Tennis Court Oath, French Serment du Jeu de Paume, (June 20, 1789), dramatic act of defiance by representatives of the nonprivileged classes of the French nation (the Third Estate) during the meeting of the Estates-General (traditional assembly) at the beginning of the French Revolution. The deputies of the Third Estate, realizing that in any attempt at reform they would be outvoted by the two privileged orders, the clergy and the nobility, had formed, on June 17, a National Assembly.
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The Tennis Court Oath (20 June 1789) preceded the abolition of feudalism (4 August 1789) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (26 August 1789) as the National Assembly became increasingly radical. Following the 100 year celebration of the oath in 1889, what had been the Royal Tennis Court was again forgotten and deteriorated.
The Tennis Court Oath was a pledge that was signed in the early days of the French Revolution and was an important revolutionary act that displayed the belief that political authority came from the nation’s people and not from the monarchy. Why the Peculiar Name? The pledge thanks its name to the place where it was signed.
1. The Tennis Court Oath was a pledge taken by Third Estate deputies to the Estates-General. It was sworn in a Versailles tennis court on June 20th 1789. 2. After days of disputes over voting procedures, the king scheduled a séance royale for June 23rd. When the Third Estate gathered to meet on June 20th, they found the doors to their meeting hall locked and guarded.
The representatives of the third estate viewed themselves as spokesmen for the whole French nation. They assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the grounds of Versailles. They declared themselves a National Assembly and swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France that would limit the powers of the monarch.
Expert Answer: When King Louis XVI refused to summon a joint session of the three Estates of the French society, the representatives of the Third Estate staged a walkout from the Parliament. They convened on a tennis court near the royal palace and proclaimed themselves to be the National Assembly, representing the whole of the French nation. They took an oath to stay united in their fight for the achievement of sovereignty for the French people.
The Third Estate was under direct pressure from an absolute monarch to disband because they posed a threat to his rule. They however did not disband and replied, “Go tell your master that we are here by the will of the people, and that we shall be removed only at the point of a bayonet” (The Tennis Court Oath, Versailles 1). The Assembly then vowed to not disband until a national constitution was adopted:
It is perhaps significant in this context to note that The Tennis Court Oath’s title invokes one of the most rhetorical paintings of a highly rhetorical period of French history: Jacques-Louis David’s depiction of the central moment in the genesis of the French Revolution. The cryptic fragments of “Europe” can be seen, in the context invoked by the title of the book in which they appear, as a deliberate turning off of the belt-line of rhetoric.
Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath. In Versailles, France, the deputies of the Third Estate, which represent commoners and the lower clergy, meet on the Jeu de Paume, an indoor tennis court, in ...