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Notables

 

in France from the 14th to 18th centuries, members of a special form of assembly summoned by the king to consider financial and administrative questions. In contrast to the deputies of the Estates General, they were not elected by the estates but were chosen by the king from the most prominent representatives of the nobility, upper clergy, and urban elite.

Convened on an irregular basis, the assemblies were of a consultative character. They were a substitute for the assemblies of the Estates General, which were less submissive to royal authority. However, in 1787, just before the French Revolution, the Assembly of Notables rejected government reforms that infringed upon the tax privileges of the nobility and clergy.

The last Assembly of Notables was convened in 1788 for the purpose of considering the composition and voting procedures for the forthcoming meeting of the Estates General. It took a position hostile to the Third Estate, coming out against doubling the number of deputies from this estate and demanding that votes be cast separately by each estate rather than by individual deputies voting as members of the assembly as a whole. The procedure of voting by orders would have secured the domination of the Estates General by the nobility and clergy.

N. A. DENISOVA-KHACHATURIAN

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