Superphysics Superphysics
Chapters 6-8

Conquests made by a Republic

by Montesquieu Icon
3 minutes  • 615 words
Table of contents

IT is unnatural for a confederate government to have one state conquer another, as what happened in Switzerland in our days.

But this is not so absurd in mixed confederate republics, where small republics are associated with small monarchies.

It is also unnatural for a democratic republic to conquer towns which cannot enter into the sphere of its democracy.

It is necessary that the conquered people s hould be capable of enjoying the privileges of sovereignty, as was settled in the very beginning among the Romans. The conquest ought to be limited to the number of citizens fixt for the democracy.

If a democratic republic subdues a nation in order to govern them as subjects, it exposes its own liberty, becaus e it intrusts too great a power to those who are appointed to the command o f the conquered provinces.

How dangerous would have been the situat ion of the republic of Carthage had Hannibal made himself master of Rome! W hat would not he have done in his own country had he been victorious, he who caused so many revolutions in it after his defeat?

Hanno could never have dissuaded the sen ate from sending succours to Hannibal had he used no other argument than hi s own jealousy. The Carthaginian senate, whose wisdom is so highly extolled by Aristotle, (and which has been evidently proved by the prosperity of that republic,) could never have been determined by other than solid reasons.

They must have been stupid not to see that an army, at the distance of t hree hundred leagues, would necessarily be exposed to losses which required reparation.

Hanno’s party insisted that Hann ibal should be delivered up to the Romans. They could not at that time be afraid of the Romans.

They were therefore apprehensive of Hannibal.

It was impossible, some will say, for them to imagine that Hannibal had been so successful.

But how was it possible for them to doubt of it? Could the Carthaginians, a people spread over all the earth, be ignorant of what was transacting in Italy? No= they were suf ficiently acquainted with it, and for that reason they did not care to send supplies to Hannibal.

Hanno became more resolute after the bat tle of Trebia, after the battle of Thrasimenus, after that of CannC3A6= i t was not his incredulity that increased, but his fear.

Democracies are odious

THERE is still another inconvenience in conquests made by democracies.

Their government is ever odious to the conquered states. It is apparently monarchical= but, in reality, it is much more oppressive than monarchy, as the experience of all ages and countries evin ces.

The conquered people are in a melancholy situation= they neither enjoy the advantages of a republic, nor those of a monarchy.

What has been here said of a popular sta te is applicable to aristocracy.

Chapter 8: The same Subject continued.

WHEN a republic, therefore, keeps another nation in subjection, it should try to repair the inconveniences ar ising from the nature of its situation, by giving it good laws, both for th e political and civil government of the people.

We have an instance of an island in the Mediterranean, subject to an Italian republic, whose political and civil laws, with regard to the inhabitants of that island, were extremely defective.

The act of indemnity, by which it ordained that no one should be condemned to bodily punishme nt in consequence of the private knowledge of the governor, ex informata conscientia, is still recent in everybody’s memory. There have been frequent instances of the people’s pet itioning for privileges= here the sovereign grants only the common right of all nations.

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