French Revolution timeline – 1790-91

This French Revolution timeline lists significant events and developments in the years 1790 and 1791. This timeline has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an event for inclusion in this timeline please contact Alpha History.


January: The first release of assignats is circulated. The National Constituent Assembly approves further printings.
January 4th: The king attends and addresses the National Constituent Assembly and is greeted with cheering and oaths of affection.
January 28th: Legal and commercial restrictions on Jews are officially lifted.
February: British parliamentarian Edmund Burke gives a speech in the House of Commons, condemning the French Revolution.
February 19th: The Marquis de Favras is found guilty of plotting to organise an armed force, rescue the king and initiate a royalist counter-revolution. He is executed by hanging.
March 8th: At the instigation of Barnave, the National Constituent Assembly approves self government for French colonies, but stops short of abolishing slavery.
March 16th: Lettres de cachet are formally abolished.
March 21st: The gabelle tax on salt is suspended.
May 17th: The French astronomer Jérôme Lalande proposes the introduction of a decimalised calendar.
May 21st: The local government of Paris is reorganised into 48 sections.
May 28th: A group of planters in the French colony of Saint-Domingue gather to declare their independence from France.
June 19th: The National Constituent Assembly decrees the abolition of all noble ranks and titles.
July 12th: The National Constituent Assembly passes the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.
July 14th: The Fete de la Federation, a celebration of the revolution and the first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, takes place in Paris.
August 18th: Royalists and emigres gathered at Jales in southern France form the first counter-revolutionary assembly.
September 6th: The parlements are formally abolished.
November: The first edition of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is published in London.
November: A number of counter-revolutionary riots break out in the city of Lyons.
November 27th: A decree of the National Constituent Assembly requires all clergymen to swear an oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.


January 30th: Honore Mirabeau is elected president of the National Constituent Assembly.
February 5th: Juring priests are elected as the first bishops in the new ‘Constitutional Church’.
February 28th: The ‘Day of Daggers’ or ‘Poignard conspiracy’: a group of 400 armed nobles invade the Tuileries to protect the king. The nobles were disarmed by Lafayette and the National Guard.
March 2nd: The National Constituent Assembly suppresses all guilds and trade monopolies.
March 10th: Pope Pius condemns both the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The government later suspends diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
April 2nd: The death of Honore Mirabeau.
April 18th: The royal family attempts to leave Paris for a summer palace at Saint-Cloud, but their journey is prevented by a Paris mob.
May 7th: The National Constituent Assembly permits non-juring priests to conduct religious services.
May 15th: Amid growing rebellion in the colonies, the National Constituent Assembly gives blacks born to free parents equality with white settlers.
May 16th: The National Constituent Assembly passes Robespierre’s self-denying ordinance, preventing its deputies from standing for election to the Legislative Assembly.
June 14th: The National Assembly passes the Le Chapelier Law, prohibiting worker unions, associations and strikes.
June 20th: The royal family attempts to flee Paris to a loyalist stronghold in Montmedy, before being intercepted and arrested at Varennes.
June 21st: Responding to the flight to Varennes, the National Constituent Assembly suspends the king.
June 25th: The king and the royal family are returned to Paris under guard.
July 10th: Austrian emperor Leopold II issues the Padua Circular, calling on all European monarchs to protect the French royal family.
July 16th: After three days of debate, the National Assembly rules that the king was abducted and restores his status and privileges, provided he endorses the new constitution. This decision causes outrage in the Jacobin and Cordelier clubs.
July 16th: The Jacobin club decides to protest against the king at the Champ de Mars. This decision causes a split in the Jacobin ranks, prompting around 250 monarchists to form the Feuillant club.
July 17th: The Champ de Mars massacre. Jacobins and Cordeliers rally on the Champ de Mars, to construct a petition calling for the abolition of the monarchy. The National Guard opens fire on a rowdy group, killing between 20-50 people.
July 18th: The National Constituent Assembly criticises the Champ de Mars protestors. In the coming days it orders the suppression of radical newspapers, bans seditious meetings and reorganises the National Guard.
August: The commencement of elections for the Legislative Assembly, the body that will replace the National Assembly. Only ‘active citizens’ are permitted to participate.
August 8th: The National Assembly begins deliberating on the draft constitution.
August 14th: Slave uprisings break out in the French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti).
August 15th: The National Constituent Assembly bans the wearing of religious dress in public.
August 27th: The rulers of Prussia and Austria issues the Declaration of Pillnitz, affirming their support for Louis XVI.
August 29th: Elections for the Legislative Assembly are commenced.
September 14th: The king formally ratifies the Constitution of 1791 and swears an oath of allegiance to the new state.
September 28th: The National Constituent Assembly issues a decree abolishing slavery in France, though not in its colonies.
September 30th: The National Constituent Assembly meets for the last time and votes to dissolve.
October 1st: The Legislative Assembly meets for the first time.
November 9th: The Legislative Assembly orders all emigres to return to France “under pain of death”. Those who do not return will have their lands confiscated by the state.
November 9th: The Legislative Assembly introduces procedures for civil marriage and divorce.
November 11th: The king vetoes the Legislative Assembly’s November 9th decree on emigres.
November 16th: The lawyer and radical reformer Jérôme Pétion is elected to succeed Bailly as mayor of Paris.
November 29th: The Legislative Assembly orders the arrest of all non-juring priests.
December 19th: The king vetoes the Legislative Assembly’s order for the arrest of non-juring priests.

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This page was written by Jennifer Llewellyn and Steve Thompson. To reference this page, use the following citation:
J. Llewellyn and S. Thompson, “French Revolution timeline 1790-91”, Alpha History, accessed [today’s date],