Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XV.: Of the Infranchisement of Slaves, in Order to accuse their Master. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XV.: Of the Infranchisement of Slaves, in Order to accuse their Master. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
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Of the Infranchisement of Slaves, in Order to accuse their Master.
AUGUSTUS made a law, that the slaves of those who conspired against his person should be sold to the public, that they might depose against their master§ . Nothing ought to be neglected which may contribute to the discovery of a heinous crime: it is natural, therefore, that, in a government where there are slaves, they should be allowed to inform; but they ought not to be admitted as witnesses.
Vindex discovered the conspiracy that had been formed in favour of Tarquin; but he was not admitted a witness against the children of Brutus. It was right to give liberty to a person who had rendered so great a service to his country; but it was not given him with a view of enabling him to render this service.
Hence the emperor Tacitus ordained, that slaves should not be admitted as witnesses against their masters, even in the case of high-treason∥ : a law which was not inserted in Justinian’s compilement.
[§ ]Dio, in Xiphilinus.
[∥ ]Flavius Vopiscus, in his life.