Royal government: headed by Louis, France split in to 34 generalities headed by intendants.
Taille land tax paid by third estate
Vingtien 5% income tax paid by third estate
Capitatiem, poll tax paid by second and third estate
Gabelle, salt tax paid by everyone
Airdos tax on food and drinks
Farmers Generals corrupt body that collected taxes, paid government agreed sum and kept rest to themselves, leading to deficit and need for borrowing
Venal offices, posts bought and inherited, many tax collectors were venal office holders and although corrupt could not be replaced
Taxation caused resentment amongst the third estate which was comprised of bourgeoisie and sans-culottes. First estate clergy were exempt an paid don gratuit any fee they felt appropriate
Division of the estates, First estate made up of bishops who were guilty of absenteeism and plurality allowing them to hold many diocese and gain maximum monetary benefits owning 10% of the land. Administrative power, controlled education and held power of censorship.
Church was paid tithes by peasants in proportion to land owned averaged 7% income, much of which went to the upper echelons of the clergy
Nobles formed second estate exempt of taxes including gabelle and natioal service corvee, received feudal dues from peasants, tried in special courts.
Third Estate Bourgeoisie felt their wealth should be reflected through political liberties of representation as they paid so much tax.
Sefdom still existed amongst peasantry, resented feudal dues and financial burden , taxes accounted for 5-10% of income
Sans-culottes urban skilled workers inhabiting Paris, inflation greater than wages due to economics crisis. Dissatisfaction and resentment grew as a result
Enlightenment proposed ideas challenging status quo, and the preponderance of religion and the divine right of the monarch. Rousseau general will, Voltaire crush the infamous. Challenged despotism proclaimed equality , philosophes, Diderot.
Short term Causes:
Financial burden placed on France as a result of a series of Wars, inefficient tax collection system, failure of reform and bad harvest.
Seven Years War 1756-1763 France lost a number of overseas colonies however sugar producing islands were retained.
Intervention in American war of independence 1776-81 (2000 million livres), recovered French honour lost in seven years war, but was massive financial burden and may have exposed soldiers to democratic ideals.
Inefficient Tax collection system due to corruption of Farmer Generals and Venal offices.
Failure of reform process Necker misled the people 1781 by cooking the books and exempting fees of American war of independence, compte rendu 1777_1781
Calonne 1783-1787; sought to reform tax system. However borrowed more than Necker and sold more venal offices. Proposed abolishment of exemptions and liberalisation of trad.
Assembly of Notables Feb 1787 ( handpicked by King 144) aimed to bypass Paris parlement. Notables opposed reforms as they stood to lose most, urged calling Estates Generals, undermined Kings power.
Political Crisis Brienne replaced Calonne, proposed educational reforms, codification of laws, abolishment of Venal offices.
Parlement veto Louis dissolves them, Estate General finally summoned may 1788 suspending payments to royal treasury.
September 1788 Necker returned, called on Estates General. Louis in theory absolute monarch in practice weak.
Economic crisis: series of disastrous harvests 1778-1788 causing increase in the price of bread. 1788-89 88% of labourers wages was spent of bread
Other sectors hit hard production of textiles fell by 50% due to Eden treaty, wine market was poor due to high bread prices.
Food shortages: 1784 food riots against hoarding, politicisation of third estates who blamed nobility for the countries financial