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All these attitudes are in Montaigne; none contains him.The style of the Essays is part of the self-portrait.
Persecution grew steadily more severe, especially in the 1550's under Henry II, yet French Protestantism grew stronger, particularly in the region around Montaigne and further south.
Before Montaigne was thirty, the religious civil wars had broken out.
Others earlier and later in the century - Marston, Webster, and probably Shakespeare in England, Pascal in France - found a source of cosmic despair in Montaigne's eloquent catalogue of human limitations.
A century after Pascal, Rousseau was struck by the self-portrait that had become Montaigne's principal aim only after the "Apology." Most modern readers, like Gide, are struck by the sturdy individualism, the faith in self, man, and nature, that emerge so triumphantly in the final Essays.
In an age of fierce religious passions the family atmosphere was tolerant.
At the time of Montaigne's birth the moderate humanistic reform of Erasmus, though embattled, seemed triumphant in France.
To make Michel feel close to the common people, he gave him peasant godparents and sent him out to nurse in a nearby village.
He obtained the services of a tutor who spoke Latin but no French, so that the boy, hearing and speaking nothing but Latin until he was six, learned this as his native language.
Free, oral, informal, personal, concrete, luxuriant in images, organic and spontaneous in order, ranging from the epigrammatic to the rambling and associative, it communicates the flavor of the man.
Abstract notions live and move and breathe under his pen.