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Causes Of The French Revolution

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The Causes Of The French Revolution

In the 17th and 18th centuries, France was ruled by an absolute government. The king had

all the political power. And the kings who came after him were despots. For example, anyone

who criticized the government could be arrested and put in prison without trial. Louis XIV at l

east ruled this country efficiently. Last French kings were not good rulers. Louis XIV (1774-

1793) was king at the time of the French Revolution. He was more interested in hunting than

governing France. He and his Austrians queen, Marie Antoinette, lived an extravagant life at the

Palace of Versailles. They did not really care about the state of their country. The government

was inefficient, unjust and corrupt. There were too many government departments, different laws

in different parts of the country and officials. Many people became angry about the way France

was governed. They could do nothing to change it. The French Parliament was called the Estates-

General. It was made up of the First Estate- churchmen or clergy, the Second Estate- nobility, the

Third Estate- commoners. The Estate- General had not met since 1614. It could not meet without

consent of he king. It had no political power.

During the 18th century, the French government spent more money than it collected in

taxes. By 1788, the country was bankrupt. Because the government spent a lot of money, taxes

were high. The tax system was unjust. The nobles and the clergy paid hardly any taxes. The

Church owned one-tenth of the land in France. It did not pay taxes. The peasants paid most of the

taxes. Yet, they were the people least able to afford them.

In the 18th century, France was a feudal country with class division. People were divided

into three estates or classes. The First Estate consisted of the clergy. The Second consisted of the

nobility, and the Third included the bourgeoisie, the city workers and the peasants. The estate to

which he belonged decided a person''power and rights. The peasants suffered most. Over 80 per

cent of the population were made up of peasants. They had to pay heavy taxes.

How The Revolution Changed Between 1789 and 1799

In 1789 the king called the estates to a meeting to form a National Assembly where all

estates would join as one. This was known as the "Oath of the Tennis Court". The third estate

asked for a constitution but was refused by the king and the other two estates. Later the king

ordered the troops to break up the assembly. Then the Parisians and the peasants tore down the

Bastille, and out of fear the nobles decided to flee France. The people saved the National

Assembly from being done away with by the king.

In August of 1789, the Decree of August 4 and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and

of the Citizen were adopted by the Assembly. The declaration gave some basic rights to the

people. Later the assembly drafted a constitution of limited monarchy, and France was divided

into 83 regions called departments, but the right to vote was limited to people who paid a certain

amount of taxes. Then later the assembly took over the Roman Catholic Church, and then

extended it to take in the Protestants and Jews. In 1791 the Assembly believed that the revolution

was over and started the Legislative Assembly.

The Legislative Assembly soon faced challenges that depended on the stability of the

government between the legislature and the king. The public became divided and the revolution's

religious policy angered many Catholics and others against the Catholics or any other opponents.

The government also had to face Austria and Prussia in battle. Those countries wanted the



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