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French Revolution

  • Date Submitted: 03/09/2015 08:46 AM
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The Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire.
The causes of the French revolution can be attributed to several intertwining ways:
  * Cultural: The Enlightenment philosophy desacralized the authority of the King and the Church, and promoted a new society based on "reason" instead of traditions.
  * Social: The emergence of an influential Bourgeoisie which was formally part of the Third Estate (commoners) but had evolved into a caste with its own agenda and aspired to political equality with aristocracy.
  * Financial: France's debt, aggravated by French involvement in the American Independence War, led Louis XVI to implement new taxations and to reduce privileges.
  * Political: Louis XVI faced virulent opposition from provincial parlements which were the spearheads of the privileged classes' resistance to royal reforms.
  * Economical: The deregulation of the grain market, advocated by physiocrats, resulted in an increase in bread prices. In period of bad harvests, it would lead to famines which would prompt the masses to revolt.
All these factors created a revolutionary atmosphere and a tricky situation for Louis XVI. In order to resolve the crisis, the king summoned the Estates-General in May 1789 and, as it came to an impasse, the representatives of the Third Estates formed into a National Assembly, against the wishes of the king, signaling the outbreak of the French Revolution.
  * 1 The Revolutionary Situation
  * 2 Social inequality
  * 3 Enlightenment ideas
  * 4 Economics and finances
      * 4.1 Debt
      * 4.2 Taxation
      * 4.3 Failure of reforms
  * 5 Famine
  * 6 Transparency
  * 7 Notes
  * 8 References
§The Revolutionary Situation[edit]
The essence of the revolutionary situation which existed in France in the 1780s was the bankruptcy of the King, and hence the State. This economic crisis was due to the rapidly increasing costs of government and to the...


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