Montesquieu
 

V.9 How the laws are relative to their principle in monarchy

Honor being the prin­ci­ple of this govern­ment, the laws must relate to it.

They must contri­bute to main­tai­ning the nobi­lity, the honor of which is, so to speak, the child and the father.

They must make it here­di­tary, not to serve as the boun­dary bet­ween the power of the prince and the weak­ness of the peo­ple, but as the bond bet­ween the two.

The sub­sti­tu­tions that keep pro­perty within fami­lies will be very use­ful in this govern­ment, although they are not appro­priate in the others.

The lineage right of redemp­tion will return to noble fami­lies the lands which the pro­di­ga­lity of a rela­tive might have alie­na­ted.

Noble lands will have pri­vi­le­ges, as do the per­sons. The dignity of the monarch can­not be sepa­ra­ted from that of the king­dom, nor can the dignity of the noble ever be sepa­ra­ted from that of his fief.

All these pre­ro­ga­ti­ves will be pecu­liar to the nobi­lity, and will not then apply to the peo­ple, so as not to attack the prin­ci­ple of the govern­ment, and dimi­nish the strength of the nobi­lity and of the peo­ple.

Substitutions are an obs­ta­cle to com­merce : the lineage right of redemp­tion neces­si­ta­tes end­less law­suits, and all the esta­tes of the realm that are sold are at the least in a sense without a mas­ter for a year. Prerogatives atta­ched to fiefs confer a power that is very one­rous to those who bear them. These are par­ti­cu­lar draw­backs of nobi­lity, which disap­pear in the face of the gene­ral uti­lity it pro­vi­des ; but to com­mu­ni­cate them to the peo­ple is need­lessly to attack all the prin­ci­ples.

In monar­chies, lea­ving most of one’s pro­perty to just one child can be allo­wed ; only there is such per­mis­sion good.

The laws must favor all the com­merce that the cons­ti­tu­tion of this govern­ment can ena­ble,1 so that the sub­jects may without peri­shing satisfy the per­pe­tually rene­wed needs of the prince and his court.

They must put a cer­tain order into the man­ner of levying tri­bu­tes, so it will not be even more bur­den­some than the char­ges.

The weight of the char­ges first pro­du­ces labor ; labor, dejec­tion ; and dejec­tion the spi­rit of sloth.

It allows it only to commoners. See the third law in the code De commerciis et mercatoribus [‘On commerce and merchants’], which abounds in good sense.