The Consitutional Monarchy:Reforming France 1789-92


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Voting Reforms

1. Men over 25 who paid more than three days labour in local taxes could vote for a elector, men who were not in this category were known as passive citizens.

2. Electors- to be a elector (voted by tier 1) you had to pay a a equivalent of 10 days labour, they elected the deputies.

3. To become a deputy within the National Assembly you would have to had to pay a equivalent of 54 days labour, a silver mark.

The new voting system therefore favoured the rich.

Active Citizens- These were citizens who could vote and stand as deputies if they had the finance.

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The Sale Of The Church Land

As a first step in dealing with the financial crisis the church land was nationalised.The national assembly had three reasons in selling the church land:

1. To create a source of income for the period before the new and fairer taxation system was introduced.

2. To guarantee the success of the revoloution since those who bought church land would have vested interests in maintaining the revoloution or they would have lost there money if the anicen regime would be recovered as there church would de-nationalise their land.

3. It was hoped it would gain the support of the clergy because they would be dependent on it for their new salaries.

The goverment would issue bonds known as assignats, which the public could buy and use for the purchase of church lands.

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Reforming The Taxation System

The assembly abolised:

indirect taxes-gabelle,  the state monopoly on growing,selling and distributing tobacco. direct taxes such as the taille and most importantly tax farming.

The new taxes were:

Contriubution Fonciere- A land tax in which there were no special exemptions or privallages.

Patente- A tax on commercial profits.


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The Reformation of The Catholic Church in France

the assembly wanted a church that was free of:

  • free from abuses such as plurality or absenteeism.
  • free from papal control.
  • linked to the new system of goverment.
  • linked more closely to the state in order to strengthen the revoloution.

The assembly abolished the tithe and pluralism and also annates, payments from the french church to the pope. The church was fine with all of this, apart from the fact the assembly gave civil rights to protestants in 1789.

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The Civil Consitution of the Clergy

There was no serious conflict with the church untill the civil consitution of the clergy was apporved in 1790, this was a great deal of conflict because this measure reformed the church in france as it adapted the structure of the church with the adminstraive framework of the french goverment, also departments were now linked to a diocese.

Some of the key terms of the civil consition of the clergy were:

  • The preists were to be paid by the state.
  • The bishops could only be chosen by state not the pope
  • each department would form a single diocese.
  • if the preist was absent from his parish fo more than 15 days he would loose his position.

They, the church, demanded that they hold a national Synod, a meeting of the represntives of the french church in order to see the reforms. Assembly would not agree with this.

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The Oath of Loyalty and the Split of The Church

The national synod could not take place therefore the church assembly waited for the pope to give his verdict, his verdict was delayed due to affairs with the french in other matters, therefore the assembly grew tired of waiting and stated that the clergy must take a oath to the civil consitution of the clergy:

the effects were that the church split into two, first of all the consitutional church-accepted the revoloution but rejected by the pope and secondly the non juring church with refractory preists in which they rejected the revoloution but were accepted by the pope. A major effect of the civil consitution of the clergy  was now that many villagers complained that the assembly was trying to change their religion. This feeling of betryal was shown through the Vendee Rebellion, in the strongly catholic area of the Vendee in 1793.

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The Consitution of 1791

The main aim of the consituent assembly was to create a conisution, under the new powers of proposal the consituent assembly would be replaced by the legilslative assembly,

Under the terms of the consitution the King now had:

  • Had the right to appoint his ministers.
  • Had no control over his foregin policy, as he needed to consent the assembly beforehand
  • was given a suspenive veto (the right to reject a measure proposed by the assembly) but this did not relate to consitituonal, finanical or tax ones.
  • Agreed that his office was subordinate to the state.

On the 14th September 1791 the king reluctancly accepted the consitution.

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