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The Tennis Court Oath – 20 June 1789

Continuing in our countdown to Mark Steel’s Vive la Revolution gig for Southwark Respect on 17th July we will be tracking the steps to the French Revolution.

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Following the Third Estate’s declaration on 17 June the King had prohibited the Third Estate from meeting. On 20 June 1789 they arrived to find that, on the Louis’s orders, the doors of their meeting place had been locked. Already fearful of a royal coup they decided to continue meeting. The weather being bad they decamped to a nearby indoor tennis court.

It was here that they swore the famous Tennis Court Oath:

We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations.

They had defied Louis, and sworn that it was they who would write a new constitution for France. It was direct defiance of the divine right of Kings. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

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