Ideas more than political and economic concerns drove the French revolution up to the summer

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Introduction

Revolutions have for a long time been a fundamental pillar in many countries history. In fact, the history of many countries is founded in revolutions especially considering that the political landscapes of many countries were characterized by monarchies, colonialism and other forms of oppressive regimes. Revolutions, in these countries, could be violent or nonviolent. It goes without saying that the revolutions caused fundamental changes in the governance of the countries, and their effects continue to be felt even today. This is the case for the French revolution.

The French Revolution took place between 1789 and 1799, and was marked by radical political and social upheaval that had long-term effects on the history of France, as well as the entire world at large (Kates, 23). France had been under the rule of absolute monarchy for centuries, something that changed with a period of three years in which the society had epic transformations characterized by the elimination religious, aristocratic, as well as feudal privileges under persistent assault from peasants, radical political groups, as well as masses. This period also witnessed the elimination of old ideas pertaining to hierarchy and tradition of aristocracy, monarchy, as well as religious authority (Kates, 43). These were replaced by entirely new enlightenment principles that touched on inalienable rights, citizenship and equality of persons.

Needless to say, the French Revolution was triggered by varied long-term and short-term events or causes. On the same note, the revolution emanated from a myriad of causes spanning economic, social and political aspects. However, the most fundamental causes were political and economic.

Part one: Long term causes to 1789.

The French revolution had its roots in the strenuous fiscal deficits that weighed heavily on the peasants and a large part of the French society at the time. Varied major wars had occurred in about four decades prior to the revolution. It is worth noting that France took part in these wars, something that weighed heavily on the economic conditions of the country as King Louis was required to invest enormous amounts of money in weaponry and the wars (Neely, 26). Needless to say, this money was derived from taxes that were paid by the peasants or the 3rd estate as it was called at the time (Kates, 54). For instance, France had fought alongside America against the British in 1756 something that reduced the amount of money at its disposal at a time when inflation was extremely high. The peasants were extremely outraged as they were overburdened by the country’s economic conditions. The situation was aggravated by the poor harvests in 1787 and 1788, which had resulted from severe, cold winters. Numerous people suffered from starvation and malnutrition, leading to widespread protests as people demanded that the king avail bread to the masses (Kates, 65).

One of the most fundamental causes of the revolution was the taxation system. The nobles and clergy were exempted from tax while the 3rd estate bore the entire tax burden. This became unbearable especially after King Louis XVI increased the taxes to keep the economy afloat. Poor peasants had no way of changing this considering that they did not have a voice (Neely, 23).

In addition, the revolution was triggered by years of fiscal management and feudal oppression. Acknowledging that the country was undergoing a downward or negative economic spiral in  the later part of 18th century King Louis XVI asked  varied financial advisors to carry a comprehensive review of the French treasury. The advisors concluded that France was in dire need of radical change in the taxation of the public (Hunt, 33). Unfortunately, the king kicked the advisors out. The king, ultimately realized that the tax problem had to be addressed, in which case he appointed Charles de Calonne as the controller general of finance in 1783. Charles suggested that France had to begin taxing the nobility, who were previously exempt. The nobility could hear none of this in which case financial ruin and a revolt were imminent.

On the same note, King Louis XVI had convened an Estates General meeting in Versailles where they were to discuss, as well as approve a new tax plan. The Estate General was a representatives’ gathering from the three estates. In this meeting, there were about 1100 members who had been divided into three groups including the nobles, the clergy, and the 3rd estate. The third estate represented a large part of the French society but could not be considered a force to reckon with as it made up only half the deputies. The king hoped that new tax policies would be approved (Taylor, 45). The clergy and the nobles were exempt from paying taxes, in which case they hoped to control the affairs so as to continue having their privileged lifestyles. On the other hand, the middle class wanted the introduction of English style democracy while the peasants hoped that new policies would be made to solve their problems. The aspirations of the 3rd estate could not be attained as eac.............


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