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Events leading to the french r

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Events leading to the french r


Events Leading to the French Revolution



The major cause of the French Revolution was the disputes between the different types of social classes in French society. The French Revolution of1789-1799 was one of the most important events in the history of the world. The Revolution led to many changes in France, which at the time of the Revolution, was the most powerful state in Europe. The Revolution led tothe development of new political forces such as democracy and nationalism. It questioned the authority of kings, priests, and nobles. The Revolution also gave new meanings and new ideas to the political ideas of the people. The French Revolution was spread over the ten year period between 1789and 1799. The primary cause of the revolution was the disputes over the peoples' differing ideas of reform. Before the beginning of the Revolution, only moderate reforms were wanted by the people. An example of why they wanted this was because of king Louis XIV's actions. At the end of the seventeenth century, King Louis XIV's wars began decreasing theroyal finances dramatically. This worsened during the eighteenth century. The use of the money by Louis XIV angered the people and they wanted a newsystem of government. The writings of the philosophes such as Voltaire and Diderot, were critical of the government. They said that not one officialin power was corrupt, but that the whole system of government needed somechange. Eventually, when the royal finances were expended in the 1780's,there began a time of greater criticism. This sparked the peasants notionof wanting change. Under the Old Regime in France, the king was the absolute monarch.Louis XIV had centralized power in the royal bureaucracy, the governmentdepartments which administered his policies. Together, Louis XIV and thebureaucracy worked to preserve royal authority and to maintain the socialstructure of the Old Regime. At this time in French history, the social classes played an importantrole in the lives of the people. The social structure of France was divided among three groups: the First Estate, the Second Estate, and theThird Estate. Each social group had a varied type of people within theirstructure, which presented the different views of the people. The First Estate was the Church. During the ancien regime, the churchwas equal in terms of its social, economic, and spiritual power. The FirstEstate owned nearly 10 per cent of all land in France. It paid no taxesbut, to support church activities such as school running and caring for thepoor, they collected a tithe, or a tax on income. About one-third of theentire clergy in France served as parish priests. Also included in thisestate were the nobles. Some of the nobles lived in luxury in major citiesin France, such as Versailles or Paris. Parish priests usually lived ahardworking life. This Estate was the minority of the people in France, having approximately 1 to 2 per cent of the population. The Second Estate in French life was the nobility. They enjoyedextensive rights and privileges. They made up less than 2 percent of thepopulation. They, like the First Estate, paid hardly any taxes.Economically, the nobility was characterized by great land wealth. Nobleswere generally the richest members of the society. Typical sources ofincome were rents and dues for the use of their farms or estates. The First and Second Estates were grouped together because they had similarpolitical beliefs. The Third Estate consisted of the commoners. It included the bourgeoisie, peasants and city workers. The bourgeoisie, or the middleclass, were by far, the wealthiest. In the bourgeoisie, there were themerchants and manufacturers, lawyers, doctors and others similar to thosetypes of professions. Peasants made up the largest group within the ThirdEstate. They were forced to pay hefty taxes, tithes to the church, andrents to their landlords for the land that they lived on. The last groupwithin the Third Estate were the city workers. They were servants,apprentices, and household maids. The major cause of the Revolution were the differences these threegroups had. However, there was another important factor during thesetimes. France suffered from harsh economic problems. Poor farm harvestsby farmers hurt the economy, and trade rules from the Middle Ages stillsurvived, making trade difficult. However, the most serious problem wasthe problem facing the government during this time. The French governmentborrowed much money to pay for the wars of Louis XIV. Louis still borrowedmoney to fight wars and to keep French power alive in Europe. These costsgreatly increased the national debt, which was, at the time, already toohigh. When King Louis XVI came into power, he realized that these problemsexisted. At first he did not know what to do, until he found a man by thename of Robert Turgot. He eased the financial crisis of France, but he haddifficulties when he tried to introduce a major reform, that of taxing the nobles. He had such difficulties because the king could not tax the nobles unless the Parliament approved of the new tax laws. The people in thecourts that voted on these laws were the nobles, called nobles of the robe,and therefore rejected Turgot's reform. After Turgot was rejected, theking fired him from his office. This led Louis XVI to summon the EstatesGeneral in 1789. The Estates General was the place where representatives from eachsocial class could be represented. Here, many issues would be discussed,and at this time in French history, it would be centered around theeconomic crisis. When the Estates General met in 1789, the deputies, orrepresentatives, from the Third Estate demanded that the three estates meettogether, with each deputy having an equal vote. That way, the First andSecond Estates could outvote the Third Estate. When the king heard ofthis, he demanded that the three estates meet separately. This causedanger within the Third Estate. The deputies from the Third Estate declaredthemselves the National Assembly. Louis XVI quickly rejected thesedeputies from the meeting hall. After a while, Louis XVI decided that itwould be best if the three estates met together. He ordered the other twoestates to join the Third Estate in the National Assembly. Although now the three estates met together, there were divisionsamong them. Some wanted to protect their rights, while others wanted toestablish a limited, constitutional monarchy. This sparked some change inthe French people. Immediately after the National Assembly secretly began working on aconstitution, the peasants and workers expected relief from taxes and otherdues that they paid. Little happened, ...

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