Louis xvi's Speech at the Opening of the Estates General May 9, 1789



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Louis XVI's Speech at the Opening of the Estates General

May 9, 1789

Gentlemen,

 … A long time has passed since the last meeting of the Estates General. Even though one of these assemblies has not been held for some time, I have not been convinced by the example of my predecessors not to hold an Estates General meeting. Indeed, I hope that the nation will acquire new life and strength from re-establishing the custom of these meetings…

The public debt was already huge when I came to power. It has increased under my reign. However, an expensive but honourable warwas the cause of the growth of the debt…

 A very general unhappiness and a too great desire for change have take hold of people's minds. These mistaken feelings will mislead their judgment unless these errors in thinking are fixed by wise and moderate advice…

 I have already ordered very considerable cut-backs in expense. You will give me further advice about cut-backs in spending. I shall be happy to hear your thoughts. Despite the severe restrictions on spending I have put into place, however, I fear that I will not be able to relieve my subjects as quickly as I could wish. I will order an exact and complete budget report to be given to you. After you have examined the budget, I am sure that you will propose effective plans to fix our budgetary problems. I am sure you will find a way to fix the problems permanently.



 I have long experience with the authority and power of being a just and good king. I know what it is like to be surrounded by faithful people who believe in the power of the monarchy. These beliefs and this sort of government have brought glory and splendour to France. It is my role as king to support the monarchy, and I will support it.

 Yet, because I have the best interests of my people at heart, I will do whatever you ask of me to improve the public good. I am the sincerest friend of my people, and you can count on my support.


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