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FrRevol_101-150.indd 15 3/16/12 1:03 PM CHAPTER XIII Conduct ofthe Last Estates General, Held at Paris in z6z4. The aristocratical party, in 1789, were perpetually demanding the adoption of ancient usages. The obscurity of time is very favorable to those who are not disposed to enter on a discussion of truth on its own merits. They called out incessantly, "Give us 1614, and our last Estates General; these are our masters, these are our models." I shall not stop to show that the Estates General held at Blois in 1576 were almost as different, in point both of composition and form of proceeding , from the Paris assembly of1614, as from theirpredecessorsunder King John and Louis XII. No meeting of the three orders having been founded on clear principles, none had led to permanent results. It may, however, be interesting to recall some of the principal characteristics of the last Estates General, brought forward, as they were, after a lapse of nearly two centuries, as a guide to the assembly of1789. The Third Estate proposed to declare that no power, spiritual or temporal, had a right to release the king's subjects from their allegiance to him. The clergy, through the medium of Cardinal du Perron, opposed this,1 making a reservation of the rights of the Pope; the nobles followed the example, and received, as well as the clergy, the warm and public thanks ofHis Holiness. Those who speak of a compact between the nation and the Crown are liable, even in our days, to be considered Jacobins; but in those times, the r. After the meeting of the Estates General in Blois in rpG, Du Perron tried to find a conciliatory solution and convinced the Pope to revoke the excommunication ofHenri IV. In r6r4, Du Perron represented the clergy at the meeting of the Estates General and pronounced himself against the independence of the Crown from the Holy See. zz5 FrRevol_101-150.indd 16 3/16/12 1:03 PM PART I argument was, that the royal authority was dependent on the head ofthe church. The Edict of Nantes had been promulgated in r598, and the blood of Henri IV, shed by the adherents of the League, had hardly ceased to flow when the Protestants among the nobles and Third Estate demanded, in r6r4, in the declaration relative to religion, a confirmation of the articles in the edict of Henri, which established the toleration of their form of religion; but this request was rejected. M. de Mesme, lieutenant civil, addressing the nobles on the part ofthe Third Estate, declared that the three orders ought to consider themselves as three brothers, of whom the Third Estate was the youngest. Baron de Senneci answered in the name of the nobles that the Third Estate had no title to this fraternity, being neither ofthe same blood nor ofequal virtue.2 The clergy required permission to collect tithes in all kinds of fruit and corn, and an exemption from the excise duties paid on articles brought into the towns, as well as from contributing to the expense of the roads; they also required further restraints on the liberty ofthe press. The nobles demanded that the principal offices of state should be bestowed on men of family only, and that the commoners (roturiers) should be forbidden the use of arquebuses, pistols, and even of dogs, unless houghed, to prevent their being employed in the chase. They required, also, that the commoners should pay further seignorial duties to the proprietors offiefs; that all pensions granted to the Third Estate should be suppressed, while their own body should be exempt from personal arrest and from all taxes on the product of their lands. They asked, further, a right to receive salt from the king's granaries at the same price as the merchants; and, finally, that the Third Estate should be obliged to wear a different dress from that of persons of family. I abridge this extract from the Minutes of the Assembly of r6r4, and could point out a number ofother ridiculous things, were not ourattention wholly required by those that are revolting. It is, however, quite enough to prove that the separation of the three orders served only to give oc2 . The Baron of Senneci (or Senecey) was one of the most respected members of the nobility at the meeting of the Estates General in 1p6. zz6 FrRevol_101-150.indd 17 3/16/12 1:03 PM CHAPTER X I...


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