René Descartes was born on 31 March 1596 in a small town near Tours, now called la-Haye-Descartes, where the house of his birth can still be seen. His family belonged to the lesser nobility, his father and his elder brother both being magistrates at the High Court of Brittany at Rennes. His mother died in childbirth a year after he was born, and he said that he inherited from her a dry cough and a pale complexion, and for a long time he feared that he would die young. In 1604 he entered the Jesuit college of la Fléche at Anjou, which had been opened only that year. The Rector knew his family, and he was allowed his own room and to get up when he liked. The spirit of the school was intellectually more open than in most. Though Galileo had not then become the centre of controversy he was to become later, it is signiﬁcant that a poem was declaimed there on 6 June 1611 in celebration of Galileo’s discovery of the moons of Jupiter. Though Descartes, as he said, found little real knowledge in what he was taught except in mathematics, he was well disposed to the Jesuits, and the marked tendency he showed throughout his life to conciliate the Church expressed itself in the case of the Society with signs of genuine respect and gratitude. He left la Flèche in 1614, and took a Baccalauréat and a Licence in law at Poitiers in November 1616.