Abolition of Nobility

The major principle underlying the 4 August decree found legislative expression in the decree of 19 June 1790, which legally abolished the nobility, all its privileges, and, as the excerpt demonstrates, those aspects that seemed particularly contrary to reason.


Decree Abolishing Hereditary Nobility and Titles

19 June 1790

1. The National Assembly decrees that hereditary nobility is forever abolished. Consequently, the titles of Prince, Duke, Count, Marquis, Viscount, Vidame, Baron, Knight, Lord, Squire, Noble, and all other similar titles shall neither be accepted by, nor bestowed upon, anyone whomsoever.

2. A citizen may assume only the real name of his family. No one may wear livery or have them worn, nor may anyone have a coat of arms. Incense shall be burned in churches only to honor the Divinity, and shall not be offered to any person.

3. The titles of Your Royal Highness and Your Royal Highnesses shall not be bestowed upon any group or individual, nor shall the titles of Excellency, Highness, Eminence, Grace, etc. Under pretext of the present decree, however, no citizen can take the liberty of attacking either the monuments in churches or the charters, titles, and other documents concerning families or properties, or the decorations in any public or private place. Also, the implementation of the provisions related to liveries and coats of arms placed upon carriages may not be effected or required by anyone at all until 14 July for citizens living in Paris, and for three months for those living in the provinces.

4. The present decree does not apply to foreigners; they may preserve their liveries and coats of arms in France.

Source: John Hall Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 142–43. (Slightly retranslated)..