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Born the son of a paper merchant in Paris, Boulanger studied first mathematics, and later ancient languages. He composed several philosophical works in which he sought to come up with naturalistic explanations for superstitions and religious practices, all of which were published posthumously. His major works were Research into the Origins of Oriental Despotism («Recherches sur l’origine du despotisme oriental», 1761) and Antiquity Unveiled («L’Antiquité dévoilée par ses usages», 1766). Boulanger's collected works were published in 1792.