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French Revolution

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French Revolution

French Revolution, one of the major revolutions in

European history. The revolution marks a turning point in

Frence history and in world history in general. Forms of

government, morals, ideologies, and social development were

greatly affected by it in all Europe and even in U.S.

The beginning of the Frence Revolution in generally

dated from June, 1789. But the crisis in political and

economic affairs in France in that period was so great that

social unrest, rioting, a and rebellion were common for two

years before. The end of the revolutionary perios was

marked by the establishment of the Empire by Napolean in


The basic causes of the French Revolution were rooted

in the rigidities of French society in the 18th century.

Lines of distinction between classes were tightly drawn, and

opportunites for social advancement were very few. The

economy was not growing as fast as it should have been.

Then needs of an increasing population were not being met.

Governmet was inefficient and unrepresentative. Economic

problems made the heavy tax exempt but neary so, while the

peasents and middle classes were subjected to greater and

greater burdens. Crops falied, and trade was stagnant.

The people could no longer be taxed, but the government

faced bankruptcy unless new revenues were found. The only

soulution was to tax the privileged classes. But they were

jealoous of their privileged posistion. Altought they were

not completely unwilling to contribute some additional

taxes, they never understood how grave the economis

crisis was. They say the crises as only some form of

financial corruption that could be explained away by firing

the king's finace ministers. The libiral ideas of the French

Enlightenment had been absorbed by some of the clergy and

the nobility but only by a very few. The upper classes

in France in 1789 were more jealous of their privileges then

they had been at any time in the 100 years before.

When the French aided the Americans during the American

Revolution, they only sent men and ships and guns but lent

saubstantial financial aid as well. As a result, the budget

of the French government was thrown out of balance. When

economic depression in France made the every growing debt

even greater, the state seemed on the verge of bankruptcy.

It was necessary to vote new taxes.

The king's power was not as absoulute as he pretended

it was, and no new taxes could be decreed unless the king's

edicts were registered in the district courts, the

parliaments. Their members were mostly members of the

priviliged classes and were always ready to oppose the

king's measures. Because of their continual refusal to

register tax and reform edicts, it was necessary for the

king, Louis XVI, to find some other way of legalizing his


France had never had a parliament exactly like the

British, but it had a similar institution called the States-

General. Unlike the British institution it met very

frequently. The last one had met in 1616. The States-

General was called, and it convened in May, 1789.

The States-General was composed of three houses, or

estates, calles the first, second, and third estates. The

first represented the clerfy; the second, the nobility; and

the third, the middle classes. The third estate contained

as many members as the first and second combined.

When the estates met, the third estate wished to vote

with the first two houses. The clergy and nobility and the

king insisted the houses vote separately. But the third

decided that it was more representative of the French people

than the other two estates and that it was not fair to allow

the first two estates so much power. On June 17, 1789, they

converted themselves into a National Assembly, or

Constituent Assembly, and resolved to draw up a new


for France. The king closed down the hall, but



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