Causes Of The French Revolution Dbq.

1102 words - 4 pages

The late 1700's were a period of great social and political revolution in Western civilization. The French Revolution was a major part of this sweeping change in the way Europeans (and the newborn Americans) perceived the function of government and the most effective ways of governing. The French Revolution had many long term and short term causes and effects, and was one of the most violent periods in the history of the country. There were many factors that contributed to the spark of the revolution. There were three main causes of the French Revolution: gross mishandling of governing duties and incompetence in the leadership of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the large and very unjust social and economic gap between the first two privileged estates and the poor third estate, and finally the revolutionary ideas of the enlightenment and their influence on the philosophies of the people.Louis XVI was one of the most incompetent and frankly idiotic rulers in the history of France. He would have absolutely nothing to do with his official duties as king, and his horribly decadent lifestyle contributed greatly to the economic plight France was in. The fact that he was married to Marie Antoinette, a native of Austria, France's sworn enemy, was very detrimental as well. Louis XVI inherited debt from previous rulers, but he made no move of any kind toward paying it off. In fact, he borrowed vast sums of money in order to give aid to the Americans in their revolution, which only worsened France's already outstanding deficit. In 1786, bankers refused to lend the government any more money, and Louis XVI was in serious trouble. Of course, all of this put Louis in a highly unfavorable position with the people of France, who absolutely despised him and his wife. Marie Antoinette was a major problem for Louis as well. She gave him poor advice on governing matters, spent large amounts of money on her own vanity, and was generally hated by the people the moment she set foot in France. Louis was a serial procrastinator. He put off dealing with economic troubles until it was essentially too late, and the people were completely fed up. He was finally forced to resort to taxing the nobility, which spelled the end of Louis's reign, as the Estates-General that he called-the first in 175 years-to deal with the problem was the first step of the revolution. It is also ironic that the American Revolution (which Louis supported) was a major factor to the downfall of the monarchy, as suggested by Lord Acton, "...The American example caused the (French) Revolution to break out..."(doc. 5).All throughout human history, the wealthy have always been the minority. They have been completely deaf to the voices of the majority of people, who tend to be very poor. France in the late 1700's was no exception. The social hierarchy of the country was divided into three classes, or estates. The first estate was made up of the clergy, and was the smallest and wealthiest class,...

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