National Constituent Assembly (France)

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National Constituent Assembly

Assemblée nationale constituante
Kingdom of France
Emblem of the French national assembly (1789-1792).svg
Type
Type
History
Established9 July 1789
Disbanded30 September 1791
Preceded by National Assembly
Succeeded by National Legislative Assembly
SeatsVariable; 1315 in total
Meeting place
Variable

The National Constituent Assembly (French : Assemblée nationale constituante) was formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789 during the first stages of the French Revolution. It dissolved on 30 September 1791 and was succeeded by the Legislative Assembly. [1]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

National Assembly (French Revolution) assembly during the French Revolution

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly, which existed from 14 June 1789 to 9 July 1789, was a revolutionary assembly formed by the representatives of the Third Estate of the Estates-General; thereafter it was known as the National Constituent Assembly, though popularly the shorter form persisted.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Contents

Background

Estates-General

The Estates General of 1789, (Etats Généraux) made up of representatives of the three estates (clergy, aristocracy, and commoners), which had not been convoked since 1614, convened on 5 May 1789. The Estates-General reached a deadlock in its deliberations by 6 May. [2] :xv The representatives of the Third Estate attempted to make the whole body more effective and so met separately from 11 May as the Communes. On 12 June, the Communes invited the other Estates to join them: some members of the First Estate did so the following day. On 17 June 1789, the Communes approved the motion made by Sieyès that declared themselves the National Assembly [3] by a vote of 490 to 90. The Third Estate now believed themselves to be a legitimate authority equal to that of the King. Elements of the First Estate, primarily parish priests who were closer in wealth to the Third Estate compared to the bishops who were closer in wealth to the Second Estate, joined the assembly from 13 June onwards and, on 19 June, the whole of the clergy voted to join the National Assembly. [2] :xvi A legislative and political agenda unfolded.

Estates General of 1789 general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the clergy (First Estate), the nobility (Second Estate), and the commoners (Third Estate). Summoned by King Louis XVI

The Estates General of 1789 was a general assembly representing the French estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners, the last of Estates General of Kingdom of France. Summoned by King Louis XVI, it was brought to an end when the Third Estate formed into a National Assembly, inviting the other two to join, against the wishes of the King. This signaled the outbreak of the French Revolution.

Tennis Court Oath

Le serment de Jeu de Paume. Copper plate by Pierre-Gabriel Berthault after a drawing by Jean-Louis Prieur (1789). The representatives swore not to depart until they had given France a new constitution. Berthault - Le serment de Jeu de Paume.jpg
Le serment de Jeu de Paume. Copper plate by Pierre-Gabriel Berthault after a drawing by Jean-Louis Prieur (1789). The representatives swore not to depart until they had given France a new constitution.

There were soon attempts by King Louis XVI and the Second Estate to prevent the delegates from meeting, as well as misunderstandings on both sides about each other's intentions. Locked out of its chamber, the new assembly, led by its president Jean-Sylvain Bailly, was forced to relocate to a nearby tennis court, on 20 June; [4] there, it swore the Tennis Court Oath, (Le serment de Jeu de Paume) promising "not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established and consolidated upon solid foundations." [5] Failing to disperse the delegates, Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. [6]

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

Estates General (France) Consultative assembly in France, 1302 to 1789

In France under the Old Regime, the Estates General or States-General was a legislative and consultative assembly of the different classes of French subjects. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates, which were called and dismissed by the king. It had no true power in its own right—unlike the English parliament it was not required to approve royal taxation or legislation—instead it functioned as an advisory body to the king, primarily by presenting petitions from the various estates and consulting on fiscal policy. The Estates General met intermittently until 1614 and only once afterwards, in 1789, but was not definitively dissolved until after the French Revolution.

Tennis Court Oath pivotal event in the early days of the French Revolution

On 20 June 1789, the members of the French Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, vowing "not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established". It was a pivotal event in the French Revolution. The Estates-General had been called to address the country's fiscal and agricultural crisis, but they had become bogged down in issues of representation immediately after convening in May 1789, particularly whether they would vote by order or by head.

The Assembly renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July and began to function as a governing body and a constitution-drafter. [6] However, it is common to refer to the body even after then as the "National Assembly" or the "Constituent Assembly".

Structure in summer 1789

Following the storming of the Bastille on 14 July, the National Constituent Assembly became the effective government of France. In the words of historian François Mignet:

Storming of the Bastille Major event of the French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789.

François Mignet French historian and journalist

François Auguste Marie Mignet was a French journalist and historian of the French Revolution.

The assembly had acquired the entire power; the corporations depended on it; the national guards obeyed it... the royal power, though existing of right, was in a measure suspended, since it was not obeyed, and the assembly had to supply its action by its own. [7]

The number of the Estates-General increased significantly during the election period, but many deputies took their time arriving, some of them reaching Paris as late as 1791. According to Timothy Tackett, there were a total of 1,177 deputies in the Assembly by mid-July 1789. Among them, 278 belonged to the nobility, 295 to the clergy, and 604 were representatives of the Third Estate. For the entire duration of the Assembly, a total of 1,315 deputies were certified: 330 clerics, 322 nobles, and 663 deputies of the Third Estate. Tackett noted that the majority of the Second Estate had a military background, and the Third Estate was dominated by men of legal professions. [8]

Some of the leading figures of the Assembly at this time were:

One must add the role played by the Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, especially in regard to the proposition of legislation in this period, as the man who, for a time, managed to bridge the differences between those who wanted a constitutional monarchy and those who wished to move towards more democratic, even republican directions.

Proceedings

For a detailed description of the proceedings in the National Constituent Assembly and related events, see the following articles:

For a list of presidents of the National Constituent Assembly, see List of Presidents of the French National Assembly.

For a partial list of members of the National Constituent Assembly, see Alphabetical list of members of the National Constituent Assembly of 1789.

Restoration of king

In the summer of 1791, the National Constituent Assembly decided that the king needed to be restored to the throne if he accepted the constitution. The decision was made after the king's failed flight to Varennes. [9] That decision enraged many Parisians into protesting, and one major protest devolved into the Champ de Mars Massacre, with 12 to 50 people killed by the National Guard. [10]

Dissolution

After surviving the vicissitudes of a revolutionary two years, the National Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on 30 September 1791. The following day, the Constitution of 1791 went into effect, which granted power to the Legislative Assembly. [11]

Related Research Articles

Jean-François Reubell or Rewbell was a French lawyer, diplomat, and politician of the Revolution.

Flight to Varennes

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution in which King Louis XVI of France, his queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

Jacobin The more radical constitutional reform group in the French Revolution

The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club or simply the Jacobins, became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendency includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès French abbé and statesman

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, most commonly known as the abbé Sieyès, was a French Roman Catholic abbé, clergyman and political writer. He was one of the chief political theorists of the French Revolution, and also played a prominent role in the French Consulate and First French Empire.

Alexandre-Théodore-Victor, comte de Lameth French soldier and politician

Alexandre-Théodore-Victor, comte de Lameth was a French soldier and politician.

This is a glossary of the French Revolution. It generally does not explicate names of individual people or their political associations; those can be found in List of people associated with the French Revolution.

Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.

Charles Malo François Lameth French general and politician

Charles Malo François Lameth was a French politician and soldier.

The French Revolution was a period in the history of France covering the years 1789 to 1799, in which republicans overthrew the Bourbon monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church perforce underwent radical restructuring. This article covers a period of time slightly longer than a year, from 14 July 1790, the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, to the establishment of the Legislative Assembly on 1 October 1791.

French Constitution of 1791 constitution

The short-lived French Constitution of 1791 was the first written constitution in France, created after the collapse of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime. One of the basic precepts of the revolution was adopting constitutionality and establishing popular sovereignty.

Pierre Louis Roederer

Comte Pierre Louis Roederer was a French politician, economist, and historian, politically active in the era of the French Revolution and First French Republic. Roederer's son, Baron Antoine Marie Roederer (1782–1865), also became a noted political figure.

<i>Fête de la Fédération</i> ceremony

The Fête de la Fédération was a massive holiday festival held throughout France in honour of the French Revolution. It is the precursor of the Bastille Day which is celebrated every year in France on 14 July, celebrating the Revolution itself, as well as National Unity.

The dechristianization of France during the French Revolution is a conventional description of the results of a number of separate policies conducted by various governments of France between the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Concordat of 1801, forming the basis of the later and less radical laïcité policies. The goal of the campaign between 1793 and 1794 ranged from the public reclamation of the massive amounts of land, power, and money held by the Catholic Church in France to the termination of Catholic religious practice and of the religion itself. There has been much scholarly debate over whether the movement was popularly motivated.

Monarchiens

The Friends of the Monarchist Constitution, commonly known as the Monarchist Club or the Monarchiens, were one of the revolutionary factions in the earliest stages of the French Revolution. The Monarchiens were briefly a centrist stabilising force criticized by the left-wing of the National Constituent Assembly, the spectators in the galleries and the patriotic press. Established in August 1789, the Monarchist Club was quickly swept away. Specifically, the brief movement developed when the Revolution was shifting away from the Ancien Régime during the Spring of 1789 and was defeated by the end of 1789. Subsequently, the term itself is usually derogatory.

Timothy Tackett American historian

Timothy Tackett is an American historian specializing in the French Revolution and professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine.

Patriotic Society of 1789

The Society of 1789, or the Patriotic Society of 1789, was a political club of the French Revolution inaugurated during a festive banquet held at Palais-Royal in May 1790 by more moderate elements of the Club Breton. At their height of influence, it was the second most important club after the Jacobin Club.

References

  1. Leo Gershoy, The French Revolution and Napoleon (1964) pp. 107–71
  2. 1 2 Paul R. Hanson (15 January 2015). Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN   978-0-8108-7892-1.
  3. Gershoy, The French Revolution and Napoleon (1964) pp. 100–07
  4. Simon Schama (5 August 2004). Citizens: A Chronicle of The French Revolution. Penguin Books Limited. p. 125. ISBN   978-0-14-101727-3.
  5. Fred Morrow Fling; Helene Dresser Fling (1913). Source Problems on the French Revolution. Harper & Brothers. p. 26.
  6. 1 2 Paul R. Hanson (23 February 2007). The A to Z of the French Revolution. Scarecrow Press. p. 14. ISBN   978-1-4617-1606-8.
  7. Mignet, François (1856). History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814. France. p. 61.
  8. Tackett, Timothy. Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the French National Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790). Princeton University Press, 1996
  9. C. J. Mitchell (1 January 1988). The French Legislative Assembly of 1791. Brill Archive. p. 15. ISBN   978-90-04-08961-7.
  10. Woodward, W. E. Lafayette.
  11. Jeremy Bentham (2002). Rights, Representation, and Reform: Nonsense Upon Stilts and Other Writings on the French Revolution. Oxford University Press. p. 41. ISBN   978-0-19-924863-6.

This article incorporates text from the public domain History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814 , by François Mignet (1824), as made available by Project Gutenberg.

Further reading

Primary sources