The Noble Revolt

Two years before the Prise de la Bastille (July 14, 1789), the Noble Revolt took place. This social event was characterized by the nobility’s revolted against the King’s order and its refusal to accept economic reform that would have halted noble tax exemption. More importantly, this revolt led Louis XVI to call for the Estates-General the following year (Merriman, 441), a crucial event in for the future of the French Revolution. The cause of this revolt can be traced to February 1787 when finance minister, Alexandre Calonne, presented his reform plan to 144 handpicked nobles present at the Assembly of Notables who all opposed it (Doyle, 35). As the king and Calonne unsuccessfully tried to convince the Nobles to accept reform, in August 1787 Louis XVI met this opposition by exiling the Parlement of Paris to the city of Troyes (Merriman, 441). The revolt that the Parlement of Paris had sparked, was quickly backed by provincial parliaments all around the kingdom. In an attempt to calm the tense situation and reinstate his authority, Louis XVI requested the return of the Parlement of Paris from exile in November 1787 (Merriman, 441). This short revolt took an end then, but the topics that had once sparked it remained and helped lead to further change. Furthermore, the Noble Revolt, for the first time, publicly symbolized the nobility’s long lasting resistance to royal despotism. In other words, the fact that this revolt took place at a moment where economic reform was necessary, proved that the crown was in a weak position.  

Doyle, William. The French Revolution. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Merriman, John M. A History of Modern Europe: from the French Revolution to the Present.  Vol. 2, W.W. Norton, 2010.