Causes of the French Revolution

Essay by antman345High School, 11th gradeB, September 2004

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The French Revolution had many causes. Some of the causes were dealt with political, social, and economical reasons. Out of the three estates, the third was the most dissatisfied with the conditions. The ideas of the Enlightenment lead to new views of the government and society.

In France the nobles and clergy enjoyed special privileges. They did not have to pay taxes. The common people worked hard and had to pay heavy taxes. The nobles and clergy made up the First and Second Estates in the Estates General. The common people made up the Third Estate. The nobles and clergy could outvote the common people easily though the Estates General was always not called by the king, who ruled as an absolute monarch. The common people became dissatisfied with the privileged classes.

King Louis XVI of France married Marie Antoinette, and together they lived in luxury, at the palace of Versailles while his people suffered.

King Louis ruled as an absolute monarch.

Louis XIV had spent too much. His successors did not cut down expenses. Louis XVI also failed to improve the financial situation. He dismissed ministers who tried to introduce financial reforms. By 1789, the government was bankrupt. The ideas and writings of Enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau became widespread. The French people were inspired to go against their king. The success of the Americans to overthrow British rule encouraged the French to fight for their freedom.

When Louis XVI finally called the Estates General to solve financial difficulties, the Third Estate did not agree with the unfair system of the Estates General. They formed the National Assembly to make a constitution. People were afraid that the king would suppress the National Assembly. They were also discontented that the king dismissed Necker, the popular Finance Minister. The...