Causes of the French Revolution

Topics: Louis XVI of France, French Revolution, Estates of the realm Pages: 3 (1018 words) Published: November 1, 2013

The French Revolution was a series of political, economic and social disorders which took place throughout France between 1789 and 1799. Before the revolution, France used a system called the ancien regime to govern their country. It was headed by an absolute monarch who, at this point of time, was King Louis XVI. He held complete power over the country and answered to no one but God. As a result many people believed that the King held too much power. However, this was not the sole cause and it was a combination of long-term, short-term and trigger factors which resulted in the bloody affair now known as the French Revolution.

Before the revolution France’s people were divided into 3 groups known as the Estates of the Realm. This was the first of a series of long term causes of the French Revolution. The first estate was comprised of the clergy and the second with nobles. Finally, the third estate was composed of everyone who didn’t make the first two estates and therefore made up the bulk of society. The different estates not only defined who a person was in the eyes of society, but also came with certain privileges and advantages. Conversely, it was not the peasants which received these benefits. Rather, the privileges were only a right given to the first two estates- the people who needed the least.

One such privilege was exemption from tax. Clergyman and Noblemen were not required to pay most taxes like the peasants were. As a result, this angered many of the third estate who could not afford to pay such heavy taxes. On top of this, the peasants were also required to pay feudal rights and dues to their landlords as well as pay a tithe to the Church. This, combined with the ever increasing prices of bread- a staple food in the Frenchman’s diet, resulted in an inability for the peasants to purchase basic necessities. Countless people demanded to know why they should hand over so much money to the Church, who not...
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