MONTESQUIEU, CHARLES LOUIS DE SECONDAT, BARON DE LA BREDE ET DE° (1689–1755), French writer and political philosopher. Montesquieu inherited the humanistic French tradition of Jean *Bodin, with his vision of a society tolerant toward all religions, including Judaism. His earliest statement on the Jews was in the Lettres Persanes (1721), 50, where he described Judaism as "a mother who has given birth to two daughters [Christianity and Islam] who have struck her a thousand blows." In L'Esprit des lois (25:13), published in 1748, he reacted to the burning of a ten-year-old Jewish girl by the *Inquisition with an eloquent denunciation cast in the form of an argument written by a Jew: "You complain [he said to the inquisitors] that the emperor of Japan is having all the Christians in his domain burnt on a slow fire; but he could answer you: 'We treat you, who do not believe as we do, as you
J. Weill, in: REJ, 49 (1904), 150ff.; R.R. Lambert, in: Univers Israélite, 94 (1938/39), 421ff.; R. Shackleton, Montesquieu… (Eng., 1961), 354–5; A. Ages, in: Romanische Forschungen, 81 (1969), 214ff.; A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index; L. Poliakov, Histoire de l'antisémitisime, 3 (1968), index.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.