Talk:Michel de Montaigne

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he was jewish

His mother was of Jewish origin, but he himself clearly was a Catholic. Mjklin 07:37, 7 May 2004 (UTC)
             He wasn't a Jewish. He was an agnostic. He didn't belong to any religion.--Starnold 08:23, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Let's see some citations. The claim his mother was Jewish is currently nothing more than assertion. Without any citations, it doesn't even rise to the level of folklore. (talk) 20:32, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Montaigne's religion has been a matter of contention among scholars ever since he died. He professed devotion to Catholicism, but it is VERY possible that he was actually agnostic, as his motto would suggest, "Que sais-je?" (which translates to mean: what do I know?)

Now, one can reasonably assert that if Montaigne was a genuine believer in any religion, he would have asserted at least that portion of knowledge as something he could "know." Alas, not only does Montaigne embrace his skeptical motto, he barely mentions religion at all in a thousand-page book wherein he bears his mind and soul (almost) entirely.

Another reasonable assertion one can make is that Montaigne HAD to claim a certain level of belief, as without it, the Catholic censors would have prohibited the publication of his book. But as Donald Frame says in the introduction to his translation of the essays, "Everyone makes Montaigne their own." If you read Screech's introduction to HIS translation you will see that M A Screech very much wants Montaigne to be religious, and he has little difficulty making him so (Although one of his primary pieces of evidence- the travel journals of Montaigne- doesn't corroborate his assertion that Montaigne was a devoted Catholic. When Montaigne travels, he acts more like a proto-anthropologist or sociologist than a religious person. He investigates all places of worship, be they Lutheran, Catholic, or Jewish).

So I, as an agnostic, will make Montaigne an agnostic too. But I do think I have far more evidence than someone like Screech has. I can find evidence for Montaigne's agnosticism on practically every page of his text- a text consistently full of doubt and uncertainty, while people like Screech have to stretch the limited evidence available to them.

Montaigne was hugely influenced by both Sextus Empiricus and Socrates. BOTH of those ancient sages recommended adopting the laws and customs of one's time and place. It seems safe to believe that is all that Montaigne was doing. Today, in France, non-believers outnumber Catholics in polls. There is no reasonable way to believe that Montaigne would be a Catholic today; and hence, there should be little reason to believe his ostensible "religion" was anything other than a necessary convenience which allowed him to live in peace and publish his works. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:56, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Solitarium Library[edit]

How did he get to be so well-read? He retired at age 38 to his library in his "Solitarium." The library contained over 1,000 volumes.

Michel de Montaigne[edit]

What's up with the 'critical essay' by some college student that's linked? Is there any reason for it to be there? Wilhelm Ritter

Date correction?[edit]

It says that Montaigne went to study law at Toulouse in 1539...he was six years old then? (if he was born in 1533). Was he actually a child prodigy or is this a typo? 22:09, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Montaigne started in a child's school called the College de Guyenne, in Bordeaux, at this year. He did not start law school, in Toulouse, until 1546. This looks like a typo. John K, July 15, 2006

Spanish jew or portuguese jew?[edit]

My uncle, a professor, told me that this person was not a descendant of spanish jews but of portuguese jews. he is studied in english, spanish, french and portuguese. says hgis mother was loppes or lopes. does anyone know if this is true or have anymore information about that? thank you.

--Lusitano Transmontano 00:01, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

His maternal grandfather was a Spanish converso.

We need some citations to back up the claim that his mother was of Jewish descent. Such claims are so far mere assertion, and therefore not up to Wiki's standards. (talk) 20:33, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Citations needed (Specifically Shakespeare)[edit]

"Montaigne's book of essays is one of the few books scholars can confirm Shakespeare had in his library; the essay On Cannibals was a direct source for The Tempest." In view of current controversy about Shakespeare's sources of education and the origins of The Tempest citations are needed for both assertions. Xxanthippe 22:07, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

From what I've read about Shakespeare, there is no information whatsoever about any books that Shakespeare had in his "library," or whether he had a library at all. Many things have been asserted as true only by implication. The famous "little Latin and lesser Greek" quotation merely suggests that Shakespeare must have known French, since it was a much more accessible language. Wikipedia really ought to refrain from re-writing history.
From Montaigne's Of Cannibals: for clever people observe more things and more curiously, but they interpret them; and to lend weight and conviction to their interpretation, they cannot help altering history a little. They never show you things as they are, but bend and disguise them according to the way they have seen them; and to give credence to their judgment and attract you to it, they are prone to add something to their matter, to stretch it out and amplify it. We need a man either very honest, or so simple that he has not the stuff to build up false inventions ...

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:28, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

There are no specific books he is known to have owned, but he clearly knew Ovid, Holinshead and other works. He is more likely to have known Italian than French, from the sources he used, and the tendency now is to think he had good reading Latin. I'm adding an online ref. Johnbod (talk) 03:38, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

"but he clearly knew Ovid, Holinshead and other works" OK, we're in agreement. That's what I'm calling implication. Good idea to add a link. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:00, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

The attribution is more cited than it is confirmed. Shakespeare may have drawn on Montaigne, or Montaigne and Shakespeare may have drawn on the same sources (the same way Cervantes and Shakespeare often happen upon the same philosophies). I am going to put in a parallel text thing. Anybody in opposition, please mention it here.--Artimaean (talk) 00:09, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Rousseau and Nietzsche[edit]

just citing an influence is not the most appropriate if we cannot trace the link back from them... There is no link on Montaigne in Rousseau's article fro instance.. Daedalus2100 19:00, 20 January 2007 (UTC)


' Michel de Montaigne perhaps thinks very highly of himself, thus the quote, ""I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself." as said in "Essays."'

This should be removed. Taken out of context, it's completely baseless. Pure opinion.

--Totally agree. If there was ever an ironic writer who could make light of himself, and was very humble, it was this one. John K, April 18, 2007


I think it would be interesting to highlight that besides Latin, Motaigne's mother tongue was Gascon; this is important since French (langue de Oi) was his third tongue, being this essential to understand the importance of his writtings. I would also add that while in Rome his literary production is on the local language. -- 21:41, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

theres spam at the end--Ghkj2 (talk) 16:39, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

more quotes[edit]

I think some more quotes should be included. "It is putting a high value on opinions to burn men on their account", criticizing the Inquisition. And isn't "All things come to him who knows how to wait" from the Essays also? CharlesTheBold (talk) 02:16, 2 October 2009 (UTC)


The legacy of Montaigne is profound and often overlooked. Many scholars cite Descartes as the father of Modern Philosophy, but it is difficult to imagine Descartes entire project of doubting being possible without Montaigne's doubting paving the way for him. Montaigne asks, "What do I know?" And Descartes, a few decades later, sets out to answer Montaigne's challenge. Sarah Bakewell, in her book "How to Live: A Life of Montaigne," agrees that Descartes philosophy is difficult to imagine without Montaigne's prompt.

Montaigne's influence has also been found in Shakespeare's works. Scholars have traced a passage from Montaigne's essay "On Cannibals" to a passage from Shakespeare's "The Tempest." The language from Florio's translation of Montaigne is too close a match to be a coincidence. Hence, scholars are certain that Shakespeare read Montaigne, and was influenced by him.

Pascal, Emerson, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Virginia Woolf: all profoundly influenced by Michel de Montaigne.

Montaigne is one of the unsung heroes of humanity, and possibly one of the coolest people to ever live!

Mayorship of Bordeaux.[edit]

The article currently states that Montaigne served as Mayor of Bordeaux from 1581 to 1585, and implies that that period was a single term of office. I'm afraid that I have to rely on fallible memory here, not having my copy of the Essays to hand, but I am sure that Montaigne mentions therein that he was elected for two successive terms - expressing some surprise that the citizens had been satisfied enough with him to ask him to serve a second term.

Would someone with source access please spare a moment to check that my memory is not faulty, and amend the article to clarify the situation if necessary? --Kay Dekker (talk) 20:34, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

-- I checked in "How to Live," and that's right. Two terms. I added that in the text. -- ReillyCapps

Location of his grave[edit]

It is said that "the Bordeaux Tourist Office says that Montaigne is buried at the Musée Aquitaine, Faculté des Lettres, Université Bordeaux 3 Michel de Montaigne, Pessac. His heart is preserved in the parish church of Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne." I'm afraid Musée d'Aquitaine and Université Bordeaux 3 are different locations in different cities (the museum is in downtown Bordeaux whereas the university is in Pessac, says so too). Unfortunately french wiki doesn't say where he is currently buried. Addden (talk) 07:15, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

The above comment from 2010 is correct! (I am from Bordeaux and can confirm this.) Can someone correct the article? It has to be the museum, by the way, not the university campus Bordeaux 3, because the university buildings are all modern buildings, from the 20th century; I studied there and never saw anywhere any indication that Montaigne would be buried in these 20th century university buildings... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:47, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Etienne de la Boétie[edit]

This article fails to even mention in passing Etienne de la Boétie, one of the most-important people in Montaigne's life! Good grief. The article also needs a list of Montaigne's most-important/popular essays. WilliamSommerwerck (talk) 12:37, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Littérature secondaire : la critique[edit]

What is the purpose of this section? Does it belong on the English page for Montaigne? Inoculatedcities (talk) 03:04, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Change made to picture caption


Are we the first to call him "Lord"? If so, we shouldn't do it -- certainly not in the first sentence. We should follow the usual style of encyclopedias, unless there's a strong reason to differ. Others call him "Michel de Montaigne" or "Michel Eyquem de Montaigne", no Lord, no Seigneur. His greatness is as a writer, not as a petty landowner. Andrew Dalby 17:18, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes, this apparently was just taken care of by someone today. However, as far as I can check, the article now says that his grand-father and his father were Lords of Montaigne, but it does not clarify if Michel de Montaigne himself inherited the title or not. If he did, the article should at least state the fact somewhere in the "Life" section. warshytalk 16:04, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Of course we are not the first to refer to him as such. He is always referred to as Seigneur de Montaigne, in his lifetime and in the subsequent French sources. That's simply his title. But whether or not we should translate to the English term is another question. Avaya1 (talk) 16:49, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Interesting. Thanks. In any case, since the article had already translated the title for his great-grandfather and father, I just added that he also inherited it in the proper section. warshytalk 17:06, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

What was his religion?[edit]

Are you sure he was a Roman Catholic? I am sure that I heard the programme "In Our Time" on April 25 2013 describe him as an atheist - although I could be wrong. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 08:39, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

I'll have to listen to that show, but anyone who calls Montaigne an atheist is extremely ignorant. He was a Catholic in name, but many people believe, with very good reason, that he was actually agnostic- as his text is full of doubt and uncertainty. I wrote a bit more about this above under "religion." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:01, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Interest in cannibalism[edit]

What the programme In Our Time on April 25 2013 definitely did say was that he had an interest in cannibals - this should go in the article. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 08:42, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

The original pronunciation of the surname[edit]

It used to be mentioned somewhere in the articles about French, now everything I can find is this: (¶ 5.), -- the ɛ is spelling pronunciation, it used to be homophonous with simple la monta(i)gne "the mountain". (talk) 00:44, 29 January 2015 (UTC)