The Extent Of Louis Xvi's Impact On The French Revolution.

946 words - 4 pages

If there was ever a man in the wrong place at the wrong time it was Louis XVI. Inheriting French throne in 1774, he was handed a nation filled to the brim of problems. France was headed straight towards a revolution, and no king of the time could have avoided it. But to what extent were the policies and actions of Louis XVI responsible for the French Revolution? To a small degree Louis XVI's inability to improve the situations in France can be blamed. Louis XVI's failure to combat the accumulation of debt, tension between estates, and spending habits of the royal family, is partly at fault for the brutal revolution. Louis' leadership was weak, and he allowed the revolution to happen.Louis XVI inherited a country filled to the brim with debt from his predecessors. France was experiencing an economic low, compounded with acute food shortages, a large population to manage, and the heavy costs of participation in wars, the county's debt was devastating. Inadequate functioning of the grain and bread markets was a result of poor management by the government, and because bread is the main staple of the French diet, the high prices were intolerable for most. 'In Paris, a worker's daily bread took 97% of his income' (French Revolution 1789, History Guide). The fact that the French population rose from 18 million to 26 million between 1715 and 1789 (p. 23 Century of Change) worsened the situation. With more mouths to feed and less food to feed them, Louis XVI had no way of satisfying his people. French involvement in four long drawn out wars during the 18th century was not healthy and contributed to the growing debt of the nation. Knowing this, Louis XVI's decision to support the American Revolution was unnecessary and wasted money that could have been spent on importing food. Louis was not French debt; his decision to support the war was reckless. A.R.J. Turgot, Louis' first comptroller-general of finance, informed Louis that expenditures were high and suggested imposing a tax on all three estates, in his letter to the King."...reducing the expenditure below the receipt, and so much below it as to leave twenty millions [livres] every year for the redemption of former debts. Without this precaution, the first cannonball that is fired will force the state to a public bankruptcy...A hope may be indulged, that, by the improvement of agriculture, by the suppression of abuses in the collection of the revenue, and by a more equal distribution of the taxes, the people may be sensibly relieved, without greatly diminishing the public income"Turgot "Letter to the King on Finance"Louis XVI can not be excused from the responsibility for lack of bread; nor can he be blamed for the grain shortages, but he is guilty of squandering money that could have been used to benefit...

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