A Weak Louis XVI Makes a Fatal Mistake: Doubling the Number of Representatives from the People in the Estates-General

March 17, 2022

The tragic events which were to change the face of France were close at hand. On 27th December [1788], the King in Council decided that the number of the Deputies to the Estates-General should be twelve hundred—six hundred to represent the nobles and the clergy, six hundred for the “Third Estate.” It is related that when he returned to his apartments after this decision, which is attributed partly to Necker’s influence, Louis found in his study a picture of Charles I of England in the place of one of Louis XV, and that he was somewhat moved by the incident, but recovering himself in a moment, he said in a resolute tone, “They may do what they like—the Third Estate will be doubly represented, it is irrevocably settled.”

The Hon. Mrs. Maxwell-Scott of Abbotsford, Madame Elizabeth of France (London: Edward Arnold, 1908), 58–59.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 820

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