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Assignat for 15 sols from 1792, with monarchical symbols
Specially designed 1st assignat of the 1st French Republic from September 21, 1792 for 400 livres
Assignat for 500 livres from 1794

The assignats (from French l'assignat , instruction ') were the paper money used during the French Revolution .

In December 1789 the National Assembly decided to confiscate the church property in favor of the state in order to pay off the enormous debt burden and to cover the upcoming budget. Since there was no hope of selling the property within a short period of time, the debt was paid to the lenders in the form of assignats, which played the role of government bonds and initially paid interest. These could be exchanged for the available estates, but were mainly put into circulation and thus developed into a general means of payment.

Because the value of the paper money was allegedly fully covered by the land for sale and bearing interest, it was hoped that the new paper money would quickly win the trust of the population. At times, the possession and trading of gold and silver money was forbidden with high penalties and the population was asked to surrender it to the state in order to force the acceptance of assignats as a general currency.

First assignates - then mandates

Assignats were issued in Russia as early as 1769. The first French assignats were issued from December 14, 1789. Initially, the new money had a beneficial effect. The French economy was revived and the peasants showed solidarity with the revolution through the dispersed land. Interest was given up in the following year. Over time, the government put more and more assignats into circulation, causing high inflation and general political instability. Numerous English forgeries also caused trust in the assignat currency to decline.

By February 1793 they were only 50 percent of their original value. Food was hoarded, which the Jacobins forbade by law on July 26; On September 29th, a maximum price was still imposed on certain foods.

However, this could only slow inflation temporarily. In April 1795 the value of assignats fell to 8 percent. As a result, many merchants refused to accept paper money, which impoverished the workers who were paid in assignats.

In February 1796 the board of directors decided to replace the assignats at a rate of 30: 1 with mandats territoriaux . On March 18, the assignats were deposed and replaced by the territorial mandates . Their amount of money was initially limited to 2.4 billion livres - theoretically they could be exchanged directly for state goods. The mandates, however, quickly fell to around 3 percent of their original value until shortly before their disrepute . Even before all assignats and mandates were disreputed, attempts were made in the areas on the left bank of the Rhine around Cologne and Mainz, which were then occupied by France, to quickly convert this French paper money, which has now become almost worthless, into full German silver money. On May 21, 1797, all assignats and mandates were finally declared invalid. As early as August 15, 1795, the new decimal - divided franc currency reform began to be tacitly prepared. It started with the minting of the first copper centime - and Décime - fractional coins as well as silver 5-franc coins as a new standard Kurantmünze from the year of issue 4 (1795 to 1796).


Web links

Commons : Assignat  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ HA Scott Trask: The Story of a Monetary Catastrophe , Ludwig von Mises Institute, April 28, 2004, at Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  2. Helmut Kahnt, Bernd Knorr: Old dimensions, coins and weights. A lexicon. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1986, licensed edition Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-411-02148-9 , p. 381.