Causes of the French Revolution Essay
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Causes of the French Revolution
There were many causes and events leading up to the French Revolution in 1789. Before the Revolution, France had been involved in many expensive wars, especially the American War of Independence, causing financial difficulties and debts which were increased through the expensive upkeep of the Royal Family and their courts. At this time the Age of Enlightenment was occurring and new ideas, challenging the Ancien Regime and the Absolute right to rule, were emerging. The monarch of the time, King Louis XVI, was a weak monarch who was incapable of making decisions and sticking to them. King Louis XIV was also incapable of using his powers in a way to spark fear and gain control of those under his power. As a…show more content…
This meant that they were heavily taxed like the rest of the Third Estate, but many avaided taxes. Some of the bourgeois were envious of the nobility and had resentment towards the First and Second Estates, many against the Ancien Regime and well educated a large proportion of the bourgeois knew of the discoveries happening during the Age of Enlightenment. The Ancien Regime prioritised the people of France in order of Estates, with the King being above all, as a result of the system keeping 97% of the population in one category the system did not satisfy many of the bourgeois of the time resulting in them supporting the revolution.
Before the revolution France was ruled under the Ancien Regime system, meaning the country and all its people were under the reign of an absolute monarch. This was a tradition that had been upheld through the years and the Royal family had enjoyed a life funded by the people of France, the royal family’s lifestyle unaffected by the situation outside their palace. The Palace, Versailles, was built by king Louis XIV and the expenses for building this “village” was very high, and in later years the cost for its upkeep would play a significant role in Frances financial difficulties. In order for these difficulties to be overcome France needed a tax reform. The government had a very high tax rate on the poorest of their people, the Third Estate, and they were still not getting enough money to get out of their
Causes of French Revolution: Political, Social and Economic Causes!
The three main causes of French revolution are as follows: 1. Political Cause 2. Social Cause 3. Economic Cause.
1. Political Cause:
During the eighteen the Century France was the centre of autocratic monarchy. The French Monarchs had unlimited power and they declared themselves as the “Representative of God”.
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Louis XIV was the exponent of this view. The French Monarchs engaged themselves in luxurious and extravagance at the royal court of Versailles. They enjoyed unlimited power. By the Letter de Catchet, they arrested any person at any time and imprisoned them. They paid no attention towards their subjects.
Louis XIV (1643-1715) of the Bourbon Dynasty was a powerful monarch. He was an efficient, hard-working and confident ruler. He participated in many wars. Louis XIV’s concept of unlimited royal power is revealed by his famous remarks, “I am the State”.
Louis XV (1715-1774) succeeded Louix XIV He was a ‘butterfly monarch’. His defective foreign policy weakened the economic condition of France. Louis XV fought the Seven Years War against England which brought nothing for France. France became bankrupt due to over expenditure in wars and luxury. He realised it later on. Before his death he cried-‘After me the Deluge’.
After Louis XV, Louis XVI (1774-1793) ascended the throne of France. During that period, the economic condition of France became weak. Louis XVI was an innocent and simple man. But he was influenced by his queen Marie Antoinette who always interfered in the state affairs.
Out of frustration he uttered-“Oh! What a burden of mine and they have taught me nothing.” Marie Antoinette was the daughter of Marie Theresa, the Austrian Empress. She always felt proud as she was the daughter of Austrain Empress. She always enjoyed luxurious and extravagant life. She sowed seed of the French Revolution. Thus, the autrocratic monarchy, defective administration, extravagant expenditure formed the political cause of the French Revolution.
2. Social Cause:
The Social condition of France during the eighteenth century was very miserable. The then French Society was divided into three classes— the Clergy, Nobles and Common People.
The Clergy belonged to the First Estate. The Clergy was subdivided into two groups i.e. the higher clergy and the lower clergy. The higher clergy occupied the top position in the society. They managed the churches, monasteries and educational institutions of France. They did not pay any tax to the monarch.
They exploited the common people in various ways. The higher clergy lived in the midst of scandalous luxury and extravagance. The common people had a strong hatred towards the higher clergy. On the other hand, the lower clergy served the people in true sense of the term and they lived a very miserable life.
The Nobility was regarded as the Second Estate in the French Society. They also did not pay any tax to the king. The Nobility was also sub divided into two groups-the Court nobles and the provincial nobles. The court nobles lived in pomp and luxury. They did not pay any heed towards the problems of the common people of their areas.
On the other hand, the provincial nobles paid their attention towards the problems of the people. But they did not enjoy the same privileges as the Court nobles enjoyed. The Third Estate formed a heterogenous class. The farmers, cobblers, sweepers and other lower classes belonged to this class. The condition of the farmers was very miserable.
They paid the taxes like Taille, Tithe and Gable. Inspite of this, the clergies and the nobles employed them in their fields in curve. The Bourgeoisie formed the top most group of the Third Estate. The doctors, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, writers and philosophers belonged to this class. They had the wealth and social status. But the French Monarch, influenced by the clergies and nobles, ranked them as the Third Estate.
So they influenced the people for revolution. They aroused the common people about their rights. Thus, the common people became rebellious. The lower Clergies and the provincial nobles also joined their hands with the common people along with the bourgeoisie. So the French Revolution is also known as the ‘Bourgeoisie Revolution’.
3. Economic Cause:
The economic condition of France formed another cause for the outbreak of the French Revolution. The economic condition of France became poor due to the foreign wars of Louis XIV, the seven years War of Louis XV and other expensive wars. During the reign period of Louis XVI, the royal treasury became empty as extravagant expenses of his queen Marie Antoinette.
To get rid of this condition. Louis XVI appointed Turgot as his Finance Minister in 1774. Turgot tried to minimise the expenditure of the royal court. He also advised the king to impose taxes on every classes of the society. But due to the interference of Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI dismissed Turgot.
Then Necker was appointed as the Finance Minister in 1776. He published a report on the income and expenditure of the State in order to arouse the people. But he was also dismissed by the king.
The next person who was appointed by the King as the Finance Minister of France in 1783 was Callone. He adapted the policy of borrowing in order to meet the expenditure of the royal court. But due to this policy, the national debt of France increased from 300,000,000 to 600,000,000 Franks only in three years.
Then Callone proposed to impose taxes on all the classes. But he was dismissed by the king. In this situation, the king at last summoned the States General. The economic instability formed one of the most important causes of the French Revolution.