Michel de Montaigne in his ivory tower
The castle was raised by Montaigne's family, the Eyquem. They were from Portugal and owned several lands in the area, such as famous Château-Eyquem estate!
Ramon Eyquem, Michel Montaigne’s grandfather, a rich merchant, bought Montaigne lands in 1477.
But the primitive castle was raised by Michel’s father, Pierre, mayor of Bordeaux, ennobled in 1519 as “lord of Montaigne”.
His wife Antoinette (born Lopez de Villanueva or in French Loupes de Villeneuve) gave birth to Michel in 1533, here.
Then when his father died in 1568, Michel moved in the castle with his wife.
He was councillor in Bordeaux Parliament, but he decided to withdraw from public life in order to live in Montaigne.
In his tower, he wrote his Essais. He had his study on the 3d floor, with a library that could house 2 000 books!
On the first floor, his chapel; on the second, his bedroom flanked by a small oratory where he could hear Mass.
This tower was literally Michel’s true home! He spent his days here, cherishing his father’s memory.
Michel was alone, here. They said he and his wife never met! A gallery used to link the tower to Mrs. Eyquem’s apartments.
The castle until today
Meanwhile, Michel died here in 1592: his only daughter Lénonore, inherited the castle.
Her heirs kept it until 1811. A terrible fire destroyed it one night in 1885. The tower didn’t burn, a miracle!