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(ăs`ĭgnăts, äsēnyä`), paper currency issued during the French RevolutionFrench Revolution,
political upheaval of world importance in France that began in 1789. Origins of the Revolution

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
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. To redeem the huge public debt and to counterbalance the growing deficit, the revolutionary constituent assembly issued (Dec., 1789) treasury notes, called assignats, to the amount of 400 million livres at 5% interest. These were intended as short-term obligations pending the sale of confiscated crown and church land. They were made legal tender in Apr., 1790, and subsequent issues bore no interest. The currency rapidly became inflated. The strigent financial measures during the Reign of TerrorReign of Terror,
1793–94, period of the French Revolution characterized by a wave of executions of presumed enemies of the state. Directed by the Committee of Public Safety, the Revolutionary government's Terror was essentially a war dictatorship, instituted to rule the
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 temporarily stabilized the valued of the assignat at one-third of its face value. However by early 1796 the assignats in circulation amounted to less than 1% of their original value; their value did not even cover the cost of printing them. Mandats territoriaux [land notes], adopted in 1796 as a new currency also based on confiscated lands, were also soon depreciated. Inflation stopped only when all paper currency was demonetized and redeemed at the rate of 3,000 livres in assignats or 100 francs in land notes to one franc in gold. On May 21, 1797, all unredeemed assignats were declared void.


See study by S. E. Harris (1930, repr. 1969).



paper money from the period of the Great French Revolution. Assignats were first issued in 1789 in large notes (10,000 livres), with a total sum of 400 million livres. They were issued as interest-bearing state bonds with an annual interest rate of 3–5 percent, and they were supposed to mature in 1–5 years. These assignats were to be guaranteed by confiscated property, primarily by the lands of royal and ecclesiastical domains. The second issue took place in 1790 (800 million livres), with no interest specified. Assignats were declared to be legal tender, and they began to be issued in various small denominations equivalent to metal coins. The output of assignats, by means of which the evergrowing state expenses were covered, rapidly increased, and this led to catastrophic inflation. In February 17% the issuance of assignats was stopped, and in 1797 a law was adopted that declared all assignats to be voided.

References in periodicals archive ?
61) The actual value of a 100-livre assignat note was 85 livres (in coin) in July 1791, less than 30 livres from July to October 1793, rising to approximately 45 livres by December 1793, before falling again in the first half of 1794.
Under France's ancien regime, the National Assembly inflated the assignat to no return.
Even if the expenses had been listed for the case, the devaluation of the assignats would have made the figures difficult to interpret.
Obrok was set at ten assignat rubles per male soul in 1800.
On 19 December 1789 the national assembly in Paris issued paper currency called assignats (1789-1797) redeemable on the monetary value of the state lands and plundered church property.
The results have been disastrous, and this is particularly so with the repeated experiments with inconvertible or fiat paper currencies such those of medieval China, John Law and the assignats in 18th century France, the continentals of the Revolutionary War, the greenbacks of the Civil War, and, most recently, in modern Zimbabwe.
In 1793, an exchange control known as "the Law of the Maximum" was enforced, decreeing that "any person selling gold or silver coin, or making any difference in any transaction between paper and specie, should be imprisoned in irons for six years; that anyone who refused to accept payment in assignats, or accepted assignats at a discount, should pay a fine of six thousand francs and suffer imprisonment for twenty years in irons" (Hamilton, 1977, p.
All the same, it should be noted that property that had already been sold was reimbursed in vastly depreciated assignats and vouchers redeemable only on the purchase of emigre property, thereby stripping the gesture of much of its monetary worth.
Sadly, the Dutch bankers were paid finally in assignats, the worthless paper money printed in revolutionary Paris, which was useless when it came to trading it for food.
The mill won a Government contract for printing the paper used to make forged assignats - the currency used by the French revolutionary state - in an attempt to undermine its economy.
Other writings presented include the Social catechism (1784), Replies to the principal objections that can be made against a single tax (1789), Reflections on the issue of assignats (1790), The New system of taxation established by the national assembly of France in 1791 (1791), and Theoretical considerations about sinking funds of public debt (1801).
Consequently, assignats displaced silver ecus (and gold coins as well), as predicted by Gresham's law.