Causes of the French Revolution
To the rest of the world in the 1700s, France could be described as utopia. During this time, it was considered the most advanced country of Europe, with population of 26 million and a prosperous foreign trade. It was the center of the Enlightenment and when the Enlightenment reached its height in the mid 1770s, Paris became the meeting place for philosophes to discuss politics and ideas. However, the people of France were desperate for change and reform, the outward success and appearance of France was misleading. This great unrest in France led to the French Revolution which stated in 1789. Nonetheless, what started in France as reform, which is a change ...view middle of the document...
(Beck 218) This shows that the old regime was unequal and created social tensions, it also implies that the majority of the people in France did not have power in the government. The poor peasants and workers who were paid low wages and frequently out of work, were obliged to pay about half of their income to dues, tithes and taxes. It is conveyed that the third estate resented the wealthy first and second estate, as a result of unequal treatment, which led to social tensions. In addition, the bourgeoisie, felt their wealth should entitle them more political power and a higher degree of social status. However they paid high taxes and lacked privileges, even though they were as rich as the nobles. This division of society, created a hostile environment as the third estate were barred by a unequal social system, which based on the social class of the parents instead of merit.
When King Louis XVI called for an Estates-General in 1789, the social tensions plaguing the old regime emerged as a central issue of the Revolution. ( The social causes of the French Revolution Par. 8)When the Estates General was called, the representatives of the third estate became more determined to wield power, because they were eager to make changes in the unfair social system.
In anticipation of the meeting, King Louis received cahiers or lists of grievances from the third estate.
Examples of the grievances listed include, “No order, corporation, or individual citizen may lay claim to any pecuniary exemptions.... All taxes should be assessed on the same system throughout the nation.” (The Cahiers: Discontents of the Third Estate 11) This conveys that the third estate was infuriated by the tax exemption of the estates and this fueled their desire for a change. Also, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès wrote the pamphlet Qu'est-ce que le tiers état? in response to how the estate general should be constituted, which stated, “What is the Third Estate? It is the whole.” ( Abbé Sieyès, What is the Third Estate?, 1789 Par. 1) This implies that the third estate ignited by the injustice of the old regime, and emboldened to proclaim that the third estate is everything. The third estate began the french revolution by declaring itself the National Assembly, as a result of the growing resentment of the third estate towards the first and second estate. As the National Assembly, the delegates of the third estate formulated the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which stated Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. ( Declaration of rights of man and citizen 1) This reveals that the old regime is abolished and the social classes are based on merit. The social causes of the French revolution infuriated and added to the resent of the third estate, which then solidified their need for a revolution
Economic causes, is another factor which led to the French Revolution. France’s thriving economy was in...