Montesquieu impacts on French revolution

French revolution is considered as the period that the social and political structures were dramatically changing. The monarchs together with the aristocrats had joined the movement geared towards change. It’s the period that France was undergoing radical change through various forms of government. This paper focuses on the French revolution of 1789 with its main focus on Montesquieu and the impacts that he brought on the French revolution. The key ideas he had and roles in philosophy that brought about the radical change in French during the revolution.

Charles de second, Baron de Montesquieu was born on 16th January 1689, he was a man of letters and of great influence, French lawyer and also a political philosopher that lived during the period that was known as the age of enlightenment. He was considered as a nobleman and at the same time as a commoner who were much dissatisfied by the rule of the French kings[1]. He practically was a philosopher who was bring change or reforms by applying science in the social perspective and has a positive impact. He became so famous because of his works on articulation of a theory that brought about separation of powers which as per now is being implemented in many of the running constitutions all over the globe. He has also done more as an author and secured a place in the word despotism that is in the political lexicon. His philosophical theory emphasized mainly on the reduction of the roles and individuals in a given event. His theory known as Separation of Power was something totally different to what the French government was at that period[2]. He had a belief that the more liberal the government was and thoughts of people were of indecent mindset, the society at other hand will concentrate on moral rather than focusing on the rituals and religious angle perspective[3]. He is credited for his works in Tacticus and Herodotus of anthropology, as the first person to bring about comparative methods that are used in classification of political forms that are in the human societies. His influential work brought division in French into three categories, the monarchy, second was the aristocracy and the third category was the commons (Louis Kronenenberger, W.H. Uden, 1996). His criterion for selecting a government that was suitable for its people was the kind of society that they lived in. he had a belief that the rules to govern are more so universal and brought about itself in form of suitability and compatibility to given or specific states at hand. His sovereignty was of great importance and had a large impact on various states that were at present and used his philosophy aim reference to making the government. His ideologies had a great influence also on the constitution being used by the United States[4].

His ideology had ideal types of government which consisted of Republican which was ideal for countries that are considered to be generally poor, has a small population, has a moderate kind of environment from climate to soil and is ideally small[5]. Then there was the Monarchial which was second after the republican, it’s considered to be for more endowed countries than the republican, ideologically has a bigger population as compared to the republican and even better environment, the soil is fertile and has a conducive climate. The last form of government is the Despotic characterized but the huge population size and is sparse[6]. His philosophy categorized the government into this categories, the reason behind it was that the bigger the country is the more diverse and large the population is, the stronger the leaders should be than just being democratically. More so if the country was filthy rich, the leaders will take a perspective of their own gains instead of thinking of the whole country in view, seeking of a county to be ruled by a king who will not only think of himself but the interest of the whole country will be his main priority[7]. Then there was the issue of small population which gives a simpler task to the government in managing the population, basing on the number of representation people in the country. In this he considered that there will be no wealth gain or one will not be tempted to think of self gain at all in reference to the interest in the government, and lastly, in a huge or bigger country at hand, for example the  Ancient Persia in which the government officers like the ruler or the army or police could not reach all the corners of the country and the laws of the government could not be implemented all over, one was considered to use intimidation as a way of rule so as to be most effective[8].

Note that basically his theory of philosophy was that there was not any type of government which was considered superior than the other. What was to be considered was the circumstances and how fit and effective was the government in a given particular circumstance of the given state or country. He considered that all human beings regardless of whom you are selfish that’s why he had am admiration of the English system of ruling that was liberal and effective as to his consideration[9].  Power in government was divided into two, administrative and the sovereign of which the administrative were divided into three categories mainly the legislative, the judiciary and the executive and all this should be independent from one another such that non can influence the other (Louis Kronenenberger, W.H. Uden, 1996).

His philosophical theory had the following effects on France as a country (Sorel, 2011). The French Revolution is said to be all about the radical changes that occurred in the social and the authoritative structures. Looking at France at that time, it was in dire need of a good and proper system that was much stable. At that time it had three categories namely the clergy, the aristocrats and the bourgeoisie. The system that was in place was much unstable and the members at the third estate were very many in number that was undesirable[10].  This became the part of the revolution, changes started to occur during the revolution, Montesquieu played an important role in this revolution, and he was the starting or the root of the new system of government that took over during the change in system of governance. He brought about the alternative to the system of feudalism.

His effect was not directly to France though it had great influence to the founding fathers of the new system of governance. They took ideas from Montesquieu philosophy and they started to put in place and practice the ideas that he had. The effect was universal and started gain root in France. Although he died even before the revolution had begun, his ideas in publication brought about the great changes and the new system in place in France and other parts of the world.  It’s true to say that was the pioneer of this change and also influenced the other countries that had already been affected by Montesquieu ideologies[11]. This was radical and key that brought about the desirable changes of which was key. What brought an end to previous regime of government and ushered in were the fights of the king to Varennes; this made it so obvious that his power of sovereignty was not for sharing. With the prescience of Burke that was remarkable saw that Rousseau being crowned as the chief person of the ideologue that brought the French revolution as early as the 11790. There was no question that was asked during the division as the diminishing sovereignty was coming to an edge.

In summary the French revolution took place between 1789 to about 1799 and was far reaching having to cut across the political and social upheavals that were in France, though it was carried forward partially by the Napoleon  that brought about the French  territory expansion. Montesquieu work become part and parcel of most influential revolution and his ideologies were of key importance. He lived beyond his time. His philosophy believed that a government that should be in place should make man not to be afraid of the other. He brought about the government that was stable and effective to the French tier having set down the rules governing it and the principles that one was to abide by it. His work is of much importance and is used widely over the world. It’s not daily that type came across a person or works of a person that has such magnitude and decide ding the fate of a state.

[1] Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu. (2016). Retrieved from JSPIVEY:


[2] Sorel, a. (2011). Montesquieu. London: Ulan Press Print.


[3] Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu. (2016). Retrieved from JSPIVEY:


[4] Angle, T. (1973). Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


[5] Louis Kronenenberger, W.H. Uden. (1996). The Viking Book of Aphorisms. New York: New Left Books.


[6] Louis Kronenenberger, W.H. Uden. (1996). The Viking Book of Aphorisms. New York: New Left Books.


[7] Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu. (2016). Retrieved from JSPIVEY:


[8] Ibid,pg.65

[9] Sorel, a. (2011). Montesquieu. London: Ulan Press Print.


[10] Ibid,89

[11] Angle, T. (1973). Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


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