The French king was the only one who could determine whether to summon this council, and it was last convened in 1614 before Louis XVI reconvened it on May 5th, 1789. The Third Estate desired that voting be done by the entire assembly, so that each member would have one vote. Louis XVI rejected this demand. On June 20th, the members of the Estates-General signed a document called "The Petition of Rights," which included many demands including some for more democratic procedures at the National Assembly.
These rights were not granted by the monarchy but were demanded by the people. The king did not grant them because he was not willing to give up his power, but rather he tried to find a way around the problem.
There had been earlier attempts by other monarchs to gain support from their subjects. For example, in 1328, Charles IV attempted to have himself crowned "Charles I," in order to get rid of the nobility's influence over government. But this attempt failed when the citizens of Paris refused to recognize him as their ruler.
Another failure occurred in 1443, when King Henry VI requested a meeting with the clergy and laypeople to discuss ways to end wars between themselves. But again, the people refused to have a monarchy that wasn't controlled by the nobility.
In conclusion, these events show that the monarchy has always had a difficult time gaining support from the people.
The First National Assembly met on May 20, 1789. The three orders demanded equal voting rights for their delegates to the national legislature. The King refused and dissolved the First National Assembly on August 26, 1789.
The Second National Assembly met from November 3, 1790 to February 10, 1791. It too asked for equal voting rights for all citizens including those of the Third Estate. The King again refused and on April 11, 1791 he called together the States-General. These were the first elections held in France since 1660 (the year of the founding of the French state).
The States-General met in Paris from May 5, 1791 to October 18, 1791. They drafted a new constitution which was to replace the old one issued by Louis XIV in 1682. This new constitution was never approved by the King or published in full; it was instead distributed in summary form with explanations added by members of the States-General.
The constitution provided for a bicameral legislature: an upper house known as the Senate and a lower house called the Legislative Body.
The members of the third estate sought that voting be structured by the assembly so that each member would have one vote rather than the standard of each estate having one vote. Louis XVI rejected it because it would weaken the prominence of the second and first estates. If the third estate got what it wanted, then it could refuse to approve taxes levied against them by the second and first estates.
The third estate was not only the largest estate but also included men who provided military service, served on juries, held public offices, and worked in royal factories. It is estimated that it contained about 7% of the population but accounted for nearly 50% of the land area.
During the French Revolution, the third estate became the National Assembly and passed laws allowing for elections for the national legislature and organizing legislative councils in each department. However, these bodies had no real power since they were dominated by representatives from the first two estates.
In 1789, the year of France's revolution, the third estate consisted of lawyers, doctors, teachers, pastors, and merchants. As well as being large landowners, the members of the third estate were also involved in government, defense, trade, and finance.
Because they were in charge of naming judges and prosecutors, members of the third estate could influence criminal cases involving members of this estate.
King Louis XVI rejected the third estate's suggestion that everyone in the Assembly be given the right to vote. The King believed this would only cause division among the people.
The electoral system at that time allowed for members of the Legislative Body to be elected by either active voters or all subjects over the age of 21. The first election held under this system took place in April 1789 and it was won by the Monarchist Party which supported the King. The winning candidates were awarded seats in the National Constituent Assembly by lot. This assembly had the power to draft a new constitution and frame laws to implement its plans. It also had the power to declare war and make peace.
In October 1790, the second election was held and it too was won by the Monarchist Party. This time there were no prizes awarded to the winners but they were again appointed to their posts. Thereafter, every two years more elections were held until January 1st, 1875 when the last one took place. By this time, many changes had taken place including the introduction of universal male suffrage and the dissolution of the Assembly when Napoleon came to power.