Biography Charles Louis de Secondad
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (English pronunciation: /ˈmɒntɨskjuː/; 18 January 1689, La Brède, Gironde â€“ 10 February 1755), was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Era of the Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He was largely responsible for the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire.
After having studied at the Catholic College of Juilly, Charles-Louis de Secondat married. His wife, Jeanne de Lartigue, a Protestant, brought him a substantial dowry when he was 26. The next year, he inherited a fortune upon the death of his uncle, as well as the title Baron de Montesquieu and PrÃ©sident à Mortier in the Parliament of Bordeaux. By that time, England had declared itself a constitutional monarchy in the wake of its Glorious Revolution (1688â€“89), and had joined with Scotland in the Union of 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1715 the long-reigning Louis XIV died and was succeeded by the five-year-old Louis XV. These national transformations impacted Montesquieu greatly; he would later refer to them repeatedly in his work.
Soon afterwards he achieved literary success with the publication of his Lettres persanes (Persian Letters, 1721), a satire based on the imaginary correspondence of a Persian visitor to Paris, pointing out the absurdities of contemporary society. He next published ConsidÃ©rations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur dÃ©cadence (Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, 1734), considered by some scholars a transition from The Persian Letters to his master work. De l'Esprit des Lois (The Spirit of the Laws) was originally published anonymously in 1748 and quickly rose to a position of enormous influence. In France, it met with an unfriendly reception from both supporters and opponents of the regime. The Roman Catholic Church banned l'Esprit â€“ along with many of Montesquieu's other works â€“ in 1751 and included it on the Index of Prohibited Books. It received the highest praise from the rest of Europe, especially Britain.
Montesquieu was also highly regarded in the British colonies in America as a champion of British liberty (though not of American independence). Political scientist Donald Lutz found that Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted authority on government and politics in colonial pre-revolutionary British America. Following the American secession, Montesquieu's work remained a powerful influence on many of the American founders, most notably James Madison of Virginia, the "Father of the Constitution". Montesquieu's philosophy that "government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another" reminded Madison and others that a free and stable foundation for their new national government required a clearly defined and balanced separation of powers.
Besides composing additional works on society and politics, Montesquieu traveled for a number of years through Europe including Austria and Hungary, spending a year in Italy and 18 months in England before resettling in France. He was troubled by poor eyesight, and was completely blind by the time he died from a high fever in 1755. He was buried in the Ã‰glise Saint-Sulpice, Paris.
List of works
Les causes de l'Ã©cho (The Causes of an Echo)
Les glandes rÃ©nales (The Renal Glands)
La cause de la pesanteur des corps (The Cause of Gravity of Bodies)
La damnation Ã©ternelle des païens (The Eternal Damnation of the Pagans, 1711)
Système des IdÃ©es (System of Ideas, 1716)
Lettres persanes (Persian Letters, 1721)
Le Temple de Gnide (The Temple of Gnide, a novel; 1724)
Histoire vÃ©ritable d'Arsace et IsmÃ©nie ((The True History of) Arsace and IsmÃ©nie, a novel; 1730)
ConsidÃ©rations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur dÃ©cadence (Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, 1734)
De l'esprit des lois ((On) The Spirit of the Laws, 1748)
La dÃ©fense de Â«L'Esprit des loisÂ» (In Defence of "The Spirit of the Laws", 1750)
PensÃ©es suivies de Spicilège (Thoughts after Spicilège)
Essai sur le goût (1757)
Le flux et le reflux de la mer
MÃ©moires sur la fièvre intermittente
MÃ©moires sur l'Ã©cho
Les maladies des glandes rÃ©nales
La pesanteur des corps
Le mouvement relatif