The August Decrees: Abolition of French Feudalism
The next major event of the revolution occurred on 4 August 1789, when the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism, sweeping away both the seigneurial rights of the Second Estate (the nobility) and the tithes gathered by the First Estate (the Roman Catholic clergy).
While one can question motivations (and while many later expressed regrets and attempted retreat), historians agree that the Viscount de Noailles and the Duke d'Aiguillon proposed the redemption and consequent abolition of feudal rights and the suppression of personal servitude, as well as the various privileges of the nobility. Members of the First Estate were at first reluctant to enter into the patriotic fervour of the night but eventually the Bishops of Nancy and Chartres sacrificed their tithes. In the course of a few hours, France abolished game-laws, seigneurial courts, the purchase and sale of posts in the magistracy, of pecuniary immunities, favoritism in taxation, of surplice money, first-fruits, pluralities, and unmerited pensions. Towns, provinces, companies, and cities also sacrificed their special privileges.