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Causes of the French Revolution

Viewed as the most advanced country in Europe and the center of Enlightenment,
Frances reputation was totally misleading. Many philosophers came up with Enlightenment
ideas that challenged the long-held belief. Some of the ideas did appeal to the bourgeoisies
and other people in the lower class, the third Estate. With some economic problems and
financial difficulties, people started thinking about revolution. Plus, when the king was weak,
it was a good timing for people to make their moves. All these simple reasons led to a
complex revolution in 1700s during the Enlightenment Period in France.
The first factor that led people to revolt against government was social inequality.
Under the Old Regime, French were divided into three estates. The first two estates were the
Roman Catholic Churchs clergy and the nobles, respectively. The powerful clergies and the
rich nobles, although made up 2% of French population, owned 20% of the land in France.
These people were both rich and powerful, however, they almost paid no taxes. The third
estate, on the other hand, made up about 97% of French population but was forced to pay tax
although not as rich and as powerful as the first two estates. This estate consisted of three
groups of peoplethe middle class or the bourgeoisies, the works, and the peasants. The
bourgeoisies might be as rich and own as much land as the nobles do, however, they werent
satisfy because they didnt receive the privilege as much as the nobles did, such as exemption
from paying taxes. The urban lower class or the workers were dissatisfied too as inflation
causes increase in price of goods. When things became more expensive, they were unable to
afford to buy bread and other food. The last group which made up majority of French would
probably carried resentment the most. They were very poor, yet, forced to pay half of their
income as taxes to government. Getting many privileges, the first and second estates were
happy with the Old Regime and against the new ideas came up by Enlightenment thinkers.
Nevertheless, the people who didnt get any privilege like the third estate would embrace the
Enlightenment ideas and start putting them into use. Thus, we could probably say that the
unfair treatment and unfair privileges led people to revolt.
Secondly, French economy was in trouble for several reasons. Although it seemed
like they were conducting their businesses perfectly fine, the high taxes the businesspeople
had to pay created difficulties in receiving more revenue that the taxes they had to pay. This
heavy tax created trouble for businesspeople because when taxes where only collect from the
merchants and the poor people. These poor people, thus, had no chance to start a new
business and drive Frances economy forward. The severe shortage of food was also another
problem because it led to serious inflation. People didnt have enough money to buy food and
started suffering. Building a grandiose palace and leaving debt to his successor, Louis XIV
left a great burden to his descendants. . Not only that but by sending French army to the
American Revolutionary war, Louis XVI and his queen got France into a bigger debt. This
was bad because it created debt for the country but it was also good in a way that the war
inspired people in France. They learned the idea of revolting against unfairness from the
Americans and applied it to their own country. These sufferings the French face made them
more interested in the Enlightenment ideas and started to question about revolutionary
actions.
Not having a leader that was strong and powerful enough, French people faced
difficulties in life. Louis XVI was a weak king who wasnt able to make strong and decisive
actions for his own country. He didnt listen to the advisors for their suggestions but he chose
to listen to his queen, Marie Antoinette, who gave him bad advices. Marie, not only
influenced Louis XIV in a bad way, created more debt for France by spending money
extravagantly. She, then, got the nickname Madame Deficit. Louis XVI did not really pay
much attention to govern his own country and failed to rule it. One of the worst decisions he
made was to not solve the problem from where it started but he imposed a bad solution like
forcing the second estate to start paying taxes. This idea of his set things into chaos and
solved none of Frances problems. Being a weak and ineffective king, Louis XVI himself was
one of the causes of French Revolution.
When people did not receive equal treatment and when the economy, government,
and king were not working properly, people came up with the idea of revolution in order to
improve their living condition. Learning the ideas from Enlightenment philosophies, the third
estate who lost benefits from the system of the Old Regime started to make revolutionary
moves. With economic problems and debt of the country, people learned that they had to do
something to solve the problems when the people in authority couldnt do it. French were
quite unlucky because the monarch wasnt working properly. Their weak king got too much
influence from his queen and made many wrong decisions. He was also incapable of solving
the national problem. All these factors, therefore, led French into actions to protect the own
rights and to solve all the problems they were facing.