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La Boétie, Etienne de (1530–1563)

Etienne de La Boétie was a French political theorist and author of the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. He received his law degree from the University of Orléans in 1553, and the heady atmosphere of free inquiry that persisted there provided an inspiring milieu for La Boétie, who wrote this essay there at the age of 21. The Discourse so impressed essayist Michel de Montaigne that he sought out La Boétie in 1559; they remained good friends until La Boétie's untimely death. Although La Boétie never penned another comparable political piece, he wrote poetry and was a distinguished judge and diplomatic negotiator. Like Montaigne, he did not apply the principles of the essay to his personal life, instead remaining a loyal subject of the French monarchy. ...

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