Law Le Chapelier

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The law Le Chapelier , named after the MP Isaac René Guy Le Chapelier , was enacted on June 14, 1791 by the Constituent Assembly.


In April 1791 the carpenters in Paris stopped working and asked for higher wages. The Paris Commune assessed this wage demand as incompatible with a free economy. It left entrepreneurs free to set their wages. The carpenters founded a "Union fraternelle" which led the strike and demanded a minimum daily wage of 50 sous from the entrepreneurs . The carpenters drew up an eight-article contract that the Paris Commune was supposed to impose on entrepreneurs. The Commune refused to give their consent, turned to the Constituent Assembly and asked for help. Locksmiths, farriers, joiners, typesetters, hatters and cobblers joined the carpenters and also demanded more wages.

The Le Chapelier law

The Constituent Assembly saw economic freedom at risk. At Le Chapelier's request, she passed the law on June 14, 1791 that forbade masters, journeymen and workers from organizing themselves in leagues. The abolition of the guilds was confirmed. Petitions drawn up on behalf of a profession and meetings held to set wages were considered illegal. Breaches of the law were also meetings to walk out. Striking workers were prosecuted, their spokesmen faced fines or imprisonment and the deprivation of the rights of an "active citizen" .

The law was directed against freedom of association , but also against any type of organization that restricts individual freedom of contract and freedom of trade , such as guilds or cartels . It continued the policy of the Décret d'Allarde from March 1791 and became a trend-setter for the liberalization of the economy. Comparable regulations were made in England in 1799 by the Combination Act 1799 (full title: "An Act to prevent Unlawful Combinations of Workmen", in short "39 Geo. III, c. 81").

The ban on strikes was lifted in France in 1864 and the ban on coalitions by the law of March 21, 1884 .


  • Jean Jaurès : La Loi Chepelier . In: the same: Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française . Vol. 2. Editions de la Librairie de l'Humanité, Paris 1927, pp. 260–287
  • Bernd Jeschonnek: Revolution in France 1789–1799. A lexicon. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-05-000801-6 .
  • Christian Seegert: The Le Chapelier law - example of bourgeois political reform in the area of ​​tension between absolutist tradition and the anticipated class structure of bourgeois society . In: "You, and not us". The French Revolution and its effect on Northern Germany and the Reich . Vol. 2, edited by Arno Herzig , Inge Stephan, Hans G. Winter. Dölling and Galitz, Hamburg 1989 ISBN 3-926174-14-5 , pp. 787-809