By John P. McKay et al.
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Extra info for A History of World Societies Volume C: 1775 to the Present
Louis XVI’s efforts to reject their demands failed, and in July 1788 he reluctantly called the Estates General into session. The National Assembly As its name indicates, the Estates General was a legislative body with representatives from the three orders of society: the clergy, nobility, and commoners. On May 5, 1789, the twelve hundred newly elected delegates of the three estates gathered in Versailles for the opening session of the Estates General. They met in an atmosphere of deepening crisis.
Once upon a time the Third Estate was in bondage and the noble order was everything that mattered. Today the Third is everything and nobility but a word. . What is the will of a Nation? It is the result of individual wills, just as the Nation is the aggregate of the individuals who com- in the name of economic liberty. Thus the National Assembly applied the spirit of the Enlightenment in a thorough reform of France’s laws and institutions. The National Assembly also imposed a radical reorganization on religious life.
Yet liberal ideas about individual rights and political freedom also appealed to some progressive members of the hereditary nobility. Representative government did not mean democracy, which liberal thinkers tended to equate with mob rule. ” The blurring of practical distinctions between landed aristocrats and wealthy commoners meant that there was no clear-cut opposition between nobles and non-nobles on political issues. The Atlantic revolutions began with aspirations for equality and liberty among the social elite.
A History of World Societies Volume C: 1775 to the Present by John P. McKay et al.