Religion plays only a subordinate role in the spirit of the laws. God is described in book 1 as the creation of nature and its laws; After doing this, He disappears and no longer plays any explanatory role. In particular, Montesquieu does not explain the laws of a country by invoking divine enlightenment, providence or leadership. In the spirit of the law, Montesquieu considers religions “only according to the good they produce in civil society” (SL 24:1) and not to their truth or lie. He considers that different religions are suitable for different environments and forms of government. Protestantism is best suited for republics, Catholicism for monarchies and Islam for despotism; The Islamic ban on eating pork is appropriate for Arabia, where pigs are rare and contribute to the disease, while in India, where livestock is desperately needed but not thriving, a ban on beef consumption is appropriate. Thus, “when Montezuma so stubbornly insisted that the religion of the Spaniards was good for their country and that his religion was good for Mexico, he did not claim absurdity” (SL 24:24). If the executive did not have the right to stop the encroachments of the legislature, it would become despotic; For even if she could presume the authority she loved, she would soon destroy all other powers. However, one of the great themes of Persian letters is the near impossibility of self-knowledge, and Uzbek is its most completely realized illustration. Uzbek left a harem in Persia in which his wives are held captive by eunuchs who belong to his slaves. His wives and slaves can be beaten, maimed or killed on his orders, just like any stranger who has the misfortune to see them. In other words, the Uzbek is a despot in his native country.
From the beginning, he is tormented by the thought of the infidelity of his wives. He does not write that he loves his wives, but that “from my lack of feeling was born a secret jealousy that devours me” (Letter 6). Over time, problems develop in the Seraillio: Uzbek women quarrel with each other, and eunuchs find it increasingly difficult to maintain order. Eventually, the discipline collapses completely; The eunuch leader reports this to the Uzbek and dies suddenly. His successor obviously did not obey the Uzbek, but his wives: he remembered not receiving any of the Uzbek letters, and when a young man was found in the seraglio, he wrote: “I got up, investigated the case and discovered that it was a vision” (letter 149). The Uzbek ordered another eunuch to restore order: “Leave compassion and tenderness behind. Make my seraglio what it was when I left it; But start with the Atonement: destroy the criminals and frighten those who thought they would become criminals. There is nothing you cannot hope to receive from your Master for such exceptional service” (Letter 153). His orders are obeyed and “terror, darkness and fear reign over the seraglio” (Epis. 156).
Eventually, Roxana, the Uzbek`s favorite woman and the only one he trusted in virtue, finds herself with another man; Her lover is killed, and she commits suicide after writing a scathing letter to the Uzbek asking, “How could you consider me gullible enough to imagine that I was only in the world to worship your whims? that while you allowed yourself everything, you had the right to thwart all my desires? No: I may have lived in slavery, but I have always been free. I have changed your laws according to the laws of nature, and my mind has always remained independent” (Letter 161). It is with this letter that the novel ends. Montesquieu was one of the great political philosophers of the Enlightenment. Insatiably curious and biting funny, he constructed a naturalistic representation of the different forms of government and the causes that made them what they were and that favored or limited their development. He used this report to explain how governments could be protected from corruption. In particular, he saw despotism as a constant threat to any government that is not yet despotic, arguing that it could be better prevented by a system in which various organs exercise legislative, executive and judicial power, and in which all these bodies were bound by the rule of law. This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous influence on liberal political theory and on the authors of the Constitution of the United States of America. .