The cahier of the First Estate in Saint-Malo (1789)


The cahier of the First Estate (clergy) of Saint-Malo, Brittany, called for several radical reforms, including voting by head and proportional representation for the Third Estate:


“The clergy of the diocese of St-Malo, summoned by the king’s command to consider means of promoting the prosperity of the kingdom, being anxious to respond to the benevolent intentions of the monarch and to prove to the whole nation its zeal in all that concerns public well-being, has in its various assemblies drawn up the following cahier.

That in the national assembly, and in all political assemblies in the provinces, votes shall be counted by head and not by order.

That it shall be laid down in the same assembly as a fundamental law of the kingdom that no tax will be imposed, except by the agreement of the assembled nation.

That in future the Estates General shall meet at fixed periods.

That at each meeting of the Estates General an account shall be given to the nation of the use made of public money since the previous meeting.

That request be made for the safeguarding of all the rights, franchises and immunities of our province of Brittany.

That no attempt shall be made upon the liberty of any citizen without giving him means of defence at the very moment of his detention.

To ask for the abolition of the corvee (forced labour service).

To seek for means of protecting the people from the distress caused by seigneurial rights pertaining to pigeon-houses, dovecotes, warrens, hunting, mills, presses, seigneurial ovens and other feudal rights.

That only the Catholic religion be publicly exercised in France.

To request proper and effective means of giving young people in town and country an education that will be solid and useful to religion and to the state.

Admission of the deputies of all classes of clergy to all ecclesiastical assemblies, national and provincial, as well as to the political assemblies of this province; and, in these assemblies, a proportional and adequate representation of the Third Estate.

To ask for implementation of the canons against holding benefices in plurality.

And the clergy conclude by exhorting their representatives in the Estates General to support with all the zeal in their power any other useful suggestions which may be made and which may have escaped their consideration.”