How Did Necker's ‘Compte Rendu' (1781) Lead to the Revolutionary Situation in 1789?

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French Revolution

How did Necker's ‘Compte Rendu' (1781) lead to the revolutionary situation in 1789?

In 1781, the widely respected and trusted Jacques Necker released his much awaited account on the financial position of the Kingdom of France, the ‘Compte Rendu'. Translated literally to ‘account rendered', the assessment was a clear fabrication of the financial state of France – claiming incorrectly that government had $10 million livres in surplus - when in fact it was on the brink of bankruptcy. The release of the document sparked a chain of events that would eventually lead to the start of the revolution in 1789.

Loans by Necker's successors De Fleury and Callone - between 1782 and 1786 left the government with only one option – a total reform of the taxation system. A uniform tax, paid by all including nobles and the clergy, would replace the current system of overlapping taxes which was inefficient and corrupt. However the reforms where rejected by the nobility at Assembly of Notables in 1787. The dismissal by the nobles led to the King, Louis XVI, sending the laws directly to the Parlement of Paris - who in turn refused to approve the decree without the consent of the people through an Estates general. A battle between the King and the people – being represented by the Parlement – had begun. The King removed and exiled the resistant Parlements, causing outrage around the country and the outbreak of never-seen-before civil disobedience in urban centres.

Forced to call an Estates General, the King had by this stage his ability to lead. He no longer had the confidence of his people, who had come to realise that constant mismanagement by the government was directly affecting their own lives. The financial crisis, covered up by Necker eight years earlier in ‘Compte Rendu', had to a situation that could only see the end of the old regime.
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