National Constituent Assembly

Created: 9 July 1789

It was common practice for every iteration of France's national representative body to be referred to simply as the 'National Assembly', but this term covered three entirely separate institutions. The National Constituent Assembly was the new title given on 9 July 1789 to the collection of deputies who had first been elected as three separate Estates (Clergy, Nobility, and everybody else as the Third Estate) for the Estates General back in May, and had by the end of June turned into a Revolutionary national representative body. These deputies then sat as the nation's representatives until France's first written constitution was finally completed in the summer of 1791. Elections were then held for a National Legislative Assembly to enact it. The Constituent Assembly oversaw a wide-ranging Revolutionary reform programme that by the autumn of 1791 had (among many other actions) abolished feudalism and the nobility, confirmed the fundamental rights of the French citizenry and reorganised France's judicial, administrative and religious structures.





Appears in these Letters:


9 May: The Opening of the Estates General

The Estates General was the national representative body called by Louis XVI to solve the state’s financial problems. It was set up with ornate...

16 July: Aftermath of the Fall of the Bastille

The duchess provides an immediate response to the dramatic Revolutionary events of early July 1789. Momentum had shifted from Versailles and the new...

8 August: The Duchess Rides Through the Great Fear

The duchess felt trapped in Paris following the Revolutionary events of July 1789. She decided to leave Paris for her provincial estates at Moreuil in...


15 April: The Riddle of Louis XVI

Although a staunch royalist, the duchess, like many nobles, feared that the king might be tempted to enter an alliance with influential members of the...

30 August: Confrontation at Moreuil

This entry details a lengthy confrontation between the duchess and local inhabitants at her Moreuil estate. The new political landscape taking shape...

29 December: The Duchess Reflects

The duchess takes stock of the Revolution thus far, and considers what it has meant for her and for the country. Her decision to begin this review...


30 June: Capture at Varennes: The Humiliation of a King

Here the duchess sifts through the wreckage of the royal family's thwarted attempt to escape Paris in June 1791. Before leaving on what would become...