Why Was France on the Brink of Revolution by 1789?

Topics: Louis XVI of France, Estates of the realm, French Revolution Pages: 3 (889 words) Published: April 23, 2013
By 1789, France was on the brink of revolution, due to the problems caused by the Estate Structure, Money, Bad Harvests, the Estates General and the National Assembly. This all resolves around the huge differences between the classes of people during the 18th century, while the Clergy and Nobles were enjoying a life of privilege and money, the peasants and bourgeoisie were suffering from hunger and unemployment.

The longest cause, and possibly the mot important, was the Estate Structure. There was a huge gap in wealth and rights. The majority of the first and second estates where very rich as the typical salary of a village priest was 750 livres a year, while a Paris parish priest would earn 10,000 livres a year and the Marquis de Mainvillette earned 20,000 livres a year. In comparison, a skilled craftsman who has spent years training and apprenticing, would earn just 200 livres a year. There was also a huge difference in rights. The first and second estates had complete authority over the third estate, they were not forced into military service, although should they choose, they could become officers in the army. In addition, they had to pay no land or income tax, and therefore the majority lived in luxury. Meanwhile, the third estate were forced to pay high income tax, they were prohibited from hunting or fishing on nobles land, thus meaning that most had to buy meat off the nobles, for a high cost, or simply go with out. As well as this, they had to pay heavy fees to their lord, to their church and to the king.

Money was a very big problem in the middle and late 18th Century in France. France was completely bankrupt from when Louis XIV built Versailles for US $2billion in modern money, which left France in 4000 million livres (US $812 million) in debt. The blame for the debt lied upon the expensive wars that France had fought where no gain was achieved; the expensive luxuries that the royals, especially Queen Marie-Antoinette, seemed to enjoy; and...
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