Assignment I: Causes of the French Revolution
There was not one single decisive reason that was unequivocally responsible for the French Revolution. Many years of feudal repression and economic negligence were factors as to why the general public of France were ripe for revolt. There were also various class orders of people that participated in various ways in propelling the nation into a Revolution, with direct and indirect actions. Documenting a descending fiscal record in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI consulted financial consultants to evaluate the damaged French treasury. Every consultant gave the king the same proposal—that France required a fundamental modification in the methods of taxation on the public—and afterward, all consultants were promptly dismissed.
Ultimately, King Louis XVI recognized that the taxation dilemma actually needed to be dealt with, so he selected a new Controller General of Finances and First Minister, Charles de Calonne. Calonne was a French statesman whose pains to restructure the configuration of his nation’s finance administration hastened the governmental disaster that eventually led to the Revolution. Calonne recommended that France start taxing the formerly exempt nobility. But the nobility rejected this proposal, even when Calonne implored with them throughout the Assembly of Notables in 1787. After this, financial deterioration consequently appeared on the horizon. The Aristocracy pushed themselves unwittingly toward the Revolution due to their unwillingness to compromise, and to accept responsibility that it was time for something to change, before a financial crisis occurred. They seemed to believe there would not be consequences for their actions, and that the people, or “huddled” masses could be easily controlled and would always be subservient. The lavish lifestyles of the Aristocracy and the Monarchy forced the peasants and bourgeoisie into positions of outrage and rebellion when there were economic crises; such as the grain shortage in 1788, when despite loss of crops due to harsh weather conditions, the peasants were still expected to pay their taxes.
Among these wide-ranging economic and population swings, every day life in the rural areas remained unchanged, especially on family farms. The owners and workers of these small farms were peasants, though they varied significantly in wealth and status. A handful could declare to be "living nobly," which meant that they would rent their land to others to work, but many were day-laborers who were anxious to work the land to be able to have a place to stay, and food to eat. Halfway between these people were independent farmers, sharecroppers, and tenants. It’s estimated that in harder times, 90 percent of the peasants lived at or below the survival level, and earned barely enough to provide food for their families. The other people who resided in the countryside were most predominantly small numbers of nobles, and non-noble landlords of manors, who were prominent by their residences. As a result, information known of life in the countryside during this time indicate the ever-presence of poverty. Obviously, the hostility between the rich and poor was a major factor of the country's immense social disparities. While home to the wealthy and average of citizens, a city was more apt to be even more unpleasant of a place to live than the countryside was. Metropolitan residents could usually be expected to have a shorter life span than those that lived in the countryside. Not only were they exposed for prolonged periods of time to dirty air & water, but the Guilds controlled nearly every segment of the economy and as a result, restricted the amount of people who could enter a trade as an apprentice, or set up a workshop and retail store as a master. In theory-with enough experience, a worker could elevate through the social ladder, but in practice, such rise was exceptionally hard to realize,...
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