Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu

Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de la Brède et de

Charles Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, baron de la Brède et de (shärl lwē də səkôNdä´ bärôN´ də lä brĕd ā də môNtĕskyü´), 1689–1755, French jurist and political philosopher. He was councillor (1714) of the parlement of Bordeaux and its president (1716–28) after the death of an uncle, whom he succeeded in both title and office. He gained a seat in the French Academy in 1728. His Persian Letters (1721) brought him immediate fame. In these letters, supposedly written by Persian travelers in Europe and by their friends, he satirized and criticized French insititutions. In 1734 he produced a scientific historical study of the rise and fall of Rome, Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence. His greatest work, The Spirit of Laws (1748), is a comparative study of three types of government—republic, monarchy, and despotism—and shows John Locke's influence on Montesquieu. Its main theories are that climate and circumstances determine the form of governments and that the powers of government should be separated and balanced in order to guarantee the freedom of the individual. Written with brilliance of style, it had great historical importance and influenced the formation of the American Constitution.

See biography by R. Shackleton (1961); studies by J. R. Loy (1968), M. Hulliung (1977), and T. L. Pangle (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

FREE! The Spirit of Laws
Charles de Secondat Montesquieu; Thomas Nugent.
P.F. Collier & Son, vol.1, 1900
Montesquieu: Pioneer of the Sociology of Knowledge
W. Stark.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1960
The Federalists, the Antifederalists, and the American Political Tradition
Wilson Carey McWilliams; Michael T. Gibbons.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Montesquieu and the Ideological Strain in Antifederalist Thought"
History of Political Thought
Raymond G. Gettell.
Century, 1924
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XV "Montesquieu and Rousseau"
History of Political Philosophy from Plato to Burke
Thomas I. Cook.
Prentice-Hall, 1936
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXI "Montesquieu: National Differences and Legal Principle: The Attack on Arbitrary Government"
World Order in History: Russia and the West
Paul Dukes.
Routledge, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Montesquieu and Constitutional Order"
The Enlightenment in France
Frederick B. Artz.
Kent State University Press, 1968
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Montesquieu"
Studies in the History of Political Philosophy before and after Rousseau
C. E. Vaughan; A. G. Little.
University Press, vol.1, 1925
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "The Eclipse of Contract: Vico, Montesquieu"
History of Political Philosophy
Leo Strauss; Joseph Cropsey.
Rand McNally, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "Montesquieu 1689-1755" begins on p. 469
French Liberal Thought in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of Political Ideas from Bayle to Condorcet
Kingsley Martin.
Little, Brown, 1929
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Montesquieu's L'Esprit de Lois begins on p. 147
Philosophers and Religious Leaders
Christian D. Von Dehsen.
Oryx Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Montesquieu, Baron de la Brete et de" begins on p. 134
The Pursuit of Happiness in the Democratic Creed: An Analysis of Political Ethics
Ursula M. von Eckardt.
Praeger, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "The Principles of Montesquieu" begins on p. 134
Rousseau and Burke: A Study of the Idea of Liberty in Eighteenth-Century Political Thought
Annie Marion Osborn.
Oxford University Press, 1940
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "The Disciple of Montesquieu"
Monstrous Virtue: Montesquieu's Considerations Sur Les Romains
Russo, Elena.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 90, No. 3, May 1999
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