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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

That the three orders of Dauphiny met


Bearn, the peasantry had descended from the mountains; hereditary proprietors of their little holdings, they joined the noblesse to march out and meet the Duke of Guiche, sent by the king to restore order. Already the commandant of the province had been obliged to authorize the meeting of the Parliament. The Bearnese bore in front of their ranks the cradle of Henry IV., carefully preserved in the Castle of Pau. "We are no rebels," they said: "we claim our contract and fidelity to the oaths of a king whom we love. The Bearnese is free-born, he will not die a slave. Let the king have all from us in love and not by force; our blood is his and our country's. Let none come to take our lives when we are defending our liberty."

Legal in Normandy, violent in Brittany, tumultuous in Bearn, the parliamentary protests took a politic and methodical form in Dauphiny. An insurrection amongst the populace of Grenoble, soon supported by the villagers from the mountains, had at first flown to arms at the sound of the tocsin. The members of the Parliament, on the point of leaving the city, had been detained by force, and their carriages had been smashed. The troops offered little resistance; an entry was effected into the house of the governor, the Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre, and, with an axe above his head, the insurgents threatened to hang him to the chandelier in his drawing-room if he did not convoke the Parliament. Ragged ruffians ran to the magistrates,

and compelled them to meet in the sessions-hall. The members of Parliament succeeded with great difficulty in pacifying the mob. As soon as they found themselves free, they hastened away into exile. Other hands had taken up their quarrel. A certain number of members of the three orders met at the town hall, and, on their private authority, convoked for the 21st of July the special states of Dauphiny, suppressed a while before by Cardinal Richelieu.

The Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre had been superseded by old Marshal Vaux, rough and ready. He had at his disposal twenty thousand men. Scarcely had he arrived at Grenoble, when he wrote to Versailles. "It is too late," he said. The prerogatives of royal authority were maintained, however. The marshal granted a meeting of the states-provincial, but he required permission to be asked of him. He forbade the assembly to be held at Grenoble. It was in the Castle of Vizille, a former residence of the dauphins, that the three orders of Dauphiny met, closely united together in wise and patriotic accord. The Archbishop of Vienne, Lefranc de Pompignan, brother of the poet, lately the inveterate foe of Voltaire, an ardently and sincerely pious man, led his clergy along the most liberal path; the noblesse of the sword, mingled with the noblesse of the robe, voted blindly all the resolutions of the third estate; these were suggested by the real head of the assembly, M. Mounier, judge-royal of Grenoble, a friend of M. Necker's, an enlightened, loyal, honorable man, destined ere long to make his name known over the whole of France by his courageous resistance to the outbursts of the National Assembly. Unanimously the three orders presented to the king their claims to the olden liberties of the province; they loudly declared, however, that they were prepared for all sacrifices and aspired to nothing but the common rights of all Frenchmen. The double representation of the third in the estates of Dauphiny was voted without contest, as well as equal assessment of the impost intended to replace forced labor. Throughout the whole province the most perfect order had succeeded the first manifestations of popular irritation.

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