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Born in the town of [[w:Blois|Blois]], on the [[w:Loire (river)|Loire River]] in central France
. René-Francois, as he was called, received an upbringing typical for a boy from a wealthy and respected family of that time. From his first lessons with the local curé, he went on to [[seminary]] and completed the graduate program. Even then he sensed the error of the [[w:Scholasticism|scholastic]] approach, although it was still some time before he was sufficiently equipped to be able to repudiate it.
Ordained a [[Roman Catholic]] priest in 1839, he was first an assistant pastor in a small country town, and later had his own flock elsewhere, where he organized a school for children. His scholarship, his work in the libraries, and his love for reading and textual analysis drew the attention of the local bishop. It was at this time that the 32-year old Guettée came out with his 12-volume ''History of the Church in France'' (1847-1856).