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    Home >> History >> French Revolution

    French Revolution

    The French revolution changed the entire history of France. The revolution brought it to a different stage. However, French revolution didn’t just happen. Many short terms as well as long term causes lead to the French Revolution.  The main causes which triggered the revolution were the unfair taxation on the 3rd states, age of enlightment and the tennis court oath. Revolutions take place when a far reaching change in society happens.


    King Louis XVI:

    ·         Absolute monarchy meaning the king had absolute power.

    ·         He believed he was chosen by God and that he had unlimited power

    ·         Since 1774 King Louis XVI had been Indecisive and was weak in power

    ·         This led to the Aristocrats trying to take advantage of this by trying to control King Louis XVI as he had been indecisive

    ·         This led to the French Revolution because the people were angry at the fact that there own King was indecisive


    Influence of Marie Antoinette:

    The 3 estates:

                    The First Estate

    ·         This was the Roman Catholic Church

    ·          They made up 0.3% of the population but owned 10% of the land and they paid no taxes

    ·          Farmers had to pay a tenth of their earnings to the church

    ·          The wealth was mainly enjoyed by the Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots

                    The Second Estate

    ·         They were the Aristocrats

    ·          They made up 1.5% of the population but owned 20% of the land and paid no taxes

    ·          They could order peasants to work on their land for free and made them pay to use mills

    ·          They were given control over villages

    ·          They were hated by the country people

    ·         In 1787 the aristocrats didn’t help the king by charging him Land tax (after the war with British)

    ·         This caused the king lose help and the economy to suffer

    ·         This caused the revolution because it made the economy sink even greater so prices would have had to be increased so money could be made


                   The Third Estate

    ·         They were middle class and peasants

    ·          They made up 98.2% of the population but owned little land

    ·          They had no say in how the country was run

    ·          They were forced to give a tenth of their pay to the church and pay taxes to the Aristocrats

    ·          They could not move up to the 1st or 2nd estate

    ·         They were abused by 1st and 2nd estate.

    ·         They were the only ones who had to pay taxes


    Population increase

    ·         The population increased dramatically in the 18th century

    ·         This meant that there became more landless peasants

    ·         Also family’s had to work harder in order to feed their family’s

    ·         It added to the causes because it made the peasants want more land and money to live with

    Price increase:

    ·         In 1700 prices went up

    ·         The prices went up more than wages did

    ·         Families could not afford food or water to live on with little income

    ·         This contributed to the causes of the French revolution because the peasants couldn’t afford to feed their families but could not change the prices so they wanted more power

    Poor harvest:

    ·         In 1787-1788 harvests were bad and people starved

    ·         This consequently made farmers lose their income so they could not afford food

    ·         This cause affected the revolution because peasants were hungry and needed more money and land to produce food on so that they would not starve and could feed their families


    ·         France used to always participate in the war and they were more or less the main ones. King luis used to invest a lot of money in wars and their weapons. All this money came from the taxes paid by the 3rd estate. For example: the war with British:

    o   In 1756-1763 the French fighting with the British

    o   This made the government run low on money at a time when prices were at an all time high

    o   This contributed to the overall causes leading up to the revolution because it outraged the peasants to see the money get use so selfishly when they could not afford to eat.



    The American Revolution:

    ·         In 1778-1783 the French were helping the Americans win the war against the British

    ·         This obviously cost money but the government could not afford to pay for all of the war supplies so taxes were increased

    ·         This also lead to the revolution because when greater taxes were demanded the people of France could not cope with it


    Unfair taxation on the 3rd estate:

    ·         In 1788 the Government was short of money so they call a meeting with the estates general ( 1st and 2nd estate)

    ·         This caused the government to increase taxes which at the time the people could not afford.

    ·         This led to the start of the French revolution because the French citizens once again could not cope with the taxes but could not change it as they had no voice. They wanted a say in how the country was run

    ·         Bourgeoisie wanted more power since they made the 98% of the whole population.



    Life at Versailles

    The age of Enlightment:

    ·         The enlightment was a period of revolution; a time where there was a  major shift in the way the people thought. People began to question, investigate, reason and find the logic behind the theories. They were confident as they were going against the church / questioning the church, and who ever did that was executed. The enlightment affected areas like POLITICS, ARTS, LITERATURE, SCIENCE and alt but not the least RELIGION. People started having secular thoughts. People started becoming open-minded and accepted change. They made their own laws and customs and adapted reality.

    ·         People became more educated

    ·         New political ideas

    ·         New view of government

    ·         More universities and books

    ·         The desire to change the society

    ·         To have representatives government not one person ruling the country. (democracy)

    ·         A better sense of equality

    ·         Share power.

    ·         The philosophers often gathered in Paris and other European cities. They discussed politics, science and society. They changed their ideology. They believed in secular thoughts, social contact and the GENERAL WILL.

    ·         Social contact: a deal with people for the good, the right to elect , impeaching a president (anyone who has power)

    ·         Will: people should have a right to choose their ruler.

    The tennis court oath:

    ·         This was trigger and led to the revolution. It was a social cause

    ·         On 5th may 1789 the king listened to the demands of the Third Estate but tried to stop the reforms that the people demanded

    ·         This led to the Tennis court oath where a group of people from the third estate demanded to stay in an indoor tennis court until the demands where met




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