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  • Jul 6, 2003, 09:21 PM
    King Louis XVI
    Why was King Louis XVI of France unable to restore his authority in the years 1789 - 1792?
  • Aug 8, 2003, 03:15 AM
    King Louis XVI
    Dear friend

    Here is the site I found out the answer in your question.

    Louis initially declined to increase the number, but he finally gave in the waning days of 1788. The question of "doubling the Third Estate" was preventing the solution of the deepening financial crisis; with Louis's compromise, the Estates General met in May of 1789.

    Louis, however, had vacillated on the question for too long. He had lost any support he had among the wealthy members of the Third Estate; in addition, the aristocracy had tried to solve the problem in its own way. The Parlement of Paris conceded the doubling question in September, but then declared that all voting would be done by individual Estates, that is, each Estate would get one vote. That meant that the Third Estate could be outvoted two to one every time. Angry at the king and sickened by the efforts of the aristocracy to control the Assembly of the Estates General, all the members of the Third Estate walked out en masse when the Assembly met in Versailles. They were joined by some clergy, members of the First Estate, and they then declared themselves the National Assembly and the only legitimate legislative body of the country on June 17, 1789. They were fired by ideas ultimately derived from Rousseau, ideas about social contract and rights, and no person more eloquently defined the spirit of the National Assembly than the clergyman Abbé Emmanuel Sieyès, who declared that the Third Estate was everything, had been treated as nothing, and wanted only to be something. The rallying point was Rousseau's idea that the members of a nation are the nation itself; this is what legitimated the claims of the new National Assembly.
    The newly-formed National Assembly was led by Abbé Sieyès and one of the Nobles of the Robe, Honoré Riqueti. They met in a local tennis court when they were locked out of their typical meeting place and, on June 20, all the members of the National Assembly swore an oath not to disband until they had drawn up a new constitution for France: this is the famous Tennis Court Oath. In an idea derived from Rousseau, they saw government as a creation of the people; when the social contract had been broken, then the people had a right to revoke that contract and set up a new government.

    On June 27, Louis XVI gave into the National Assembly and ordered the members of the Estates General to join the new National Assembly. This is the date at which the French Revolution started.

    Historians divide the Revolution into three stages. The first occurred between 1789 and 1792 and was mainly effected through the National Assembly. The main concern during this period was addressing the grievances that Louis had ordered each regional assembly to write up before the meeting of the Estates General. I simply refer to this stage as the first revolution. The second stage, beginning in the summer of 1792, saw the downfall of all the liberal, middle class leaders of the Revolution and the rise to power of radical revolutionaries. The radicals saw themselves as champions of the common person against the interests of both the aristocracy and the wealthy middle class. The radicals threw off all the vestiges of the old France when they executed Louis in September of 1792. The radicals were vicious and dictatorial; their days in power, known as the Reign of Terror, were a long, protracted effort to remake society from the ground up. The radicals were followed by a reaction in July of 1794 that threw the radicals out of power; the revolution reverted back to the moderate liberals of the middle class. The Revolution ended in November of 1799, when Abbée Sieyès championed the Counter-Revolutionary cause and invited Napoleon Bonaparte to help him seize the government.

    In June of 1789, the National Assembly took a collective oath to draft a new civil constitution for France; they completed this task in 1791. The new constitution declared France to be a constitutional monarchy. Within this new government, all legislative powers would fall to a single Legislative Assembly, which alone had the power to declare war and raise taxes.

    The Legislative Assembly would be made up of representatives elected by Electors, who themselves were elected by "active" citizens (an active citizen was a male citizen who paid annual taxes equal to the local wages paid for three days of labor). This meant that only half the citizens of France could vote and, in a country of 25 million people or so, only fifty thousand qualified to serve as either electors or members of the Legislative Assembly.

    The monarch was allowed very few powers. He could temporarily stall legislation through a suspensive veto, but he could not veto any legislation permanently. The control of the army was taken out of his hands, and he had no authority over local governments. In addition, he could send no representatives to serve in the Legislative Assembly.

    I hope that I helped you,

    Kind Regards

    Iancode ;)

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