Aristocratic Revolt

The Revolution was formed in France when Charles-Alexandre de Calonne (general of finances), ordered the gathering of an assembly of “notables” (great noblemen, prelates, and several representatives of the bourgeoisie). The meeting aimed to offer reforms designed to eliminate the budget deficit by raising the taxation of the privileged classes. The assembly declined to take responsibility for the changes, so it intended to gather the Estates-General, which included the aristocracy and the clergy, and Third Estate (the commoners) and which had not assembled since 1614. The efforts made by Calonne’s followers to enforce economic changes despite resistance by the privileged groups led to the so-called Revolution of the “aristocratic bodies,” notably that of the parliament (the most important courts of justice), whose authorities were reduced by the proclamation of May 1788.

In the spring and summer of 1788, there was tension among the populace in Paris, Dijon, Grenoble, Pau, Toulouse, and Rennes. The king, Louis XVI, was forced to yield. He managed to reappoint reform-minded Jacques Necker as the finance minister and assured to convene the Estates-General on May 5, 1789. He also, in practice, was given freedom of the press, and France was flooded with pamphlets approaching the reconstruction of the state. The elections to the Estates-General, which were held between January and April 1789, matched with following disturbances, as the harvest of the previous year had been a poor one. There were almost no exclusions from the voting, and the electors drew up Cahiers de doléances, which listed their complaints and hopes. Six hundred deputies for the Third Estate were elected as well as 300 for the clergy, and 300 for the nobility.