- Montesquieu was born on the 19th of January in 1689.
- Born at La Brède
- Educated at the Oratorian Collège de Juilly
- Got his law degree from the University of Bordeaux in 1708, later on he went to Paris to continue his legal studies.
- The death of his father caused him to return to
- La Brède to inherit some estates.
- In 1715 he married Jeanne de Lartigue who was a Protestant and whom he had 3 children with.
- Two of Montesquieu’s major works were the Persian Letter and The Spirit of Laws
The Persian Letters
- The Persian Letter is an epistolary novel consisting of letters sent to and from two fictional Persians, Usbek and Rica, who set out for Europe in 1711-1720 when the novel ends.
- The novel is about their experiences in Europe and the different culture they experienced in the European society.
- In the starting letter the two Persians misinterpret the things they see; for example they thought the Pope was a magician. In the later letters they no longer misinterpret the things they saw; however, they still found the actions of Europeans less incomprehensible.
- The Persians described the people who are so consumed by vanity that they become ridiculous.
The Spirit of Laws
- This was Montesquieu’s true masterpiece. This piece of work was the one that most impacted the Enlightenment
- His aim in The Spirit of Laws was to explain human law and social institutions.
- Montesquieu believes, we will find that many laws and institutions that had seemed puzzling or even perverse are in fact quite comprehensible.
- Montesquieu believes that to live under a stable, non-despotic government that leaves its law-abiding citizens more or less free to live their lives is a great good, and that no such government should be lightly tampered with.
- Montesquieu holds that there are three types of governments: republican governments, which can take either democratic or aristocratic forms; monarchies; and despotisms.
- Each form of government has a principle, a set of “human passions which set it in motion” and each can be corrupted if its principle is undermined or destroyed.
“Modern History Sourcebook: Montesquieu: Spirit of the Laws, 1748.” FORDHAM.EDU. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/montesquieu-spirit.html>.
“Baron De Montesquieu, Charles-Louis De Secondat (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).”Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 08 Mar. 2011.
“The Scientific Revolution.” Washington State University – Pullman, Washington. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/SCIREV.HTM>.
Kramnick, Isaac. The Portable Enlightenment Reader. New York: Penguin, 1995.