How important was the part played by the third estate in the french revolution up to 1793

7 July 2016

To convoke this Assembly of Notables was to do exactly what ought not to have been done at that moment: it was exactly the half-measure which on one side made the National Assembly inevitable, and on the other hand inspired distrust of the Court and hatred of the two privileged orders, the nobility and the clergy. Through that Assembly it was learned that the national debt had mounted up to sixteen hundred and forty-six millions — an appalling sum at that time — and that the annual deficit was increasing by one hundred and forty millions annually. And this in a country ruined as France was!

It came to be known — every one talked of it and after every one had talked about it, the Notables, drawn from the upper classes and practically a ministerial assembly, separated on May 25 without having done or decided anything. During their deliberations Calonne was replaced by Lomenie de Brienne, Archbishop of Sens. But the new minister, by his intrigues and his attempted severity, only succeeded in stirring up the parlements, in provoking widely spread riots when he wished to disband them, and in exciting public opinion still more against the Court. When he was dismissed on August 25, 1788, there was general rejoicing all over France.

How important was the part played by the third estate in the french revolution up to 1793 Essay Example

But as he had proved clearly the impossibility of despotic government there was nothing for the Court but to submit. On August 8, 1788, Louis XVI. was at last obliged to convoke the States-General, and to fix the opening for May I, 1789. Even in this the Court and Necker, who was recalled to the ministry in 1788, managed so as to displease every one. It was the general opinion in France that in the States-General, in which the three classes would be separately represented, the Third Estate ought to have twice as many members as the two others, and that the voting should be by individuals.

But Louis XVI. and Necker were opposed to this, and even convoked a second Assembly of Notables on November 6, 1788, which would, they were sure, reject the doubling of numbers in the Third Estate and the individual vote. This was exactly what happened; but in spite of that, public opinion had been so predisposed in favour of the Third Estate by the provincial Assemblies that Necker and the Court were obliged to give in.

The Third Estate was granted a double representation — that is to say, out of a thousand deputies the Third would have as many as the clergy and nobility combined. In short, the Court and Necker did everything they possibly could to turn public opinion against them, without gaining any advantage for themselves. The Court’s opposition to the convocation of a national representative Assembly was in vain. The States-General met at Versailles on May 5, 1789.

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