The Assembly of the Notables and political developments, February 1787 to May 1789


The failure of financial reforms, high interest costs of royal debt and the failure by Calonne in 1786 to raise loans meant that new taxes were urgently needed. While Louis XVI was notionally an absolute ruler, the approval of the Paris Parlement was needed in order to approve the collection of new taxes. They had refused to agree to new taxes in 1785 and had no confidence in Calonne, meaning he feared refusal if he asked again. Louis could override thier objections with a lit de justice, but their opposition would knock public confidence in the monarchy and make it even harder to borrow money. Calonne advised the King to call an Assembly of Notables.

The Assembly of Notables:

The 144 members of the Assembly were selected by the King. They included:

  • leading members of the Parlements
  • the seven Princes of the Blood
  • important nobles
  • important churchmen

They met in February 1787 - Louis expected them to agree with his proposals for:

  • a new land tax with no exemptions
  • new elected regional assemblies to implement the new taxes
  • the economy to be stimulated by removing restrctions on trade such as internal…


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