|'The execution of Louis XVI' by Georg Heinrich Sieveking . |
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The ConventionThough the Convention had been elected on manhood suffrage, barely one sixth of the electorate had taken part for the initial voting at town and village level. It had been elected when France was still officially a monarchy and it still met in the Manège, where the Legislative Assembly had sat. Of its 749 members almost half were lawyers. 200 had sat in the Legislative Assembly and eighty-three in the former Constituent Assembly, including Robespierre and the duc d’Orléans, now known as Philippe Egalité, both of whom sat for Paris. Many members therefore had wide political experience. There were also a couple of foreigners, to demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of the Revolution, one of them the Englishman, Thomas Paine, elected for Pas de Calais.
Because there was no king and initially no constitution, the Convention gathered to itself all the powers of the state. There were no restraining bodies and the motions of the Convention automatically became law. It would even assume judicial power.