History of Political Thought 26 (1):43-89 (2005)

Authors
Paul Anthony Rahe
Hillsdale College
Abstract
On the face of it, Montesquieu's Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline would appear to be a work of erudition and a philosophical history, and as such it has generally been read. It was never, however, intended to stand alone. It was composed as part of a larger, polemical work, akin in purpose to the Philosophical Letters of Voltaire, and it should be read in light of the other components of that work - Montesquieu's Reflections on Universal Monarchy in Europe and his Constitution of England. Had Montesquieu not been forced by fear of the censor to suppress the book he at first intended to publish, we would not now have difficulty in recognizing his little tract on the Romans as a meditation on the significance of the Duke of Marlborough's victories over Louis XIV in the War of the Spanish Succession
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