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French Constitution of 1791
The short-lived French Constitution of 1791, adopted by the National Constituent Assembly during the period now known as the French Revolution, went into effect in September 1791 but, due to a series of constitutional crises, had effectively ceased to function as a national constitution by August 1792.
The constitution attempted to establish a liberal bourgeois constitutional monarchy, under which the Legislative Assembly would pass legislation but the king of France -- in this case, Louis XVI -- would retain a veto. With war beginning and with increasingly radical -- and ultimately republican -- forces coming to the fore in the Assembly, this proved entirely unworkable. The August 10th insurrection was the effective end of the monarchy.
The constitution dissolved in a chaos of forces, with the radical and even terroristic Paris Commune, the municipal government of Paris, holding the balance of power in the country until the beginning of the Convention on October 1, 1792.
After the final fall of Napoleon, the Treaty of Paris (1815) signed by the Allied powers, though not by defeated France, optimistically mentioned "restoring the operation of the Constitutional Charter, the order of things which had been happily re-established in France"— but the provisions of the Constitution of 1791 were rapidly abrogated under the Restauration.
- The Legislative Assembly and the fall of the French monarchy
- For provisions of this constitution, see the discussions of constitutional issues in French Revolution from the abolition of feudalism to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and French Revolution from the summer of 1790 to the establishment of the Legislative Assembly.
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