Michel de Montaigne

Authored by: Marc Foglia

Early Modern Philosophy of Religion

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844652228
eBook ISBN: 9781315729619
Adobe ISBN: 9781317546450


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Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) came from a rich bourgeois family that acquired nobility after his father fought in Italy in the army of King Francis I of France. For his grandfather and father the sixteenth century was a period of remarkable social ascent. Yet, from 1562 onwards, France became “a disturbed and sick state” (III.8, F.719) 1 1.

References to Montaigne’s Essays are cited by book (Roman numerals, corresponding to one of the three books of the Essays) and chapter numbers; the letter F indicates the Donald M. Frame translation and edition (Montaigne 1948), and the subsequent number is a page number in that work.

as the wars of religion between Catholics and Huguenots were fought with varying intensity to 1592. In fact, religious faith was only one aspect of the crisis; family clans and friendships did not always correspond to confessional differences. A number of his family members and friends converted to Protestantism, but Montaigne remained faithful to the Catholic Church. Replicating Petrarca’s choice in De vita solitaria (On the solitary life), he chose to dedicate himself to the Muses. In his library, which was quite large for the time, he had wisdom sayings carved on the wooden beams. These sayings were drawn from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Sextus Empiricus, Lucretius and other classical authors, whom he read intensively.

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