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Precedents of the declaration
10 commandments
English bill of rights (1689)
Brought the idea of constitutional monarchy ­ no
divine rights
US Declaration of independence (1776)
Constitution of the USA (1787)
Same philosophers influenced USA and France.
French: états généraux, philosophes, physiocrats
etc.
Cahiers de doléances ­ books of grievances in
which people asked for a declaration of rights to
protect from an over powerful king…read more

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Legislative process
Assemblée nationale declares itself Assemblée
constituante
July-August: debates on necessity of a
declaration.
Some disagreed as felt would cause trouble if it
didn't keep to its word
1 August 1789 ­ end of l'ancien regime
11 August ­ feudalism abolished: civil unrest
Declaration written to stop this unrest - civil
equality
20-26 August ­ discussion/voting on articles
Written very quickly in August…read more

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Themes & content
Liberty
Equality
Sovereignity
Rule of law
Accountability
People declaring their own rights, not the king.
Declaration there as a constant reminder of rights
and duties & to guide future rulers (to avoid future
revolution)
No catholic God mentioned ­ more rights to
Protestants (controversial)…read more

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Articles
1. People aren't equal, but all have equal rights.
Inequality sometimes for greater good
2. Organisations only allowed if they serve the
rights of all, not just a small group. This
cannot be used to justify trade unions/strikes
3. All authority comes from the people
4. Freedom isn't absolute, limits are needed
5. Only necessary laws should exist
6. Meritocracy ­ all are equal in law.
7. Individual liberty. No retrospective laws.
Innocent until proven guilty…read more

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8. Fair, relative punishment. Death penalty = more
serious
9. See 7.
10. Laicity ­ freedom of opinion and religion (within
the law, so still restricted)
11. Freedom of expression & press (again, within the
law)
12. Armed forces to only serve public, not private
13. Tax is proportional to income
14. Citizens in control of taxation ­ people should
know where their money goes
15. If you work for the state you must be accountable
for your actions
16. Separation of powers ­ not all power in one
person…read more

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