In late 1646, Queen Christina of Sweden initiated a correspondence with Descartes through a French diplomat and friend of Descartes’ named Chanut. Christina pressed Descartes on moral issues and a discussion of the absolute good. This correspondence eventually led to an invitation for Descartes to join the Queen’s court in Stockholm in February 1649. Although he had his reservations about going, Descartes finally accepted Christina’s invitation in July of that year. He arrived in Sweden in September 1649 where he was asked to rise at 5:00am to meet the Queen to discuss philosophy, contrary to his usual habit, developed at La Fleche, of sleeping in late,. His decision to go to Sweden, however, was ill-fated, for Descartes caught pneumonia and died on February 11, 1650.
Descartes firmly believed that reason is a native gift of humans and that true knowledge can be directly gleaned not from books but only through the methodical application of reason. The expressed aim of many of his books was to present complex scientific and philosophical matters in such a way that the least sophisticated readers could understand them. Because Descartes believed that every human possesses the “natural light” of reason, he believed that if he presented all his arguments as logical trains of thought, then anyone could understand them and nobody could help but be swayed. In the original edition of Discourse on the Method , in fact, Descartes declares his aim with the subtitle “ In which the Author… explains the most abstruse Topics he could choose, and does so in such a way that even persons who have never studied can understand them. ” In an attempt to reach a wider audience, Descartes occasionally wrote in French, the language of his countrymen, rather than Latin, the language of scholars, so that people without a formal education could understand him.