The France Revolution Part I

Having obtained the common intent, the convocation of the States-General and the first defeat of the absolute monarchy, the nobility, the clergy and the third estate were divided when it came to seeing in what sense the victory would be used: whether in the noble and reactionary sense or in the bourgeois and revolutionary one. The question of the vote marked the detachment: would we vote by order or by head? The nobility and the clergy were naturally for the first solution, the third estate for the second and demanded a number of votes double that of each of the other two orders and equal to their sum. Thus a new political possibility was offered to the monarchy: to act energetically as arbiter between the conflicting classes or to support one of them with frankness by dominating it and acquiring new strength. But there was no statesman in the court: not the king, who would have been in his place had he been a bourgeois family man; not the queen, who placed her feelings and resentments as a woman at the basis of politics; not the Necker, a pure technician without broad views; not the Count d’Artois, the king’s brother, and his hot followers. The army reflected the conflicts of the nation: the officers reflected the restlessness and indiscipline of the nobles; in the non-commissioned officers and soldiers the ambitions and grudges of the third estate. The regulation of 1781, which inhibited the bourgeois career as an officer, had dug an abyss between them. The poorly paid foreign mercenary troops were discontented, and moreover they could not be increased due to lack of financial means. It can be said with nationalist historians that the revolution was essentially a crisis of authority, understood not only as the possession of brute force, but as an exact perception of the situation of a country and of the relationship between living political forces and institutions. According to ezinereligion, the monarchy, on the other hand, was unable to do anything but passively resist, leave the initiative to the various classes in conflict, bow to the violence and audacity of the third estate or attempt to react under the impulse of the privileged classes. This fatal slope began with the question of voting: the third estate was granted a number of deputies equal to the sum of the other two the third state without conquering it.

While the monarchy continued to suffer more than to dominate events, the nobility, the clergy and the third estate showed a clear awareness of their interests and their purposes in the cahiers., which each constituency had to compile, and in the vast public literature, which swarmed during the election period. All three classes were in agreement in combating monarchical and ministerial despotism and in wanting to be permanently guaranteed by it with a written constitution. All three classes agreed that voting, controlling and regulating taxes were the duty of the States General. But which class would set the tone for the assembly? In the nobility, as a reaction to the absolutism of Louis XIV, the sense of human dignity and the sense of class had awakened. The living example of the English aristocracy had sharpened in the nobles the desire to return to being the ruling class politically; thus the aristocratic concept of the nation arose, which placed the nobility in the clearest antithesis with the third estate. But in the very bosom of the nobility a minority, inspired by La Fayette, was ready to collaborate with the third estate, and this broke the compactness of the class. On the other hand, no close link united the reactionary nobility with the clergy: the ideas of tolerance and freedom to think, speak and write; the disposition to take advantage of ecclesiastical goods, as long as they do not touch their own; the fact that the nobles formed the episcopal minority of the clergy prevented any collaboration between the two privileged classes. Faced with the nobility, the third estate stood as a representative of the true nation: the nation is the majority of citizens, the nation is not such by tradition, by more or less pure blood, but by will, by self-decision: thus emerged the democratic concept of the nation. The third state aspired to full juridical equality among all citizens, to the end or the restriction of the lordly regime in the countryside, to freedom in industries with the suppression of corporations. Freelance in internal trade (abolition of duties, territorial economic unity, etc.), the third state was protectionist in the foreign one and condemned the trade treaty with England of 1786. However, the first social conflicts were already emerging in the bosom of the bourgeoisie: the state-owned question posed the bourgeoisie against the peasants and that of the abolition of associations of arts and crafts against the workers of the cities. But these contrasts were not yet strong enough to break the blockade of the third state. Finally, in the clergyFrench, revolution).

The France Revolution 1