Oath of the Tennis Court (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The Oath of the Tennis Court by the representatives of the French third estate forces Louis XVI to accept a truly national Assembly, thus precipitating the French Revolution.
Summary of Event
King Louis XVI of France was forced to call the Estates-General in 1789 because the nobility and the higher clergy had been unwilling to cooperate with him in an attempt to introduce financial reforms. Although France was one of the most prosperous nations in Europe at the time, the royal government was on the verge of bankruptcy. An inept system of collecting taxes and the inefficient management of royal monopolies contributed to the financial distress of the government, but the real cause was the inequity of the tax system.
Neither the nobility nor the clergy paid taxes to the crown, and exclusion of this substantial portion of the nation’s wealth placed an increased burden on the remainder of the population. Furthermore, the tax structure was such that the wealthy bourgeoisie paid a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than did the peasants. In order to avoid bankruptcy, the government attempted to introduce new taxes that would fall upon the nobility and clergy, hitherto untouched. This attempt led to a struggle between the Crown and the privileged classes in 1787 and 1788. Louis XVI finally gave in to the demands of the Parlement of Paris, which reflected the views of the...
(The entire section is 1421 words.)
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