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Baron Montesquieu's groundbreaking political treatise is published here complete with every part's original notes.
Composed over the course of twenty-one years, The Spirit of Laws is a writing of enormous depth, scope and significance. The text itself is comprised of thirty-one distinct books, each of which discusses a specific legal topic in detail. Scrutiny is directed toward law in day to day life, criminality, the law's relation to women, political liberties, and slavery and servitude to name but a few examples.
The individual laws in relation to different arms of government, their implementation, and how they should ideally work in practise are detailed. Different types of governance, and the relation of law to wars of aggression and defence between foreign powers, are also discussed.
Later in the book, Montesquieu discusses law in relation to economics and expenditures. The various types of commercial activity, the means through which they are taxed and classified, and their growth in a given nation and between nations receives examination. The later chapters feature discussions of political sociology - with scientific precision, Montesquieu theorises as to how different climates and cultures influence the behaviour and laws of their populations. After discussing how laws are best written, the text concludes with a he retrospective examination of the obsolete feudal era laws in the Frankish society, imbuing the text with a historic edge.
An immensely influential text, The Spirit of Laws dramatically affected political theorists and rulers of the 18th century. Although censored under the French monarchy, Montesquieu was able to arrange swift translations of the entire work into several languages. As a result, the Founding Fathers drew upon it immensely while drafting the U.S. Constitution, while other European monarchies and Catherine the Great of Russia also found the text useful in drafting legislation.
This translation by Thomas Nugent was the first to appear in English, being initially published in 1750. It was praised by Montesquieu as preserving the authenticity and tone of his work, losing little of the exactitude with which the book was written in its original French.