Michel de Montaigne


Michel de Montaigne was a noble thinker of French origin who lived his life divided between political activities and literary retreats . He was a very important philosopher who first coined the word ” essay ” to refer to a completely new literary style and for this reason, he is considered the creator of this new way of writing.


Personal information

  • When was he born: 02/28/1533
  • Where he was born: Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne, France
  • When he died: 09/13/1592
  • Where he died: Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne, France

Who was Michel de Montaigne?

Michel de Montaigne was an important and renowned French-born philosopher , humanist , writer, and politician who is credited with discovering the essay as a type of literary form and who focused on teaching others the art of knowing how to live.

  • Michel de Montaigne biography
  • Thought
  • Michel de Montaigne’s theories
  • Contributions of Michel de Montaigne
  • Importance
  • Plays
  • Michel de Montaigne quotes

Michel de Montaigne biography

Michel de Montaigne was born in the city of Bordeaux one 28 February 1533 . Son of a family that was dedicated to commerce and that managed to reach the bourgeois class. As a child, he devoted himself to studying following the pedagogical method that his father had instilled in him, he studied poetry and Greek language at the Guyena school and in 1549, he entered the University of Tolosa where he studied law .

After finishing his law degree and graduating, he began working as a magistrate in his city. He was a councilor in substitution of his father and also had a position within the Parliament of Bordeaux . He married Françoise de La Chassagne . After the death of his father, he published Natural Theology , a translation that his father had requested, and traveled to Paris where he published a series of poems and translations.

Some time later, Michel de Montaigne decided to retire to devote himself to meditation and study , however, he had to return to the political and social field due to a series of wars related to religion that attacked his country. He traveled through Italy and was elected mayor of Bordeaux . He died one day September 13, 1592 when he was 59 years old.


Michel de Montaigne’s way of thinking clearly shows his aversion to the violence and conflicts that existed between Protestants and Catholics . He was a follower of cultural relativism , for him, morality and the law of cultures were important. He thought that human beings could not believe in reasoning because thoughts were the result of volitional acts and were difficult to control. He believed that marriage was a necessity to be able to make the good education of children possible but at the same time he considered that love was an attack against thefreedom of the human being.

With regard to education , his thinking focused on the acquisition of knowledge through concrete examples and experiences rather than abstract knowledge that had no criticism.

Michel de Montaigne’s theories

Michel de Montaigne’s thought had several theories which are mentioned below:

Tranquility was the preferred state of the human being

For this author, all the things that were done were done with the only objective, to be able to live a life free of worries . For this reason, he saw the natural state of man as something that could not be forced to face stressful situations that were not really necessary.

Peace of mind is related to public image

By living within a society, everything that is experienced within it will always depend on the way in which we can interact with the people around us and these at the same time can condition our lives.

Good image

The man has an eagerness to show a good image in order to be able to cushion and prevent relationships with others from going bad. At the same time, we try to avoid risks by using a strong public image that can exert an influence on the rest of the people in order to have a more privileged treatment .

The public image as a problem of more

Michel de Montaigne assured that, although the good image was sought to be able to enjoy better living conditions and more resources , achieving it also implied some extra concerns .

The tranquility and the fame

For him, these two aspects were not compatible.

Contributions of Michel de Montaigne

One of the main contributions of Michel de Montaigne was the creation of the essay as a new way of writing texts and ideas, this made his contribution to the education that is lived today is very important since it is currently used as one of the best means to be able to transmit ideas and criticisms.

He proposed the idea that knowledge could be acquired through concrete examples and through experiences, rather than based solely on abstract knowledge . He hinted that it is a better technique to teach children in different ways while checking to see if they have managed to acquire any specific knowledge .

To some extent it can be said that Michel de Montaigne was in charge of creating the educational system or program through a set of educational ideas. For him, the educator should speak less but at the same time listen more to his students, this improved the critical formation of the students, increasing respect, diversity of opinions and freedom.


Its main importance lies in the fact that it is considered the father of the genre known by the name of essay , detailing at the same time its characteristics and the way in which it should be written . Thanks to their contribution, it is possible little by little to create texts that pose inflections on the condition of the human being . He was an author who implied that ignorance was itself the source of all evils and that for this reason it was necessary to be able to educate correctly in order to have the necessary weapons to fight against it. He also left some guidelines for man to learn to be wise but at the same time to be aware of a possible mistake.


Michel de Montaigne’s essays have a series of technical characteristics , a style and a composition that make them a source of wisdom. In them, he managed to collect hundreds of topics that were of interest or concern, and some that he considered worthy of reflection. They talk about friendship , love , vanity , anger and resentment . His objective was always to be able to deepen his themes with greater objectivity through be able to understand and learn in a better way. Other of his important works were the following:

  • Italy travel diary
  • On friendship , a book that dealt with topics related to relationships, conversations, ideal education and fear.

Michel de Montaigne quotes

Some of his most recognized phrases are mentioned below:

  • It is more bearable for me to always be alone than to never be able to be.
  • Each one is richer than one thinks, however, we are used to credit and begging; we have been accustomed to using what is not ours more than what is.
  • Every person who is honest prefers to let go of his honor before losing consciousness.
  • The most important thing in the world is knowing how to be self-sufficient.
  • Time is an excellent doctor for our passions.
  • I have always seen that in order to succeed in life you must be understood, but you must appear as a fool.

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