Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu

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Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (English pronunciation: /ˈmɒntɨskjuː/, French pronunciation: [mɔ̃t.skjø]; 18 January 1689, La Brède, Gironde – 10 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He was largely responsible for the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire.

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Biography

He was born at the Château de la Brède in the southwest of France. His father, Jacques de Secondat, was a soldier with a long noble ancestry. His mother, Marie Françoise de Pesnel who died when Charles de Secondat was seven, was a female inheritor of a large monetary inheritance who brought the title of barony of La Brède to the Secondat family.[citation needed] After having studied at the Catholic College of Juilly, Charles-Louis de Secondat married. His wife, Jeanne de Lartigue, a Protestant, brought him a substantial dowry when he was 26. The next year, he inherited a fortune upon the death of his uncle, as well as the title Baron de Montesquieu and Président à Mortier in the Parliament of Bordeaux. By that time, England had declared itself a constitutional monarchy in the wake of its Glorious Revolution (1688–89), and had joined with Scotland in the Union of 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1715 the long-reigning Louis XIV died and was succeeded by the five-year-old Louis XV. These national transformations impacted Montesquieu greatly; he would later refer to them repeatedly in his work.

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