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The End of an ÉliteThe French Bishops and the Coming of the Revolution 1786-1790$
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Nigel Aston

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202844.001.0001

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The bishops and the first Assembly of Notables, spring 1787

The bishops and the first Assembly of Notables, spring 1787

(p.46) 3 The bishops and the first Assembly of Notables, spring 1787
The End of an Élite

Nigel Aston

Oxford University Press

Baron de Calonne, the Controller-General, advised Louis XVI in August 1786 to summon an Assembly of Notables. In the minister's mind, the Assembly was seen as a new device to obtain something like national consent to his plans for reforming state finances, rather than a forum in which the Notables, and especially the Episcopate, would present their own views on reform and insist that the monarchy listen to them. Bishops were apprehensive that Calonne would violate the financial independence of the Church. Ministers had already requested a hefty don gratuit from the General Assembly of the Clergy in 1785–6, and under Calonne's proposals to replace the two vingtièmes, the Church would lose the right of apportioning its voluntary tax burden: ecclesiastical landowners would have to pay with everyone else the subvention nationale (or land tax), levied in kind at harvest time.

Keywords:   Baron de Calonne, Louis XVI, Assembly of Notables, bishops, don gratuit, General Assembly of the Clergy, subvention nationale

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