Lafayette was considered one of the most popular figures in French society during the Revolutionary period. He was the very first volunteer for the American War of Independence, and his military and political successes led to him being called the ‘hero of the two worlds’. His immersion in the American war effort and its ideology meant that he was a very liberal noble. It was thus that he was one of the main leaders of the Aristocratic Revolt, being one of the Notables at the Assembly of Notables calling for scrutiny of royal accounts as well as a vocal proponent of the end of institutionalised privilege.
He was elected as a deputy for the Second Estate for the Estates-General, but crossed the floor to join the National Assembly, and was later appointed the commander of the National Guard. Following the Revolution, he established the Feuillant club in 1791.
However, he lost his previous popularity with the people following his ongoing support of the publically-perceived treasonous royal family after the Flight to Varennes, and his implication in the Champs de Mars massacre, being the commander of the National Guard which had opened fire on the people.
On 19 August 1792, he defected to Austria, subsequently being imprisoned there until 1797.
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