1689 - 1755
Montesquieu's full title was Baron de la Brede et de
Montesquieu. He was a jurist, social philosopher and satirist and
became the first great French man
associated with the Enlightenment.
He was born near Bordeaux. Educated at Bordeaux, he became an advocate, but turned to scientific research and literary work. He settled in Paris (1726), then spent some years travelling and studying political and social institutions.
Montesquieu's best-known work is 'De l'esprit des lois' (The Spirit of Laws). He felt that tyranny resulted when all powers were controlled by one man.
He believed political freedom could be created by separating political powers into different branches, and he developed the political theory of 'checks and balances' that became an important part of the American Constitution.
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