The National Assembly (1789-91)

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The National Assembly

  • This was made up of the third estate representatives (from the estates general) - mainly the bourgeoisie and the middle classes - as well as some members of the nobility and the clergy
  • Louis XVI didn`t actually want a constitution - he aimed to reinstate his power in the future, which was why the creation of the constitution took two years and shows there was already / always going to be tension with Louis over the issue.
  • When news reached the people in Paris of his plan to use military force against the National Assembly on July 14, 1789, people stormed the Bastille - this was significant as it was the first time in French history there had been such violence in response to the monarchy
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Uprising in Paris

People of Paris storm the Bastille:

  • July 14, 1789 - first ever violent response to the King
  • Working class Parisians set up their own Government which they called the Commune (the Paris Commune was set up to work with the National Assembly)
  • Small groups- factions- competed for contol of the city of Paris (all doing seperate things)

Uprisings spread throughout France after the Bastille:

  • nobles were attacked
  • records of feudal dues and owed taxes were destroyed (no paper trail showing what people owed)
  • many nobles fled the country, becoming known as emigres
  • Louis XVI was forced to fly the new tricolor flag of France
  • these incidents were known as the Great Fear
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October Days / Louis leaves Versailles

  • Parisian Commune feared that Louis XVI would have foreign troops invade France to put down the rebellion (Marie Antoinette was the sister of the Austrian emperor and there were suspicians she was arranging for him to attack France)
  • Mass starvation and lack of food, as well as a rumour that Versailles had a lot of grain led to a group of women attacking Versailles (October Days). Louis surrendered. They forced the royal family to relocate to Paris along with the National Assembly and they spent the next several years at the Tuileries Palace as virtual prisoners (the women were given all of the grain in Versailles)
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Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen

  • Hard to be interpretted / carried out
  • Most important document - underlying base of all constitutional documents after its publication in 1789, but was not always adhered to (the Terror)

Rights included:

  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Guarenteed property rights
  • "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
  • Right of the people to create laws
  • Right to a fair trial
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Bien Nationeaux and Civil Constitution of the Cler

Nationalisation of Church land (all church lans were seized, divided and sold to peasents)

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was a turning point in the constitutional monarchy - highlighted that the King had no intention of working with the peasents. The CCC required all Chruch officials to be elected by the people, with salaries paid by the government (2/3 Church officials fled the country rather than swear allegience to this).

All feudal dues andtithes were eradicated

All special privileges of the First and Second Estates were abolished (they now had to pay tax).

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Reforms to Local Government (1791)

  • 30 provinces and"petty tyrants" / intendants - who had been selected by the King to govern -  replaced with 83 departments which were ruled by elected governors (1st signs of democracy - aim to centralise)
  • New courts were establised, in which the judges were elected by the people
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Constitution of 1791

Democratic Features:

  • France becomes a limited / constutional monarchy - the King is merely Head of State
  • All laws created by the Legislative Assembly (the National Assembly was an interim government while the Constitution was being written)
  • Feudalism was abolished

Undemocratic Features:

  • Voting limited to taxpayers
  • Offices reserved for property owners

This new government became known as the Legislative Assembly (it had merged somewhat with the National Assembly)

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