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The Tennis Court Oath

To be ignorant of history is to remain always a child - Cicero
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From The Tennis Court Oath Painting  by Jacques Louis David
"The National Assembly, considering that it has been summoned to establish the constitution of the kingdom. . . decrees that all members of this assembly shall immediately take a solemn oath not to separate. . . until the constitution of the kingdom is established on firm foundations. . ." 

June 20, 1789

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The Days of the French Revolution
by Christopher Hibbert

The King had declared the activities of the Third Estate illegal and refused to recognize the "National Assembly."  Meeting in defiance at an indoor tennis court at Versailles, the Third Estate swore not to separate until a constitution had been written for France. Only one delegate dissented. Their oath is known as the Tennis Court Oath

Hearing of the oath, the King called a meeting of all three orders. At the end of the meeting he ordered the Third Estate to disperse. They refused. One of the delegates declared that  "We are here at the will of the people, . . . and . . . shall not stir from our seats unless forced to do so by bayonets." The King was unwilling to use force and eventually ordered the first and second estates to join the new National Assembly. The Third Estate had won.

 

 

 

 


Text of the Tennis Court Oath

Part of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution a HistoryWiz Exhibit

The French Revolution

The French Revolution Primary Sources

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