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French Revolution
The near collapse of the French government’s finances forced King Louis XVI to call the first meeting of the Estates-General since 1614. The assembly was made up of three groups, The First Estate- consisting of clergy, the Second Estate consisting of nobles, and the Third Estate consisting of the common men. When the meeting opened at Versailles on May 5, 1789 the Third Estate demanded that instead of each Estate having only 1 vote thus assuring the dominance of the nobility each deputy should receive 1 vote. When their proposal was not accepted the Third Estate declared that they would meet separately to draw up a constitution for France. When they arrived at their declared meeting place they found it locked and instead met at a nearby indoor tennis court. There the deputies signed an oath that became known as the Tennis Court oath, in which they declared to meet until they had written a new constitution for France. Louis XVI prepared to move against the Third Estate. Before he could take action the commoners took to the streets and stormed the Bastille, the Paris prison. They freed all the prisoners, and dismantled the prison. Louis XVI lost control of the army and effectively became a prisoner in Versailles. Rebellions broke out throughout France. On August 26th, the National Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and eliminated all aristocratic privileges. On October 5th thousand of Parisian women forced the king from Versailles and back to Paris.