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Charles de Montesquieu

a.k.a. Charles Louis Secondat, Charles Louis de la Brede

Author Code: FCMX

Born: Jan. 18, 1689 - La Brede, Bordeaux, France

Died: Feb. 10, 1755 - Paris, France

Born Charles Louis Secondat and baptized Charles Louis de la Brede (named after his mother's estate), Montesquieu was educated at the college of Oratorians at Juilly, where he studied history, classics and the sciences. Because of a long family association with the law, he studied for the bar and became a jurist. On the death of his father, he was placed under the protection of his uncle, the Baron de Montesquieu. When his uncle died in 1716, Charles inherited the name in addition to a considerable fortune and his uncle's judicial office of President of the Bordeaux Parliament. Montesquieu's real interests were in literature and the sciences and he became a member of the Bordeaux Academy of Sciences. During the period 1717 through 1723, he contributed numerous scientific papers. His first true literary work came in 1721 with the publication of the Persian Letters which was extremely popular and established his reputation as an author and wit. In 1725, he moved to Paris and in 1728 became a member of the French Academy. Therafter, he toured Europe with the Earl of Waldegrave and Lord Chesterfield, spending a good deal of time in England. In 1734 he published The Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, which was very successful. In 1748, Montesquieu published his masterpiece, The Spirit of Laws, which had taken him five years to write and which had adversely affected his health. Although the work was not well-received in France, throughout the rest of Europe it achieved the highest praise. Most of the remainder of his life was spent on his estates in the country.

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