DBQ on the Causes of the French Revolution

Essay by ebonicana1High School, 10th gradeA+, June 2007

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Change is feared. It is often heard that people simply fear change. Sometimes, however, that’s not always true. Some claim that they fear the change, when they merely like the way things are and refuse to see things in another way. When discontent spreads throughout the majority of the population of French, a forced revolutionary war is the only way to convince that change is necessary. Three main things contributed to this desire for change, and those include taxes too intolerable to pay and survive, ideas encouraging change that were inspired by the Enlightenment, and the success of the American Revolution.

Before the Revolution, France was divided socially in a structure known as the Old Regime. It consisted of three estates. The First Estate was the clergy, who owned ten percent of the land but comprised of only one percent of the population. The Second Estate, with nobility, included two percent of the population but owned thirty-five percent of the land.

The largest was the Third Estate, which was made up of the middle class, peasants, and city workers, owned only fifty-five percent of the land but made up ninety-seven percent of the population (Doc. 2). The Third Estate was taxed in extreme proportions – so much so that bread, which was a necessity and the base of all meals, became very difficult to pay and obtain. It was becoming increasingly difficult to survive on so little (Doc 1). However, the first two Estates lived easily with no taxes. Even the bourgeoisie, the middle class, became as wealthy as the preceding Estate, but because of where they were born, they were still burdened by taxes. This led to restlessness in the Third Estate. Since they comprised most of France, they joined together and planned a revolt.

Nevertheless, it...