FRENCH REVOLUTION. Although there have been not a few revolutions in France the name is always given to that extraordinary series of events which occurred between the summoning of the Estates-General in 1788 and the assumption of power by Napoleon in 1799. The Estates-General which met at Versailles on May 5, 1789, was com posed of three orders: the clergy or first estate, the nobility or second estate, and the third estate, comprising represen tatives of all those in the nation who were not clergymen or nobles. In the previous centuries the three orders had assembled separately and voted sepa rately and it was the intention of the king and the court party that the cus tom should be continued. But the depu ties of the third estate were in no mood to have themselves outvoted in this man ner and, under the leadership of Mira beau, one of their number, they called upon the other two orders to join them in a single body. The king had already granted them 600 deputies, while the other two orders had about 300 apiece. As there were many of the clergy who were in sympathy with the aims of the third estate, these, with the aid of the few liberal nobles, would place the dep uties of the third estate in control of the situation, provided they all sat and voted as one body, and not as three separate orders. After continued refus als on the part of the other two orders to join them, the deputies of the third estate on June 17, 1789, declared them selves a "National Assembly" and in vited members of the clergy and nobility to associate themselves with them. Three days later, finding themselves ex cluded from their meeting places, they took the famous "Tennis Court" oath binding them to assemble together until the "constitution of the kingdom shall be established." After a weak attempt on the part of the king to force the estates to vote separately, he finally agreed to order the clergy and nobility to assemble with the deputies of the third estate in the National Assembly.
The dismissal of Necker and the ac tions of the court party in collecting troops in and about Paris led to a rising of the Parisians on the 14th of July and their capture of the Bastille. The
necessity of preserving order and yet avoiding placing power in the king's hand led to the formation of the "Na tional Guard," a volunteer citizen army of which Lafayette assumed command. These events stimulated the deputies at Versailles to action and on Aug. 4, 1789, they passed series of decrees abolishing feudalism, doing away with the titles of the Church, abolishing all exemptions from taxation, and declaring that "all the peculiar privileges, pecuniary or otherwise, of the provinces . . . are once for all abolished and are absorbed into the law common to all Frenchmen." Thus, at one blow, the most serious of the abuses of the old regime were reme died. France was divided into 81 de partments in which all laws and taxes were to be uniform. The Assembly fol lowed this action by passing on Aug. 26 the "Declaration of the Rights of Man," in which were stated the privi leges which belong to man as man everywhere and under all conditions.
Rumors began to circulate about the beginning of October that the king, un der the influence of the court, was pre paring to use force to dismiss the As sembly and put an end to the revolution. These rumors led to a fresh outbreak of the mob of Paris which brought about a march of several thousand women to Versailles, whose purpose was to bring the king and the Assembly to Paris where they might be under the watchful eye of the Paris Commune. The women invaded the royal palace at Versailles and had it not been for the timely arrival of Lafayette and the National Guard the queen would have probably been killed. The court and Assembly obeyed the commands of the mob to return with them to Paris where the monarch was lodged in the Tuile ries, while the Assembly continued its sessions in a riding school nearby. This transfer to the capital placed the As sembly under the domination of the Commune which more and more began to usurp the power of the French Gov ernment.