Montesquieu

Summary

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu († February 10, 1755 in Paris), known as Montesquieu, was a French writer, philosopher and state theorist of the Enlightenment. He is considered important political philosopher and co-founder of modern historical science. His ideas had an influence on sociology, which developed long after him.

Although the moderate Enlightenment thinker was also a successful fiction writer for his contemporaries, he has gone down in intellectual history primarily as a thinker on the philosophy of history and the theory of the state, and he still influences current debates today.

Beginnings and early literary success

Montesquieu was born to Jacques de Secondat (1654-1713) and Marie-Françoise de Pesnel (1665-1696) in a family of the high official nobility, the so-called “noblesse parlementaire”. The exact date of his birth is not known, only that of his baptism, January 18, 1689. Presumably, he was born only a few days earlier.

As the eldest son, he spent his childhood on the estate of La Brède, which his mother had brought into the marriage. His father was a younger son of the old noble family of the de Secondat, who had become Protestant but had returned to Catholicism in the wake of Henry IV and had been rewarded with the elevation of their family seat, Montesquieu, to a barony. The grandfather had bought with the dowry he had married the office of president of the court (président à mortier) at the Parlement of Bordeaux, the highest court in Aquitaine.

At the age of seven, Montesquieu lost his mother. From 1700 to 1705, he attended the College of the Oratorian Monks in Juilly, not far from Paris, as a boarding school student, known for the critical spirit that prevailed there, and where he met several cousins from his wide-ranging family. He acquired a sound knowledge of Latin, mathematics, and history, and wrote a historical drama, a fragment of which has survived.

From 1705 to 1708, he studied law in Bordeaux. After graduating and being admitted to the bar, he was given the title of baron by the head of the family, his father’s childless eldest brother, and went to Paris to further his legal and other education, for he was also to inherit the office of president of the court that had passed from his grandfather to his uncle. In Paris, he connected with intellectuals and began to write down thoughts and reflections of various kinds in a kind of diary.

When his father died in 1713, he returned to the Château de La Brède. In 1714, he received, certainly through his uncle, the post of judicial councilor (conseiller) at the Parlement of Bordeaux.

In 1715, through the mediation of his uncle, he married Jeanne de Lartigue (~1692

In addition to his work as a judge, Montesquieu continued to take an intense interest in a wide variety of fields of knowledge. For example, after the death of Louis XIV (September 1715), he wrote an economic policy memoir on the state debt (Mémoire sur les dettes de l’État), addressed to Philip of Orléans, who ruled as regent for the minor Louis XV.

In 1716 he was admitted to the Académie of Bordeaux, one of those loosely organized circles that united scholars, literati and other intellectually interested people in larger cities. Here he was active with lectures and smaller writings, e.g. a dissertation sur la politique des Romains dans la religion (Treatise on the Religious Politics of the Romans), in which he tried to prove that religions are a useful instrument for moralizing the subjects of a state.

Also in 1716, i.e. shortly after the regent had again strengthened the political power of the parlements (courts), which had been curtailed by Louis XIV, Montesquieu inherited his uncle’s office as president of the court. He continued to pursue his intellectual interests as before.

In 1721, he became famous for a novel of letters that he had begun in 1717 and that was banned by the censors soon after its anonymous publication in Amsterdam: the Lettres persanes (Persian Letters). The content of the work, which today is considered a key text of the Enlightenment, is the fictional correspondence of two fictional Persians who travel Europe from 1711 to 1720 and exchange letters with people back home. Here they describe – and this is the Enlightenment core of the work – to their correspondence partners the cultural, religious and political conditions, especially in France and particularly in Paris, with a mixture of amazement, head-shaking, ridicule and disapproval (which was a popular method, at the latest since Pascal’s Lettres provinciales, to make the reader a participant in a view from the outside and thus enable him to take a critical look at his own country). In this writing, Montesquieu addresses various topics, such as religion, priesthood, slavery, polygamy, discrimination against women, and more, in the spirit of the Enlightenment. In addition, a novelistic plot line about the harem ladies who stayed at home is woven into the Lettres, which was not entirely uninvolved in the success of the book.

After becoming acquainted with the Lettres, Montesquieu developed the habit of spending some time each year in Paris. Here he frequented some fashionable salons, such as that of the Marquise de Lambert, and occasionally the court, but above all intellectual circles.

Baron de Montesquieu was a regular attendee of the Saturday discussion group at the Club de l’Entresol, founded by Pierre-Joseph Alary (1689-1770) and Charles Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre, which was held from 1720 (or 1724) to 1731 in the mezzanine apartment at Place Vendôme in Paris of Charles-Jean-François Hénault (1685-1770).

In 1725, he achieved another notable book success with the rococo-like pastoral little novel Le Temple de Gnide, which he supposedly found in an older Greek manuscript and translated. Now completely forgotten, the work was widely read until the end of the 18th century and was translated several times into other languages, including Italian verse. It was the only one of Montesquieu’s works to receive the approval of the censorship authorities when it was first published.

Years of reflection and travel

The following year he sold his apparently little-loved judgeship and settled in Paris, not without spending some time each year at the family chateau of La Brède.

In 1728 he was elected to the Académie française, albeit only at the second attempt. That same year (soon after the birth of his youngest daughter), he went on a three-year educational and informational tour of several German and Italian states, the Dutch States General, and especially England. On February 26, 1730, he was elected a member (Fellow) of the Royal Society. On May 16 of the same year, in London, he became a member of the Masonic lodge Horn’s Tavern in Westminster. Later, in 1735, he participated in the founding of the Paris lodge in the Hôtel de Bussy initiated by Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, and John Theophilus Desaguliers.

The great writings

In 1731, Montesquieu returned to La Brède, where he remained for the most part from then on. In 1734 he published in Holland the book Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence (Reflections on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline). In this book, he attempted to demonstrate something like lawful processes in the fate of states, using the example of the rise of the Roman Empire and its decline (which he saw as beginning with Caesar’s autocracy), and thus at the same time to exercise covert criticism of French absolutism.

His most important work became the historical-philosophical and state-theoretical writing De l’esprit des lois

On the one hand, he names the determinants that determine the governmental and legal system of individual states (on the other hand, he formulates – not least in opposition to royal absolutism, which was unloved in the milieu of the parlements – the theoretical foundations of a universally possible regime. The central principle for Montesquieu, following John Locke, is the separation of the areas of legislation (legislature), jurisdiction (judiciary) and governmental power (executive), in other words the so-called separation of powers – a term that does not yet appear as such in his work. His book immediately attracted great and widespread attention and provoked fierce attacks from the Jesuits, the Sorbonne and, at the same time, the Jansenists. In 1751, it was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Catholic Church and remained there until its abolition in 1967. A defensive treatise by Montesquieu, Défense de l’Esprit des lois, published in Geneva in 1750, had no influence on this.

He spent the last years of his life increasingly blind, partly in Paris, partly at La Brède, with his youngest daughter assisting him as secretary. Among other things, he wrote an essai sur le goût dans les choses de la nature & de l’art for the Encyclopédie, but it remained a fragment. Although the editors Diderot and d’Alembert had originally intended the entries Démocratie and Despotisme for Montesquieu and the article Goût had already been promised to Voltaire, Montesquieu’s essay fragment was printed posthumously and as a supplement to Voltaire’s text in the seventh volume in 1757.

Montesquieu died of an infection during a winter stay in Paris.

Aftermath

The principle of separation of powers first found expression in 1755 in the constitution of the short-lived Republic of Corsica under Pascal Paoli, which perished as early as 1769 after France bought the island from Genoa and subjugated it militarily. By contrast, it was still reflected in the constitution of the United States of America, which came into force in 1787, but not in the French constitution of 1791. Today, the separation of powers is implemented, at least in principle, in all democratic states.

The basis for his theory of the state was his study on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1734. Unlike the Christian philosophy of history, which had regarded the decline of the Roman Empire as the work of divine providence, Montesquieu wanted to find an explanation for historical processes based on natural laws and had therefore asked about the anthropological, ecological, economic, social and cultural conditions of political developments. He shaped these insights into a theory of state and society in his major work On the Spirit of Laws (1748): He tried to find the determining external and, above all, mental factors according to which individual states developed their respective systems of government and law (cultural relativist approach). These factors give rise to the “general spirit” (“esprit général”) of a nation, and to this in turn corresponds the “spirit” of its laws. Thus, according to Montesquieu, their totality is not a quasi-arbitrary sum of laws, but an expression of the natural environment, the history and the “character” of a people.

Montesquieu distinguishes between moderate systems of government – that is, the republic in various forms and the constitutional monarchy – and those based on tyranny, such as absolutism and any other despotism. He sees the three main types of regimes: republic, monarchy, and tyranny each characterized by a particular basic human attitude: virtue, honor, and fear.

For the constitutional monarchy based on honor, but also for the state form based on virtue, the republic, he considers separation of powers necessary to avoid arbitrariness by individuals or teams, otherwise they are in danger of becoming despotic.

Montesquieu’s political philosophy contains liberal and conservative elements. He does not put the moderate systems of government on an equal footing, but expressly favors the English-style parliamentary monarchy. The model of a separation of powers between the executive and the legislature implemented there best safeguards the freedom of the individual from arbitrary state power. He supplemented John Locke’s approach with a third power, the judiciary. He also advocates a bicameral parliament with an aristocratic upper house, not only for the monarchy but also for the republic. This is to prevent the constitutional monarchy from becoming a tyranny and the republic from becoming a “mob rule.”

It is debatable whether his theory already established a democratic state, or – which is a minority opinion – rather aimed at restoring the political say of the nobility and the high courts, the parlements, which had been eliminated by Richelieu, Mazarin and Louis XIV.

While today’s sociologists consider Montesquieu to be a pioneer of modern social sciences (keyword: milieu theory), his thoughts were evaluated differently by authors and currents that immediately followed him: For example, the principle of separation of powers is one of the most important foundations of the first constitutions in North America, but it was not used in the constitution of the First French Republic because it contradicted the Jacobin doctrine of undivided popular sovereignty inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which is why Montesquieu’s tomb was even destroyed during the French Revolution.

Montesquieu also had an early influence on the Enlightenment in Germany: For example, the then important proto-sociological author Johann David Michaelis followed in his footsteps with his work Das Mosaische Recht (Mosaic Law), in which he analyzed certain Old Testament laws that were considered abstruse by the Enlightenment thinkers as reasonable for nomadic peoples – to the annoyance of some clergymen and theologians, who did not appreciate a defense of the Bible from this side. Johann Gottfried Herder also received not only Rousseau’s but also Montesquieu’s theses for his philosophy of history.

Conditions and limits of action

One can identify two basic features in Montesquieu’s social and political thought. On the one hand, Montesquieu wants to gain insights into human action. He is thus one of the first modern theorists of action. On the other hand, throughout his work, he speaks of social conditions that, given to politics and the rulers, limit and restrict people’s possibilities for action as a whole, so that social and historical developments can be influenced only to a limited extent. According to Montesquieu, politics and society can be inferred from the “esprit général” (general spirit) of a people and the principles of its constitution. In his main work of 1748, he analyzed in detail the contemporary English constitution, the distribution of power that it entailed, alliances to increase power, but also limitations on power.

The basic idea of this model – that the most evil human passions (in the case of the English constitution: the unrestrained desire for power) can be directed to the advantage and benefit of society through intelligent institutional arrangements – is also found in his analysis of the modern societies (all of them monarchies) of his time. The widespread negative passions of people in monarchies-ambition, greed, vanity, egoism, and glory-seeking-are channeled through the rules and institutions of a constitutional monarchy in such a way that they work to the advantage of society. His theory of action thus refers primarily to the activities involved in establishing these institutions.

Montesquieu’s work is characterized by the search for the conditions, limits, influencing factors and possibilities of human action in society and history. In his theory of action, which is the center of his concept of freedom, he includes the barriers of social action in society in the investigation.

He collected his thoughts and ideas in thick notebooks. In these notes, the Pensées, he recorded that complete freedom was an illusion. In many variations, he uses the image of a gigantic net in which fish move without noticing that they are caught in the net. For Montesquieu, action is always subject to conditions imposed on the agent.

Already in the Lettres Persanes (Persian Letters), especially in the parable of the “Troglodytes,” a concept of freedom is recognizable that is primarily based on freedom of action. This freedom, which is always endangered, is to be realized in the republic on the basis of love for the fatherland and the “virtue” of the citizens (i.e., just and reasonable actions). The monarchy depends less on the virtuous actions of the citizens and is best governed by laws and institutions ordered by the king.

What is only hinted at in the novel mentioned is the center of the investigation in the first major work: In the Considérations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains et de leur Décadence (Reflections on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline), published in Lausanne in 1749, Montesquieu describes the martial virtues of the Romans as the most important condition for the successful conquest of the Roman Empire, which ultimately encompassed the entire known world. Although the conquering actions of the Romans as well as some peculiarities of the Roman constitution can be traced back to climatic and topographical conditions, the decisive factor for the rise and decline of Rome, according to Montesquieu, is the change in Roman virtue that both enables the conquest of the world and causes its decline.

Principles guiding action: Virtue, honor and fear

These reflections, his search for the determinants and for the freedom of action, reappear in a more systematic form in the main work De L’Esprit des Lois. In this work, Montesquieu’s question about the principles of action leads to a new categorization of political orders: No longer does the classic question of the number and quality of those who govern determine the distinctions. Montesquieu distinguishes between moderate and tyrannical governments and names three possible forms of government: Republics, monarchies, and despotisms, each of which he classifies by principles, that is, by different motives and passions that determine the actions of people in the respective society.

In republics, power and action are distributed throughout society. Citizens, in order not to break this order, must develop a high degree of responsibility for the community. It is necessary that they respect each other and subordinate their actions to the common good: ” the constant preference of the public interest over one’s own interest,” the love of equality of citizens governing together, and the love of the fatherland describe the principle of republics, without which they are not viable. Montesquieu calls this principle guiding action “virtue”.

Montesquieu divides republics into democratic republics, where all the people participate in the important decisions and in the allocation of offices, and aristocratic republics, where politics is carried out by a political class. For the latter to remain stable, the ruling political class in each case must distinguish itself through special moderation and justice toward the ruled.

Unlike in republics, where equality prevails among those who determine public life and who therefore must or should moderate themselves by their own efforts, inequality characterizes the peculiarity of monarchies. The monarch, the native nobility necessary for government, the estates, the provinces, the cities, have their place in this order. They strive for reputation and prestige. Everyone wants to distinguish himself; the main principle is honor.

The action-guiding striving for prestige and to excel, through the cunning of the reason of this principle of honor, causes that all, seeking their advantage, make great efforts, but are kept in check by the royal laws and are so guided that they contribute to the general good despite selfishness.

The moderation that in the republic comes from the citizens themselves is thus achieved in the monarchy from the outside through institutions and institutional arrangements.

These reflections of the Baron are influenced by the great impression that the reading of a book had on his thinking: In 1714, the social theorist Bernard Mandeville had described in his work The Fable of the Bees how a peculiar interaction of individual vices can be diverted by rules to the benefit of society. He developed – well before Adam Smith, the father of classical economics – a doctrine of the vices of economic well-being, according to which greed, avarice, hedonism, selfishness, extravagance and other vices, regulated by the institutions of market competition, work to the benefit of society. The subtitle of the Bee Fable, Private Vices – Public Benefits, gives expression to this interpretation of market activity. Montesquieu adopted these theses to a large extent, and in his social model of a constitutional monarchy he can dispense with civic virtues almost entirely. The market guides even virtueless behavior into socially acceptable channels for the benefit of society.

In the third form of government, despotism, people’s actions or inactions are determined by the principle of fear. There is only moderation there, where customs and habits are stronger than the power of the tyrant. The latter must show consideration, for example, for the religious beliefs of his subjects. Fundamentally, however, despotism is immoderate. The entire apparatus of rule, the hierarchy of rulers, are influenced by fear in their actions just as much as the people and the despot himself. Since there is no legal certainty beyond the will of the supreme ruler (the will of the despot is supreme law), everyone must fear for his life, his wealth, his family and his offices. Even the autocrat himself can be overthrown at any time by a palace revolt; nothing is certain, and this uncertainty applies to everyone. The regime is unstable per se.

Despotism is the counterpart of institutional monarchy in economic matters. While commerce and free trade flourish in the orderly and moderate monarchy, the principle of despotism, fear, ruins economic life. The general insecurity that characterizes this regime prevents any long-term planning by the citizens. “In such states nothing is improved or renewed: the houses are built only for a human life; one does not drain the soil, one does not plant trees; one exploits the earth, but one does not fertilize it,” writes Montesquieu in On the Spirit of Laws. All those involved in the economic process want to be independent of visible development. A shadow economy is the direct result. Loans are given secretly, being fed by savings and accumulations of money hidden from public authority. This gives rise to usury. Larger possessions are hidden from the rulers as well as their aides and officials – only in this way are they safe from confiscation. There is only economic activity oriented toward short-term needs; everything else is organized in secret. A general rottenness of the economy, insofar as it is not run by the ruler or for the ruler, is the visible characteristic of the economy under despotism. There is no free trade.

Territorial expansion and constitutions

The republics, the monarchies and the despotisms differ in their institutional orders and, above all, in their size.

For Montesquieu, republics with popular or aristocratic rule are conceivable only on a small territory, similar to the ancient city republics. If they are to endure, they should be characterized by simplicity, relative poverty and simple institutions. A senate, popular assemblies, precisely defined electoral rules and a clear distribution of responsibilities should exist, as well as a great respect for the incumbents and strict customs that carry the rules of order into households and families.

Monarchies, on the other hand, can exist on a larger territory without endangering their existence. The monarch needs the nobility, the estates and a power-sharing constitution, which also regulates the representation of the estates and classes. The government and administration of the country is shared by the only semi-sovereign king with the nobility and the estates. Decentralization and local diversity are the direct consequences of this order, which can grant and secure freedoms to citizens just as republics do.

Despotisms, determined by the despot’s arbitrariness, maintain the state order only through a system of mutual fear and can also encompass large territories. A monarchy whose territory grows oversized can easily degenerate into a despotism. Since everything is subordinated to the needs of the sole arbitrary ruler, he can appoint commissioners (vezirs) to represent his power. The vezir, for his part, assigns sub-vezirs to perform certain tasks or to govern certain provinces. The delegation of power is complete, but can be completely revoked just as quickly. “The vezir is the despot himself, and every official is a vezir,” states the fifth book of the Esprit des Lois. The constitution of this state of injustice exists only in the (wavering) will of the despot.

Prosperity through free trade, dangers of the “spirit of trade

For Montesquieu, there is no question of increasing the prosperity of a people that allows and engages in free trade, but he also sees dangers if the “spirit of trade” is too developed.

He opposed all restrictions on trade that he saw as pointless and obstructive. It was ” to bring peace. Two peoples who trade with each other make themselves interdependent: if one is interested in buying, the other is interested in selling; and all agreements are based on mutual needs.” Trade increases prosperity and eliminates troublesome prejudices. At the beginning of the second volume of his magnum opus, he writes that it is “almost universally true that where there is gentle morality, there is also commerce, and that wherever there is commerce, there is also gentle morality.” However, too much of the spirit of commerce destroys the civic spirit, which causes the individual “not always to insist rigidly on his claims, but also to set them aside once in a while in favor of others,” for one sees, Montesquieu continues, “that in countries where one is animated only by the spirit of commerce, all human actions and all moral virtues are also traded: even the smallest things, which humanity commands, are done or granted there only by money.”

Warning against extremism and disorder, plea for stability and moderation

Montesquieu opposed any extreme, non-moderate form of government based on the fear and terror of subjects toward the nearly omnipotent despot and his aides. He feared that the increasingly absolutist princes of Europe would become despots, and therefore made extensive complicated considerations about mixed constitutions between democratic and aristocratic institutions, as well as about different types of republican and monarchical systems, in order to create conditions for stable and secure orders in which, in his view, a free civic existence is possible.

One must view the political and social thinking of the Enlightenment philosopher and aristocrat Montesquieu not only against the background of intellectual and cultural history, but also take into account the crises and upheavals of his time. The Edict of Nantes had ended the bitter religious civil war in France in 1598. The long period of absolutism in its pure form under Louis XIV, which had brought the country a position of great power, but also devastating wars, concentration of power on one person and his vassals, and ultimately, in 1685, even the revocation of the Edict of Toleration of Nantes, had been replaced in 1715 by the unstable Régence and later government of the much weaker Louis XV.

Europe at the time of Montesquieu was a religious battlefield in truce. Colonization of the rest of the world had begun, world trade was emerging, as was later industrialization. Philosophy and natural sciences unfolded on the one hand in the sense of reason and experience, on the other hand there were defensive battles of the old rule, full of losses. The individual protagonists of different world views fought each other, sometimes mercilessly. Montesquieu countered the radical ideas of a large number of French encyclopedists in particular with an enlightened, yet conservative, moderate political approach. The politician, philosopher and traveler, who spent years of his life writing his magnum opus On the Spirit of the Laws, responded to the confrontations of his time with a warning against despotism and tyranny and a plea for moderate, stable forms of government that would allow citizens (always limited) freedoms.

For Montesquieu, freedom does not consist in doing everything one wants; rather, freedom is primarily the fulfillment of what is necessary and what one is obliged to do.

The “general spirit” of a people, protection of public order as a prerequisite for tolerance and freedom

He warns the rulers against megalomania. The “general spirit” (“esprit général”) of a people, slowly grown in the process of history, shaped by the landscape and the climate, influenced by religion and at the same time forming religion, permeated by the principles of the existing constitution, determined by historical models, examples and habits, customs and mores, represents the essential basic substance of a society. This spirit is not an unchangeable quantity, but according to Montesquieu it should be influenced only very carefully. It cannot be manipulated completely, since even despots must respect the religious convictions of their subjects in some form. Although, for example, trade with foreign peoples changes customs, frees people from prejudices and leads to greater prosperity, the general spirit of a people is only affected by this within narrow limits.

In summary, he writes: “Constitutional rules, criminal laws, civil law, religious rules, customs and habits all intertwine and influence and complement each other. Whoever changes there imprudently endangers his government and society.”

Accordingly, Montesquieu pleads for religious tolerance. If there is only one religion in a given society, no other should be introduced. Whereas several coexist, the ruler should regulate the coexistence of the adherents of different religions. Institutional stability makes many punitive regulations superfluous.

Penalties should only protect public goods. Privacy can be regulated on the basis of recognition of differences. Controversies of faith are in principle not to be prosecuted legally. The punishment of religious outrages should be left to the offended God. The prosecution of secular misdeeds is a sufficiently exhausting activity for the judicial authorities. Montesquieu rejected the persecution of homosexuals, which was a matter of course at the time, as well as the punishment of other types of behavior if they did not disturb the public order that made this tolerant attitude possible in the first place.

About separation of powers

The concept of the separation of powers was already presented in its entirety by Aristotle and – contrary to popular and even professorial opinions – did not originate with Montesquieu. The latter writes about the separation of powers, among other things, in his central work On the Spirit of the Laws, 1748: Liberty exists only when the legislative, executive and judicial branches are strictly separated from each other in a moderate system of government, otherwise the coercive power of a despot threatens. To prevent this, power must set limits to power (“Que le pouvoir arrête le pouvoir”).

Sources

  1. Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
  2. Montesquieu
  3. Unter anderem hatte Montesquieu sich mit den Thesen des italienischen Kultur- und Rechtsphilosophen Giambattista Vico auseinandergesetzt.
  4. Pierre Grosclaude: Un audacieux message. L’encyclopédie. Nouvelles Editions Latines, Paris 1951, S. 121 (google.com [abgerufen am 28. August 2015]).
  5. Manfred G. Schmidt: Demokratietheorien. 4. Auflage. VS, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-16054-2, 3 Montesquieus Idee der „gemäßigten Demokratie“, S. 68 (siehe De l’Esprit des Loix, II, 2).
  6. Siehe Vom Geist der Gesetze, Buch XI, Kap. 6.
  7. «Revisitando Montesquieu: uma análise contemporânea da teoria da separação dos poderes». Âmbito Jurídico. 30 abril 2008. Consultado em 10 fevereiro 2020
  8. ^ I suoi genitori scelsero quale suo padrino un mendicante affinché egli ricordasse che i poveri sono suoi fratelli. Il fatto fu registrato negli archivi parrocchiali: «Oggi, 18 gennaio 1689 è stato battezzato nella nostra chiesa parrocchiale il figlio di M. de Secondat, nostro signore. Egli fu tenuto al fonte battesimale da un povero mendicante di questa parrocchia, di nome Charles, allo scopo che il suo padrino gli rammenti per tutta la vita che i poveri sono nostri fratelli. Che il Buon Dio ci conservi questo bambino.»
  9. ^ Rispettivamente: “Le cause dell’eco”, “Le ghiandole renali” e “La causa del peso dei corpi”
  10. ^ William R. Denslow, Harry S. Truman, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, 1957
  11. ^ (EN) M.P.C. 30799 del 16 ottobre 1997
  12. ^ Céline Spector, “Montesquieu et l’émergence de l’économie politique”, Parigi, 2006. Di seguito il link da Google Books Montesquieu et l’émergence de l’économie politique – Céline Spector – Google Livres
  13. ^ [a b] SNAC, SNAC Ark-ID: w6v7052z, omnämnd som: Montesquieu, läs online, läst: 9 oktober 2017.[källa från Wikidata]
  14. ^ [a b] Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana, Grup Enciclopèdia Catalana, Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana-ID: 00437990030866, omnämnd som: Montesquieu.[källa från Wikidata]
  15. ^ GeneaStar, GeneaStar person-ID: montesquieu, omnämnd som: Montesquieu.[källa från Wikidata]
  16. ^ [a b] Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF Catalogue général : öppen dataplattform, id-nummer i Frankrikes nationalbiblioteks katalog: 119166485, läst: 19 maj 2021, licens: öppen licens.[källa från Wikidata]
  17. ^ Annuaire prosopographique : la France savante, CTHS person-ID: 100273, omnämnd som: Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, läst: 9 oktober 2017.[källa från Wikidata]