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To What Extent Was Louis Xvi Responsible For The Revolution In France From 1789 To 1792?

1242 words - 5 pages

The French revolution took place in France from 1789 to 1792, during the reign of King Louis XVI. It was an expression of discontent from the poor towards the rich, and of how they thought France was governed unfairly. The revolution is considered one of the most important events in human history, as it has continued to shape societies and the ways we live today (Cody, 2008). Through examining political, economical, social and cultural factors that led up to the French Revolution, this essay aims at evaluating the extent King Louis XVI was responsible for the event. Although he was responsible in some aspects, such as his ignorance towards the discontent of the Third Estate, King Louis cannot be held fully responsible for the French Revolution.Many long-term and short-term causes led up to the French Revolution; we will now look at some of the main ones to better understand Louis XVI’s situation and analyze his actions. Long-term factors include the deteriorating economic situation at the time, the rising population in France, and the new ideas of the Enlightenment that influenced the French people’s thinking. All of these had led to the people’s discontent, especially with the economic crisis, as they could barely support their families in face of the rising food costs and unemployment. Riots such as the Reveillon riot broke out (Hetherton 1992, pg. 24). Some of the short-term causes include the wars with Britain from 1756 to 1763 and from 1778 to 1783 (Lavelle, 2008), the meeting of the Estates General and the failure of the King to secure support from the church and the aristocrats, especially on financial and political matters (Waugh 2002, pg. 89). There were also two major events that triggered the start of the French revolution: the Tennis Court Oath and the Storming of the Bastille. These were important events that marked the people’s first actions to take matters into their own hands.At the time when King Louis XVI succeeded his father to the throne on 10th May 1774 (Louis XVI, 2008), France already faced numerous problems. Although he started out as a popular king, he was only 20 years old and was young and inexperienced. Therefore, he did not have the necessary qualities and leadership skills to steer France out of these problems (Blackwood, A., Chosson, B., 2008). It is no wonder he was later described by the people as ‘the worst leader to take care of the situation at hand’ (The French Revolution, 2005).One outstanding obstacle that King Louis XVI had to face was the economic crisis. France had a large national debt (French Revolution, 2008), largely due to its unsuccessful wars with Britain. This crisis worsened later with another war from 1778 to 1783 when France allied with the Americans to go against the British (Lavelle, 2008). The luxurious lifestyle of the royal family, especially Marie Antoinette, was also an indirect cause of the crisis (Hetherton, 1992). Another important factor was the bad...

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