Quotes from Charles de Montesquieu

"In a democracy the people are in some respects the sovereign, and in others the subject."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"The people, in whom the supreme power resides, ought to have the management of everything within their reach: that which exceeds their abilities must be conducted by their ministers."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
1748
Library Topic
Library Topic: What is Subsidiarity?

"The people are extremely well qualified for choosing those whom they are to entrust with part of their authority. They have only to be determined by things to which they cannot be strangers, and by facts that are obvious to sense. They can tell when a person has fought many battles, and been crowned with success; they are, therefore, capable of electing a general. They can tell when a judge is assiduous in his office, gives general satisfaction, and has never been charged with bribery: this is sufficient for choosing a prætor. They are struck with the magnificence or riches of a fellow-citizen; no more is requisite for electing an edile. These are facts of which they can have better information in a public forum than a monarch in his palace. But are they capable of conducting an intricate affair, of seizing and improving the opportunity and critical moment of action? No; this surpasses their abilities."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"There is no great share of probity necessary to support a monarchical or despotic government. The force of laws in one, and the prince's arm in the other, are sufficient to direct and maintain the whole. But in a popular state, one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"The principle of democracy is corrupted not only when the spirit of equality is extinct, but likewise when they fall into a spirit of extreme equality, and when each citizen would fain be upon a level with those whom he has chosen to command him."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"Democracy has, therefore, two excesses to avoid — the spirit of inequality, which leads to aristocracy or monarchy, and the spirit of extreme equality, which leads to despotic power, as the latter is completed by conquest."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"In the state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the laws."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"The natural place of virtue is near to liberty; but it is not nearer to excessive liberty than to servitude."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"It is natural for a republic to have only a small territory; otherwise it cannot long subsist."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic

"If a republic be small, it is destroyed by a foreign force; if it be large, it is ruined by an internal imperfection."

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Constitution Society
1748
Library Topic
Library Topic

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Quotes from Charles Baron de Montesquieu, who had great influence in the formation of Enlightenment and modern political thought.

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Commentary or Blog Post

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Analysis Report White Paper

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Video/Podcast/Media

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