Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Second
born Jan. 18, 1689, Bordeaux, France
died Feb. 10, 1755, Paris
French philosopher and satirist.
Born into a noble family, he held public office in Bordeaux from 1714. His satirical Persian Letters (1721) was hugely successful. From 1726 he traveled widely to study social and political institutions. His magnum opus, the enormous The Spirit of the Laws (1750), contained an original classification of governments by their manner of conducting policy, an argument for the separation of the legislative, judicial, and executive powers, and a celebrated but less influential theory of the political influence of climate. The work profoundly influenced European and American political thought and was relied on by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. His other works include Causes of the Greatness and Decadence of the Romans (1734).