Born in Picardy, Condorcet was raised by his mother. A brilliant mathematics student, he was recruited by the government in the 1770s and given important roles by the finance minister, Turgot. He also demonstrated a strong interest in politics, attending salons and cercles and mixing with notable figures like Voltaire.
Condorcet was a republican, albeit a moderate one. He voted against the execution of Louis XVI in 1793. Initially a Jacobin, from late 1792 his position was aligned more with the Girdonins.
By late 1793, Condorcet was a wanted man. He was arrested in March 1794 but immediately committed suicide by poison, rather than facing the ignominy of the guillotine.