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assignats(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.
..... Click the link for more information. . 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
..... Click the link for more information. 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.