Baron de Montesquieu


The Baron de Montesquieu was one of the most important and recognized political philosophers to emerge during the time of the Enlightenment . Incredibly curious and scathingly funny, he took it upon himself to construct a naturalistic account of the different forms of government and the causes that made them what they were and that furthermore had advanced or limited their development. He managed to explain how governments could be preserved from corruption . He saw in despotism , mainly, the way in which a danger could arisepermanent rule for any government that was not despotic, and argued that it was best prevented by using a system in which different bodies wielded legislative , executive, and judicial power , and in which all those bodies were bound by the state of right . This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous impact on liberal political theory and on the authors of the constitution of the United States of America.

  • When was he born:  01/18/1689
  • Where he was born:  La Brède, France
  • When he died:  02/10/1755
  • Where he died:  Paris, France

Who was the Baron de Montesquieu?

French thinker who created a sociological theory of government and law showing that the structure of these organizations depended on the people and that to form a political system, the economy , customs and traditions were necessary.

  • Biography of Baron de Montesquieu
  • Thought of Baron de Montesquieu
  • Contributions
  • Importance
  • Works of the Baron de Montesquieu
  • Phrases

Biography of Baron de Montesquieu

Charles Louis de Secondat was born in Bordeaux, France , in 1689 , into a wealthy family. Despite his wealth, he was placed in the care of a poor family during his childhood. He attended college and studied science and history , and to become a local government attorney . De Secondat’s father died in 1713 and he was placed under the care of his uncle , Baron de Montesquieu. 


The Baron died in 1716 and left his fortune to Secondat, his office as president of the Parliament of Bordeaux and his title of Baron de Montesquieu, hence his name. He was also a member of the Bordeaux and French Academies of Sciences and studied the laws and governments of the countries of Europe . He gained fame in 1721 with his Persian Letters , which criticized the lifestyle and freedoms of the rich French, as well as the church. However, Montesquieu’s book On the Spirit of Laws, published in 1748, it was his most famous work.

He returned to France in 1731, concerned about loss of vision , where he began work on his masterpiece, The Spirit of the Laws. Like the Persian Letters, The Spirit of the Laws was controversial and immensely successful. Two years later he published a Defense of the Spirit of Laws to answer his various criticisms. However, the Roman Catholic Church placed The Spirit of Laws on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1751. In 1755, Baron de Montesquieu  died of a fever in Paris.

Thought of Baron de Montesquieu

Montesquieu believed that all things were made up of rules or laws that never change. He set out to study these laws scientifically in the hope that knowledge of government laws would reduce the problems of society and improve the lives of the inhabitants. For Montesquieu, there were three types of government : a monarchy that was governed by a king or queen, a republic that was governed by an elected leader, and a despotism that was governed by a dictator. Montesquieu believed that a government elected by the peopleIt was the best form of government, but he also believed that the success of a democracy depended on a government in which the people had power , depended on maintaining the balance of power.

Baron de Montesquieu argued that the best government would be the one with balanced power among three groups of officials. For him, the model of government that existed in England divided the power between the king who was in charge of applying the laws, the Parliament that had the function of promulgating the laws and the judges of the English courts who were in charge of interpreting the laws. , was a good model of this.

Montesquieu called the idea of ​​dividing government power into three branches the “separation of powers . ” He thought that the most important thing was to create separate branches of government with equal but at the same time different powers . In that way, the government would avoid placing too much power with a single individual or a group of individuals. He also thought that each branch of the government could limit the power of the other two branches and that for this reason, no branch of the government could threaten the freedom of the people.


The contributions of the Baron de Montesquieu were directed to politics , philosophy and relationships , which is why he is considered one of the first sociologists of humanity. Among his main contributions we can mention:

Principles of governance

One of the important issues that Montesquieu dealt with was the principles of government and that were what drove the rulers. He established several principles including political virtue , which was the pillar within the republic; the honor , which was in the monarchy; and fear , in despotism.

Theory of separation of powers

His main contribution has been his theory of separation of powers that were based on the English constitution. He defended the distribution of powers because he believed that between the powers there should always be interaction.

Modern Liberalism and Politics in Religion

He made important theoretical contributions that developed modern Liberalism for what is considered one of its founders, along with John Locke . He discussed the religious bases of politics in the world and affirmed that the best was the secularization of politics that triggered the accommodation of religious thought to the interests that prevailed in democracies, which revolutionized the political world .

Discussions about freedom

It was one of his main themes in which he addressed nature and the preconditions of freedom . He argued that individuals in a monarchy were as free as those who lived in a republic, beliefs that were based on liberalism .


Its importance lies in the texts that are today the basis of our political world and of the republican institutions that also helped to lay the foundations of the freedoms of the individual. He looked for a way to reach a conclusion that said that freedom was possible when the powers of the government were limited and that the separation of powers into the executive , legislative and judicial was the best way to achieve freedom and the common good.

The Baron de Montesquieu managed to achieve a transformation in politics and in the French institution of his time. He supported diversity in opposition to centralized utilitarianism and defended the freedom and autonomy of territorial organizations, and used as an argument the characteristics of geography as an influencer of the Political System.

The political world was nourished by his ideas and his teachings we find important roots of civil liberties , limits to the abuses of power and political decentralization .

Works of the Baron de Montesquieu

Probably the most important work of the Baron de Montesquieu was The Spirit of the Laws , a book that was published in the year 1748. The book the book developed a very complete theory regarding good government. He saw the government from the sociological point of view ensuring that the structure of the government and its laws were marked by the conditions in which the people lived and in which he affirmed that only through the study of social , cultural and economic aspects could it be possible to create a stable political system .

Another of his recognized works was The Persian Letters , a work that was published in 1721. It was a satire that recounted the impressions of an imaginary Persian who was walking through Paris. Considerations on the causes of the greatness and decline of the Romans , is also included among his important works.


Some of his most important phrases were the following:

  • The useless laws weaken necessary.
  • One thing is not fair because it is law . It must be law because it is fair.
  • The best cultivated countries are not the most fertile but the freest .
  • The cowardice is the mother of cruelty.
  • The one who, being angry, imposes a punishment, does not correct , but takes revenge.
  • Customs make laws , women make customs; So women make the laws.
  • There is no tyranny more cruel than that perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.
  • The less a man thinks , the more he speaks .

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