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Lecture 3

HIS241 Lecture 3 - September 24, 2013

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September 24, 2013 Lecture 3 Taxation - The problem (trigger of Revolution) is that the king has no idea what to do with finances - Louis XVI doesn‟t know what to do, but he must find a way to raise more revenue - He calls together a body of nobles  They‟re going to convene an assembly and talk about it - There are structural problems with the king raising finances  He needs to implement far-reaching changes in the tax structure  He needs to pass a series of new laws, etc.  He can‟t figure out how to do this and it leads to a series of problems - Jacques Necker (finance minister) also has no idea what to do  He was “cooking the books”  They don‟t have a good way of writing down how much money the king is actually getting.  Writing down more than is actually coming in  When the king figures out that there isn‟t as much money as he thinks, the monarchy loses credibility - The people (nobles/clergy) start to see the French Monarchy as being corrupt  Necker is fired from his job because of this (as are other high level positions)  Charles Alexandre Calonne is rehired and he sucks too - The king begins to realize the only way to enact meaningful reforms is through the law - Parliament will not pass any of the king‟s edicts  They saw him as corrupting the system and refused to cede to his wishes - The crux of the king‟s major problem is that he needs to reduce the nobles/clergy‟s (they need to pay taxes)  At the same time, he needs them to agree - Calonne says: we need to side-step the government, if we call together an assembly of nobles, middle-class people and clerics (“Assembly of Notables”)  However, the king handpicks who he wants there  The king is obviously going to pick the people who will agree.  Even with all the people the king handpicks, they still say “NO”  They also tell him the way he‟s going through reform has elements of despotism and tyranny  They tell him it‟s the way to do it.  The assembly lasts for a couple of days  The notables tell him if he really wants to change taxing system and fix France‟s legal code, then he must call an estates general (an assembly of the nation)  Any revision of the legal code needs to be done through the states general.  This Estates General, 1789 states to represent the nation, the people September 24, 2013  The last time the Estates General met was in 1614 when France was at war  Only in the most desperate situations is the Estates General called  When they have an assembly of all classes, it‟s a rival to the king‟s authority.  It‟s „undermining‟ the king‟s authority (“God‟s” authority)  The king doesn‟t think this is a good idea but it makes him look bad.  The situation is getting worse as there isn‟t much bread left (grain famine)  The people need to eat!  The king decides to talk to the courts and do his own thing, but Parliament tells him no.  As a last resort, he calls an estates general.  At this point, the king starts to look like a tyrant, as someone who doesn‟t look or obey the law and who will do whatever they want to.  August 17, 1788-May, 1789  Three estates: nobility, clergy, everybody else  The question is: what will everybody vote?  A problem was that the clergy and the nobility was always going to be the majority vote so they wondered whether they should vote per group or per person  The vast majority of people think the third estate represents the nation.  “What is the third estate? By Emmanuelle  States that the third estate obviously represents the nation  The king decides that they will vote by block, which is not the answer that people want as they want to vote by person.  The third estate decides that the estates general is not valid.  They‟ve come to realize that they represent the people and leave  They form the National Assembly  A lot of nobles and clergy defect to the third estate  They round everyone up and decide that they‟re the voice of the nation  It‟s a political act and kind of a moderate revolution - Tennis Court Oath June 20, 1789  They all go to the tennis court to take an oath that they will keep convening until France has a written constitution  Why all of this is happening:  There are bread riots happening  People are also starving to death in the countryside - During 1780-1795 there was a famine and the price of bread rises  People are not able to afford them and start starving  The government starts to subsidize bread  They‟re placating the masses  In 1787, the price of bread started to double the price  In 1789 the harvest fails (some, but not a lot) September 24, 2013  Usually, there are reserves of grain (farmers usually hoard grain) but there aren‟t anymore.  Now people aren‟t able to afford the pricey bread  If people aren‟t able to buy bread then they don‟t have enough money to buy other necessary items.  Buying the pricey bread makes them poor  Industry starts to fail  1 in 8 people in Paris were living on the streets  Estimated 150,000 people are out of work and on the streets.  Unemployment of young men: if they don‟t have anything to do then they start to fight, riot and cause trouble.  Therefore, people begin to riot  The king decides to call in the troops (the National Guard) to stop this, but the National Guard could identify with the people as they‟re starving too  What the members of the National Assembly believe is that the king isn‟t calling in troops to stop bread crisis, but rather to dissolve their assembly.  The public thinks the king‟s fist is coming down hard on the National Assembly.  The king not only calls the troops, but he also fires a finance minister that the people respect.  So they think he‟s trying to dissolve the voice of the nation  July 14, 1789: The people begin seizing weapons in anticipation of the king‟s troops breaking up the National Assembly.  They seize numbers from a number of forts and then they go to the Bastille (the biggest fort) and storm through  They think the Bastille is an armory (it‟s also a prison)  There were also rumors that the king had arrested a few members of the Nat
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