Charles Louis de Secondat Montesquieu


“Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.”
– Montesquieu

b. 1689 CE – d. 1755 CE

Charles Louis de Secondat Montesquieu was a French philosophical historian. In the guise of letters written by and to two Persons of distinction traveling in Europe,

Montesquieu not only satirized unmercifully the social, political, ecclesiastical, and literary follies of his day in France, but indulged in a great deal of the free writing that was characteristic of the tale-tellers of the time. The literary and philosophical merits of Montesquieu and his position, actual and historical, in the literature of France and of Europe are of unusual interest.

Montesquieu’s idea of a harmony among the classes was “philosophic” and liberal. For a generation after his death, he remained indeed the idol and the great authority of the moderate reforming party in France. He was really the founder, or at least one of the founders, of the sciences of comparative politics and of the philosophy of history.