The National Assembly:
In the 18th century in France, there was a horrible economy, since Louis XIV spent a lot of money on wars and buildings, so France needed new sources of income. The main way to do this was taxes. However, the peasantry was already squeezed dry. So, they went to the nobles to demand money. However, the parlements resisted this, and they could annul laws. Therefore, Louis XV stopped convening them. Louis XVI then reinstated the parlements and found out that they were still against him. Turgot, the advisor of the king in economics, was a Philosophe. He wanted to put in new ideas in France, such as getting rid of tariffs (resisted by the nobility of course), and he wanted to impose taxes on land (also resisted by the nobility). Therefore, Louis 16th had to get rid of him. Then Jacques Neckar, the new financial advisor, made matters worse.
He lent money to America for the Revolutionary War, and floated a lot of loans at high interest rates, thereby increasing the problem. By the 1780s, France's economic situation is so bad that Louis XVI is forced to call for an assembly, asks for money, but was refused. Therefore, he had to convene the Estates General, which hadn't been convened since 1614 - 175 years!
The Estates General:
The Estates General consists of three components: the First Estate - the clergy, the Second Estate - the nobility, and the Third Estate - the peasants, artisans, and bourgeoisie (bugh-waz-ZI) - the "middle class," made up of people who lived within the city walls. It controlled some of the laws. They wanted a lot of power after having been in recession for so long. The First Estate was exempt from most taxes, collected the tithe, had their own...