Montesquieu By: TAylor brAzinsky & alexis maggio

Montesquieu's contribution to the Enlightenment

The Enlightenemnt was a time period in which many new ideas concerning government and sciencific practices surfaced. During this duration of time, a very influential writer, lawyer, and philosopher, Montesquieu, made it clear that he was an absolute advocate for political liberty. Montesquieu conveyed to society that each type of government should have its own set of fundamentals, Republics should run on virtue, Monarchies on honor, and Despotism on suspicion. Aside from these specific government/ruling types, Montesquieu also greatly believed in the separation of powers into judicial, executive, and legislative branches. The versatile lawyer was so passionate about this particular topic that he wrote a book titled De L'espirit de Lois to further his thoughts. His book was greatly admired among political leaders in North America. Aside from seperatation of powers, Montesquieu also greatly believed in the practice of checks and balances, and brought his ideas to the public through various works of literature. The lawyer is famously quoted for proclaiming, "Power should be a check to power." Montesquieu's ideals on these two controversial topics later became the basis of the U.S. Constitution.

Montesquieu's work, De L'espirit de Lois, later went on to become one of the greatest novels written about political science within the Enlightenment era. The lawyer greatly believed in the idea that each is human is a knowledgable being created by an even more knowledgeable God. Montesquieu was very bitter towards the subject of oppression and intolerance. He was also very cold-hearted towards the church in the way that he thought its practices contributed to decreases in population growth, a sluggish economy, and many unnecessary instances of prejudice. Montesquieu went on to write his Persian Letters which called to question why religions have various rankings of importance for no apparent reason. He believed that each religion should coexist in harmony for the good of the nation and its people.


A great writer and French philosopher named Montesquieu was a massive part in the Enlightenment. He was born in the castle of La Brède in Bordeaux, France. He was born Charles Louis de Secondat and was the son of Jacques de Secondat. Jacques was a soldier with high nobility ancestors. Unfortunately, Montesquieus's mother died when he was seven years old. Montesquieu spent the early years of his life among village peasants, which showed through his attachment to the land of La Brède and his accent. He was sent to Oritorian Collège de Juily to pursue his education. Five years later in 1795, he returned to Bordeaux to study law. He continued his studies in Paris; he strongly disliked the Persian structure of the capital and wrote about it in his Persian Letters. He was married to Jeanne de Lartigue, inherited the barony of Montesquieu, and became the president of Bordeaux Parliament.

Montesquieu wrote some of the most influential works in all of French literature. One of his most famous works, The Spirit of Laws, was developed with a basis on the spirit, development, and relationship between accustomed laws. His interest in the environment's effect on man mixed with his political views sparked him to write the Persian Letters. His writings and teachings gave readers the inspiration to know and recognize their own weaknesses. He explained his philosophy of justice and virtues was rooted from human cooperation and tolerance. This is when his legacy began, and he started traveling to cities, such as Rome, where he wrote The Spirit of the Laws. It was an investigation work on the environmental and social relationships hidden behind the laws. He used The Spirit of the Laws as an attempt to study the process of adaption. Montesquieu died on a trip to Paris on February 10, 1755. His legacy in French literature continues to live on today.

Modern Legacy

Montesquieu declared that power should be separated, and not concentrated, into the hands of a single leader. He came up with the idea of power being separated into the branches of legislature, judicial, and executive. This is still the modern format of the United States government/U.S. Constitution, and is commonly known as the practice of checks and balances. Montesquieu also contributed to the way certain individuals question the dominance of their religion over that of another. The lawyer also established a sense of peace and harmony among those whom believe all religions should be seen as equal. Overall, Montesquieu made a big impact in the way the U.S. Government is formatted, the basis of information used in important legal documents, and the way individuals regard their and other religions. He was a very important influence in modern society.

Works Cited

Beck, Roger B. World History: Patterns of Interaction. Orlando, FL.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub., 2012. Print. "The Impact of Enlightenment in Europe." Hall Association, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017. "Montesquieu." Encyclopedia of World Biography, Gale, 1998. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 24 Jan. 2017. "Montesquieu." Montesquieu. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

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