Causes of the French Revolution

Essay by joshmalek12Junior High, 9th gradeA, November 2012

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What were the causes of the 1789 French Revolution?

The 1794 French Revolution was caused by a number of factors and events. The first of these was the heavy taxation of the common people as well as the financial irresponsibility of the monarchy concerning these funds. Secondly, the unpopularity of the upper classes and Marie Antoinette had a huge impact on the general feeling of discontent among the lower classes. Finally, the short term issues such as riots and famine were rampant throughout the nation in the decade leading up to 1794, and this accelerated the path towards revolution.

To begin with, the taxation of the common people, specifically the third estate, contributed greatly to the beginning of the revolution. The taxes were extremely heavy, and were basically France's sole source of income, unlike nearby England, who could rely on sea-trading tariffs. In addition, the taxation system excluded the nobles and clergy of any sort of payments, accentuating their already lavish lifestyles.

In the years leading up to 1794 around 4/5 of a peasant man's wages would go towards the payment of taxes. In addition, the cost of a loaf of bread rose from 9 sous in August 1788 to 13.5 sous in April 1789, increasing the hardship of the common man. Furthermore, the government failed to use these funds towards anything useful. During the years before the revolution, France was in huge amounts of debt, and this was brought on by a variety of factors and emphasized by the Seven Years War and other various conflicts around the world. France had been at war for nearly 50 out of the past 100 years, and by the year 1763 the national debt was at 2.34 billion livres. The heavy taxation of the common people and the financial irresponsibly of the...