VCE Revolutions (French): Area of Study One 1781-89

  • Comptroller-General Jacques Necker's Compte Rendu au Roi presented to Louis XVI

    Comptroller-General Jacques Necker's Compte Rendu au Roi presented to Louis XVI
    Necker published the first public account of France's finances, the Compte Rendu. The Compte Rendu showed ordinary revenue to exceed expenditure by >10 million livres, even after 3 years of French involvement in the American Revolution and no tax increases. France's accounts appeared to be in surplus. The real cost of war wasn't shown, these secret war accounts were deep in deficit. Necker financed this entirely through loans. (Fenwick & Anderson, Liberating France)
  • Period: to

    Area of Study One: Revolutionary Ideas, Leaders, Movements and Events

    The lead-up to Revolution.
  • Necker's Resignation

    Necker attempted to use his popularity to win a greater say in high policy making. He was rebuffed, and resigned in protest. (Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd ed).
  • Joly de Fleury appointed Minister of FInance

  • The King imposes a third additional tax for the period 1783-1786

  • France signs the Treaty of Versailes

    This ended conflict with Britain over the American colonies.
    (Adcock, M. (2009) Analysing the French Revolution. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press)
  • Calonne is appointed Comptroller-General

    Calonne is appointed Comptroller-General
  • Necker publishes his views on the need for financial reform

    Necker publishes his views on the need for financial reform
    NOTE: An exact date cannot be found for the above, all that is known is that it was during 1785 that Necker published his views (during his 'retirement').
  • The Affair of the Diamond Necklace

    The Affair of the Diamond Necklace
    The reputation of Queen Marie Antoinette is irreparably damaged through this incident, even though she was blameless in the affair.
  • Calonne proposes financial reforms to the King

    Calonne proposes financial reforms to the King
    Proposal that vingtieme be abolished altogether
    Tax privileges held by various groups be abolished
    New direct tax be created: tax on all landowners without exemption according to income and paid and produce (more equal) – est. to bring in revenue of 35m livres, collected though provincial assemblies through intendants
    Stamp tax on all documents to be extended
    Corvée to be replaced with direct tax
    Nobility to be excused from capitation
    Nobility to remain exempt from the taille
  • The King convenes the Assembly of Notables to discuss fiscal reform

    The King convenes the Assembly of Notables to discuss fiscal reform
  • The King dismisses reforming finance minister Calonne and appoints Brienne in his place

    The King dismisses reforming finance minister Calonne and appoints Brienne in his place
  • The King closes the Assembly of Notables

  • The parlements of Paris and Bordeaux rebel against the King and are exiled

    The parlements of Paris and Bordeaux rebel against the King and are exiled
  • The King asserts authority upon the law courts in the 'royal session'

    Louis shows a display of absolutism.
  • The Paris parlement states that the King has a duty to submit new laws to the parlements and that new taxes can only be imposed by agreement with the nation, as represented by the Estates-General

  • The King tries to disempower parlements by redefining their role and powers

  • The Aristocratic Revolt begins

    The first phase of the Revolution is often referred to as the 'aristocratic' or noble revolt, referring to the fact that resistance came from the nobles in the Assembly of Notables and parlements. (Adcock 2009) The law courts (parlements) defy the King; town populations demonstrate in favour of the judges. NOTE: even at this early stage resistance came from other social groups, such as the urban crowds that supported the parlements.
  • The Day of the Tiles (Grenoble)

    The Day of the Tiles (Grenoble)
    Schama (Citizens 1989) describes the Day of Tiles as 'a three-fold revolution. It signified the breakdown of royal authority and the helpnessness of military force in the face of sustained urban disorder. It warned the elite... that there was an unpredictable price to be paid for their encouragement of riot and one that might easily be turned against themselves. And most important of all, it delivered the initiative for further political action into the hands of a younger, more radical group.'
  • King calls a meeting of the Estates-General for May 1789

  • The royal treasury suspends payments, a near equivalent of bankruptcy

  • Finance minister Brienne resigns, the more popular Necker is recalled

    Brienne suggested Necker be recalled as 'the only man I know who could restore the confidence of the people'. (Fenwick & Anderson 2011)
  • The King reopens parlements. The Paris Parlement demands the Estates-General meet and vote by order

  • Oct-Nov: Assembly of Notables meets again to discuss the organisation of the Estates-General.

    Oct-Nov: Assembly of Notables meets again to discuss the organisation of the Estates-General.
  • Concession of doubling of the number of deputies for the Third Estate

  • Formal call for the Estates-General to meet

  • Publication of Sieyes' 'What is the Third Estate?'

    Publication of Sieyes' 'What is the Third Estate?'
  • Feb-May: Election of deputies to the Estates-General at Versailles. Drafting of Books of Grievances.

    Feb-May: Election of deputies to the Estates-General at Versailles. Drafting of Books of Grievances.
  • 27-28 April: Crowds attack and destroy Reveillon factory.

    27-28 April: Crowds attack and destroy Reveillon factory.
    The Reveillon riots broke out in the Faubourg St Antoine at the end of April. They have been called the first great popular outbreak of the Revolution in Paris; though they may perhaps with equal justice be called the last of the ancien regime, or be seen as a point of transition between the two. (Rude, G. (1988) The French Revolution. New York: Grove Press)
  • Opening of the Estates-General

    Opening of the Estates-General
    The King maintained the traditional honorific distinctions between the orders.
  • Controversy over voting by head. Third Estate demands voting by head.

    The representation of the estates was very unbalanced with each estate represented in equal thirds. However the First Estate represented approximately 0.6% of the population, the Second Estate represented around 0.4%, whilst the Third Estate represented 99% of the population.
    Naturally, the Third Estate sought proportional representation.
  • 20-22 May: Clergy and nobility accept the principle of equality in taxation.

  • Some parish priests (cures) join the Third Estate

  • Bourgeois Revolt begins

    The second stage of the revolution is often loosely referred to as the Bourgeois Revolt, referring to the fact that the deputies of the Third Estate now stepped forward and claimed a new constitutional role for themselves. The Third Estate declares that it virtually is the nation, and declares itself to be a national assembly. NOTE: other social groups, such as liberal nobles and priests also supported them.
  • Tennis Court Oath

    Tennis Court Oath
    The Assembly found itself locked out of its usual meeting hall (it is argued it was accidental). Following President Bailly into a neighbouring indoor tennis court, every deputy except one took a solemn oath that the National Assembly should not disperse until the constitution had been firmly established. (Rude 1988) This is significant as the first time French citizens formally opposed Louis XVI, and the National Assembly's refusal to back down forced the king to make concessions.
  • The National Assembly defies the royal order to return to discussion by order

  • A deputation of nobles joins the Third Estate

  • The three orders unite

  • The King orders troops to Paris

  • 2-10 July: Despite popular protests against troop presence, the King refuses to withdraw them

  • 11-13 July: The revolt of the urban working classes

    Increasing agitation in Paris. King dismisses Necker. The third stage of the revolution is often called the revolt of the urban working classes - Desmoulins exhorts the people to arm themselves.
  • The capture of the Bastille

    The capture of the Bastille
    Royalist historians have scoffed at the picture of thousands of Parisians hurling themselves at the Bastille to release a handful of prisoners (only 7 were in there). But such criticism falls somewhat wide of the mark. The immediate aim was to find gunpowder. Moreover, though it had ceased to harbour more than a trickle of state prisoners, the Bastille was widely hated as a symbol of ministerial 'despotism': the Parisian cahiers of all three Estates bear witness to this. (Rude 1988)
  • The King capitulates - troops withdrawn, Necker recalled.

  • The crowd murders royal officials Foulon and Berthier

  • Late July: The Peasant Revolt

    Gradual escalation of rumour and fear in country areas leads to rural rebellions ('the Rural Fear')
  • The Night of Patriotic Delirium

    The Night of Patriotic Delirium
    Reports of peasant insurrection terrified the Assembly. On 4 August 1789 their attention turned to the rebellion in the countryside. Some nobles gave up their privilege, and in an atmosphere of delirium composed the stirring introduction to the August Decrees, abolishing feudalism completely. The retrospective minutes of the chaotic meeting stated they had abolished privilege, established equal responsibility for taxation, abolished venal offices and the end of feudal dues. (Adcock 2009)