Montesquieu

There is no word that has recei­ved more dif­fe­rent mea­nings, and which has struck minds in so many ways, as that of free­dom. Some have taken it to be the ease of depo­sing the man to whom tyran­ni­cal power has been given ; others the faculty of elec­ting the man whom they must obey ; others the right to bear arms, and be able to exer­cise vio­lence ; still others, the pri­vi­lege of being gover­ned only by a man of their nation or by their own laws.1 A cer­tain peo­ple long iden­ti­fied free­dom with the cus­tom of wea­ring a long beard.2 Some have atta­ched that name to a form of govern­ment, and exclu­ded the others. Those who had appre­cia­ted repu­bli­can govern­ment pla­ced it in that govern­ment ; those who had enjoyed monar­chi­cal govern­ment pla­ced it in monar­chy.3 In short, eve­ryone cal­led free­dom the govern­ment that confor­med to his cus­toms or incli­na­tions ; and since in a repu­blic one does not always have in plain view, and in such a pre­sent man­ner, the ins­tru­ments of the ills one pro­tests, and since even the laws there seem to speak more, and the exe­cu­tors of the law to speak less, it is ordi­na­rily iden­ti­fied with repu­blics, and exclu­ded from monar­chies. In short, since in demo­cra­cies the peo­ple appear to do more or less what they want, free­dom has been iden­ti­fied with those sorts of govern­ments, and power of the peo­ple has been confla­ted with the peo­ple’s free­dom.

Cicero said, “I have copied Scævola’s edict allowing the Greeks to settle their differences amongst themselves in accordance with their laws, with the result that they consider themselves as free peoples.”

The Muscovites could not stand it when the czar Peter made them cut it off.

The Capadocians refused the republican state which the Romans offered them.