There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.

— Montesquieu

The most eye-opening Montesquieu quotes that are little-known but priceless

To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.


Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance... the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.


When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.


But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.


Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.


We should weep for men at their birth, not at their death.


The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.


Men, who are rogues individually, are in the mass very honorable people.


To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight.


If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy;

but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.


An empire founded by war has to maintain itself by war.


In bodies moved, the motion is received, increased, diminished, or lost, according to the relations of the quantity of matter and velocity; each diversity is uniformity, each change is constancy.


About Montesquieu

Quotes 86 sayings
Nationality French
Profession Philosopher

The sublimity of administration consists in knowing the proper degree of power that should be exerted on different occasions.


The reason the Romans built their great paved highways was because they had such inconvenient footwear.


I have always observed that to succeed in the world a person must seem simple, yet wise.


Lunch kills half of Paris, supper the other half.


This is how I define talent; it is a gift that God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it.


Countries are well cultivated, not as they are fertile, but as they are free.


Slavery, properly so called, is the establishment of a right which gives to one man such a power over another as renders him absolute master of his life and fortune.


What orators lack in depth they make up for in length.


Although born in a prosperous realm, we did not believe that its boundaries should limit our knowledge, and that the lore of the East should alone enlighten us.


False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared.


Luxury ruins republics; poverty, monarchies.


It is not the young people that degenerate;

they are not spoiled till those of mature age are already sunk into corruption.


In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions;

later the institutions shape the chiefs of state.


An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.


It is always the adventurers who do great things, not the sovereigns of great empires.


People here argue about religion interminably, but it appears that they are competing at the same time to see who can be the least devout.


I have never known any distress that an hour's reading did not relieve.


Friendship is an arrangement by which we undertake to exchange small favors for big ones.


No kingdom has shed more blood than the kingdom of Christ.


The severity of the laws prevents their execution.


There are only two cases in which war is just: first, in order to resist the aggression of an enemy, and second, in order to help an ally who has been attacked.


Happy the people whose annals are tiresome.


I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should seem a fool, but be wise.


Life was given to me as a favor, so I may abandon it when it is one no longer.


The law of nations is naturally founded on this principle, that different nations ought in time of peace to do one another all the good they can, and in time of war as little injury as possible, without prejudicing their real interests.


Thus the creation, which seems an arbitrary act, supposes laws as invariable as those of the fatality of the Atheists. It would be absurd to say that the Creator might govern the world without those rules, since without them it could not subsist.


Man, as a physical being, is like other bodies governed by invariable laws.


We must have constantly present in our minds the difference between independence and liberty. Liberty is a right of doing whatever the laws permit, and if a citizen could do what they forbid he would no longer be possessed of liberty.


There is no one, says another, whom fortune does not visit once in his life;

but when she does not find him ready to receive her, she walks in at the door, and flies out at the window.


Liberty is the right of doing whatever the laws permit.


If triangles made a god, they would give him three sides.


It is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.


Success in the majority of circumstances depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed.


In most things success depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed.


There is no nation so powerful, as the one that obeys its laws not from principals of fear or reason, but from passion.


I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should appear like a fool but be wise.


Author: A fool who, not content with having bored those who have lived with him, insists on tormenting generations to come.