Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXXI.: Of the Authority of the Clergy under the first Race. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XXXI.: Of the Authority of the Clergy under the first Race. - 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 Authority of the Clergy under the first Race.
THE priests of barbarous nations are commonly invested with power, because they have both that authority which is due to them from their religious character, and that influence which, amongst such a people, is the offspring of superstition. Thus we see, in Tacitus, that priests were held in great veneration by the Germans, and that they presided* in the assemblies of the people. They alone were permitted† to chastise, to bind, to smite; which they did, not by order of the prince or as his ministers of justice, but as by an inspiration of that Deity ever supposed to be present with those who made war.
We ought not, therefore, to be astonished, when, from the very beginning of the first race, we meet with bishops the dispensers of‡ justice; when we see them appear in the assemblies of the nation; when they have such a prodigious influence on the minds of sovereigns; and when they acquire so large a share of property.
OF LAWS, IN RELATION TO THE PRINCIPLES WHICH FORM THE GENERAL SPIRIT, THE MORALS, AND CUSTOMS, OF A NATION.
[* ]Silentium per sacerdotes, quibus & coercendi jus est, imperatur. De mor. Germ.
[† ]Nec legibus libera aut infinita potestas. Cæterum neque animadvertere, neque vincire, neque verberare, nisi sacerdotibus est permissum, non quasi in pœnam, nec ducis jussu, sed velut Deo imperante, quem adesse bellatoribus credunt. De morib. Germ.
[‡ ]See the constitutions of Clotarius, in the year 560, art. 6.