Portrait of Michel de Montaigne

Michel Montaigne on the danger of becoming accustomed to state power (1580)

Found in: Essays of Montaigne, Vol. 1

The French Renaissance sceptic and humanist Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) warned that those who are “inured to monarchy” do not hate “subjection itself” but crave any “master” they can find to live under:

The State

Such people as have been bred up to liberty, and subject to no other dominion but the authority of their own will, look upon all other form of government as monstrous and contrary to nature. Those who are inured to [260] monarchy do the same; and what opportunity soever fortune presents them with to change, even then, when with the greatest difficulties they have disengaged themselves from one master, that was troublesome and grievous to them, they presently run, with the same difficulties, to create another; being unable to take into hatred subjection itself.