The Causes of the French Revolution Essay

Submitted By Moni5214
Words: 1039
Pages: 5


Between 1789 and 1799, France went through one of the most dramatic events of European History: the French Revolution. As a consequence of the Enlightenment, french people decided to speak up for themselves to solve the issues that have been around them for long, but they couldn’t deal with them. Political power was not distributed equally which had left groups feeling underrepresented and without rights. Economy was underdeveloped (in comparison to political and social changes) and citizens felt that money was not spent appropriately. Society was divided among Three Estates, and the third one, where most of the people were, suffered poverty, famine, poor hygene, growth in population and wanted free speech, religious toleration and better justice system. Frank E. Manuel, a historian of ideas from Brandeis and New York University, in The Age of Reason, analyses the philosophes’new moral outlook during the eighteenth century. Abbé Siéyes, one of the chief political theorists of The French Reolution, described the importance of the Third Estate in society in What Is the Third Estate? (1789). The combination of a growing intellectual lower class community with an underdeveloped and weak economy, as well as a desire to move away from a poor traditional life, sparked a clash between the traditional and intellectual world. This increase of political, economic and social conditions created further pressure for change in France which ultimately resulted in revolution. One of the main causes of the revolution was the political condition of the country. France suffered under an absolute monarchy and the ruler failed to control the state affaires properly which made the people lose their faith in the king and want to end the absolute power of the king. Political powers were not distributed equally due to the unequal division of society among Three Estates. The third estate did not get the rights that they deserved, nor their say in the government. They were also excluded from the meeting of the National Assembly. The justice system did not work properly either. The laws in France did not have universality and their applicability was different from place to place. Frank Manuel proclaimed; „They wanted equality of all citizens before the law and they were opposed to any recognition of social distinctions when men were brought to justice.”(The Age of Reason, 2003) The Third Estate had to face the heaviest tax burden as well, while the wealthiest persons in the society were exempted from all taxes. Even though, all these bad conditions were there before and there was no revolution, as it was the time of enlightenment, the middle class became more aware of the problems around them and the ways they could solve them. They realized and understood inequality and they wanted to stand up for themselves. Another condition that influenced the uprising of the French Revolution was the economic state that France experienced at the time. Because of the foolish king, Louise XVI, France paticipated constantly in wars. Censequently, the national dept increased beyond limit. He also spent a lot of money for the construction of the Palace of Versailles. When the crown attempted to solve the problem, it ran into the opposition of the entrenched priviliges of the ancien regime for example, exemptions for some from taxes. The taxation system in France was also disorganised and mismanaged. The wealthiest people belonging to the privileged class were free from all taxes while the peasantry had to pay almost all their money to peasantry.Frank Manuel argued;”They wanted freedom of movement across state boundaries both for individuals and articles of commerce.”(The Age of Reason, 2003) Bad harvest resulted in food shortages, and of course, the Third Estate had to face the burden of those as well. Abbé Siéyes proclaimed that: „The efforts which sustain society are put forth by the third estate.” (What Is