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HOME   -   HISTORIC DOCUMENTS   -   ASSEMBLY OF THE NOTABLES 1787

 
   


Cartoon: Calonne at the Assembly of Notables 1787
Calonne at the Assembly of Notables 1787

 

Assembly of the Notables 1787

The Assembly of the Notables, or in French Assemblée des Notables, was held from February 22 - May 25, 1787, at Versailles.

Image Above

Calonne at the Assembly of the Notables in 1787. Caricature.

Musée Carnavalet, Paris

"Assemblée des Notables le 22 fevrier 1787"

Buffet de la cour

- Mes chers administrés, je vous ai rassemblés pour savoir à quelle sauce vous voulez être mangés.

- Mais nous ne voulons pas être mangés du tout !!!

- Vous sortez de la question…


In other words:

The Court's Buffet

Calonne - My dear delegates, I have gathered you to know with what sauce you would like to be eaten.

Notables - But we don't want to be eaten at all !

Calonne - You are evading the question ...

 


Go here for the Assembly of Notables 1788, which was held November 6 - December 12, 1788.

 

The Invite

Encouraged by the royal controller of finances, Charles Calonne, the Notables were summoned by King Louis XVI on December 29, 1786.

Check this event in the timeline of the French Revolution.

 

The Proceedings

Chairman in Louis XVI's absence was His Majesty's brother, Louis-Stanislas-Xavier.

During the opening session, Calonne presents his reforms.

The attendees then split into committees to discuss.

Scroll down to read the Minutes.

 

The Attendees

Also present, in addition to the deputies / notables, were the four secretaries of state and the minister of finance:

Charles Eugene de la Croix, Marquis de Castries

Philippe Henri, Marquis de Ségur

Louis Auguste le Tonnellier, Baron de Breteuil

Armand Marc, Comte de Montmorin de Saint Hérem

Charles Alexandre de Calonne
(Grand-Trésorier Commandeur de l'Ordre du Saint Esprit, Ministre d'Etat and Controleur general des Finances)

 

List of Convoked Notables

Invited were 144 deputies. Here is the guest list:

 

  Princes of the blood (7)
1 Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, Comte de Provence
(the King's younger brother, later Louis XVIII)
 
2 Charles-Philippe, Comte d'Artois
(the King's younger brother, later Charles X)
 
3 Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duc d'Orléans
(the King's cousin)
 
4 Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
 
5 Louis-Henri-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
 
6 Louis-François-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Conti
 
7 Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthièvre
   
  Nobility (39)
8 Alexandre Angélique de Talleyrand-Périgord
(Archbishop Duke of Reims, First Peer of France)
9 César Guillaume de La Luzerne
(Bishop Duke of Langres)
10 Anne Charles Sigismond de Montmorency-Luxembourg
11 Armand-Joseph de Béthune-Charost
12 Antoine Éléonore Léon le Clerc de Juigné
13 François Henri de Harcourt
14 Louis Jules Barbou Mazarini Mancini de Nivernois et Donziois
15 Louis Alexandre de la Rochefoucauld et de la Rocheguion
16 Jules Charles Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre
17 Louis George Erasme de Contades
18 Victor François de Broglie
19 Philippe de Noailles, Duc de Mouchy
20 Augustin Joseph de Mailly, Comte de Mailly
21 Joseph Henri Bouchard d'Esparbès de Lussan, Marquis d'Aubeterre
22 Charles Just de Beauvau
23 Noel de Vaux
24 Jacques Philippe de Choiseul, Comte de Stainville
25 Anne Emmanuel Ferdinand François, Duc de Croy, Prince du Saint-Empire
26 Casimir d'Egmont-Pignatelli
27 Gabriel Marie de Talleyrand-Périgord
28 Jean-Baptiste-Charles-Henri-Hector, Comte d'Estaing, Marquis de Saillans
29 Anne Louis Alexandre de Montmorency, Prince de Robecq
30 Louis Antoine Auguste de Rohan-Chabot
31 Adrien Louis de Guines
32 Louis Marie Florent, Duc du Chatelet-d'Haraucourt
33 Anne Alexandre Marie Sulpice Joseph de Montmorency-Laval
34 Henri Charles de Thiard-Bissy, Comte de Thiard
35 Pierre Louis de Chastenet, Comte de Puysegur
36 Philippe Claude, Comte de Montboissier
37 Henri, Baron de Flachslanden
38 Claude Antoine Cleriadus, Marquis de Choiseul-la-Baume
39 Aimery Louis Roger, Comte de Rochechouart
40 Charles Claude Andrault de Langeron, Marquis de Maulevrier
41 Louis Marie Athanase de Loménie, Comte de Brienne
42 François Claude Amour, Marquis de Bouillé
43 Louis François Marie Gaston de Lévis
44 Alexandre Louis François, Marquis de Croix-d'Heuchin
45 Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
46 Philippe-Antoine-Gabriel-Victor de la Tour du Pin de la Charce de Gouvernet
   
  The King's Council (12)
47 Louis Jean Bertier de Sauvigny
48 Charles Robert Boutin
49 Michel Bouvard de Fourqueux
50 Jean Charles Pierre Lenoir
51 Jean Jaques de Vidaud
52 Claude Guillaume Lambert
53 Guillaume Joseph Duleix de Bacquencourt
54 Antoine de Chaumont de la Galaisiere
55 Charles François Hyacinthe Esmangart
56 Louis Bénigne François Bertier
57 François Claude Michel Benoit le Camus
58 Pierre Charles Laurent de Villedeuil
   
  Clergy (11)
59 Arthur Richard Dillon
(Archbishop and Primate of Narbonne)
60 Étienne Charles de Loménie de Brienne
(Archbishop of Toulouse)
61 Jean-de-Dieu Raimond de Boisgelin
(Archbishop of Aix)
62 Jean Marie Dulau
(Archbishop of Arles, Primate and Prince)
63 Jérome Marie Champion de Cicé
(Archbishop of Bordeaux, Primate of Aquitaine)
64 Marie Joseph de Galard de Terraube
(Bishop of Puy)
65 Alexandre Amédée Adon Anne François Louis de Lauzieres-Thémines
(Bishop of Blois)
66 Seignelay-Colbert de Castle-Hill
(Bishop and Count of Rodez)
67 Pierre de Séguiran
(Bishop of Nevers)
68 François de Fontagnes
(Bishop of Nancy, Primate of Lorraine)
69 Louis François de Bausset
(Bishop of Alais / Alès)
   
  Parlements (33)
70 Étienne François d'Aligre
(Parlement de Paris)
71 Louis François de Paule le Fevre d'Ormesson de Noyseau
(Parlement de Paris)
72 Jean Baptiste Gaspard Bochart
(Parlement de Paris)
73 Chrétien François de Lamoignon
(Parlement de Paris)
74 Jean Joseph Dominique de Sénaux
(Parlement de Toulouse)
75 André Jacques Hyacinthe le Berthon
(Parlement de Bordeaux)
76 Amable Pierre Albert de Bérulle
(Parlement de Grenoble)
77 Bénigne le Gouz de Saint-Seine
(Parlement de Dijon)
78 Louis François Élie Camus de Pontcarré
(Parlement de Paris)
79 Charles Jean Baptiste des Gallois de la Tour
(Parlement de Provence)
80 Charles Marie François Jean Célestin du Merdy
(Parlement de Bretagne)
81 Jean Baptiste François de Gillet
(Parlement de Pau)
82 Louis Claude François Hocquart
(Parlement de Metz)
83 Claude Irenée Marie Nicolas Perreney de Grosbois
(Parlement de Franche-Comté)
84 Gaspard Félix Jacques de Pollinchoye
(Parlement de Flandre)
85 Michel Joseph de Coeurderoi
(Parlement de Nancy)
86 François Nicolas, Baron de Spon
(Parlement d'Alsace)
87 Amable Gabriel Louis François de Maures, Comte de Malartic
(Conseil Souverain du Roussillon)
88 Guillaume François Louis Joly de Fleury
(Parlement de Paris)
89 Jean Louis Augustin Emmanuel de Cambon
(Parlement de Toulouse)
90 Pierre Jules Dudon, Baron de Boynet
(Parlement de Bordeaux)
91 Jean Baptiste de Reynaud
(Parlement de Grenoble)
92 Bernard Étienne Pérard
(Parlement de Dijon)
93 Jean Pierre Prosper Godart Belbeuf
(Parlement de Rouen)
94 Jean François André le Bland de Castillon
(Parlement de Provence)
95 Anne Jacques Raoul, Marquis de Caradeuc
(Parlement de Bretagne)
96 Pierre de Bordenave
(Parlement de Pau)
97 Pierre Philippe Clement Lancon
(Parlement de Metz)
98 Claude Theophile Joseph Doroz
(Parlement French-Comté)
99 Albert Marie Auguste Bruneau
(Parlement de Flandre)
100 Pascal Joseph de Marcol
(Parlement de Nancy)
101 Armand Gaston François Xavier Loyson
(Conseil Souverain d'Alsace)
102 François Michel Bonaventure Gilles Joseph de Vilar
(Conseil Souverain du Roussillon)
   
  Chamber of Accounts (2)
103 Aimard Charles Marie de Nicolai
104 François de Montholon
   
  Cour des Aides (2)
105 Charles Louis François de Paule Barentin
106 Antoine Louis Hyacinthe Hocquart
   
  Deputies of the States (12)
107 Anne Louis Henri de la Fare (Bourgogne)
108 Henri George César, Comte de Chastellux (Bourgogne)
109 François Noirot (Bourgogne)
110 François de Pierre de Bernis
(Archbisop of Damas, Languedoc)
111 Pierre, Marquis d'Hautpoul Seyré (Languedoc)
112 François Chevalier Dusuc de Saintaffrique (Languedoc)
113 Urbain René de Hercé
(Bishop and Count of Dol, Bretagne)
114 Mathurin Jean le Provost, Chevalier de la Voltais
(États de la province de Bretagne)
115 Yves Vincent Fablet de la Motte-Fablet (Bretagne)
116 Raymond de Fabry (Artois)
117 Louis Marie, Marquis d'Estourmel, Baron de Cappy (Artois)
118 Pierre Philippe Duquesnoy (Artois)
   
  Lieutenant Civil (1)
119 Denys François Angran d'Alleray, Comte des Maillis
   
  Municipal City Deputies (25)
120 Louis le Peletier de Mortefontaine (Paris)
121 François Pierre Goblet (Paris)
122 Louis Tolozan de Montfort (Lyon)
123 Jean Pierre d'Isnard (Marseille)
124 André Bernard Duhamel (Bordeaux)
125 Jean Baptiste Louis Duperré Duveneur (Rouen)
126 Philippe, Marquis de Bonfontan, Baron de d'Andousielle
(Toulouse)
127 Conrad-Alexandre Gérard (Strasbourg)
128 Louis Jean Baptiste Joseph Huvino de Bourghelles (Lille)
129 Pierre Guillaume Henri Giraud Duplessix (Nantes)
130 Pierre Maujean de Labry (Metz)
131 Charles François de Manézy (Nancy)
132 Bernardin Daniel Deyde (Montpellier)
133 Alexandre Denys Joseph de Pujol (Valenciennes)
134 François Joseph Souyn (Reims)
135 Antoine François le Caron (Amiens)
136 Claude Huez (Troyes)
137 Jacques Alexandre le Forestier, Comte de Vendeuvre (Caen)
138 François Anselme Crignon de Bonvalet (Orléans)
139 Pierre Jean Baptiste Clement de Beauvoir (Bourges)
140 Étienne Jacques Christophe Benoit de la Grandiere (Tours)
141 Guillaume-Grégoire de Roulhac (Limoges)
142 Philippe Duval de la Mothe (Quercy)
143 Louis Anne Reboul de Villars (Clermont)
144 Joseph Verdier (Bayonne)

 

 

Minutes

Here follows the English translation of an excerpt from the assembly's minutes:

 


Opening Session, February 22, 1787 — Calonne's Speech

Abuses

Abuses [in tax payment] . . . are defended by self-interest, influence, wealth and ancient prejudices which seem to be hallowed by time; but what are all these together compared with the common good and the necessity of the state?

These abuses oppress the wealth-producing, laboring class: the abuses of pecuniary privilege; exceptions to the general rule, and so many unjust; exemptions which only relieve one section of taxpayers by aggravating the condition of the others. . . .

The projects which the King intends to impart to you . . . . are neither doctrinaire nor novelties. They represent a summary of . . . the plans for the public good long contemplated by experienced statesmen and by the government itself. Some have been attempted in part and all seem to have the backing of the nation, but hitherto their complete implementation appeared impracticable because of the difficulty of reconciling a host of local customs, claims, privileges and conflicting interests.

To this end, His Majesty has first of all considered the various forms of administration which occur in those provinces without [local] Estates. In order that the distribution of taxation may cease to be unequal and arbitrary, He has decided to confide the task to the landowners and he has derived from the first principles of the monarchy the general plan of a graduated series of deliberative assemblies whereby the expression of the taxpayers' wishes and their observations on everything which concerns them will be transmitted from parish to district assemblies, thence to provincial assemblies and through them to the throne.

Next His Majesty brought all his personal attention to bear on establishing the same principle of uniformity . . . . in the distribution of the land tax. . . . He recognized that . . . the vingtièmes [one-twentieth], instead of being assessed as they should be on all the land in his kingdom in true proportion to the value of the crop, suffer an infinity of exceptions which are tolerated rather than regarded as legitimate. . . . The revenue of this general tax, instead of providing the government with vital information about the produce of the kingdom and the relative wealth of each province, serve only to demonstrate the offensive inequality between their various contributions. . . .

His Majesty has decided to remedy these defects by applying the rules of a strictly distributive justice, by restoring the original intention behind the tax, and by raising it to its true value without increasing anyone's contribution (indeed granting some relief to the people), and finally by making every kind of privilege incompatible. The vingtièmes will be replaced by a general land tax covering the whole area of the kingdom on a proportion of all produce, payable in kind where feasible, otherwise in money, and admitting of no exception, even the crown lands other than those resulting from the varying fertility of the soil and the varying harvests.

The lands of the [Roman Catholic] Church would necessarily be included in this general assessment which, to be fair, must include all land as does the protection for which it is the price. But in order that these lands should not be overburdened by continuing to pay the taxes collected to fund the debt of the clergy, the King, sovereign protector of the churches of his kingdom, has decided to provide for the repayment of this debt by granting the clergy the necessary authorization to make the repayment [by selling off feudal rights, etc.] . . . .

Complete freedom of the grain trade . . . with the one exception of deferring to the wishes of the provinces when any of them think it necessary temporarily to suspend export abroad. . . .

The King also proposes the abolition of the corvée [forced labor on public highways] and the conversion of this excessively harsh exaction to a monetary contribution distributed more justly and spent in such a way that it can never be diverted to other purposes.

Internal free trade, customs houses removed to the frontiers, the establishment of a uniform tariff taking the needs of commerce into consideration, the suppression of several taxes which are harmful to industry or lead too easily to harassment and the alleviation of the burden of the gabelle [the obligation to purchase salt from the state] (which I have never mentioned to His Majesty without his being deeply grieved that he cannot rid his subjects of it altogether).

These, gentlemen, are so many salutary measures which enter into the plan upon which His Majesty will enlarge and which all conform to the principles of order and uniformity which are its basis.

 

Source: Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham) and Roy Rosenzweig Center who in turn draws from Jules Flammermont, Remonstrances du Parlement de Paris au XVIIIe siècle, vol. 1 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1888–98), 189–98.
 

 

March 9, 1787 — Protest of the Fifth Committee

. . . The bureau considers that the establishment of provincial assemblies would be useful, but that the plan proposed in the memorandum, regardless of its many faults, seems to depart from the French constitution in that mixing the three orders destroys the hierarchy necessary for the maintenance of royal authority and the existence of the monarchy. The bureau proposes that these assemblies be given a form more in keeping with the constitution of the realm, and it begs His Majesty to invest them with all the authority necessary to allocate taxes, to tender contracts, and to decide upon, supervise, and pay for public works.

It is the bureau's opinion that levying taxes in kind is not allowable, being by nature vague, disproportionate, unequal and extravagant. We believe that a monetary tax should be spread among all the lands of the realm, without exception and in proportion to their revenues. Also to convince the Notables of the taxes' necessity, extent and duration, His Majesty shall be asked to send them the accounts requested in their deliberation of 5 March allowing them to compare resources to needs. . . .

The bureau approves of reimbursement of the clergy's debts, which was felt to be appropriate, but believes that the two measures proposed for this purpose . . . would place property at risk, contravene the principles of distributive justice, and in some respects could harm the general administration of the realm. . . .

The bureau is of the opinion that the abolishment of the corvée in labor would be as just as it would be useful, and that all matters relating to the amount and apportionment of the [substitute] monetary tax, as well as the tendering of contracts, supervision, and payment for the resulting public works, should be entrusted to the provincial assemblies. . . .

 

March 15, 1787 — Protest of the Fourth Committee

. . . The bureau presided over by His Grace the Prince de Condé . . . on the subject of the first memorandum, considers that the proposed composition of the provincial assemblies is contrary to the constitutive principles of the monarchy. As for the second memorandum, the bureau considers that the land tax in kind (which is its sole object) cannot be adopted, and that the third memorandum, dealing with the relief of the clergy [from its debt], would result in legitimate alarm regarding property. . . ..

 

March 16, 1787 — Protest of the Third Committee

The bureau, presided over by His Grace, the Duke of Orleans . . . considered that it owed the King and the nation an accounting of its true feelings, and considered that it needed to explain the disparity between the principles on which its judgments were based and those embodied in the memoranda it received. The bureau acknowledges that its principles are contrary to those in the memorandum on the establishment of provincial assemblies, which it considers unconstitutional and lacking in the powers necessary to render them useful. They also disagreed about the tax in kind known as the "land tax," which it considers to be vague, disproportionate, and extravagant, as well as on the reimbursement of the clergy's debts, which it considers to be contrary to the principles of property. The bureau believes itself obliged to also state that that it did not deliberate on any monetary tax, either already collected or to be collected, either already established or to be established, and either under the name of vingtièmes [twentieths] or any other name. Prior to any deliberation on these subjects, the bureau first desired to have access to the revenue and expenditure accounts, the plans and projects announced by the controller general, and the means of saving that His Majesty proposes to relieve the burden on his People. . . .

 

 

Source: Modern History Sourcebook (Fordham) and Roy Rosenzweig Center who in turn draws from M. J. Mavidal and M. E. Laurent, eds., Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, première série (1787 à 1799), 2d ed., 82 vols. (Paris: Dupont, 1879–1913), 1:219–21.
 

 


 


Here follows an excerpt from the assembly's minutes in French:

(This is the day on which La Fayette asks for the Estates-General.)

 


Thursday, May 10, 1787

La Fayette:

... Mais dans tous les cas, les travaux de l’assemblée, la salutaire influence des assemblées provinciales, les talens et les vertus de l’administration actuelle, doivent amener un nouvel ordre des choses dont l’énumération pourrait être contenue dans un mémoire particulier que je propose de présenter à Sa Majesté. Comme le crédit doit être transporté sur des bases plus que naturelles, que la baisse de l’intérêt de l’argent peut diminuer celui de la dette publique dans le rapport de 7 à 4, comme la simplification de perception doit délivrer l’État des compagnies de finances, dont les engagements finissent dans cinq ans, il me semble que cette époque est celle que nous devons supplier Sa Majesté de fixer dès à présent pour ramener à elle le compte de toutes les opérations et en consolider à jamais l’heureux résultat par la convocation d’une Assemblée Nationale.


Comte d'Artois:

Quoi Monsieur ! Vous demandez la convocation des États-généraux !


La Fayette:

Oui, Monseigneur, et même mieux que cela.


Comte d'Artois:

Vous voulez donc que j’écrive et que je porte au Roi : "M. de La Fayette faisant la motion de convoquer les États-généraux." ?


La Fayette:

Oui, Monseigneur.

 

Source: Archives départementales de Seine-et-Marne, who in turn draws from Extrait du discours de La Fayette demandant des états généraux en 1787 ; extrait du tome II des Mémoires, correspondances et manuscrits du général Lafayette publiés par sa famille, Paris : éd. H. Fournier Aîné, Londres : éd. Saunders et Otley, 1837, p. 176-177 ; AD 77, 8° 6003/2


 


 

Here are the complete minutes of the Assembly as PDF (French)

(15.6 MB - might take some seconds to load)

 

 


 


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