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The New International Encyclopædia/Montgolfier, Joseph Michel

MONTGOLFIER, N′gŏlfyắ, Joseph Michel (1740-1810), and Jacques Etienne (1745-99). Two French inventors, born at Vidalon-lez-Annonay in Ardèche. They were the sons of a paper manufacturer, and though Etienne studied architecture, he gave up his profession to take charge of his father's factory, as Joseph had gone into business for himself. The two brothers became interested in aëronautics (q.v.), and their fame rests upon their achievement in making the first successful balloons. For this work Louis XVI. decorated Etienne with the Order of Saint Michel, gave Joseph a pension of 1000 livres, raised their father to the nobility, and later granted the brothers 40,000 francs that they might devote their whole attention to aërial navigation. Their work was interrupted by the Revolution, and during the Reign of Terror Etienne, who had been administrator of his department, was denounced and escaped only through the devotion of his workmen. Napoleon decorated Joseph and appointed him to various offices, and the Institute in 1807 elected him a member of its section of general physics. He made several other inventions of considerable value, among them the parachute, and published Discours sur l'aérostat (1783); Les voyageurs aériens (1784); and, in collaboration with his brother, Mémoire sur la machine aérostatique (1784). Consult Turgan, Les ballons (Paris, 1851).