"The revolution was cause by a myriad of problems. The lead up to 1789 saw a sharp reversal in the economic and social developments making a condition favorable to revolution. Contributing factors can be seen in the sever droughts and storms in 1785. The fluctuating harvests that affecting more then just food products, fabrics and textiles were also disrupted because of inconsistent harvest. The monarchy had through the nation into severe debt and in 1786 the Controller general of finances, Calonne reported to the King that radical reform was required. Interest payments sucked the government dry and the king's ministers found it impossible to raise new taxes, old taxes did not yield efficiently.
There had been growing in Europe, what has been referred to as the revolutionary spirit. This philosophy promoted that it is right to take up arms against tyranny, that There should be no taxation without representation, that all men should have liberal freedoms and that a Republic is superior to a monarchy. There was discontent amongst classes the aristocrats wanted more political power whilst trying to stay exempt from taxes. They denounced the monarchy's absolutism though they wanted to implement their own form of it. The Bourgeoisie also attacked the monarchy's absolutism, they also attacked privileges of the Nobility. It was this class, the Third Estate that were most influenced by the disposition of mind. The peasants were attracted to the ideas of the Bourgeoisie for they saw the idea of tax reform and equality as the way to the abolition of the seigneurial system, which was their main grievance. All of these circumstances paved the way for revolt."
Since the revolutions in France during the 1790's there have been many theories over what caused the revolution. The Marxist theory that worsening conditions create a situation favourable to revolution has been expunged as it was observed that "revolutions were are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal"[ ]1. Other ideas point to class rivalry, the political and social turmoil of the time or the philosophical ideologies of revolution partly made more popular by the American Revolution. Even the agricultural problems of the period have been seen as a factor to contribute to the revolution. In fact it was a combination of all of these things.
Droughts and storms ravished the fields during the 1780's. There were severe droughts in 1785 and the following years saw the peasants unable to afford the quantity of seed required for a good harvest the following season, the inevitable result was short yields [ ]. In July 1785 freak storms devastated what was left of cops that were surviving the droughts. Oh a whole harvests were low and the unusually hot summer was followed by the coldest winter (1789) within living memory. Northern France was covered in snow and ice from December to April while in the south many of the more delicate crops (olives and vines) were damaged by frost. Economics were disrupted by fluctuating harvests and during this period a good harvest would not necessarily restore stability[ ]. The effects of nature "were to have incalculable consequence for the history of France ... it did not cause the French Revolution but it did dictate the sort of revolution it would be"[ ]. The fluctuating harvest reflected in equal variations in textiles born of unstable demand. The effect on weaving towns like Amiens, Nimen and Rouen were devastating. Weavers tended to be laid off the exactly the times when the price of bread was already straining their wages. Crops in the mid 1780's also affected the supply of flax and hemp, in 1787 the silk harvest failed and finally the commercial treaty of 1786 opened the French market to competition in 1787[ ]. The treaty also removed control over the grain trade and even with bumper...