Elliot Fernandez

The Constitutional Monarchy and the Legislative Assembly (1791-1792)

The France that arose from the Constitution of 1791 opted for a constitutional monarchy that limited the powers of the king and where sovereignty was in the hands of the Legislative Assembly chosen by census suffrage.
Elliot Fernandez
Elliot Fernandez
He has a degree in History from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2009) and a Master's in World History from Pompeu Fabra University (2011).
Post on 2022-12-22

On September 3, 1791, the National Assembly adopted the First Constitution of France. In the elections to choose the new representatives of the Legislative Assembly, held in September, a majority of deputies from the constitutionalist "centre " (moderate) were elected. The new regime was based on the fact that France was a kingdom with a constitutional monarchy, and where national sovereignty resided in Parliament.

The Constitution of 1791. The constitutional monarchy

The new Constitution of France entailed a total reorganization of the kingdom. Nevertheless, he did not question the figure of the monarchy. Characteristics of the new Constitution:

The Constituent Assembly introduced, based on the idea of ​​Abbé Sieyès, a distribution among citizens, thinking only of men (September 1789): active citizens and passive citizens.

Of the 29 million French citizens at that time, two categories were made. First, men over the age of twenty-one (7 million):

In the electoral process, active citizens elected a citizen (delegate), who had to prove he could pay an annual tax equivalent to 10 working days. These delegates were the ones who elected the deputies. To be a deputy you had to pay 50 pounds. It was a system of census suffrage of the second degree.

This was unconstitutional and for this reason the Revolution was radicalized. Since not everyone was equal before the law, the Society of Friends of Human Rights was founded.

The Legislative Assembly (October 1, 1791-September 21, 1792)

After the holding of elections to choose the representatives of the Legislative Assembly, in September 1791, the new Parliament with a "constitutional" centrist majority began its activity in October. Despite the "undemocratic" nature of electoral suffrage (only property-owning citizens could vote), the establishment of the new constitutional regime was seen by many as the end of the Revolution.

Nevertheless, the Assembly fully complied, not without some shock, from October 1, 1791 to August 10, 1792, with what it had been elected for: that it had to practice coexistence with the King on the basis of a Constitution.

This period can be divided into three stages:

Composition of the Legislative Assembly

National Assembly

With 745 deputies, the National Legislative Assembly is made up of:

The Revolution of August 10, 1792: the assault on the Tuileries

On the day of August 10, 1792, a popular insurrection took place in Paris, which would end the monarchy of Louis XVI, and which is also known as the "second revolution". The main event was the storming of the Tuileries palace by the insurgents, members of the Parisian sections and the sans-culottes of Paris, together with the "federated" troops.

The king sought the protection of the Legislative Assembly, but was suspended from his constitutional functions and detained together with his family. At the same time it was decided to call elections by universal suffrage to form a National Convention that would assume all the powers of the State and draft a new Constitution.

When the Convention met on September 21, the French Republic was proclaimedThen Louis XVI, in a trial, was sentenced to death and guillotined in January 1793.

Capture of the Tuileries Palace, August 10, 1792.
Capture of the Tuileries Palace, August 10, 1792.

The victory of the insurgents on August 10 created a completely new situation; the Assembly was in an ambiguous position because two days before, the monarchist majority had supported Lafayette and the next day it retracted, voting as a whole on the king's recall request. Despite the events the Assembly continues in its place and was the only institution that maintains legal power.

His mission was to try to regroup in his favour, the authorities and the citizens. Therefore, the Assembly alone in power, decreed the following:

On August 11, the Assembly appoints a provisional executive council that will have all the powers of executive power without the royal veto.

Legislative work of the Assembly (1791-1792)