Why was the Pre-Revolution of 1787-1788 called "The Aristocratic Revolt"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

France's involvement in the American Revolution left a huge dent in the already-dwindling French economy. This, combined with the exaggerated expenditures of the aristocracy for the mere sake of royal entitlement (a remnant of the absolutist monarchy of Louis XIV), struck the lower classes with famine, and with such a social sense of disfranchisement, that led the commoners to lash against the aristocrats with the fevered rage that characterized the French Revolution, as a whole, in 1789. 

A precursor to the French Revolution, the dubbed "Aristocratic Revolt" of 1787-1788 was a reaction against the economic reforms suggested by Charles-Alexandre Calonne, comptroller of France, and later by  Étienne Charles Loménie de Brienne, minister of finance. In their proposals, Calonne and Loménie de Brienne suggested that a form of taxation must be imposed upon the higher classes of Louis XVI/Marie Antoinette's France in order to balance the deficit that was slowly leading France into financial chaos.

As a result of this proposition, King Louis summoned what was later known as "The Assembly of Notables", which constituted around 140-144 of the top ranking names in France. When Calonne first attempted to explain the importance and need to tax the privileged, he was met with such a negative reaction by the nobles that he was either forced or motivated to leave his position. This is what basically makes up for "the revolt", and why it obtained its name. Calonne was later replaced by de Brienne who was also Archbishop of Toulose.



charles-de | Student

The Parliaments, in every region of France, had got the right to accept or refuse the "edicts" of the king.

Their members were nobles and wanted to maintain their privileges, and refused any reform from the king.

At the end, Louis XVI asked a banker from Geneva (not still part of Switzerland) to purpose financial reforms. Necker purposed the king to tax the privileged : nobles and clergy. Their reaction was strong and the king revoked Necker, on the 13th of july 1789.

We know what happened the next day : Bastille occupied and destroyed, fights in Paris and the Revolution began.

Later, the Parliaments were suppressed, and only ONE assembly decided the politics of France, even stronger than any king in the past.