The Estates-General convened in Versailles on 5 May 1789. It was organized into three estates, respectively: the clergy, the nobility, and the rest of France. The third estate (the people) was granted a double representation to create equality with the first and second estate. But later the votes of the third estate were weighted cancelling the double representation.In June of that year, the third estate declared the National Assembly, an assembly not of the Estates but of "the People." In an attempt to keep control of the process and prevent the Assembly from convening, Louis XVI ordered the closure of the Salle des États, not allowing the entrance of the third estate. The Assembly moved their deliberations to a nearby tennis court, where they proceeded toswear the Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789), under which they agreed not to separate until they had given France a constitution. A majority of the representatives of the clergy soon joined them, as did 47 members of the nobility. Messages of support for the Assembly poured in from Paris and other French cities.
Jacques Necker had earned enmity with many of the nobles for giving assistance andguidance to the third estate and was then dismissed on July 11. People in Paris began a rebellion when they heard the news next day. They were afraid of soldiers that had been summoned to shut down the National Constituent Assembly. Paris was then consumed in chaos and the mobs get the support of the French guard, arms and trained soldiers.
On 14 July, the insurgents set their eyes on the largeweapons and ammunition inside the Bastille fortress, which was also perceived to be a symbol of monarchist tyranny and the Ancien Régime. After several hours of combat, the prison fell that afternoon. Governor Marquis Bernard de Launay was beaten, stabbed and decapitated; his head was placed on a pike and paraded about the city.
The King and his military supporters backed down. La Fayette took upcommand of the National Guard at Paris. Jean-Sylvain Bailly, president of the Assembly at the time of the Tennis Court Oath, became the city's mayor under a new governmental structure known as the commune. The King visited Paris, where, on 17 July he accepted a tricolored cockade.
Necker was recalled to power, but his triumph was short-lived. He was an astute financier but a less astutepolitician. Nobles were not assured by this apparent reconciliation of King and people. They began to flee the country as émigrés, some of whom began plotting civil war within the kingdom and agitating for a European coalition against France.
By late July, insurrection and the spirit of popular sovereignty spread throughout France. The large numbers of men on the roads of France as a result ofunemployment led to wild rumors and paranoia (particularly in the rural areas) that caused widespread unrest and civil disturbances and contributed to the Great Fear.
On 4 August 1789 the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism. In the course of a few hours, nobles, clergy, towns, provinces, companies, and cities lost their special privileges.
Looking to the Declaration of Independence ofthe United States for a model, on 26 August 1789, the Assembly published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
The popular party declared: France would have a single, unicameral assembly. The King retained only a "suspensive veto"; he could delay the implementation of a law, but not block it absolutely. The Assembly eventually replaced the historic provinces with 83départements, uniformly administered and roughly equal in area and population.
On 5 October 1789, 7.000 women assembled at Parisian markets and marched towards Versailles. The women were responding to the harsh economic situations they faced, especially bread shortages. They also demanded an end to Royalist efforts to block the National Assembly, and for the King and his administration to move to...