During the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consi ...

French Revolution
, the National Assembly (french: Assemblée nationale), which existed from 17 June 1789 to 30 September 1791, was a revolutionary assembly formed by the representatives of the
Third Estate Image:Cleric-Knight-Workman.jpg, 250px, A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The esta ...
(commoners) of the Estates-General; thereafter (until replaced by the
Legislative Assembly Legislative assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. ...
on 30 Sept 1791) it was known as the National Constituent Assembly (), although the shorter form was favored.


The Estates-General had been called on 5 May 1789 to deal with
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

's financial crisis, but promptly fell to squabbling over its own structure. Its members had been elected to represent the
estates of the realm The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social hierarchy Social stratification refers to a society's categorization Categorization is the ability and activity to recognize shared features or similarities bet ...
: the 1st Estate (the clergy), the 2nd Estate (the
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
) and the 3rd Estate (which, in theory, represented all of the commoners and, in practice, represented the
bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

). The Third Estate had been granted "double representation"—that is, twice as many delegates as each of the other communistic estates—but at the opening session on 5 May 1789 was informed that all voting would be "by power" not "by head", so the double representation would be meaningless in terms of power. They refused this and proceeded to meet separately.The First Revolution
, Revolution and After: Tragedies and Forces, World Civilizations: An Internet Classroom and Anthology, Washington State University. Accessed online 14 March 2007.
Mignet, Chapter 1
Shuttle diplomacyIn diplomacy and international relations, shuttle diplomacy is the action of an outside party in serving as an intermediary between (or among) principals in a dispute, without direct principal-to-principal contact. Originally and usually, the process ...
among the estates continued without success until 27 May; on 28 May, the representatives of the 3rd Estate began to meet on their own,Mignet, Chapter 1 calling themselves the ''Communes'' ("Commons") and proceeding with thei
"verification of powers"
independently of the other bodies; from 13 June to 17 June they were gradually joined by some of the nobles and the majority of the clergy and other people such as the peasants. On 17 June this group began to call itself the National Assembly.

The King resists

Jacques Necker Jacques Necker (; 30 September 1732 – 9 April 1804) was a Genevan banker and statesman who served as finance minister A finance minister is an executive or cabinet position in charge of one or more of government finances, economic policy a ...

Jacques Necker
, finance minister of Louis XVI, had earlier proposed that the king hold a ''Séance Royale'' (Royal Session) in an attempt to reconcile the divided Estates. The king agreed; but none of the three orders were formally notified of the decision to hold a Royal Session. All debates were to be put on hold until the ''séance royale'' took place. Events soon overtook Necker's complex scheme of giving in to the ''Communes'' on some points while holding firm on others. No longer interested in Necker's advice, Louis XVI, under the influence of the courtiers of his
privy council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
, resolved to go in state to the Assembly, annul its decrees, command the separation of the orders, and dictate the reforms to be effected by the restored Estates-General. On 19 June he ordered the Salle des États, the hall where the National Assembly met, closed, and remained at Marly for several days while he prepared his address.SparkNotes: the French Revolution (1789–1799): The National Assembly: 1789–1791

Confrontation and recognition

Two days later, also deprived of use of the
tennis court A tennis court is the venue where the sport of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the centre. The same surface can be used to play both Types of tennis match, doubles and singles matches. A variet ...
that they had been using as an improvised meeting place, the National Assembly met in the Church of Saint Louis, where the majority of the representatives of the clergy joined them: efforts to restore the old order had served only to accelerate events. When, on 23 June in accord with his plan, the king finally addressed the representatives of all three
estates Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of certain countries. ** The Estates, representative ...
, he encountered a stony silence. He concluded by ordering all to disperse. The nobles and clergy obeyed; the deputies of the common people remained seated in a silence finally broken by Mirabeau, whose speech culminated, "A military force surrounds the assembly! Where are the enemies of the nation? Is
Catiline Lucius Sergius Catilina (108–62 BC), known in English as Catiline (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *' ...
at our gates? I demand, investing yourselves with your dignity, with your legislative power, you inclose yourselves within the religion of your oath. It does not permit you to separate till you have formed a constitution." The deputies stood firm. Necker, conspicuous by his absence from the royal party on that day, found himself in disgrace with Louis, but back in the good graces of the National Assembly. Those of the clergy who had joined the Assembly at the church of Saint Louis remained in the Assembly; forty-seven members of the nobility, including the
Duke of Orléans Duke of Orléans (french: Duc d'Orléans) was a French royal title usually granted by the List of French monarchs, King of France to one of his close relatives (usually a younger brother or son), or otherwise inherited through the male line. First ...
, soon joined them; by 27 June the royal party had overtly given in, although the likelihood of a military counter-coup remained in the air. The French military began to arrive in large numbers around
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Versailles The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about west of Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, mo ...

Royal session of 23 June 1789

In the ''séance royale'' of 23 June the King granted a ''Charte octroyée'', a constitution granted of the royal favour, which affirmed, subject to the traditional limitations, the right of separate deliberation for the three orders, which constitutionally formed three chambers. This move failed; soon that part of the deputies of the nobles who still stood apart, joined the National Assembly at the request of the king. The Estates-General had ceased to exist, having become the National Assembly (and after 9 July 1789, the National Constituent Assembly), though these bodies consisted of the same deputies elected by the separate orders.


Messages of support poured into the Assembly from Paris and other French cities. On 9 July 1789, the Assembly, reconstituting itself as the National Constituent Assembly, addressed the king in polite but firm terms, requesting the removal of the troops (which now included foreign regiments, who showed far greater obedience to the king than did his French troops), but Louis declared that he alone could judge the need for troops, and assured them that the troops had deployed strictly as a precautionary measure. Louis "offered" to move the assembly to
Noyon Noyon (; pcd, Noéyon; la, Noviomagus Veromanduorum, Noviomagus of the Veromandui The Viromandui (or Veromandui) were a Belgic tribe dwelling in the modern Vermandois Vermandois was a French county that appeared in the Merovingian The Mer ...

Soissons Soissons () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs ...

: that is to say, to place it between two armies and deprive it of the support of the Parisian people. Public outrage over this troop presence precipitated the
Storming of the Bastille The Storming of the Bastille (french: Prise de la Bastille ) was an event that occurred in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an est ...
, beginning the next phase of the Revolution.

See also

* List of members of the National Constituent Assembly of 1789


Further reading

* Jon Elster. 2020. ''France before 1789: The Unraveling of an Absolutist Regime''. Princeton University Press * *

External links

History of the National Assembly

National Assembly (French Revolution)
{{French Revolution navbox 1789 events of the French Revolution Constituent assemblies
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
Legislators in France