September 28, 2014 French Revolution DBQ
In the late 1700s, France was considered the most advanced country in Europe. The country had a booming trade industry, and was an amazing cultural center. This, however, was just a façade. In reality, France was filled with financial issues and rising social tensions. These issues would eventually boil over and result in a period of turmoil throughout the nation. This time was known as the French Revolution. The three main causes for the revolution were social, economic, and political problems that the citizens of France faced. The social issues faced by the French people would eventually become the reason for the economic and political problems that followed. The most important social situation was the the old regime. The old regime included the Estates system, or the French social class system.
The First and Second Estates dominated over the Third Esate, often hurting the members of the
Third Estate. (Document 7) The First Estate was composed of clergy who were wealthy and owned land. The Second Estate was made up of wealthy noblemen. Only members of the First and Second Estates were allowed to hold government jobs. Members of the Third Estate lacked all of the privileges that the other Estates had. This angered the Third Estate, which was composed of workers, peasants, and bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie were an educated, wealthy middle class, who wanted an equal say in government. The bourgeoisie knew the way of
Enlightenment thinking, and knew the possibilities of government. The revolution came from the bourgeoise because they were the ones who felt inferior and wanted to change that. Without
them, the peasants and workers would have continued to live difficult, unprivileged lives.
(Document 4) The unjust social classes also led to a number of economic problems. The French people were poor and their nation was in debt. The economy was in a rapid downward spiral. Due to their privileges, the First and Second Estates paid very few taxes. This left all of the taxes for the poorer Third Estate to pay. In fact, members of the Third Estate had to pay around 50% of their income in taxes, losing any potential profits. (Document 2) When
King Louis XVI took the throne, he inherited a massive debt. Rather than resolve the debt, Louis and his wife, Marie Antoinette, did nothing but add on more to the growing debt. Inflation and crop failure also occurred around this time. This meant that crops were dying as the demand and prices for goods rose. The people could not afford basic things like bread and were starving throughout France. (Document 1) The economy was soiled in all of France, due to King Louis
XVI's weak leadership. One of the major reasons for a revolution is an unsastifying government. The French