Legislative Assembly (France)

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Legislative Assembly
Assemblée législative
Kingdom of France
Coat of arms or logo
Medal of the Legislative Assembly
Type
Type
History
Established 1 October 1791
Disbanded 20 September 1792
Preceded by National Constituent Assembly
Succeeded by National Convention
Seats 745
Meeting place
Salle du Manège, Paris

The Legislative Assembly (French: Assemblée législative) was the legislature of France from 1 October 1791 to 20 September 1792 during the years of the French Revolution. It provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

The National Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on 30 September 1791. Upon Robespierre's motion it had decreed that none of its members would be eligible to the next legislature. Its successor body, the Legislative Assembly, operating under the liberal French Constitution of 1791, lasted until 20 September 1792, when the National Convention was established after the insurrection of 10 August just the month before.

The Legislative Assembly entrenched the perceived left-right political spectrum that is still commonly used today. There were 745 members.

Elections[edit]

The elections of 1791, held by census franchise, brought in a legislature that desired to carry the Revolution further. Prominent in the legislature were the Jacobin Club and its affiliated societies throughout France.

The Legislative Assembly first met on 1 October 1791. It consisted of 745 members, mostly from the middle class. The members were generally young, and since none had sat in the previous Assembly, they largely lacked national political experience. They tended to be people who had made their name through successful political careers in local politics.

The rightists within the assembly consisted of about 260 "Feuillants", whose chief leaders, Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette and Antoine Barnave, remained outside the House, because of their ineligibility for re-election. They were staunch constitutional monarchists, firm in their defence of the King against the popular agitation.

The leftists were of 136 "Jacobins" (still including the party later known as the Girondins or Girondists) and Cordeliers. Its most famous leaders were Jacques Pierre Brissot, the philosopher Condorcet, and Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud. The Left drew its inspiration from the more radical tendency of the Enlightenment, regarded the émigré nobles as traitors, and espoused anticlericalism. They were suspicious of Louis XVI, some of them favoring a general European war, both to spread the new ideals of liberty and equality and to put the king's loyalty to the test.

The remainder of the House, 345 deputies, generally belonged to no definite party. They were called "the Marsh" (Le Marais) or "the Plain" (La Plaine). They were committed to the ideals of the Revolution, hence generally inclined to side with the Left but would also occasionally back proposals from the Right.

The king's ministers, named by him and excluded from the Assembly, are described by the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica as "mostly persons of little mark".

Formation[edit]

For a detailed description of the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and related events, see The Legislative Assembly and the fall of the French monarchy.

The 27 August 1791 Declaration of Pillnitz already threatened France with attack by its neighbors. King Louis XVI favored war hoping to exploit a military defeat to restore his absolute power; the Assembly was leaning toward war and to spread the ideals of the Revolution.[1] This led in April 1792 to the first of the French Revolutionary Wars.

The king vetoed many of the Assembly's bills throughout its existence such as these:

  • Legislation declaring the émigrés guilty of conspiracy and prosecuted as such was passed on 8 November 1791 but vetoed by Louis.
  • Enforcement of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy: on 29 November 1791 the Assembly decreed that every non-juring clergyman who did not take the civic oath within eight days would lose his pension and, if any troubles broke out, he would be deported. Louis vetoed the decree as a matter of conscience.

Louis XVI formed a series of cabinets, veering at times as far left as the Girondins. However, by the summer of 1792, amid war and insurrection, it had become clear that the monarchy and the now-dominant Jacobins could not reach any accommodation. On 11 July 1792, the Assembly formally declared the Nation in danger because of the dire military situation.

On 9 August 1792, a new revolutionary Commune took possession of Hôtel de Ville, and early on the morning of 10 August, the insurgents assailed the Tuileries, where the royal family resided. Louis and his family sought asylum with the Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly stripped Louis, suspected of intelligence with the enemy, of all his royal functions and prerogatives. The king and his family were subsequently imprisoned in the Temple. A resolution is adopted, on 10 August 1792, to summon a new National Convention, to be elected by universal suffrage.

Many who had sat in the National Constituent Assembly and many more who had sat in the Legislative Assembly were re-elected. The Convention met on 20 September 1792 and became the new government of France.

Reforms[edit]

There were numerous reforms passed by the Legislative Assembly that addressed various topics including divorce, émigrés, and the clergy.

The Legislative Assembly implemented new reforms to help create a society of independent individuals with equal rights.[2] These reforms included new legislation about divorce, government control over registration, and inheritance rights for children. The registration of births, marriages, and deaths became a function under the government instead of the Catholic Church.[3] The new laws introduced adoption and gave illegitimate children inheritance rights equal to those of legitimate children.[4][5] Before 1791, divorces could only be granted for adultery and other violations of the marriage contract,[6] but under the new reform, a couple could also get divorced if they met one or more of the following:

  • If there was mutual consent of both spouses[7]
  • If there was an unilateral incompatibility of character[8]
  • If the couple had been formally separated before and needed a legalized divorce[9]
  • If there was dissolution of marriage due to “insanity, condemnation to an infamous punishment, violence or ill-treatment, notoriously dissolute morals, desertion for at least two years, absence without news for at least five years, and emigration”[10]

The new divorce laws were not sexually discriminatory as both the man and woman had the right to file for a divorce; the women petitioned for the most divorce decrees.[11]

The émigrés, mainly members of the nobility and public office who fled France after the events of the Revolution turned violent, were a major focus of the Legislative Assembly. In their decree on November 9, 1791, the Legislative Assembly established a three-class hierarchy of émigrés, as well as the punishments that would correspond with each class. The first class was comprised of the princes and other people of high birth who “formed [emigration’s] rallying point and controlled both its recruiting in France and its organization abroad.”[12] The second class was composed of officials in public office, soldiers, and other members of society with less organizational clout than members of the nobility yet more influence than the common people. The third and final class of recognized émigrés encompassed the average French citizens who left France yet commanded little to no direct influence over emigration proceedings.[13] In twelve articles, the decree outlined the economic and political punishments of the first and second classes—particularly assigning deadlines by which time emigration would be classified as an act of treason. Article 3 dictated that first class émigrés still abroad after January 1 would be “impeached for treason and punished with death” and articles 6 through 10 imposed a loss of position, salary, and even citizenship for second class émigrés still abroad after September 14.[14] Along with the declaration that emigration could result in the loss of active citizenship, article 6 established the Assembly’s right to sequester first class émigrés’ revenues and article 11 classified Émigré soldiers as deserters.[15] As the Legislative Assembly considered third class émigrés to be faultless victims of trickery and seduction by the other two classes, the legislators’ decree explicitly avoided issuing punitive measures against third class émigrés; whereas the other classes were to be financially and socially punished, third class émigrés were to be treated with “sympathy and understanding.”[16] The émigrés decree was vetoed by the King three days later.[17]

The laws regarding the clergy were mostly made in response to a reform passed by the National Assembly in July, 1790 known as the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.[18] In this decree, the National Assembly took the power to appoint bishops and curés away from the King. Many members of the Catholic clergy objected to this ruling.[19] In response, the National Assembly required a public oath of fidelity from the clergy if they wanted to retain their positions in the Catholic Church.[20] This decision was not well-received by a substantial portion of the clergy, which is why the Legislative Assembly felt it was necessary to address the issue. Those unwilling to take the oath were known as non-juring members.[21] On November 29, 1791 the Legislative Assembly decreed that any who refused to take the oath were committing a political crime and were liable to punishments including loss of pension and expulsion from their homes in the event of religious disturbances.[22]

Political groups[edit]

The Legislative Assembly was driven by two opposing groups. The members of the first group were conservative members of the bourgeoisie (Wealthy middle class in the Third Estate) that favored a constitutional monarchy, represented by the Feuillants, who felt that the revolution had already achieved its goal.[23]

The other group was the democratic faction, for whom the king could no longer be trusted, represented by the new members of the Jacobin club[24] that claimed that more revolutionary measures were necessary.[25][note 1]

Presidents[edit]

Political parties

  Independent
  Feuillants Club
  Jacobin Club

Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Political Party Department Legislature
(Election)
1 Hippolyte Delaroche - Marquis de Pastoret - Google Art Project.jpg Claude-Emmanuel de Pastoret
(1755–1840)
3 October 1791 30 October 1791 Feuillants Club Seine I
(1791)
2 AduC 132 Vergniaud (P.V., 1758-1793).JPG Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud
(1753–1793)
30 October 1791 15 November 1791 Jacobin Club Gironde
3 No image.svg Vincent-Marie Viénot
(1756–1845)
15 November 1791 28 November 1791 Feuillants Club Seine-et-Marne
4 AduC 196 Lacépède (B.G,E. de Laville, comte de, 1756-1825).JPG Bernard Germain de Lacépède
(1756–1825)
28 November 1791 10 December 1791 Feuillants Club Seine
5 Pierre-Édouard Lémontey.jpg Pierre-Édouard Lémontey
(1762–1826)
10 December 1791 26 December 1791 Feuillants Club Rhône
6 AduC 227 François de Neufchateau (N.L., 1750-1828).JPG François de Neufchâteau
(1750–1828)
26 December 1791 22 January 1792 Jacobin Club Vosges
7 AduC 051 Guadet (M.E., 1758-1794).JPG Marguerite-Élie Guadet
(1758–1794)
22 January 1792 7 February 1792 Jacobin Club Gironde
8 AduC 018 Condorcet (J.A.N., 1743-1794).JPG Nicolas de Condorcet
(1743–1794)
7 February 1792 19 February 1792 Jacobin Club Seine
9 No image.svg Guillaume-Mathieu Dumas
(1753–1837)
19 February 1792 4 March 1792 Feuillants Club Seine-et-Oise
10 AduC 182 Guyton de Morveau (L.B., baron, 1737-1816).JPG Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau
(1737–1816)
4 March 1792 19 March 1792 Jacobin Club Côte-d'Or
11 AduC 049 Gensonné (A., 1758-1793).JPG Armand Gensonné
(1758–1793)
19 March 1792 15 April 1792 Jacobin Club Gironde
12 AduC 273 Bigot de Préameneu (F.J.J., 1747-1825).JPG Félix-Julien-Jean Bigot de Préameneu
(1747–1825)
15 April 1792 29 April 1792 Feuillants Club Ille-et-Vilaine
13 No image.svg Jean-Gérard Lacuée
(1752–1841)
29 April 1792 13 May 1792 Feuillants Club Lot-et-Garonne
14 No image.svg Honoré Muraire
(1750–1837)
13 May 1792 27 May 1792 Feuillants Club Var
15 No image.svg François-Alexandre Tardiveau
(1761–1833)
27 May 1792 10 June 1792 Feuillants Club Ille-et-Vilaine
16 No image.svg François-Alexandre Tardiveau
(1756–1836)
10 June 1792 24 June 1792 Independent Loire-Atlantique
17 Girardin, Stanislas.jpg Louis Stanislas de Girardin
(1762–1827)
24 June 1792 8 July 1792 Jacobin Club Oise
18 AduC 140 Aubert de Bayet (J.B.A., 1759-1797).JPG Jean-Baptiste Annibal Aubert du Bayet
(1759–1797)
8 July 1792 22 July 1792 Feuillants Club Isère
19 No image.svg André-Daniel Laffon de Ladebat
(1746–1829)
22 July 1792 7 August 1792 Feuillants Club Gironde
20 No image.svg Jean-François Honoré Merlet
(1761–1830)
7 August 1792 20 August 1792 Jacobin Club Maine-et-Loire
21 AduC 139 Lacroix (J.F. de, 1754-1794).JPG Jean-François Delacroix
(1753–1794)
20 August 1792 2 September 1792 Jacobin Club Eure-et-Loir
22 AduC 156 Hérault de Séchelles (M.J., 1760-1794).JPG Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles
(1759–1794)
2 September 1792 16 September 1792 Jacobin Club Seine
23 Pierre-joseph-cambon-estampe.jpg Pierre-Joseph Cambon
(1756–1820)
16 September 1792 16 September 1792 Jacobin Club Hérault

References[edit]

  1. ^ Immediately there was a great deal of dissension between the Feuillants and the democratic faction from changes made to the Constitution and the Flight to Varennes. The democrats felt that the influence of the majority of the populace was minimised because of census suffrage.[26]
  1. ^ Thomas Lalevée, « National Pride and Republican grandezza: Brissot’s New Language for International Politics in the French Revolution », French History and Civilisation (Vol. 6), 2015, pp. 66-82
  2. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  3. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  4. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  5. ^ Boring, Nicolas. "France: Inheritance Laws in the 19th and 20th Centuries." Library of Congress. Accessed 05/16, 2017. Library of Congress
  6. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  7. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  8. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  9. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  10. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  11. ^ Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. JSTOR
  12. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  13. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  14. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  15. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  16. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  17. ^ Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books. p.45-6
  18. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  19. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  20. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  21. ^ Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015. p.43-61
  22. ^ MacLehose, Sophia. From the Monarchy to the Republic in France: 1788-1792. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 1904. Retrieved from heinonline.org. p.366
  23. ^ Albert Mathiez, La Révolution française, Librairie Armand Colin 1922, p. 170
  24. ^ Bernardine Melchior-Bonnet, Les Girondins, Tallandier 1989, p. 52
  25. ^ Jean-Paul Bertaud, La Révolution française, Perrin 1989 « rééd. coll. Tempus », 2004, p. 81-133
  26. ^ Jean-Paul Bertaud, La Révolutions française, p. 81

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


Further Reading[edit]

  • Boring, Nicolas. "France: Inheritance Laws in the 19th and 20th Centuries." Library of Congress. Retrieved from Library of Congress.
  • MacLehose, Sophia. From the Monarchy to the Republic in France: 1788-1792. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 1904. Retrieved from heinonline.org.
  • Mitchell, C. J. "Emigrés and the Refractory Clergy." Chap. 4, In The French Legislative Assembly of 1791, 43-60. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988. Retrieved from Google Books.
  • Pacini, Giulia. “The French Emigres in Europe and the Struggle against Revolution, 1789-1814 (review).” French Forum 26, no. 2 (2001). Retrieved from Project Muse.
  • Phillips, Roderick. "Women and Family Breakdown in Eighteenth-Century France: Rouen 1780-1800." Social History 1, no. 2 (1976): 197-218. Retrieved from JSTOR.
  • Popkin, Jeremy. A Short History of the French Revolution. 6th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education, INC, 2015.
  • Potofsky, Allan. “The ‘Non-Aligned Status’ of French Emigres and Refugees in Philadelphia, 1793-1798.” Transatlantica American Studies Journal 2, no. 1 (2006). Retrieved from Transatlantica.
  • Proctor, Candice E. “Women, Equality, and the French Revolution.” Greenwood Press, 1990. Retrieved from Questia.
  • Schroeder, Paul. The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848. 1996. Retrieved from Questia.
  • Thiers, Marie and Joseph Adolph. The History of the French Revolution. London: Whittaker and Co., 1845. Retrieved from Google Books.