Causes of the French Revolution

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The causes of the French Revolution is a significant subject of historical debate. France in 1789, although facing some economic (and especially fiscal) difficulties, was one of the richest and most powerful nations in Europe;[1] further, the masses of most other European powers had less freedom and a higher chance of arbitrary punishment. At the time Louis XVI called the Estates-General of 1789, he himself was generally popular, even if the nobility and many of the king's ministers were not.[2]

Nevertheless, the Ancien Régime was brought down, partly by its own rigidity in the face of a changing world, partly by the ambitions of a rising bourgeoisie, allied with aggrieved peasants and wage-earners and with individuals of all classes who were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. As the revolution proceeded and as power devolved from the monarchy to legislative bodies, the conflicting interests of these initially allied groups would become the source of conflict and bloodshed. Assembly of Notables 1787

An "Assembly of Notables" was called to outflank the parlements. It was not the same as Estates General. But the notables in criticized Calonne's plans and demanded a greater role for the aristocracy in government.

The Assembly of Notables also said the government had no right to demand new taxes, and that an Estates General (last called 1614) must be called again.

The King was forced to dismiss Calonne.

Plus, he had problems as the parlements had felt threatened by the calling of the Assembly of Notables, which was originally a way to get round the objections and blocks that the Parlements had been raising. They also demanded an Estates General.

Historians disagree about the political and socioeconomic nature of the Revolution. Under one interpretation, the old aristocratic order of the Ancien Régime (The Ancien Régime, a French term rendered in English as "Old Rule," "Old Kingdom," or simply "Old Regime", refers primarily to the...
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