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National Constituent Assembly

In 1789 the members of the traditional States-General of France underlined their revolutionary tendencies by proclaiming themselves the National Constituent Assembly (in French: Assemblée nationale constituante).

The States-General of 1789 had reached a deadlock in its deliberations by May 6, 1789. The Third Estate therefore attempted to make the whole body more effective: it met separately from May 11, 1789 as the Communes. On June 12, 1789 the Communes invited the other orders to join them: some clergy did so the following day. On June 17, 1789, by a vote of 490 to 90, the Communes declared themselves the National Assembly. The clergy joined the assembly on June 19, 1789. A legislative and political agenda unfolded.

Following attempts by King Louis XVI and the nobles to prevent the delegates from meeting, the new assembly found a new home in a tennis court on June 20, 1789 and swore the Tennis Court Oath. Failing to disperse the delegates, Louis started to recognise their validity (June 27, 1789). The Assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on July 9, 1789 and began to function as a governing body and a Constitution-drafter. However, it is common to refer to the body even after this date as the "National Assembly."

After surviving the vicissitudes of a revolutionary two years, the National Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on September 30, 1791. The following day the Legislative Assembly took over the ongoing direction of the continuing French Revolution.