquaintance of a charming young woman, Elvire de Prade. A strong attachment developed between the two. Unfortunately, she was already married. Regnard and Fercourt continued their journey, but on their return to France, they happened to embark on the same vessel with M. and Mme de Prade. During the voyage, they were attacked by Algerian pirates who specialized in the slave trade. They were caught and spent some months in captivity. Regnard and his friend were soon ransomed, and they were also able to secure the...
(The entire section is 807 words.)