5 May 1789, opening of the Estates-General in Versailles in 1789, as the conservatives sat on the right
The political term right-wing was first used during the French Revolution, when liberal deputies of the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a custom that began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. In the successive legislative assemblies, monarchists who supported the Old Regime were commonly referred to as rightists because they sat on the right side. A major figure on the right was Joseph de Maistre, who argued for an authoritarian form of conservatism. Throughout the 19th century, the main line dividing Left and Right in France was between supporters of the republic (often secularists) and supporters of the monarchy (often Catholics). On the right, the Legitimists and Ultra-royalists held counter-revolutionary views, while the Orléanists hoped to create a constitutional monarchy under their preferred branch of the royal family, a brief reality after the 1830 July Revolution. The centre-right Gaullists in post-World War II France advocated considerable social spending on education and infrastructure development as well as extensive economic regulation, but limited the wealth redistribution measures characteristic of social democracy.
In British politics, the terms "right" and "left" came into common use for the first time in the late 1930s in debates over the Spanish Civil War.
The Right has gone through five distinct historical stages: (I) the reactionary right sought a return to aristocracy and established religion; (II) the moderate right distrusted intellectuals and sought limited government; (III) the radical right favored a romantic and aggressive nationalism; (IV) the extreme right proposed anti-immigration policies and implicit racism; and (V) the neo-liberal right sought to combine a market economy and economic deregulation with the traditional right-wing beliefs in patriotism, elitism and law and order.