The cahier of the Second Estate in Roussillon (1789)


The cahier of the Second Estate in Roussillon, southern France, expresses liberal-conservative views. It calls for voting by order but also for tax reform, greater press freedoms and a more regular schedule for the Estates General:


“Deputies to the Estates General arc only delegates, agents of power, instruments of the public will. Members of the nobility of Roussillon, while working together for the general welfare of the kingdom and of all the orders, will always bear in mind what they owe to the province and to their own order in particular.

Votes shall be cast in the Estates General by order and not by head. Deputies shall call for the Estates General to be regularly reconvened, every five years at the latest. The deputies shall deal with the general constitution of the kingdom. The main object of their discussions must be to define and regulate this in an exact and invariable way. Therefore the deputies shall ask that it be declared:

That France is a monarchy, heritable from male to male, in order of primogeniture, daughters being excluded, ruled by the king according to the laws.

That to the prince alone belongs, unshared, all executive power for the maintenance of public order and the defence of the state.

That no decree is considered law unless it has been proposed or permitted by the king, agreed or requested by the nation assembled in the Estates General.

That all new laws regarding the general constitution of the state must be sent to the parlements.

That to the nation legally assembled in the Estates General belongs exclusively the right to grant subsidies, to regulate the use made of them, to assign to each department the agreed necessary funds, and to demand an account of them.

The liberty of the citizen being the most precious of all possessions and most sacred of all rights, all arbitrary commands and all lettres de cachet issued by the sovereign or his ministers shall be declared illegal and their use forbidden for ever.

As an integral part of civil liberty, every kind of writing may be printed and published, on condition that the author, publisher or printer puts his name to it and answers personally for anything that may be said in them contrary to religion, morality and the honour of the citizens.

The order of nobility, faithful to the desire it has expressed to bear jointly with the other orders, in exact proportion, the burden of taxation and general contributions of the province, especially authorizes its deputies to agree to equality of assessment without any pecuniary exemptions, enjoining them nonetheless to take care that no attack be made upon property or upon the honorific distinctions and rights inherent in the order of nobility, which are of the essence of monarchic government.

While waiting for better times which may permit the abolition of the salt tax, or gabelle, the deputies shall ask for a reduction in the price of salt.

Deputies of the order shall work together to their utmost to promote the support of religion, the respect due to divine worship, the very needful restoration of morality and of national education.

Given and decreed in the general assembly of the order and signed by the commissioners and all the members present at Perpignan, April 28th 1789.”