Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, 1689 - 1755

portrait of Montesquieu
18th century oil on canvas after a contemporary work by Jacques-Antoine Dassier
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Born: 18 January 1689, Château de la Brède, La Brède, Gironde, France
Died: 10 February 1755, Paris, France

His father was a soldier with noble ancestry, his mother had a great deal of money and the barony of La Bréde. After studying at the Catholic College of Juilly, Charles-Louis married, bringing in a large dowry when he was 26. The next year he received an inheritance from an uncle, including another barony, Montesquieu. Despite his original name and his first barony, we know him today only by the second. His wealth allowed him time to read, travel, and write and he became a noted social commentator and political analyst. His satire, Lettres persanes (Persian Letters) in 1621 was a great success. He wrote a major history of the Roman empire (1734), and in 1748 anonymously published De l'Esprit des Lois (The Spirit of the Laws) which met with opposition on all fronts in France, the Roman Catholic Church added it to the Index of Prohibited Books in 1751, but was hailed in England, Germany, and England's colonies. He was the first to develop the concept of separation of powers, coined the term "feudalism", and his political writings were cited by America's founding fathers more often than any other writer's works. Montesquieu suffered poor eyesight and was completely blind when he died from a high fever at age 66.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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