Why did King Louis XVI call a meeting of the Estates General to be held in spring 1789?

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From the outset Louis XVI's actions and failure to act pushed the French people (as of May 1789 almost all accepted the institution of monarchy) along the path to revolution. Before the meeting of the Estates General he had agreed at the urging of Necker, who had been recalled to office, to allow the Third Estate representation equal to that of the other two Estates combined. The King was vague, however, on whether each Estate would meet and vote separately, in which case the privileged Estates could outvote the Third, or whether the vote would be by "head." On June 23 the King finally ordered the three Estates to meet separately, but when the Third Estate refused to obey, Louis XVI, characteristically, yielded. Before this the Estates General had adopted the title National Constituent Assembly, sign of its determination to give France a written constitution. The response of the King, under the influence of reactionary court circles, was to summon troops to Versailles and to dismiss ... more
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