On 6 August 1789, the Assemblee Constituante met to discuss the points that were made on the night of the 4thregarding the abolition of the privileges of the aristocrats and the clergy. One point of contention was the abolition of the 'droits honorifiques' i.e. rights and privileges that could be purchased by families or individuals within the church. These rights pertained to being seated in a particular place, burial privileges, having prayers and masses told, the use of incense and holy water, etc. Every aspect of church going could be moneyed.
These rights had to be abolished for the sake of equality – but at the same time, some families had invested in their church for several generations and there were contracts at stake that would have to be reneged on if these rights were abolished.
The question of church privileges seems like a petty concern to us – not what the Revolution, in its early days ought to have been about. Yet the Assembly, fired up by the night of the 4thaugust, decided to spend an entire day discussing just that.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.