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France before 1789The Unraveling of an Absolutist Regime$
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Jon Elster

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149813

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149813.001.0001

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Deliberating Bodies

Deliberating Bodies

(p.188) Chapter Five Deliberating Bodies
France before 1789

Jon Elster

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about the genuinely representative bodies in the old regime. It describes the Estates-General, the provincial Estates in the pays d'états, the quinquennial assemblies of the clergy, the occasional assemblies of notables, and the provincial assemblies that were created in the last decade before the French Revolution. It assesses how the representative bodies in earlier times were far from the satisfying democratic criteria of suffrage, eligibility, and apportionment. The chapter gives attention to the Estates-General, which served a valuable function in preparing legislative reforms during the three centuries of their effective existence. It also points out the most important concession the Estates-General demanded of the king in exchange for consent to taxation was the achievement of constitutional status.

Keywords:   representative bodies, old regime, Estates-General, French Revolution, constitutional status, legislative reforms

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