Skip to main content

Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de°

MONTESQUIEU, CHARLES LOUIS DE SECONDAT, BARON DE LA BREDE ET DE°

MONTESQUIEU, CHARLES LOUIS DE SECONDAT, BARON DE LA BREDE ET DE ° (1689–1755), French writer and political philosopher. Montesquieu inherited the humanistic French tradition of Jean *Bodin, with his vision of a society tolerant toward all religions, including Judaism. His earliest statement on the Jews was in the Lettres Persanes (1721), 50, where he described Judaism as "a mother who has given birth to two daughters [Christianity and Islam] who have struck her a thousand blows." In L'Esprit des lois (25:13), published in 1748, he reacted to the burning of a ten-year-old Jewish girl by the *Inquisition with an eloquent denunciation cast in the form of an argument written by a Jew: "You complain [he said to the inquisitors] that the emperor of Japan is having all the Christians in his domain burnt on a slow fire; but he could answer you: 'We treat you, who do not believe as we do, as you treat those who do not believe as you do'… If you do not want to be Christian, at least be human." Nevertheless, he was not entirely uncritical of the Jews. Also in the Lettres persanes, his traveler writes: "Know that wherever there is money there are Jews." In a passage from Mélanges inédits, which was published posthumously (1892), the rabbinic texts are considered to have fashioned the low taste and character of the Jews, for there was not "one among [the rabbis] of even a minor order of genius." But this private opinion of Montesquieu at his most Christian was unknown in the 18th century. His relativistic view, which ran counter to *Voltaire's absolute deism in favor of an appreciation of the Jew and Judaism as one of the many valid forms of culture and religion, was one that influenced history.

bibliography:

J. Weill, in: rej, 49 (1904), 150ff.; R.R. Lambert, in: Univers Israélite, 94 (1938/39), 421ff.; R. Shackleton, Montesquieu… (Eng., 1961), 354–5; A. Ages, in: Romanische Forschungen, 81 (1969), 214ff.; A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index; L. Poliakov, Histoire de l'antisémitisime, 3 (1968), index.

[Arthur Hertzberg]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/montesquieu-charles-louis-de-secondat-baron-de-la-brede-et-dedeg

"Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/montesquieu-charles-louis-de-secondat-baron-de-la-brede-et-dedeg

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.