Creation of the French National Assembly

Creation of the French National Assembly

When a crisis occurs in a country, some people feel threatened whileother see it as an opportunity to drive their long awaited goal. Sucha scenario best explains the French Revolution whereby members of thenobility and clergy felt threatened by the ever growing power of thethird estate. Members of the third estates saw it as an opportunityto strike a balance between all the citizens. The late 1970s provedto be undesirable for the French government. The country had spentdecades paying for wars to defend their borders from externalaggression that made it sink deep into debts.1The government could not raise enough revenue to fund the deficitsthe last resort was raise the cost of goods to raise significantfigures. The immunity of the nobility and the clergy from payingtaxes instigated the third estate to make an internal shift to createequality in payment of taxes and individual rights. This paper willlay insight on the impact of the national assembly on FrenchRevolution. The assembly played an imperative role in the processbecause it instated a fair taxation system and scrapped thediscrimination that existed between members if the third and thegeneral estates.2

The creation of the national assembly was out of a disagreement thatensued in 1789 when the estates general convened a sitting to discussthe issue of taxation.3The body comprised of the nobility, the clergy and representativesfrom the third estates. As Spielvogel implies, the third estatesrepresentatives could not agree on the voting criteria proposed bythe nobility and the clergy. 4The latter two wanted each estate to represent one vote while theThird Estate members wanted individuals to vote regardless of theirassets. The nobility would have an upper hand in the voting, and thethird estate representatives would hear none of it. They convenedmeetings without involving the other two parties and on the 17th ofJune 1789, they declared themselves the national assembly. 5

Taxation was the primary issue of concern for the self-declarednational assembly. It is deducible that the nobility and the clergycould not restrain them since they exceeded them two fold. Accordingto Spielvogel, the maiden responsibility that the Assembly heapedagainst itself was the abolition of the existing taxation rules andreplacing them with fair laws. The move was welcome among the peopleof the few nobles and clergy members controlled more than half of thenational wealth yet they were not liable to taxation.

If the French government was to raise enough money to fund serviceits debts, then the revenue collectors had to focus on affluentestates of the nobles and the clergy. It was also the first movetowards establishing equality in the society by subjecting everybodyto the same rules. 6Thesuccessful implementation of the process was a contributing factorthe realization of the power that the national assembly harbored, andit was critical for the changes that followed.

The assembly also ignited a weak relationship between the monarchand the third Estate citizens. The skyrocketing prices of food inParis had had made the government insufficient and unstable in theeyes of the people. The poor working class in Paris responded to theefforts of the assembly by offering them support infirm ofdemonstrations. The monarch perceived the assembly as a threat to itsexistence and restricted their meetings to no avail.

The assembly’s resolution to hold its ground until when the countrygot a working constitution was a welcome to move among the thirdestate and some nobles.7Their support and deviance against the king broke the royalauthority, and they crippled the king’s powers. A notable incidenthappened on 14th July 1789 when the people broke into the Royal Amoryand made away with weapons.8They also invaded the Bastille prison and released all the inmates.The fire lit by the national assembly was spreading fast, and theattack on the two government facilities confirmed that King Louis waslosing his ground. The initiative paved the way for the institutionof a sovereign state where power rested with the citizens.

Another significant contribution of the national assembly in therevolution was the declaration of the rights of all citizensregardless of their state on 26th August 1789.9The King signed it into law probably due to the support that thenational assembly enjoyed and the inability to regain his royalauthority. The assembly could be said to be the indirect perpetratorsof the bloodbath that ousted the 800-year-old monarchy. They renderedthe king impossible of giving directives to govern the people, and hecould not contain the unrest of the third estate citizens. Thesans-Colutte attacked the palace on 10th August 1792 leading to thearrest of the king after three days.10Thedissolution of the monarchy paved the way for the institution of theFrench Republic.

Conclusively, the national assembly during the French Revolution wasa result of the financial crisis that imposed heavy taxes on theThird Estate citizens while exempting the nobles and the clergy. Therepresentatives of the third estate declared themselves as thenational assembly, and they helped in creating equality in payment oftaxes and upholding of human rights. It opened the people’s eyes,and they overthrew the monarchy in favor of a republic.


Declaration ofthe Rights of Man, The Avalon Project at Yale Law,accessed September 01, 2010.

JacksonJ. Spielvogel, Western Civilization Vol. C: Since 1789,9th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2013.

Tackett, Timothy.&quotBecoming a Revolutionary.&quot The Deputies of the FrenchNational Assembly New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014.

1 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization Vol. C: Since 1789 9th ed. (Stamford, CT:

Cengage Learning, 2013), 567.

2 Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 571.

3 Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 571.

4 Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 572

5 Tackett, Timothy. &quotBecoming a revolutionary.&quot The Deputies of the French National Assembly. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014), 119.

6 Declaration of the Rights of Man, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, accessed September 01, 2010.

7 Timothy, The Deputies of the French National Assembly, 121.

8 Timothy, The Deputies of the French National Assembly, 165.

9 Declaration of the Rights of Man, Art. 1.

10 The Deputies of the French National Assembly, 166.