Cournot was born on August 28, 1801, in Gray, France. Of Franche-Comté peasant stock, Cournot’s family had belonged for two generations to the petite bourgeoisie of Gray. In his Souvenirs he says very little about his parents but a great deal about his paternal uncle, a notary to whom he apparently owed his early education. Cournot was deeply impressed by the conflict that divided the society in which he lived into the adherents of the ancien régime and the supporters of new ideas, especially in the realm of religion. One of his uncles was a conformist priest, the other a faithful disciple of the Jesuits, having been educated by them.