The memorandum sent to the king by the princes of the blood in December 1788 is a document of record; as it is the petition itself, not a record of it and it is a private source as it was generated solely for the use of the king, although the petition was published shortly afterwards, and therefore became a public source.
The source was written in the period of the ancient regime, a month before the French revolution occurred in 1789 and is a strong source of information concerning the collapse of the ancient regime, it contains the worries and concerns people had over the opposition to the ancient regime and the third estate.
The source cannot be representative for the whole of the ancient regime as it only relates to December 1788, we would need to look at other sources such as other petitions, decrees, declarations and newspapers before and after December 1788 to obtain a detailed understanding of the reasons why the ancient regime collapsed, even though some were mentioned in the memorandum.
The princes of the blood created the document and its purpose was to inform the king of the problems he and the kingdom faced. It is a reliable source of information; the princes had a leading role in the ‘Assembly of Notables’ and presided over various committees gaining a good insight to the disagreements and disputes which existed and would gain nothing by being dishonest especially as the Assembly of Notables had already been dismissed. However, it only provides us with the attitudes of one particular group out of the Assembly of Notables, we can’t see the signatures in the extract and there may have been an inclination to exaggerate or reinforce views which may have posed a threat towards themselves.
In the extract there are several words that require elucidation in order to gain a better understanding of the extract such as;
Third Estate, the two orders, Estates General. The Estates General...