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The Constitution

  • Philip Ouston

Abstract

The origins of the French Republic lie in the political philosophy and the dramatic events of the French Revolution, which asserted the rights of the nation as a whole against the sectional privileges and authorities established under the ancien régime, headed and held together by the monarchy.1 At first the Revolutionary slogans‘Vive la Nation! ’ and‘Vive le Roi! ’ seemed not at all incompatible. It was in the name of the King that the Third Estate of the Realm, led by the politically conscious and enlightened middle class, in June 1789, set up a single, homogeneous National Assembly, in opposition to the two traditionally allied privileged estates of clergy and nobility:‘Vive le Roi! Vive l’Assemblée Nationale! ’ The inspired but inexperienced Assembly could not make constitutional monarchy work in France, however, largely because the weak Louis XVI was only superficially won over. After two years of growing hostility between King and court on the one side, and on the other an Assembly increasingly swayed by the democratic political clubs of Paris, Louis was arrested at Varennes-en-Argonne on his way to join les émigrés — French officers in exile with the army of his brother-in-law, the Austrian Emperor.

Keywords

Prime Minister Austrian Emperor French Revolution Governmental Authority Left Wing 
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Notes

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    Preamble to the Constitution of 1791, in J. M. Thompson, French Revolution: Documents (Oxford, 1948) p. 111.Google Scholar
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© Philip Ouston 1972

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  • Philip Ouston

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