After the storming of the Bastille, the next significant event of the French Revolution occurred on August 4, 1789. On that day, the National Constituent Assembly adopted 18 decrees or articles – The August Decrees – concerning the abolition of feudalism, other privileges of the nobility, and seigneurial rights.
This decision took place in the context of the Great Fear, rural peasant revolt fueled by rumors of an aristocrats’ “famine plot” to starve or burn out the population.
While the decrees dampened the unrest of the Great Fear, violence continued for a year. Under the original decree, peasants were supposed to pay for the release of seigneurial dues. Most refused and in 1793 the obligation was cancelled.
This excerpt from the film La Révolution française (1989) depicts the peasant uprisings of July and August 1789 and the National Assembly’s August 4th decrees.