French Revolution Essay

1395 words - 6 pages

Overview of the French revolutionBefore discussing the major changes that sparked the revolution, I will give a brief overview of the French revolution. The French revolution occurred between 1789 and 1802. France was struck by a revolution, which basically changed the whole country including the government, administration, military and French culture "as well as plunging Europe into a series of wars" {1}. The revolutionary situation of France in the 1780s revolved around the bankruptcy of the King, and thus the State. This economic crisis was sparked due to the increasing expenses of government as well as the devastating costs caused by taking part in two consuming wars: the Seven Years' ...view middle of the document...

Most of these people did not own enough land to support their families, in order to support their household they were required to put in extra hours of work on larger farms to secure a very small amount of money. Hunger was a constant problem that they tackled on a daily basis, which became critical in the times of poor yield. Due to being underprivileged and poor harvest as well, famine was common during this time period, the prices of food raised the peasants and working class could not keep up with it.The main issue of poverty was intensified by social inequality since all peasants were forced to pay taxes, and the nobles were protected from taxes, and feudal dues owed to a local lord. Likewise, the peasants were obliged to take their taxes to the local churches, which was a reason of complaint since it was recognized that the majority of community priests were underprivileged and the contribution was being paid to aristocrats. The population of the clergy was around 100,000 but they owned only 10% of the land.On the other hand, all members of the nobility and canons were wealthy and members of the bourgois families. As an institution, the Church was both powerful and wealthy. The nobility however, paid no taxes and rarely donated anything to the state; the quantity of the donation was also up to them. Dislike of the nobility was intense and common with the working class and peasants.2. Enlightment EraA growing number of the French citizens have accepted the ideas of "equality" and "freedom of the individual" as presented by philosophers and social theorists of the Enlightenment time period. Influential American diplomats such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had lived in Paris where they freely interacted with members of the intellectual class of France. Also, interaction between the French troops who served as anti-British mercenaries in North America and American revolutionaries helped spread revolutionary ideas to the people of France. As time passed by, many of the French began to attack the un-democratic nature of their government, and tried to enforce freedom of speech, challenge the Roman Catholic Church, and criticize the privileges that the nobles had. They also wanted to enable the conception of a laissez-fairre commercial strategy, alongside a free marketplace and free trade.3. Failure of reformsDuring the time period when king Louis XV (1715-1774) and Louis XVI (1774-1792) were in power, many ministers, including Turgot and Necker, demanded changes such as taxpayers to the French tax system. Theses proposals were due to the confrontation from the parliaments. The king handed the members of the parliament their position, "as well as the...

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