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Events that Led to the Fall of Bastille

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Abid Mohiuddin

on 25 January 2014

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Transcript of Events that Led to the Fall of Bastille

National Assembly
The National Assembly (June 17 - July 9, 1789) which existed during the French Revolution, was made up of Third Estate delegates during the Estates-General meetings. These delegates later became the leaders of the French Revolution.
The Tennis Court Oath
The Tennis Court Oath was a result of the growing discontent of the Third Estate, and was one of the events that led up to the Fall of the Bastille in July 1789.
Votes in the Estates General
Events that Led to the Fall of Bastille
A major catalyst in the French Revolution was the Fall of the Bastille, a prison in France.

This event was triggered by a large variety of different factors, here are some of them now.

Foreign Mercenaries In Paris
When the French Revolution had just begun, Parisian soldiers began to create mutiny in the army. Due to this mutiny, the French government responded by ordering an army of around 20,000 men from the border regions to Paris. Around ⅓ of these 20,000 men consisted of mercenaries from other countries hired by the king. These mercenary units were also mostly comprised of Swiss men. It is common belief that the reason these mercenaries were hired was because they would be less hesitant than French Soldiers to use violence against the citizens. These mercenaries were also paid better than the French soldiers, but had a harsher disciplinary code. These mercenaries were considered more reliable compared to the French soldiers, which was proven true when the Tuileries Palace was attacked on August 10, 1792. King Louise XVI had already fled yet the mercenaries stayed to fight. On that day, most of the mercenaries were massacred.

”During the reign of Louis XVI, about one-third of the French people were literate, and one in fifty-two boys would attend a high school.” thus only a few could actually read, and thus ideas in books were not able to be communicated to peasants. (Choices) However, education was becoming more widespread

Salons became popular, where well off intellectuals were able to discuss the problems of society as well as other concerns. Rationality became the norm for Paris’ scholars.
The Estates-General was made up of three different Estates, with the First Estate consisting of nobles, the Second Estate consisting of the clergy, and the Third Estate consisting of commoners. The Third Estate had the most members, representing commoners and the lower clergy.
The Estates-General
The Third Estate
The Creation of the National Assembly
Due to the fact that economic instability and a financial crises was on the rise, King Louis XIV decided to call the Estates General on May 1789.

The estates general was a group of three deputies that composed what was known as the First, Second, and Third Estate. (Choices).
In May 1789, when the Estates-General met, the ideas of the Third Estate clashed with those of the First and Second Estates. On June 17th, they broke away from the rest of the Estates-General. On June 20th, they found themselves locked out of their regular meeting place, so they met at the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court.

The First Estate was comprised of clergymen; the Second Estate was comprised of members of the nobility; and the Third Estate was comprised of the bourgeoisie and the peasants, which made up 97% of the total French population. (The French Revolution Begins).
By tradition, each of the Estates and a whole had only one vote, despite the fact that the members of the First and Second Estate represented approximately only 300,000 (each) out of the total 26 million French Population, while the Third Estate members of the Third Estate represented the overwhelming majority of the French population.(Choices)
May 5, 1789, king Louis XVI held an Estates-General meeting to deal with the current financial crisis. The First and Second Estates would always agree, leaving the Third Estate losing every vote (since each Estate got only one vote). The delegates for the Third Estate proposed that each delegate representing one of the three Estates would have a vote, the number of delegates for the Third Estate alone was the same as for the Second and First combined. This would give the peasants and the bourgeoisie a great advantage than before, and was more fair since the 3rd estate was 97% of the population.The 3rd estate was denied of their idea, and Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes, a clergyman, decided to stand up for their cause, and convinced the delegates from the bourgeoisie after a debate to name themselves the ‘National Assembly’, as they were representing the real public of France that deserved the attention from the government.

Louis XIV then agreed to double the amount of representatives in the Third Estate from 300,000 members to 600,000. This, however, did not really help them since the each Estate still had only one vote notwithstanding that the Third Estate had as many members as the First and Second Estate combined.

Ergo, the Third Estate wished to change the traditional voting to “voting by head”, or considered each members vote as one vote. They correctly felt that that would be more fair as then the First and Second Estate would no longer have an bogart amount of votes. (Choices).
Unlike the nobility which met in private, the Third Estate opened their debates to the public. The Third Estate made numerous attempts to get the other Estates to meet with them as they resisted at first. This lead a member of the Third Estate name Abbé Sieyès to declare that the Third Estate call themselves the National Assembly and act by themselves if the other two Estates continued to refuse to join. (Choices).

After around a month on June 19, the clergy decided by vote that they would join the National Assembly.(Choices)
They took an oath to not disband until a new French constitution had been made, and they dubbed their estate as the ‘National Assembly’. At first, King Louis XVI legalized the National Assembly under the Third Estate, but then he had his troops surround Versailles and dismiss Jacques Necker (Prime Minister), who the Third Estate greatly admired. The Third Estate was outraged at what had happened to Necker. The Parisians stormed the Bastille on July 14th because they believed it had ammunition, which led to the start of the French Revolution.
The Oath
A lot of political philosophers were French, with Voltaire, a frequent endorser of freedom of speech and tolerance, Montesquieu, a forerunner of the concept of separate branches of government and checks and balances, Diderot, a compiler of knowledge in Encyclopedias, which would become available to Peasants, and Rousseau, who stated that Mass Appeal dictates society and that all men are equal.
The Reconstitution
The National Assembly’s goal was to eliminate an absolute monarchy, and to eventually stand for the people as a fair, responsive and democratic government.They resolved to create their own constitution, which they made under the ‘tennis court oath’, where they stayed in an indoor tennis room where they agreed on a corrected constitution of France that they believed in and would would be the constitution if they ever became the government of France. They stayed in the tennis court room because they had been kicked out of the estate-general meetings since they didn’t agree with the 2nd and 1st estate, and they needed a place to negociate the document.

Beginning of the Revolution
This reconstitution was the official declaration of war (it was somewhat inspired by the US declaration of independence, held the same idea of reconstitution and acted as that for the french people), this was act was viewed as the “first deliberate act of revolution”. King Louis the XVI legalized the National Assembly, but he later upset them, and they organized the attack on the Bastille. After the fall of the Bastille and king Louis XVI’s there was more recognition of the strong power of the National Assembly. They officially overthrew the king and began their own democratic governing. It was formally known as the ‘National Constituent Assembly’ (Assemblée Nationale Constituante) after July 9, 1789.
The original national assembly was then replaced by the legislative assembly in September 30, 1791

Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes
National Assembly
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