‘All things depend of nurture and education’

whereas to our scholler, a cabinet, a gardin, the table, the bed, a solitarines, a companie, morning and evening, and all houres shall be alike unto him, all places shall be a studie for him … (Essais I.26, ‘Of the education of children’, trans. Florio)

Michel de Montaigne was born in 1533 in the Périgord region of France. His father Pierre Eyquem was a former soldier turned municipal official, and mayor of Bordeaux, 1554–1556. His mother, Antoinette de Louppes, was descended from converted Spanish Jews. His early childhood was spent in the family château in the village of Montaigne. As an educational experiment, his father employed a German tutor to speak only Latin to his son. When Montaigne was six, he was sent to the prestigious Collège de Guyenne in Bordeaux and spent seven years being educated by the best tutors, some of the leading humanists of the day. Montaigne most likely went on to study law at the University of Toulouse.

One of the teachers at the Collège was Elie Vinet, later its principal. It was Vinet who persuaded one of his professors, Simon Millanges, to try his hand at printing—and it was Millanges who would print the first edition of Montaigne’s Essais in 1580.

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