The France Revolution 5

The France Revolution Part V


According to hyperrestaurant, the limit of the work of the Constituent Assembly is the determination of the office of the monarchy, which reflects the contradictory situation in which it found itself: the monarchy with its passive resistances, its repentances, its insincerities does not conquer the revolution, but with its submissive demeanor not yet exasperated; on the other hand the assembly feels distrust of the enemy almost by revolutionary instinct, but is not yet freed from its age-old charm. The internal history of the Constituent Assembly is the subsequent fall under this charm of its members, from Mounier to Barnave: only the Robespierre group, which passed to the republic after the king’s flight, remains immune. But the external history of the Constituent Assembly is different: the king in the constitution is the treacherous friend who must be neutralized:: no longer the divine origin or the patrimonial right: he is a simple salesman of the nation, who can be accused in case of treason. He has 25 million francs as a civil list, but a steward has to report to the assembly. He commands the troops, but he cannot muster them within 30 miles of the assembly. He proposes peace or war, but he cannot decide it. Signature, but his acts have no value if they are not countersigned by a minister. It appoints ministers outside the assembly, but they are accountable to the assembly. It has the right of veto, but not on constitutional laws. In a word, the executive power is deprived of authority and the end of the intendants, the full provincial autonomies, deprive him of all means of acting in the country.

With the political revolution, there is an economic revolution, in which physiocratic principles triumph, except in foreign trade policy, in which a moderate protectionism is inaugurated. In the agrarian question, once feudal rights and privileges are abolished, free property arises. The sale of ecclesiastical assets increases the strength of the agrarian bourgeoisie (large tenants and large fermieri) and gives the last blow to privileged property. Property free, industry became free (suppression of corporations, March 2-17, 1791, with the consequent abolition of inspectors and manufacturing regulations) and trade (suppression of internal customs, freedom of trade in cereals, etc. ). Only in foreign trade did they pass to a moderate protectionist system with the customs tariffs of 1791, because the trade treaty with England of 1786, although inspired by free trade, had been as unpopular as the Austrian alliance, albeit inspired by pacifism. There remained open problems: the question of the redemption of feudal rights, which generated a series of disputes in the countryside, the state property question, the incipient conflict between the bourgeoisie and industrial workers, who wanted to associate themselves in class organizations.

The economic reform generated the financial one: once the feudal system was destroyed, indirect contributions had to be substituted for direct contributions, and for immunities the equality of all before taxes. Thus the land, the driving license, a commercial and industrial sales tax, and a movable contribution were established. But all this presupposed a long work for a land registry and for the formation of roles, which could not be done quickly in a moment of effervescence and without a solid state order. These taxes, therefore, yielded little from the beginning. Necker attempted two loans, a patriotic voluntary contribution, dismissed the Discount Bank, but in vain, and then it was decided to lay hands on the assets of the clergy, which, valued at about three billion and placed at the disposal of the nation (December 1789), they formed the basis of the Cassa dello Extraordinary. On a part of these assets (400 million), assignments were issued with an interest of 4 per 100. But, since the assets were actually still in the power of the clergy, the assigned did not meet with luck. Then the new ecclesiastical laws were made, the assignment became a bank note and the issue was brought to 1200 million. The damage caused by inflation was enormous, but the purchase of ecclesiastical goods greatly benefited the revolution. Occasionally the financial question, the reform of the clergy was imposed by the whole new reform of society. On the night of August 4, 1789, with the suppression of vintages and tithes, he gave the clergy the first blow, but for these losses he was guaranteed indemnity on the state budget. This was followed by the abolition of the regular clergy for economic purposes (to circulate the goods of the monasteries) and for moral purposes (the aversion to mysticism and Christian asceticism). Finally, a democratic revolution took place in the discipline of the church (May 29-July 12): bishops and curates had to be elected by the people, a council limited the powers of the bishop, no tribute had to be paid to the pope, the diocesan circumscriptions had to coincide with those administrative, ecclesiastical property passed to the nation, which assumed the burden of maintaining the clergy. It was the complete secularization of the clergy under the guise of a return to primitive Christian democracy and only a few weak residues of canon law remained in the fact that the curates had to be canonically instituted by the bishops and the bishops by the metropolitan. The bishops of the assembly considered it necessary for the constitution to have a canonical chrism and proposed a national council of bishops, but it was preferred to ask for the approval of the pope. Pius VI was silent for months. The Constituent Assembly then imposed on the clergy on November 27 to swear allegiance to the civil constitution. The majority of the bishops and curates refused, others accepted and among the other seven bishops, who, saving the principle of the canonical institution, prevented the schismatic church from dissolving without residue in secular society.

The France Revolution 5