Influential Causes Of The French Revolution

2396 words - 10 pages

The French Revolution of 1789 had profound consequences and influences. The Revolution was a time of political change different from earlier revolutions in world history. France's society in the eighteenth-century was structured as a pyramid filled by the Court and aristocracy, the middle classes or bourgeoisie, and the peasants, urban tradesmen, and craftsmen. As the century went on, conflicts and tension became sharper. The French Revolution was different than everywhere else in Europe. No other countries in Europe had a decisive victory of any one social group over another, there was no weight of political authority that was transferred to the nation at large, through a transformation of the existing society. This victory and transformation only happened in France. The French Revolution was different because the people dethroned the French Monarchy, Louis XVI was executed along with thousands of other nobles and the revolutionaries replaced this strong monarchy with a new system of what they said was based on popular rule, personal liberty, and equal justice. This system actually began the Reign of Terror and rule under Napoleon Bonaparte.
Before 1789, the Revolution was set off by a chain of events that threatened the stability of the political and social order that already existed. Such conflicts like the Seven Years War in which France was disastrously defeated, hurt France financially. France had even more economic hardship when Louis XVI aided the Americans in their rebellion against the British. France was put into a dangerous system with the treasury being drained. The French Revolution had complex roots that include the condition condition of the French monarchy which was in debt, wasteful, and worst of all weak. The monarchy also fatally chose to overtax the bourgeoisie and exclude them from the political power.
The King of France ruled by the grace of God and Louis XVI wielded this absolute power. However, his government was ineffective and inefficient. The image of the monarchy further deteriorated in the minds of the people as his reign continued. When Louis was married to the Austrian princess Marie-Antoinette and ascended the throne he “was a weak leader with good intentions. He brought in new ministers to his court who would initiate long-needed reforms for France...[but] could not stand up to his nobles, who refused to sacrifice to their own privileges and money to refill the national treasury" (Otfinoski 17). His good intentions failed because his country was falling apart. In addition, the fact that he and his wife lived with extravagance and lavish conditions also contributed to his downfall. This extravagance led to the fall of Louis XVI's public image. Eventually the people of France realized that the “new king turned out to be slow-witted and indecisive, while Marie-Antoinette was a frivolous spendthrift who regularly shirked her royal duties. These royals came to be widely seen as weak, wasteful, and symbols of a...

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