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French Revolution

National Assembly

History >> French Revolution

The National Assembly played a major role in the French Revolution. It represented the common people of France (also called the Third Estate) and demanded that the king make economic reforms to insure that the people had food to eat. It took over control of the government and ruled France in some way for around 10 years.

How was it first formed?

In May of 1789, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates General to address France's financial crisis. The Estates General was made up of three groups the First Estate (the clergy or church leaders), the Second Estate (the nobles), and the Third Estate (the commoners). Each group had the same amount of voting power. The Third Estate felt that this wasn't fair as they represented 98% of the people, but could still be outvoted 2:1 by the other two estates.

When the king refused to give them more power, the Third Estate created its own group called the National Assembly. They began to meet on a regular basis and run the country without the help of the king.

Different Names

Over the course of the French Revolution, the powers and the name of the revolutionary assembly changed. Here is a timeline of the name changes:
Drawing of King Louis XVI on trial
Trial of King Louis XVI
by the National Convention

by Unknown
Political Groups

Although the members of the revolutionary assembly all wanted a new government, there were many different factions within the assembly that were constantly fighting for power. Some of these groups formed clubs like the Jacobin Club, the Cordeliers, and the Plain. There was even fighting within the clubs. The powerful Jacobin Club was divided into the Mountain group and the Girondins. When the Mountain group gained control during the Reign of Terror, they had many of the Girondins executed.

Left and Right Politics

The terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" politics originated with the National Assembly at the start of the French Revolution. When the assembly met, the supporters of the king sat to the president's right, while the more radical revolutionaries sat on the left.

Interesting Facts about the National Assembly during the French Revolution Activities

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  • More on the French Revolution:

    Timeline and Events
    Timeline of the French Revolution
    Causes of the French Revolution
    Estates General
    National Assembly
    Storming of the Bastille
    Women's March on Versailles
    Reign of Terror
    The Directory
    Famous People of the French Revolution
    Marie Antoinette
    Napoleon Bonaparte
    Marquis de Lafayette
    Maximilien Robespierre

    Symbols of the French Revolution
    Glossary and Terms

    Works Cited

    History >> French Revolution

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