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The Bourgeoisie Motives For Starting The French Revolution

1171 words - 5 pages

The French Revolution had many long-range causes. Political, social, and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent felt by many French people-especially those of the third estate, and the greedy bourgeoisie had little affect on the situation. The ideas of the intellectuals of the Enlightenment brought new views to government and society (8). The American Revolution also influenced the coming of the French Revolution. The Philosophes planted the seeds for the French Revolution (5). Their goals were to expose and destroy the inequalities of the ancient regime, and solidify the rights forged in the Declarations of the rights of Man.The political discontent of France was one of the causes of the Revolution. In the 17th and 18th centuries, France was ruled by an absolute government. The king had all the political powers. Anyone who criticized the government could be arrested and put in prison without trial. Louis XVI was king at the time of the French Revolution. He was more interested in hunting than governing France. He and his Austrian queen, Marie Antoinette, lived an extravagant life at the Palace of Versailles (4). They did not really care about the state of their country. The people of the 3rd estate felt a sense of betrayal when the king supported the block voting over the head voting. The first two estates worked together to outvote the large third estate to keep them from becoming a threat to the power. Some however recognize the American Independence as the spark of the French Revolution. The French government was inefficient, unjust and corrupt. There were numerous government departments, different laws in different parts of the country and officials. Many people became livid at the way France was governed. The people couldn't do anything to bring about a change. The French Parlement was called the Estates-General. It had not met since 1614 and couldn't without the consent of the king (7). It basically had no power. The peasants controlled their own destiny with the storming of Bastille, and the Tennis Court Oath.The economic problems created by the French kings also contributed to the Revolution. During the 18th century, the French government spent more money than it collected in taxes. By 1788, the country was bankrupt. The living conditions in the French countryside were deplorable (2). The amount of tax each person must pay was in large part unjust. Landholders found in the nobility weren't taxed much. The landholders found in the commoners were taxed heavily. The lack of bread, coupled with the price of bread being a lot higher then one's ability to pay, caused great misery for the people of France, and led to massive rioting. Most of the money was spent on wars. France had been at war for nearly 50 years out of the previous one hundred years. France supported the Americans in the American War of the Independence. After that, France was in financial ruins. A large sum of money was also spent on palaces, entertainment...

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