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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 ?
Britons were particularly fixated on the negative example set by Revolutionary France since the failure of assignats had recently laid bare the fragility of a system based on trust and agreement.
27) In this satire Alecto extends a fist full of assignats with her right arm offering John Bull a choice between two possible types of economy, that of immaterial wealth (paper money) and that of material land-based wealth (represented by his pitch fork).
In France, the issue of assignats created a vast class of debtors, who had only been required to put small payments down, with the balance being paid in installments (White, 1959).
Hyperinflation of the assignats ensued and the French abandoned them for a new paper money, the mandats.
Any specie that flowed inward during the reign of the assignat flowed back to France as financial confidence in France returned.
Even if the expenses had been listed for the case, the devaluation of the assignats would have made the figures difficult to interpret.
It, together with the similar debacle of the assignats, a nominally land-backed paper currency issued by the French revolutionary government to inflationary excess in the years 1794 to 1796, provoked classicals to reject mercantilist trade and monetary theory root and branch.
21) A similar case are the French assignats that fluctuated in value according to the opinions of the chances of redemption.
What enabled the revolutionaries to do what absolute monarchs had never been able to afford was, of course, the assignats.
64) Assuming that the sources refer to assignat (paper) rubles (a logical assumption, since the peasants paid all their taxes and rents in assignats), an income of 1500 rubles would convert to only 108 pounds sterling.
constitution 13 legislateurs 8 loix 7 commerce 7 systeme 6 assignats 6 voisins 5 manufactures 5 freres 5 forces 5 revolution 4 relations 4 peres 4 jugemens ennemis 4 colonies 4
If he was a frequent participant in the debates, his opinion on important issues facing the Assembly such as the role of the king and his veto, the position of the Church, the assignats, the colonial question amongst others, are provided.