Charles-Louis de Montesquieu


Charles-Louis de Montesquieu

Charles-Louis de Montesquieu was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1689 to a wealthy family. Despite his family's wealth he was placed in the care of a poor family his whole childhood. He later went to college studying science and history and becoming a lawyer. Through his education and travels he became a sharp social commentator and political thinker who gained the respect of his fellow philosophers with his masterwork The Spirit of Laws, which went on to have a major influence on English and American government.

Early Life

Charles-Louis de Montesquieu, was born in the region of Bordeaux, France, on January 18, 1689, to a wealthy family, with maternal connections to the barony. His soldier father also had noble lineage. Even so, Charles-Louis was placed in the care of a poor family during his childhood.

His mother died when he was 7 years old, and at age 11, he was sent to the Oratorian College de Juilly near Paris to study literature, the sciences and other precepts of a classical education. He went on to take up law at the University of Bordeaux and began working in Paris after graduation.

Death and Legacy

Montesquieu died of a fever in Paris on February 10, 1755.He was regarded as genial and generous, and had a wide and international circle of admirers, from Scottish philosopher David Hume to Hegel to future American president James Madison. Montesquieu believed women were supposedly unfit as heads of the home while fit to govern. He also established the idea of a separation of powers—legislative, executive and judicial—to more effectively propagate liberty.