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The French Revolution

By zxmoto May 28, 2013 1205 Words
Calvin Jones
11/14/12

The French Revolution

Throughout history the french revolution led an extreme impact on the french society even till this day. There were many causes for the french revolution but the 2 things that mostly fed into it were the unfairness of the first and second estate and the crude treatment that the two gave to the third estates. Due to Louise XVI's absolute monarchy he had complete power over the french government and people making it harder for the lives of the third estate until the national assembly got involved restricting Louis's power to a limited monarchy, although he was still powerful enough to delay new laws. Since Louis misused his power some of the people took it upon themselves to make things right. Its was difficult for Louis to rule since he was bored with affairs of the government so it caused France to nearly go bankrupt.

The first and second estates were heavily unequal to the citizens (third estate) even since the middle ages. a great amount to all of the power and wealth was with the nobility and the clergy. the peasants had to pay most of the taxes and had little to no political, social, or economic rights. the reasons for the french revolution for many years. the first estate were made up of clergy, the church, numbering around 100,000, the second estate,made up of the nobility, the upper class, numbered around 400,000 and the last estate made up of the bourgeoisie(wage earners or middle class) and peasantry, the lower class taking up 90 percent of the population. the first and second estates were fond of certain privileges that didn't include the third estate. Even thought the first and second estate were rich, they didn't have to pay taxes and were the only ones who could hold positions of importance such as officers in the army causing heavy discontent with the third estate. Most of the clergy along with the nobles lived in complete luxury and the nobles had complete control over the third estate. Peasants were forced to do military service, had to pay taxes to their lord, the king and the church. Nobles didn't have to do military service, were exempt from most taxes, and collected tolls from people using roads and markets.Through their ministers and local officials, the kings ruled absolutely.Another major dilemma that France faced was that it was near bankruptcy. The people were charged an extreme amount of taxes and over 50% of the french budget went to dept. which resulted in even higher taxes. Poor harvest created problems with the availability of food and slowed down the economy. the british were defeated and removed from power after the american revolution. a good sum of french aristocrats were fond of the enlightenment ideas so the french government showed sympathy for the colonists, giving them financial and material help. as an aftereffect, the french government had spent great amounts of money just to support the American revolution and some of that money had been borrowed from other countries adding even more onto the french dept. the bad harvest created famine and a huge increase in the price of bread. bad unemployment increased as the economy slowed and many people starved with no jobs. Soon Robespierre, a lawyer, came to control the committee of public safety. Him along with the Jacobins created the Reign Of Terror. The body in which that members of each three estates were represented in the estates general had not met for years but in may 1789, king LouisXVI wanted to discuss financial problems that the nation faced so he called the estates general to meet in Versailles near Paris. he wanted to solve these financial issues by increasing taxes but the voting procedure confusion created a power struggle in the three groups among the estates general. the first and second estates only wanted each estate to have one vote so they could outnumber the third estate two to one. citizens came from all over the country to cheer for the members of the third estate. even a handful of clergy members were in favor of giving the third estate fewer taxes and more rights but the king refused to change the voting procedure and the two votes from the first and second estate outnumbered the vote from the third estate. on 1789 the third estate went on strike and created the national assembly and thought of themselves as the real government of France. the kings troops occupied the national assembly's rendezvous on june 20th so they decided to move to the royal indoor tennis court, where they made their tennis court oath, not to separate until they had written a constitution for France. the king knew the national assembly was powerful and feared what they were capable of so he ordered the first and second estate to join in the national assembly and called for the army to come to Paris incase of trouble. the people of Paris went berserk while they national assembly was meeting. they thought the king wanted to get rid of the national assembly and stop reforms(He did).Rebellion against the government grew. the first act of revolution took place in 1789, mobs in Paris attacked government prisons for weapons in an act to defend the national assembly against the kings troops which also led to the storming of the Bastille(a famous but hated french prison). in the countryside, a revolt known as the great fear began to spread. the peasants grew more angry as a result of the price of food and the policies of their landlords. they armed themselves, attacked their landlords, refused to pay their taxes and called for an end of feudalism.the guillotine was no doubt a symbol in the reign of terror, it had not only took the lives of citizens but louisXVI, his spouse, Marie Antoinette

The national assembly passed the declaration of the rights of man giving all male citizens equal rights before the law. the special privileges the nobles and clergy received were demolished. the declaration stated that all political power came from the people, programs of the old regime were removed. it also gave them freedom of speech, press, and religion along with the freedom to own property. the rights were not granted to women in this age yet. the new constitution also created a limited monarchy restricting a fraction of the kings power but he still held enough to veto new laws. the new government in France took control of church lands taking the church's rights to choose officials and clergy. the assembly ordered that church officials and priests were to be elected by property owners and paid by state officials.the wage earners. the changes in the catholic church divided the peasants and the wage earners and Due to the new french constitution, the national assembly broke up.The french government and society had been changed.Soon Robespierre, a lawyer, came to control the committee of public safety. Him along with the jacobins created the Reign Of Terror. Nearly 16,600 people died under the guillotine after being accused of counter-revolutionary activities.

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