Updated August 8, 2022
The outbreak of French Revolution is an important event in history of modern civilization. Louis XVI had to increase the taxes for various reasons, which turn to be the outbreak of the French revolution. We already have posted an article ‘’French Society During the late 18th Century” in which, the reasons he had to increase taxes for, are mentioned. There was the rule in the France of Old regime that monarch could not impose taxes according to their own will.
For making any change in taxes paying, he had to call a meeting of general estates which would then pass the proposal for new taxes. As the France of the old regime was divide into three estates namely novelty, clergy, and non-privileged estates and all had their own representative.
And Estates-General was the political body to which the three estates sent their representative to decide when to call a meeting. However, it could alone be decided by the monarch that when to call a meeting but the last time it was done was in 1614. This is not it, there is a lot to know and discuss. Various events took place during the french revolution. So, go through the article below to know about them.
Assembly of the Estates-General Held on 5 May 1789
Louis XVI called an assembly of the Estates-General, in order to pass the proposals for new taxes on 5 May 1789. The first and second estates sent 300 representatives each, and 600 from the third estate. A total of 1200 representatives were sent from every estate.
They gathered in a splendid hall of Versailles for the assembly. Representatives of first and second estates were seated in two rows while representatives of the third estate had to stand at the back.
Representatives of the third estate were well educated and more prosperous and they were representing the whole people of France. In the assembly peasants and laborers were not allowed. However, their grievances and demands were listed in some 40000 letters which were carried by representatives of the third estate.
Voting in the Estate General
In the past, voting in the estate general had been conducted according to the monarch principle that each estate had one vote. And, this time Louis XVI wanted to apply the same pattern of voting. But the members of the third estate did not agree with the monarch principle.
And, they demanded that voting should be conducted in a democratic principle where each member would have one vote. The democratic principle was put forward in society by philosophers like Rousseau in his book “The Social Contract”. When the Louis XVI rejected the proposal, members of the third walked out of the assembly.
The Assembly Led by Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes
The representatives of the third estate saw themselves as spokesmen for the entire French nation. They gathered in an indoor tennis court in Versailles. Where they declared themselves a national assembly. And, they swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France.
And, they told that the monarch power should be divided and limited. The assembly was led by Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes. There, they delivered powerful speeches regarding the need for a new constitution and equal opportunity to all. Mirabeau was born in a noble family and Abbe Sieyes was a priest. Despite that, they believed in the need for privilege free society.
Destruction of the Bastille
The crop was badly affected that year by server winter and this led the increased the price of bread. Often bakers exploited the situation and hoarded supplies. On 14 July day after long hours in queues, anger broke into women and they stormed the bakery. At the same time, Louis XVI had ordered the troops to move into Paris for controlling the crowed and destroying the bastille.
Attacked on the Chateaux
Across the country, a rumor spread from village to village that lord had been given to troops to destroy the crops. Due to fear, peasants attacked the chateaux and looted the hoarded grains. And, burn down all documents which were containing records of manorial dues. A large number of noble and clergy people fled from their homes and migrating to neighboring countries.
Surrendered of King Louis XVI
King Louis XVI faced with the power of his revolting subjects, finally he surrendered against the National Assembly. And agreed that his power would be checked by a constitution. On the night of the 4th of August 1789, the assembly passed a decree abolishing the feudal system of obligation, taxes, privileges to the nobility, and clergy. And land owned by the church was confiscated. The government acquired assets worth at least 2 billion livers.
France Became A Constitutional Monarchy
In 1791 the draft of the constitution was completed by the National assembly. The main object of the constitution was to limit the powers of the monarch. The powers were distributed between the legislative, executive and judiciary rather than the king Louis XVI. And, this made France a constitutional monarchy.
Explains How the New Political System Worked
The Constitution of 1791 had the power to make the law in the National assembly, which was indirectly elected. That is, citizens voted for a group of voters, who in turn chose the assembly. Not all citizens had the right to vote. Only men above 25 years who paid taxes equal to 3 days of labor wages. These citizens were categorized, as active citizens. The remaining men and all women were classed as passive citizens. To qualify as an elector and then as a member of the Legislative Assembly, a had belonged to the taxpayers.
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