King of France. In 1789 he convened the Estates-General, a national assembly representing the three traditional divisions — or Estates: the clergy, the nobility, and the common people. Controversy sprang up immediately over how the assembly should conduct its business. It had not met for 175 years, and its powers had never been clearly defined. As Peter Gay describes it, "The aristocracy and the clergy, seeking to preserve their traditional privileges, wanted each Estate to vote as a unit. This could have left control of the assembly with the upper classes. The common people comprising the Third Estate, wanted each man to vote as an individual. silence their representation in the assembly had recently been enlarged to 50 percent of the total membership, and they figured on the support of liberals in the other two Estates, this could have given them numerical control. Popular agitation grew intense, and revolutionary sentiments spread. When the king would not honor the Third Estate’s demands, the commoners broke away from the Estates-General to form their own National Assembly." When, on 14 July 1789, the enraged Parisian mob stormed the Bastille, the Crown could no longer keep order; from then on, the French populace had to be counted as a political force. By the end of August of the same year most of he French aristocracy’s traditional feudal privileges had been wiped out and a bold "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" had passed into law.
[tags]BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Louis-XVI, Peter[/tags]