Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

A revolution has its roots fixed in past events and actions that call for an opposing reaction. Social, political and economic factors that contributed to the discontent felt by many French people led them to make their greatest effort in 1789 which was the greatest effort attempted by any nation which led to the beginning of the French Revolution. Also the oppression faced by the Russians led to revolution in 1917 which also these factors were the main causes of the Russian revolution. Both revolutions both a drastic change in Europe especially in politics and governance.

France had long supported to the idea of divine right , which maintained that the kings were selected by god and thus always entitled to the throne. In theory the king was the source of all law and administrative authority reigning by the grace of god. This resulted in a system of absolute rule in fact in the 17th and 18th centuries France was ruled by an absolute government where the king had all the political powers.The political discontent in France was one of causes of the revolution.The French government was inefficient, unjust and corrupt. France was divided into thirty six ‘generalities’ for administering and governing the regions of france. There was no universal law at that time in fact laws also varied along france and were enforced by the local parliaments.There were thirteen sovereign courts of appeal whose jurisdiction unevenly covered the whole country.The French parliament was called the estates-general formed by representatives from each of the three estates of the society. The king was highly influenced by the minority of the French people who were either in the nobility or clergy so they manipulated this uneven distribution of laws. The lack of universality bothered the third estate which provided almost all the country’s tax revenue while the other estates were exempted from all taxes. During the French Revolution Louis XVI was the king and the queen Marie Antoinette which were too wrapped up in there extremely extravagant lifestyle to even notice the plight of the poor.In addition, France before the revolution was under the old regime which was a system based on the medieval feudal system.Another cause of the French Revolution was the inequality between estates and society problems. Under the regime , everyone was subject of the king of France and society was broken down into three estates. In fact one of the reasons the revolution started was due to the inequality between estates as the poor fought for greater economic and political freedom and equality. The first estate was the clergy, which was a privileged estate. The catholic church had idealogical power and political influence in France since the majority of the population had strong religious beliefs. This highlight the fact that at that time church and state were not separated since the church possessed a lot of power and wealth.The clergy was divided in two which involved the higher clergy like Bishops which lived the luxurious life in major French cities such as Versailles and Paris and also took advantage of the common people in many ways. On the other hand, the lower clergy were hard working priests paid miserably but helped the people anyways. The first estate was the minority of the people in France like one percent of the population and owned ten to fifteen percent of the land in France and also collected rents and avoided paying any amount of tax to the monarch. The nobility was found in the second estate in the French society which was another privileged estate.The second estate consisted of two percent of the people and owned thirty five percent of the land. The nobility also didn’t pay any taxes to the state and collected rent from people who lived on their lands and a great amount of customary dues such as bread , salt cloth and other things. This estate was also sub divided into two groups the provincial nobles which took interest towards the problems of the lower estate while the court nobles which were more privileged than the others didn’t care about the people. The third estate consisted of the commoners which included the bourgeoisie, city workers and peasants. The largest portion of the the third estate were the rural peasants were farmers They spend most of their income on tax, they also had to pay the land tax also taxes on property, roads and salt. Another section of the third estate were urban workers which were miserably paid, lived in difficult conditions and were pressured by the rising prices of goods.Than there was the bourgeoisie which were the wealthiest which were well educated but worried about its social status as the French monarch influenced by the first and second estate ranked them as the third estate. The third estate held ninety seven percent of the population who owned fifty five percent of the land which was unjust due to the amount of people in each state. Regardless its size and economic importance , the third estate was politically disregarded and economically exploited by the ancient regime.This caused great unrest and tension between the estates, the situation was exacerbated due to further inequalities in lifestyle.The economic condition of France was another cause of the French Revolution. In the late 1700s the financial situation of france worsened due to the participations in wars such as the seven years’ war under the king Louis XV and also the American revolution under the king Louis XVI which both drained the country’s treasury. The country could no longer pay its debts, which were all result of war. Making the situation worst the government had a large army and navy to maintain which was huge expenditure and also a large sum of money was also spent on palaces, entertainment and gifts by the kings of France especially by the queen Marie Antoinette. In other words the French government kept spending more money than it was receiving by the unjust taxation system and by 1789 France was bankrupt. Also there was a lack of bread and the prices were getting higher and the third estate especially the peasants weren’t able to pay as most of their money spent on taxation which this lead to higher poverty across the country. Louis XVI tried to improve the economic condition and engaged finance ministers to help him and they proposed to impose taxes on every classes of the society but he did not succeed as he was highly influenced by the clergy, the nobles and even by Marie Antoinette. By the inspiration of enlightenment ideas people started to question the inequalities as they introduced new ideals and ways of thinking about the society and the government as they challenged the principles of France society and the power of the king and the catholic church.

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