Michel de Montaigne 2.28.13 Thought of the Day

“Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.” –Michel de Montaigne

Painting by Thomas de Leu (Franco-Flemish pain...

Painting by Thomas de Leu (Franco-Flemish painter and engraver, 1560–1612, active 1580-1610). An engraving of this painting was published in the first edition of Montaigne’s Essais, 1617. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was born on this day in Château de Montaigne,  near Bordeaux, France  in 1533. Today is the 460th anniversary of his birth.

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.

The fourteenth-century château, in which Miche...

The fourteenth-century château, in which Michel de Montaigne was born and died, was burnt down in 1885. But soon after rebuilt in a similar style by the Montaign family. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 – September 13, 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay. Michel de Montaigne Another view: Flickr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, statue sur l'Espla...

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, statue sur l’Esplanade des Quinconces, Bordeaux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

He was…

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.

Français : Essais, éd de Bordeaux.

Français : Essais, éd de Bordeaux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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