French Essayist Michel De Montaigne

French Essayist Michel De Montaigne-48
Montaigne married in 1565; he had five daughters, but only one survived childhood, and he mentioned them only scantily in his writings.Following the petition of his father, Montaigne started to work on the first translation of the Spanish monk, Raymond Sebond's Theologia naturalis, which he published a year after his father's death in 1568.

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Soon after his birth, Montaigne was brought to a small cottage, where he lived the first three years of life in the sole company of a peasant family, "in order to," according to the elder Montaigne, "approximate the boy to the people, and to the life conditions of the people, who need our help." After these first spartan years spent amongst the lowest social class, Montaigne was brought back to the Château.

The objective there was for Latin to become his first language.

On the day of his 38th birthday, as he entered this almost ten-year isolation period, he let the following inscription crown the bookshelves of his working chamber: An. If the fates permit, he will complete this abode, this sweet ancestral retreat; and he has consecrated it to his freedom, tranquility, and leisure.

During this time of the Wars of Religion, Montaigne, himself a Roman Catholic, acted as a mediating force, respected both by the Catholic Henry III and the Protestant Henry of Navarre.

While in Rome in 1581, Montaigne learned that he had been elected mayor of Bordeaux; he returned and served until 1585, again mediating between Catholics and Protestants.

His eloquence as a statesman and his ability to successfully negotiate between the warring Catholic and Protestant factions earned Montaigne a great deal of respect throughout France, and for most of his life he would be remembered for his excellence as a politician even more than for his writings.

Around the year 1539, Montaigne was sent to study at a prestigious boarding school in Bordeaux, the Collège de Guyenne, afterward studying law in Toulouse and entering a career in the legal system.

Montaigne was a counselor of the Court des Aides of Périgueux, and in 1557 he was appointed counselor of the Parliament in Bordeaux.

An épinettier—a zither-player—constantly followed Montaigne and his tutor, playing a tune any time the boy became bored or tired.

When he wasn't in the mood for music, he could do whatever he wished: play games, sleep, be alone—most important of all was that the boy wouldn't be obliged to anything, but that, at the same time, he everything would be available in order to take advantage of his freedom.


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