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Cahier of the Third Estate of Dourdan

29 March, 1789

       The order of the third estate of the City, Bailliage, and County of Dourdan, imbued with gratitude prompted by the paternal kindness of the King, who deigns to restore its former rights and its former constitution, forgets at this moment its misfortunes and impotence, to harken only to its foremost sentiment and its foremost duty, that of sacrificing everything to the glory of the Patrie and the service of His Majesty. It supplicates him to accept the grievances, complaints and remonstrances which it is permitted to bring to the foot of the throne, and to see therein only the expression of its zeal and the homage of its obedience.

       It wishes:

       1. That his subjects of the third estate, equal by such status to all other citizens, present themselves before the common father without other distinction which might degrade them.

       2. That all the orders, already united by duty and a common desire to contribute equally to the needs of the State, also deliberate in common concerning its needs.

       3. That no citizen lose his liberty except according to law; that, consequently, no one be arrested by virtue of special orders, or, if imperative circumstances necessitate such orders, that the prisoner be handed over to the regular courts of justice within forty-eight hours at the latest.

       4. That no letters or writings intercepted in the post be the cause of the detention of any citizen, or be produced in court against him, except in case of conspiracy or undertaking against the State.

       5. That the property of all citizens be inviolable, and that no one be required to make sacrifice thereof for the public welfare, except upon assurance of indemnification based upon the statement of freely selected appraisers.

       6. That, since the maintenance of the commonwealth necessitates an effective revenue, all taxes established since 1614, the year of the last meeting of the Estates General, be confirmed provisionally by His Majesty on the request of the Estates General, and the collection thereof ordered during a limited period of time, not to exceed one year, despite the fact that, owing to lack of consent of the nation, such taxes may be regarded as illegal.

       7. That the customary and ordinary charges of the State be regulated; that the expenditure of every department [of the Government], the appointment of all who are employed therein, and the retirement pensions of same be established invariably.

       8. That the taxes on land and on all real or nominal property, the domains of the Crown, and other branches of revenue deriving from establishments useful to the public, such as postal and messenger service, etc., be preferably assigned to the aforementioned primarily necessary charges.

       9. That the national debt be verified; that the payment of arrears ot said debt be assured by such indirect taxes as may not be injurious to the husbandry, industry, commerce, liberty, or tranquillity of the citizens.

       10. That an annual reimbursement fund be established to liquidate the capital of the debt.

       11. That as one part of the debt is liquidated, a corresponding part of the indirect tax also be liquidated.

       12. That every tax, direct or indirect, be granted only for a limited time, and that every collection beyond such term be regarded as peculation, and punished as such.

       13. That no loan be contracted, under any pretext or any security whatsoever, without the consent of the Estates General.

       14. That every anticipation and every issuance of treasurer's notes or others on the account of the State, without public sanction, be regarded as a violation of public faith, and that the administrators ordenng or authorizing them be punished.

       15. That every personal tax be abolished; that thus the capitation and the taille and its accessories be merged with the vingtiemes in a tax on land and real or nominal property.

       16. That such tax be borne equally, without distinction, by all classes of citizens and by all kinds of property, even feudal and contingent rights.

       17. That the tax substituted for the corvee be borne by all classes of citizens equally and without distinction. That said tax, at present beyond the capacity of those who pay it and the needs to which it is destined, be reduced by at least one-half.

       18. That provincial Estates, subordinate to the Estates General, be established and charged with the assessment and levying of subsidies, with their deposit in the national treasury, with the administration of all public works, and with the examination of all projects conducive to the prosperity of lands situated within the limits of their jurisdiction. |

       19. That such Estates be composed of freely elected deputies of the three orders from the cities, boroughs, and parishes subject to their administration, and in the proportion established for the next session of the Estates General.

       20. That district bureaux under said Estates be established in the chief towns of the bailliages; and that such jurisdictions be created for said bureaux that there may be prompt and convenient correspondence between the chief town and all points accountable thereto.

       21. That in case of the death or retirement of deputies of the order of the third estate in the Estates General, or of any one among them, during the course of the next session, the present electors be authorized to reassemble to elect others in their place.


       1. That the administration of justice be reformed, either by restoring strict execution of ordinances, or by reforming the sections thereof that are contrary to the dispatch and welfare of justice.

       2. That every royal bailliage have such jurisdiction that persons be not more than three or four leagues distant from their judges, and that these pass judgment in the last resort up to the value of 300 livres.

       3. That seigneurial courts of justice created by purely gratuitous right be suppressed.

       4. That seigneurial courts of justice separated from the jurisdiction of royal bailliages . . . be returned thereto.

       5. That seigneurial courts of justice, the creation of which has not been gratuitous, or usurpation of which is not proved, be suppressed with reimbursement.

       6. That the rights of . . . garde-gardienne, committimus, and the right of suite in favor of certain officials be suppressed . . .

       7. That venality of offices be suppressed by successive reimbursement in proportion to their disestablishment; that, accordingly, a fund be constituted forthwith to effect such reimbursement.

       8. That the excessive number of offices in the necessary courts be reduced in just measure, and that no one be given an office of magistracy if he is not at least twenty-five years of age, and until after a substantial public examination has verified his morality, integrity, and ability.

       9. That all exceptional jurisdictions, elections, maltrises, salt stores, and financial bureaux be suppressed as useless and productive of lawsuits and jurisdictional conflicts; that their competence be returned to the jurisdiction within which they are situated, and the officials composing them either incorporated into such bailliages or reimbursed out of their finances.

       10. That the study of law be reformed; that it be directed in a manner analogous to our legislation, and that candidates for degrees be subjected to rigorous tests which may not be evaded; that no dispensation of age or time be granted.

       11. That a body of general customary law be drafted of all articles common to all the customs of the several provinces and bailliages, and that the customs of said several provinces and bailliages thereafter contain only articles which are in exception to the general custom.

       12. That deliberations of courts and companies of magistracy which tend to prevent entry of the third estate thereto be rescinded and annulled as injurious to the citizens of that order, in contempt of the authority of the King, whose choice they limit, and contrary to the welfare of justice, the administration of which would become the patrimony of those of noble birth instead of being entrusted to merit, enlightenment, and virtue.

       13. That military ordinances which restrict entrance to the service to those possessing nobility be reformed.

       That naval ordinances establishing a degrading distinction between officers born into the order of nobility and those born into that of the third estate be revoked, as thoroughly injurious to an order of citizens and destructive of the competition so necessary to the glory and prosperity of the State.


       1. That if the Estates General considers it necessary to preserve the fees of aides, such fees be made uniform throughout the entire kingdom and reduced to a single denomination; that, accordingly, all ordinances and declarations in force be revoked . . .; that the odious tax of trop-bu especially, a source of constant annoyance in rural districts, be abolished forever.

       2. That the tax of the gabelle be eliminated if possible, or that it be regulated among the several provinces of the kingdom . . .

       3. That the taxes on hides, which have totally destroyed that branch of commerce and caused it to go abroad, be suppressed forever.

       4. That the offices of jures priseurs, onerous to the public whose confidence they thwart and often betray, and likewise all useless offices, either in police or in the administration of justice, be abolished and suppressed.

       5. That the offices of huissiers be assigned to a particular court and jurisdiction, and that those invested therewith perform their duties only within such limits.

       6. That even these offices be abolished and suppressed successivly and replaced by revocable commissions.

       7. That the fee for registration of documents be established universally and uniformly, and that, accordingly, all exemptions, subscriptions, and alienations in favor of individual officials or provinces be revoked. . . .


       1. That exchange fees, disastrous to husbandry,. . . be supressed.

       2. That the letters patent of 26 August, 1786, establishing the fees of land comissioners at triple and quadruple their former compensation be revoked; that such fees be reduced to just limits, and that terrier be renewed only after forty years and by new letters patent.

       3. That the privilege of hunting be restricted within its just limits; that the decrees of the parlement of the years 1778 and 1779, which tend rather to obstruct the claims of the cultivator than to effect his indemnification, be rescinded and annulled; that after having declared the excessive amount of game and summoned the seignieur to provide therefor, the landowner and the cultivator be authorized to destroy said game on their own lands and in their own woods--without permission, however, to use firearms, the carrying of which is forbidden by ordinances; that, moreover, a simple and easy method be established whereby every cultivator may have the damage verified and obtain compensation therefor.

       4. That the right to hunt may never affect the property of the citizen; that, accordingly, he may at all times travel over his lands, have injurious herbs uprooted, and cut lazernes, sainfoins, and other produce whenever it suits him; and that stubble may be freely raked immediately after the harvest.

       5. That, in conformity with former ordinances, gamekeepers be forbidden to carry arms, even in the retinue of their masters.

       6. That hunting offences be punished only by pecuniary fines.

       7. That His Majesty be supplicated to have enclosed the parks and forests which are reserved for his enjoyment; also to authorize elsewhere the destruction of wild beasts which ruin the rural districts, and particularly that bordering on this forest of Dourdan.

       8. That every individual who, without title or valid occupancy, has dovecotes or aviaries, be required to destroy them; that those who have title or valid occupancy be required to confine their pigeons at seedtime and harvest.

       9. That all leases on tithes, lands, and revenues belonging to ecclesiastics and persons in mainmorte be made before royal judges . . . ; and that, accordingly, leases thus made remain valid even after the death of the titular incumbents, and that said leases be made for not fewer than nine years. . . .

       15. That the militia, which devastates the country, takes workers away from husbandry, produces premature and ill-matched marriages and imposes secret and arbitrary taxes upon those who are subject thereto, be suppressed and replaced by voluntary enlistment at the expense of the provinces.


       1. That in the chief town of every bailliage a public school be established, where young citizens may be brought up in the principles of religion and provided with the necessary education by methods authorized by His Majesty on the request of the nation.

       2. That in cities and villages schools be established where the poor will be admitted without cost, and instructed in whatever is necessary for them concerning either morals or their individual interests.

       3. That livings and benefices for the care of souls henceforth be ranted only by competitive examination.

       4. That prelates and cures be subject to perpetual residence, under penalty of loss of the fruits of their benefices.

       5. That, under the same penalty, beneficiaries without a charge be bound to residence during most of the year in the chief town of their benefice, if they have an annual income of 1,000 livres or more.

       6. That no ecclesiastic hold more than one benefice if such benefice is worth 3,000 livres revenue or over; that those in excess of such revenue be declared vacant.

       7. That every lottery, the effect of which is to corrupt public morals, every loan involving the element of chance, the effect of which is encourage speculation and divert funds destined for agriculture and commerce, be proscribed forever.

       8. That every community be required to provide for the maintenance of its invalid poor; that, accordingly, all private alms be strictly forbidden; that in every district a charity workshop be established, the funds for which shall be composed of voluntary contributions of individuals and sums which the provincial Estates shall designate therefor, in order to assure constant work for the able-bodied poor.

       9. That within the limits of every principal administration a house of correction be established for the confinement of beggars and vagabonds.

       10. That all charlatans, and those who have not completed the necessary studies and passed the required examinations, be forbidden to sell drugs or medicines or to practice medicine or surgery, and that the granting of any certificate, permission, or exemption for such purpose be forbidden.

       11. That no woman may practice the art of midwifery until she has taken a course in it, has obtained a certificate of competence from a college of surgery, and has been received into the bailliage.

       12. That the marechaussees be enjoined to obey the orders of the officials of the bailliages for the maintenance of public order; and shall the municipalities of the several parishes be authorized to have internal police power therein, except in special cases which are to be reported to the public prosecutor of the bailliage.

       13. That the sacraments be administered gratuitously, and contingent fees suppressed.