Class 9 History

French Revolution

Outbreak of Revolution

On 5 May 179 Louis XVI called and assembly of the Estates General in order to pass the proposal to raise taxes. The assembly was attended by 300 representatives from each of the first and second estate, and 600 representatives from the third estate. Peasants and labors were not allowed but 40000 letters containing their grievances were carried by representatives of the third estate.

According to principle of the monarch each estate had one vote. But representatives of third estate wanted each of the representatives to have only one vote. Louis XVI rejected this new proposal. As a result, all the representatives of the third estate walked out of the assembly in protest.

On 20th of the June they gathered in an indoor tennis court in Versailles, where they declared them as National Assembly. They took an oath not to disburse till the new drafting of a constitution of France. Merabeau and Abbe Sieyes were given the responsibility of leading the drafting of the constitution. Merabeau belonged to noble family and Abbe Sieyes was a priest to the church. But they believed in the need of a privilege free society.

It was a year of bad harvest. Price of bread had increased. Hoarding by bakers further aggravated the situation. After long hours in queue women became angry and stormed the bakery. Troops were moved to Paris to suppress the turmoil. People retaliated by attacking and destroying the Bastille.

There was a rumor that troops had been given orders to destroy the crops. Peasants attacked the chateaux (manor house in countryside) and looted grains. They burnt the files containing records of manorial dues. Many people died in this agitation. Many noblemen and clergy fled to neighboring countries to save their life.

King Louis XVI finally surrendered against agitation and accepted the recognition of National Assembly. He agreed to have his power checked by constitution. On the 4th of the August 1789 the feudal system of obligations, taxes, privileges to the nobility and clergy were abolished and lands owned by churches were confiscated. This gave an asset of worth about 2 billion livres to the government.



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