Timeline: French Revolution

I found this among my papers; I offer it for your perusal and criticism.


Population of France is approximately 21M-23M.


Major remonstrance.


End of Seven Years War.

Physiocrats in power.


Louis XV rebukes the parlements.

Novembre: Turgot publishes his Reflexions


Turgot publishes his Valeur


Parlements curtailed due to campaign of unrest.


Louis XVI crowned; restores the parlements; appoints Turgot as minister.


Beginning of eleven years of falling grain prices.

Beginning of American Revolution (1776-1783); ultimately leads to £2 billion in borrowing.

Turgot’s edicts unregistered, rescinded; Turgot’s program paralyzed; Turgot replaced with Jacques Necker.


Necker dismissed. He had favored a program of reforms similar to Turgot’s, which he was equally unable to implement.


C.A. Calonne appointed Minister of Finances; he works to broaden France’s productive base.

(American Revolution ends; France has borrowed £2 billion to finance the war.)


Calonne suggests using an assembly of notables to pass the Turgot/Necker Reforms.

(144 men appointed by the king; last summoned in 1624; 7 princes du sang, 39 nobles, 12 royal councillors, 11 bishops, 33 representatives of parlements and other regional assemblies, [and ~40 others])


Assembly of Notables.

12 mars: Calonne presents reform plans (including a land tax) to intransigent assembly.

31 mars: Calonne begins a pamphlet war to turn public sentiment against the Notables with anti-aristocratic rhetoric.

8 avril: Calonne dismissed. (Replaced by Brienne, 1 mai.)

10 mai: Marquis de La Fayette calls for the convocation of “une Assemblée Nationale”. (The chair, M. le Comte d’Artois, interprets this as a motion to call for a meeting of the Estates-General).

19 mai: Assembly of Notables rejects land tax.

23 mai: Assembly of Notables accepts La Fayette’s motion advocating toleration for Protestants. (The king issues an edict to this effect in November.)

2 juli -15 septembre: The parlement of Paris begins refusing to register new taxes, leading to a power struggle which is finally resolved by a deal over tax policy.

19-21 novembre: At a royal session, the parlement of Paris refuses to register an edict authorizing £420 million in loans. Louis XVI announces the Estates-General will meet by the end of 1791.


(Crown now has £4.5 billion of debt on which it pays £318 million of interest on an income of £560 million. The Paris parlement continues its campaign of low-level obstruction, refusing to register royal edicts and forbidding the king’s subjects to obey edicts promulgated by royal fiat.)

8 mai: Lamoignon, Keeper of the Seals, suspends all parlements and deprives them of their powers; transfers power of registration to a new cour plénière. (Parlements of Rennes [Bretagne] and Grenoble [Dauphiné] become centers of opposition.)

Summer: Crop failure. Grain prices rise after eleven years of falling prices.

8 août: Louis XVI capitulates to parlements; revokes edicts of 8 mai; summons Estates-General to meet in nine months’ time.

16 août: Public loans in default.

24 août: Brienne resigns; replaced by Necker.

23 septembre: Necker restores parlementaires.

25 septembre: Parlement of Paris decrees that the nobility and the clergy must each have 1/3 of the delegates in the Estates-General. (The Assembly of Notables, reconvening 6 nov. – 12. déc., affirms; Louis XVI overrules and doubles the number of Third-Estate delegates, 27 déc.)

May-June 1789

France now has a population of 24M-26M, an increase of ~3M in four decades. (Common estimate of French population by contemporaries was 30M.) — 75% of Frenchmen are peasants, approximately 11% are members of the bourgeoisie, and 11% the gens du peuple [i.e. unskilled urban laborers, roughly]: all told, the IIIº Estate contains ~96% of the French population. The Iº Estate: 130k clergymen. The IIº Estate: 100k-400k noblemen. — The Estates-General is to consist of 1201 deputies. The Iº Estate provides 300 members (46 prelates, 254 clerics of low rank); the IIº, 291 (201 conservatives, 90 liberals); the IIIº, 610.

5 mai: Speeches by Louis XVI, Baratin and Necker. Disagreement over voting procedure leads to obstructionism, refusal to verify credentials.

10 juin: Sieyès instigates the de facto secession of the IIIº Estate, which begins its own verification procedure (with an eye to seating a unicameral body) two days later.

17 juin: Proclamation of the National Assembly.

20 juin: Tennis Court Oath.

23 juin: Confrontation between Baratin and Sieyès/Mirabeau. Louis XVI orders Estates to meet separately.

27 juin: Louis XVI orders Iº and IIº Estates to join the soi-disant National Assembly while summoning military units to Paris.

30 juin: Mob invades St.-Germain-des-Prés and releases soldiers who had been imprisoned for their subversive political activities.

July 1789

8 juillet: Mirabeau demands the withdrawal of royal troops from Paris.

11 juillet: Louis XVI dismisses Necker; mobs attack customs-buildings, loot les Lazaristes, skirmish with the cavalry of the King’s German Regiment outside the Tuileries; loyalty of French Guard units questionable.

14 juillet: La prise de la Bastille. After a brief siege, the governor of the Bastille surrenders the fortress and its munitions to an armed mob (which lynches him, and goes on to murder the provost of Paris).

15 juillet: National Assembly names Bailly mayor of Paris, and gives military command to the Marquis de La Fayette.

16 juillet: Louis XVI reinstates Necker and withdraws royal troops from Paris.

17 juillet: Louis XVI recognizes Bailly and La Fayette. Aristocrats begin to flee France (D’Artois, d’Enghien, de Breteuil, de Broglie, de Polignac, and the Prince de Condé).

20 juillet: La Grande Peur. Beginning of several weeks of peasant riots and rural unrest.

22 juillet: Amid anger over food prices, mob lynches Intendant of Paris (and his father-in-law).

August 1789

4 août: Abolition of feudalism. National Assembly abolishes seigneurial rights, manorial law, and other privileges granted by title of nobility or royal charter.

26 août: National Assembly adopts a Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

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