"National Assembly Relinquishes All Its Privileges "

In late July 1789, as reports poured into Paris from the countryside of several thousand separate yet related peasant mobilizations, a majority of them against seigneurial property, the deputies of the National Assembly debated reforming not just the fiscal system or the constitution but the very basis of French society. In a dramatic all–night session on 4–5 August deputies stepped forward, one after another, to renounce for the good of the "nation" the particular privileges enjoyed by their town or region. By the morning, noble, clerical, and commoner deputies had proposed, debated, and approved even more systematic reform, voting to "abolish the feudal system entirely," effectively eliminating noble and clerical privilege, the fundamental principle of French society since the Middle Ages. As dramatic a gesture as this was, it was also very abstract—after all, the "feudal system" had virtually ceased to exist in France for several hundred years; thus, working out the details of this decree became a primary objective of the National Assembly for the next two years.

Source: mfr 89.67