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Challenge To Absolutism Essay

2186 words - 9 pages

Louis XVIs failings as a monarch primarily account for the strength of the challenge to absolutism in France which existed by the beginning of May 1789 - How far do you agree?

Yes to a large extent it can be argued that it was Louis XVIs failings as a monarch that accounted for the strength of the challenge to the Ancien Regime. For example Louis' weak leadership meant he lacked the confidence to act assertively meaning he couldn't combat the growing strength of the privileged class and push through reforms. Moreover he was too easily influenced and took appeasement of the privileged too far instead of stopping them in their tracks. Although it could be argued that the power of the ...view middle of the document...

Thus it could be argued that due to the questioning, resentment and political situation the economy caused the strength of the challenge to absolutism was great. However and in relation to Louis it is clear that if Louis was able to control the privileged classes, although bad harvests were out of his control, the situation could of been tamed and food riots such as the ones in 1789 may not of occurred.

To a large extent it can be argued that Louis' failings as monarch primarily account for the strength of the challenge to absolutism in the period as he failed to introduce reforms to resolve issues, appease the grievances of the third estate and made emotional decisions which cost the country economically with a 1500m Livre debt. Louis' decision to involve France in American War of Independence placed France in an unmanageable level of debt and by 1786 50% of income was being used to service debt caused by the war. The levels of debt were not sustainable in relation to the tax being collected due to exemptions and the inefficient tax farming. The war not only placed France not only put France in huge levels of debt but also highlighted the failings of the leader. In turn the debt led to a strong challenge to the Ancien Regime as it worsened the country economically. Due to this taxes had to be introduced which placed on the Third Estate, who were already carrying the tax burden of the nation, leading to greater resentment to the regime. Thus Louis' decision to enter the war not only worsened the economic situation but in turn increased the strength of the challenge to the Ancien Regime as the poor were placed into an even worse situation which led to their politicisation against the monarchy. However it is not just the problems which Louis created that led to the challenge towards the regime but also the failure to resolve them due to a weak personality. With the country on the verge of bankruptcy Louis called the Assembly of Notables in 1787 in an attempt to push through tax. However the assembly had a great level of underlying tension meaning little was achieved and the issues presented were not resolve. Louis' decision to call the Assembly instead of an Estates-General highlighted the isolation between the crown and the people and also his political weakness. The EG had the promise of being the resolution to the majority of the countries problems. Not only did it highlight the weakness of Louis but widened the distance between the Third Estate and the rest of the country as it meant they would not be heard in the forceable future. This accounted for the strength of the challenge to absolutism as it heighten the frustration of the Third Estate leading to politicisation of the estate increasing the threat they posed as many were looking to alternatives such as revolution or a national assembly thus undermining the monarchy. In addition Louis' bad decisions increased the friction between not only the monarchy and the 3rd estate but also the...

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