The French Revolution

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The French Revolution France was an absolute monarchy under the reign of Louis XVI. He was responsible only to God, not to his subjects. France had suffered defeat in the Seven Years War against Britain (1756 "“ 63). France's involvement in the American Revolution was for revenge against Britain after the Seven Years War. There was widespread discontentment in how France was being governed. Louis XVI was neither strong nor stable. The economic problems of many common people had become steadily worse, because poor weather conditions had ruined the harvest. As a result, the price of bread increased. The dissatisfaction wasn't just about financial crisis, but also about "the rights of the property, about privileges, about the definition of liberty."(1) The population was divided into three estates. The first estate consisted of the clergy, who were wealthy and powerful. The second estate was for the nobility. They wanted power that was taken from them by the monarchy.

"They were intent on having a greater say in how the money should be spent, and determined to curtail the absolutist ambitions of the monarch." (2) The third estate was made up of the bourgeoisie, wage earners and peasantry. They were the majority of the population and resented the privileges of the nobles. They were antagonized by the excessive financial burdens that fell upon them. The bourgeoisie and the peasants criticized the tax system. "The bourgeoisie was denied the social status and share in the government that commensurate with wealth. The peasants were becoming more literate and independent and were regarded as a general beast of burden, despised and over-taxed." (3) By 1789, these resentments, coupled with inefficient government and an antiquated legal system, made the government seem increasingly unresponsive to the French people. The pressure mounted on the government to reform.