Étienne de La Boétie has been best remembered as the great and close friend of the eminent essayist Michel de Montaigne, in one of history's most notable friendships. But he would be better remembered, as some historians have come to recognize, as one of the seminal political philosophers, not only as a founder of modern political philosophy in France but also for the timeless relevance of many of his theoretical insights.
Étienne de La Boétie was born in Sarlat, in the Périgord region of southwest France, in 1530, to an aristocratic family. His father was a royal official of the Périgord region and his mother was the sister of the president of the Bordeaux Parlement (assembly of lawyers). Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by his uncle and namesake, the curate of Bouilbonnas, and received his law degree from the University of Orléans in 1553.