The theory of climates – Montesquieu

Montesquieu, in his work published in 1748, gives us a reflection concerning the determinisms of the environment where one lives on his own character.

On the scale of the society, certain physical factors influence then on the laws, on the character of the people. Thus the laws for Montesquieu “must be relative to the physics of the country” (De l’Esprit des lois, book I, chapter 3).

As for the character of the people, Montesquieu takes the example of the climates and the temperature, which for him play an essential role and make that certain people are free while others remain slaves.

It should not therefore be surprising that the cowardice of the peoples of hot climates has almost always made them slaves, and that the courage of the peoples of cold climates has kept them free.“Montesquieu states this in TheSpirit of the Laws, III, book XVII, chap. 17.

Montesquieu associates heat (which “enervated the strength and courage of men“) with slavery, and cold (which gives “a certain strength of body and mind“) with freedom.