Birth of Etienne de La Boétie (sometimes written as Estienne de La Boétie or La Boëtie) on November 1 in the small town of Sarlat that is situated on the river Cuze, in the south-western part of France.
La Boétie’s uncle and godfather Etienne de La Boétie, following the premature death of young Etienne’s father Antoine (and probably also that of his mother, Philippe (feminine first name) de Calvimont), secures a solid education for his nephew: Classic Greek and Roman authors in the purest fashion of the Renaissance.
La Boétie enters the University of Orléans, where he studies law and prepares a career in the judicial authorities. He also takes interest in philosophy, history, philology and poetry. La Boétie writes his famous Discours de la Servitude volontaire during his years at the university. His teachers include future martyr Anne (masculine first name) du Bourg.
La Boétie receives his licence in law from the University of Orléans on September 23.
La Boétie is received as counsellor at the Parlement of Bordeaux on May 17, although he is under age. It is during his years at Bordeaux that La Boétie befriends Michel de Montaigne. He gains influence among his colleagues soon after his arrival at the Parlement. He is believed to have married Marguerite de Carle that same year.
La Boétie serves as censor of theatrical plays that are performed at the Collège de Guyenne. In Paris he meets Counsellor Michel de l’Hospital (or l’Hôpital), a defender of tolerance and an advocate of a policy of appeasement in religious matters. Michel de l’Hospital sends La Boétie to the Parlement of Bordeaux to defend religious tolerance. La Boétie’s intervention at the Parlement is a frank success.
Towards the end of the year, La Boétie travels with lieutenant general de Burie to the town of Agen. Their objective is to bring justice and order to this town where conflict between Catholics and Protestants is threatening to escalate.
La Boétie composed his work Mémoire touchant l’Edit de janvier. The Edict was issued by Catherine de Medici (under the influence of Michel de l’Hospital), and it manifests a certain policy of appeasement, authorising the co-existence of Catholicism and Protestantism in France.
Etienne de La Boétie falls ill on Monday, August 9. Montaigne encourages his friend to go to Germignan to stay with Montaigne’s sister and his brother-in-law Richard de Lestonnac. His condition getting worse throughout the week, La Boétie dictates his testament to the notary (the testament is dated August 14) and bids farewell to the closest members of his family. Etienne de La Boétie dies during the early hours on Wednesday morning, August 18.
Michel de Montaigne decides to have printed and published some of La Boétie’s works: his translations of Plutarch and Xenophon, as well as La Boétie’s Latin and French verses. He chooses to leave La Boétie’s Discours de la Servitude volontaire as well as his Memoire sur la pacification des troubles (sometimes referred to as Mémoire sur l’Edit de janvier 1562) unpublished.