By the time Louis XVI came to the thrown in 1774 his kingdom was deeply in dept. In his attempts to avoid bankruptcy after committing his country to another costly war Louis XVI sold many venal offices and leased out royal monopolies, sadly to no avail. He employed an economist named Jacques Turgot in an attempt to reform the country's financial situation. Turgot instigated a series of reforms that placed a tax on landowners, eased the guild laws so that industrial manufacturing could increase and cut monarchical spending. As most of the landowners were nobility, Turgot only succeeded in offending a large section of the population. Subsequently Turgot, then his successor Necker and finally Necker's successor Calonne, all resigned as a result of the opposition from the aristocracy who refused to carry the burden of the country's debt, leaving Louis no choice but to call the Estates General in 1789 to deal with the crisis.
The Third Estate consisting of members of various factions of the bourgeoisie and peasants, in 1789 brought a list of grievances (cahiers de doléances) to the National Assembly. Inequalities of tax allocation, judicial rights of individuals, agricultural rights, the suppression of venal rights, the list goes on and on, but they were issues that need addressing if the 'people' were to achieve equality for all. It is only when one examines the various classes within the Third Estate and then the various factions within the bourgeoisie that one comes to realise that many of the so called peasants were in fact members of the petite bourgeoisie like lower clergy and retail merchants, bosses of small workshops, well-off artisans, and clerks.
However, in the main it was the bourgeoisie that benefited from the resolutions made by the Estates General and the equality and liberty obtained it could be argued was selective by social standing. As Lefebvre pointed out "It is no less true that in decreeing liberty and equality of rights this class served its own interest".
The financial crisis that existed lofted inflation to great heights which although benefited some of the more industrial manufacturers, was a huge burden to the peasantry. 1789 saw over 80 percent of an average peasant's household income going to purchasing bread alone. In that same year, unemployment in many parts of France was over 50% . As Soboul sees it, "the peasant revolt of 1789 tipped the balance of forces against the government and the aristocracy, and marked a turning point in the course of the Revolution" . A fundamental Marxist theory is that the peasants within feudal society will eventually revolt and bring about a revolution and were openly encouraged by Marx to do so. Marx's famous quote from the Communist Manifesto (1848) demonstrates this when he tells the workers of...