On 20 June 1789, the members of the French Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath (French : Serment du Jeu de Paume ), 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 (which would increase the power of the Third Estate, as they outnumbered the other two estates hugely).
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.
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.
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.
On 17 June, the Third Estate began to call themselves the National Assembly, led by Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau.On the morning of 20 June, the deputies were shocked to discover that the chamber door was locked and guarded by soldiers. They immediately feared the worst and were anxious that a royal attack was imminent from King Louis XVI, so the deputies congregated in a nearby indoor jeu de paume court in the Saint-Louis district of the city of Versailles near the Palace of Versailles. There 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate took a collective oath "not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established". The only person who did not join was Joseph Martin-Dauch from Castelnaudary, who would only execute decisions that were made by the king.
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly, which existed from 4 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.
The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris.
Joseph Martin-Dauch, was a French politician who represented Castelnaudary as a member of the Third Estate in the Estates-General of 1789. He is remembered as the only member not to vote in favor of the Tennis Court Oath on the grounds that he could not faithfully execute any decisions that were not sanctioned by the king.
Before the Revolution, French society—aside from royalty—was divided into three estates. The First Estate comprised the clergy; the Second Estate was the nobility. The rest of France—some 98 percent of the population—was the Third Estate, which ranged from very wealthy city merchants to impoverished rural farmers. The three estates met from time to time in the Estates General, a legislative assembly.
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were permanently abolished. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.
The third Estate comprised the overwhelming majority of the French population but the structure of the Estates-General was such that the Third Estate comprised a bare majority of the delegates.[ citation needed ] A simple majority was sufficient—as long as delegates' votes were cast together. The First and Second Estates preferred to divide the vote; a proposal might need to receive approval from each Estate or there might be two "houses" of the Estates-General (one for the first two Estates, and one for the Third) and a bill would need to be passed by both houses. Either way, the First and Second Estates could exercise a veto over proposals enjoying widespread support among the Third Estate, such as reforms that threatened the privileges of the nobility and clergy.[ citation needed ]
The deputies' fears, even if wrong, were reasonable and the importance of the oath goes above and beyond its context.The oath was a revolutionary act and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarchy. Their solidarity forced Louis XVI to order the clergy and the nobility to join the Third Estate in the National Assembly to give the illusion that he controlled the National Assembly. This oath was vital to the Third Estate as a protest that led to more power in the Estates General, and every governing body thereafter.
An English-language translation of the oath reads:
The National Assembly,
Considering that it has been called to establish the constitution of the realm, to bring about the regeneration of public order, and to maintain the true principles of monarchy; nothing may prevent it from continuing its deliberations in any place it is forced to establish itself; and, finally, the National Assembly exists wherever its members are gathered.
Decrees that all members of this Assembly immediately take a solemn oath never to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require until the constitution of the realm is established and fixed upon solid foundations; and that said oath having been sworn, all members and each one individually confirms this unwavering resolution with his signature.
We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations.
The Oath signified for the first time that French citizens formally stood in opposition to Louis XVI and the National Assembly's refusal to back down forced the king to make concessions. It was foreshadowed by and drew considerably from the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, especially the preamble. The Oath also inspired a wide variety of revolutionary activities in the months afterward, ranging from rioting in the French countryside to renewed calls for a written constitution. It reinforced the Assembly's strength and although the King attempted to thwart its effect, Louis was forced to relent and on 27 June 1789 he formally requested that voting occur based on head counts, not each estates' power. [ citation needed ]The Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789) preceded the abolition of feudalism (4 August 1789) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (26 August 1789).
Jean-François Reubell or Rewbell was a French lawyer, diplomat, and politician of the Revolution.
Jeu de paume, nowadays known as real tennis, (US) court tennis or courte paume, is a ball-and-court game that originated in France. It was an indoor precursor of tennis played without racquets, though these were eventually introduced. It is a former Olympic sport, and has the oldest ongoing annual world championship in sport, first established over 250 years ago.
The National Constituent Assembly 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.
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.
Gui-Jean-Baptiste Target was a French lawyer and politician.
Jean Joseph Mounier was a French politician and judge.
The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social hierarchy used in Christendom from the medieval period to early modern Europe. Different systems for dividing society members into estates developed and evolved over time.
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.
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.
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.
The Legislative Assembly was the legislature of France from 1 October 1791 to 20 September 1792 during the years of the French Revolution. It provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention.
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly abolished the traditional structure of the Catholic Church in France and reorganized it as an institution within the structure of the new French government. One of the new requirements placed upon all clergy was the necessity of an oath of loyalty to the state before all foreign influences such as the Pope. This created a schism within the French clergy, with those taking the oath known as juring priests, and those refusing the oath known as non-juring or refractory priests.
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.
Armand-Gaston Camus, French revolutionist, was a successful advocate before the French Revolution. He was the son of Pierre Camus, a lawyer in the Parlement of Paris.
The Château de Vizille is a castle in the French town of Vizille near Grenoble. It is one of the most prestigious and important castles of the Dauphiné Region. Traditionally since the 14th century the Dauphiné was the homeland of the inheritor of the French throne. Today the Château de Vizille houses the Musée de la Révolution française.
The Tennis Court Oath is an incomplete painting by Jacques-Louis David, painted between 1790 and 1794 and showing the titular Tennis Court Oath at Versailles, one of the foundational events of the French Revolution.