Chapters 6-8

Conquests made by a Monarchy

by Montesquieu Icon

IF a monarchy can survive before it is weakened by its increase, it will become formidable. Its strength will remain entire while pent up by the neighbouring monarchies.

Thus, a monarchy should not conquer beyond the natural limits of its government.

In this kind of conquest things must be left as they were found; the same courts of judicature, the same laws, the same customs, the same privileges= there ought to be no other alteration th an that of the army and of the name of the sovereign.

When a monarchy has extended its limits by the conquest of neighbouring provinces, it should treat those provinces with great lenity.

If a monarchy has been long endeavouring at conquests, the provinces of its ancient demesne are generally ill-used= they are obliged to submit both to the new and to the ancient abuses, and to be depopulated by a vast metropolis that swallows up the whole. Now, if, after having made conquests round this demesne, the conquered people were treated like the ancient subjects, the state would be undone; the taxes, se nt by the conquered provinces to the capital, would never return; the inhab itants of the frontiers would be ruined, and consequently the frontiers wou ld be weaker; the people would be disaffected; and the subsistence of the a rmies designed to act and remain there would become more precarious.

Such is the necessary state of a conquer ing monarchy; a shocking luxury in the capital; misery in the provinces som ewhat distant; and plenty in the most remote. It is the same with such a mo narchy as with our planet; fire at the center, verdure on the surface, and, between both, a dry, cold, and barren, earth.

Chapter 10: One Monarchy that subdues another

SOMETIMES one monarchy subdues another. The smaller the latter, the better it is over-awed by Edition= current; Page= [185] fortresses; and, th e larger it is, the better will it be preserved by colonies.

Chapter 11= The Manners of a conquered People

IT is not sufficient, in those conquests , to let the conquered nation enjoy their own laws; it is perhaps more nece ssary to leave them also their manners, because people in general have a st ronger attachment to these than to their laws.

The French have been driven nine times o ut of Italy, because, as historians say,E280A0 of their insolent familiarities with the fair s ex. It is too much for a nation to be obliged to bear, not only with the pr ide of conquerors, but with their incontinence and indiscretion= these are, without doubt, most grievous and intolerable, as they are the source of in finite outrages.

Chapter 12= A Law of Cyrus

FAR am I from thinking that a good law w hich Cyrus made to oblige the Lydians to practise none but mean or infamous professions. It is true, he directed his attention to an object of the gre atest importance; he thought of guarding against revolts, and not invasions = but invasions will soon come, when the Persians and Lydians unite and cor rupt each other. I would therefore much rather support, by laws, the simpli city and rudeness of the conquering nation, than the effeminacy of the conq uered.

Aristodemus, tyrant of CumC3A6,E280A1 used all his endeav ours to banish courage, and to enervate the minds of youth. He ordered that boys should let their hair grow in the same manner as girls; that they sho uld deck it with flowers, and wear long robes of different colours down to their heels; that, when they went to their masters of music and dancing, th ey should have women with them to carry their umbrelloes, perfumes, and fan s, and to present them with combs and looking-glasses whenever they bathed. This education lasted till the age of twenty; an education that could be a greeable to none but to a petty tyrant, who exposes his sovereignty to defe nd his life.

Chapter 13= Charles 12th

He depended entirely on his own strength. He hastened his ruin by forming designs that could never be ex ecuted but by a long war; a thing which his kingdom was unable to support.

It was not a declining state he undertoo k to subvert, but a rising empire. The Russians made use of the war, he wag ed against them, as of a military school. Every defeat brought them nearer to victory; and, losing abroad, they learnt to defend themselves at home.

Charles, in the deserts of Poland, imagined himself sovereign of the whole world. Here he wandered, and with him, in some measure, wandered Sweden; whilst his cap ital enemy acquired new strength against him, locked him up, made settlemen ts along the Baltic, destroyed or subdued Livonia.

Sweden was like a river, whose waters are cut off at the fountain-head, in order to change its course.

It was not the affair of Pultova that ruined Charles. Had he not been destroyed at that place, he would in another. The casualties of fortune are easily repaired; but who can be guarded against events that incessantly arise from the natu re of things?

But neither nature nor fortune was ever so much against him as he himself.

He was not directed by the present situa tion of things, but by a kind of plan of his forming; and even this he foll owed very ill. He was not an Alexander; but he would have made an excellent soldier under that monarch.

Alexander’s project succeeded be cause it was prudently concerted. The bad success of the Persians in their several invasions of Greece, the conquests of Agesilaus, and the retreat of the ten thousand, had shewn to demonstration the superiority of the Greeks in their manner of fighting and in their arms; and it was well known that the Persians were too proud to be corrected.

It was no longer possible for them to we aken Greece by divisions= Greece was then united under one head, who could not pitch upon a better method of rendering her insensible of her servitude , than by flattering her vanity with the destruction of her hereditary enem y, and with the hopes of the conquest of Asia.

An empire, cultivated by the most indust rious nation in the world, that followed agriculture from a principle of re ligion; an empire, abounding with every conveniency of life; furnished the enemy with all necessary means of subsisting.

It was easy to judge, by the pride of th ose kings, who in vain were mortified by their numerous defeats, Edition= current; Page= [188] that the y would precipitate their ruin by their forwardness in venturing battles; a nd that the flattery of their courtiers would never permit them to doubt of their grandeur.

The project was not only wise, but wisel y executed. Alexander, in the rapidity of his conquests, even in the imperu osity of his passion, had, if I may so express myself, a flash of reason by which he was directed, and which those, who would fain have made a romance of his history, and whose minds were more corrupt than his, could not conc eal from our view. Let us descend more minutely into his history.


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