A vital support of any despotic monarchy must be its armed forces, but the French army in 1789 was far from being the reliable instrument of the monarchy which it had been at the time of the great victories of Louis XIV. There were serious causes of discontents which encouraged the spread of Democratic and revolutionary ideas in the army. The most important grievances was the law of 1781 by which commissioned rank was restricted to those born into the nobility. Non commissioned rank was therefore the highest to which the well educated sons of the bourgeoisie could rise. It is not surprising that secret societies of various kinds existed in the army and tended to undermine its discipline. Some important regiments were quite unreliable when the revolution began. This was the case with one of the most important regiments of France, the Grades Franchisees,stationed in 1789 at Paris, and many of its officers were ready to throw in their lot with the revolution. Another grievance of the unprivileged bourgeoisie and common soldier was the excessive number of the officers. This policy had been pretensions. In 1789 there was general for every 157 private soldiers and one staff for every 79. Many of these entered the army very early in life and with few qualification. A nobles sons could become a colonel at the age of sixteen. Thus the class division and privileges which marked French society in 1789 were to be seen in the French army itself.
Louis XIV's government