Source Problems on the French Revolution


8. L’Assemblée Nationale, I, 197–206.

Royal Session of the 23d.

The deputies betook themselves at the hour indicated to the usual meeting place. At last they found the doors open and entered. On all sides armed men had been placed; in the antechambers, in the corridors which surround the hall, finally almost among the benches upon which the deputies sit, everywhere sentinels were found.

These precautions would have been insufficient; in Grand Chantier Street, upon the Avenue de Paris, there were battalions of French guards, of Swiss, of guards of the city hall, and many members of the country police, who continually walked their beat, circulated about the hall and in the environs, prevented the formation of groups and carried their audacity to the point of separating deputies who came to the hall together. In the space of the eighth of a league there were more than four thousand armed men.... The king at eleven o’clock left the chateau; the carriages of the Due d’Orleans came first; the Due de Chartres was in one, the comtes de Provence and d’Artois, with his two children, were in the carriage of the king. Several people from Paris, who had gone to Versailles, encouraged, in a certain sense, by the circular letter of M. Necker, cried, "Vive le roi!" The carriage of the king was preceded and followed by officers of the falconry, pages, squires, and finally by four companies of the body guard. Besides these troops there was in the neighborhood of Versailles six regiments; the purpose was, it is said, to reduce the price of bread, because the deputies pay too much for it. One ought, without doubt, to be very grateful to the court for its paternal cares.... To-day silence reigned in the hall. ... They [the deputies] rose at the entrance of the king, then seated themselves and put on their hats. This movement led the guard of the seals to say that the king permitted the assembly to seat itself. The deputies recognized M. Linguet among them, and he was put out. M. Paporet, king’s secretary, died in the hall. The king delivered his speech.... The guard of the seals then ascended to the king’s seat, and after having fallen on one knee, ordered the reading of a first declaration.... The king, after this first declaration, spoke again.... This declaration [the second], which is at present only a rough draft, treats of two objects.... The king spoke again, after which he retired. Some bishops, who without doubt had influenced the action of the king, applauded and cried, Vive le roi! but these cries died on their lips. The most of the bishops and some curates, with all the nobility, retired by the same door which had been opened for the king. As to the members of the national assembly, without having any previous understanding, and as if animated by the same spirit, they all remained seated.

The king sent his master of ceremonies to say to M. Bailly that the assembly was to retire. The grand master delivered the order of the king in a low voice. There were cries of Louder! louder! and the assembly had scarcely heard the mission of the deputy of the king, when it cried almost unanimously, "No! no! only force can make us withdraw from here!" M. Pison du Galand thereupon took the floor. He showed that it was necessary to persist in the decree of Saturday, M. Barnave was of the same opinion, but M. Camus went further.

Motion of M. Camus

"For us to fix upon the decree of Saturday would be, so to speak, to abandon all we had done before; it is necessary then to vote that we persist in all our deliberations passed up to this day." This decree was adopted unanimously. M. de Mirabeau proposed the following decree:

Decree of M. de Mirabeau

[Text of Mirabeau’s motion on inviolability.]

This second decree passed by a majority of four hundred and eighty-five against thirty-four votes. The Abbé Sieyès made a motion tending to prove that the assemblies ought to be free and public, and that the king did not have the authority or the right to render them secret. This motion also was adopted with enthusiasm. Finally the session of the national assembly ended at three o’clock, after having ordered that the procès-verbal of the assembly should be printed that day.


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Chicago: "8. L’Assemblée Nationale, I, 197–206," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 121–124. Original Sources, accessed February 21, 2024,

MLA: . "8. L’Assemblée Nationale, I, 197–206." Source Problems on the French Revolution, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 121–124. Original Sources. 21 Feb. 2024.

Harvard: , '8. L’Assemblée Nationale, I, 197–206' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.121–124. Original Sources, retrieved 21 February 2024, from