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Financial Failings: 1787-1788

Controller General of Finances Charles Alexandre de Calonne
Controller General of Finances Charles Alexandre de Calonne

1787

Controller General of Finances, Charles Alexandre de Calonne, recognizes that France is on the brink of bankruptcy, but he cannot devise an acceptable solution. By April, he is removed from his post and replaced by Etienne Charles de Lomenie de Brienne.
May: With the nation still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the king dissolves the Assembly of Notables after they refuse to give up traditional tax exemptions in exchange for a share in political power.

1788

July through September: A poor harvest results in high grain prices, rumors of hoarding, and unrest in the cities.
Director General of Finances Jacques Necker
Director General of Finances Jacques Necker
August: King Louis XVI declares that the Estates-General will meet in May 1789 to address the financial crisis. The Estates-General, a political body representing the three orders of Clergy, Nobles, and Commoners, had not been assembled since 1614.
August 24: With France still in financial straits, Swiss citizen Jacques Necker replaces Lomenie de Brienne as Director General of Finances.
King and Queen attending council to double Third Estate
King and Queen attending council to double Third Estate
December 27: After much public debate, Louis XVI decrees that the Third Estate will have twice the number of representatives as either of the other two, but that the Estates General will follow the traditional voting process, with each Estate only receiving one vote. This meaningless compromise means that 90% of the French people have the same voting power as the small number of nobles or clergy, and that these two privileged orders can combine to veto any proposals put forward by the Third Estate.
December 31: By the end of the year, France is Europe’s most populous country at about 27 million citizens, most of whom belong to the Third Estate. Still, this hugely representative Third Estate is only allowed one vote in the Estates General.

Timeline

Early Years 1755 - 1775Married to France: 1770-1780Queen as Mother: 1780-1786Financial Failings: 1787-1788Change of Power: 1789A Revolution: 1789-1790New Rule: 1791A Monarchy Falls: 1792Revolution Enemies: 1792-1793Reign of Terror: 1793-1794Aftermath: 1794-1799
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Charles Alexandre de Calonne
Read more about Charles Alexandre de Calonne.

Jacques Necker
Learn more about Jacques Necker.

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