“Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.” –Michel de Montaigne
He was born into a very wealthy French family, but as a toddler he lived with a peasant family for three years. This, his father thought, would give him an appreciation for the conditions of the poor.
When he returned to the Chateau he was taught by a German tutor and only spoken to in Latin and (eventually) in Greek. So Latin, not French, was his first language. “So the young Montaigne grew up speaking Latin and reading Vergil, Ovid, and Horace on his own. At the age of six, he was sent to board at the Collège de Guyenne in Bordeaux, which he later praised as the best humanist college in France.” [Stanford.edu] In 1546 he went to the University of Toulouse. He studied law and became a counselor of the Court des Aides of Périgueux before being appointed counselor to Parlement and serving as a courtier to Charles IX.
While at Parlement he became close friends with the humanist poet Etienne de La Boëtie whose early death greatly effected Montaigne. “the void left by La Botie’s death in 1563 likely led Montaigne to begin his writing career.” [Answers.com] He retired to the Château de Montaigne to study and write. Although he traveled a bit and served as Mayor of Bordeaux, but his primary office was as a writer.
one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. … He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography — and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as “Attempts”) contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, from William Shakespeare to René Descartes, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Stephan Zweig, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. [Goodreads.com]
He died in his home in Montaigne of quinsy, a complication of tonsillitis at the age of 59, in 1592.
- Today’s Birthday: MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE (1533) (euzicasa.wordpress.com)