A French aristocrat and chemist who named oxygen. His scientific research had military applications, eagerly adopted by both the Royal and Revolutionary regimes of France.

Antoine Lavoisier was Guillotined on trumped-up charges on May 8, so he didn’t live to see the French victory at Fleurus, where a balloon on which he had worked was used to decisive effect.

Madison Smartt Bell tells the story in Lavoisier in Year One, while in the Invention of Air Steven Johnson explains how Lavoisier placed a theoretical framework around the gas that Joseph Priestley had isolated in his Leeds experiments.

The balloon at Fleurus was piloted by Jean-Marie-Joseph Coutelle.

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