14 Jun, 2018 320 Political science

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas of Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu (1689-1755) whose works on liberty, monarchism, despotism, republicanism and the separation of powers were devoured by intellectuals across Europe and New England in the eighteenth century, transforming political philosophy and influencing the American Constitution. He argued that an individual’s liberty needed protection from the arm of power, checking that by another power; where judicial, executive and legislative power were concentrated in the hands of one figure, there could be no personal liberty.

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  • Richard Bourke 3 episodes
    Professor in the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary, University of London
  • Rachel Hammersley 2 episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Intellectual History at Newcastle University
  • Richard Whatmore 6 episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the St Andrews Institute of Intellectual History

Reading list

  • Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau in England
    John Churton Collins (Forgotten Books, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought
    Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Persian Letters
    Montesquieu (trans. C. J. Betts) (Penguin, 1993) Google Books →
  • Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline
    Montesquieu (trans. David Lowenthal) (Hackett, 1999) Google Books →
  • The Spirit of the Laws
    Montesquieu (ed. Anne Cohler, Basia Miller and Harold Stone) (Cambridge University Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Political Theory of Montesquieu
    Melvyn Richter (Cambridge University Press, 1977) Google Books →
  • Montesquieu: A Critical Biography
    Robert Shackleton (Oxford University Press, 1961) Google Books →
  • Montesquieu
    Judith N. Shklar (Oxford University Press, 1987) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. By the 18th century, France was sinking under its son king Louis XIV, who was too keen on war and exercising his power over everything and everybody.