Essays24.com - Term Papers and Free Essays
Search

French Revolution

Essay by   •  March 24, 2011  •  932 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,519 Views

Essay Preview: French Revolution

Report this essay
Page 1 of 4

Feudalism and Unfair Taxation

No one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. A year of feudal oppression and fiscal mismanagement contributed to a French society that was ripe for revolt. Noting a downward economic spiral in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusionвЂ"that France needed a radical change in the way it taxed the publicвЂ"and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out.

Finally, the king realized that this taxation problem really did need to be addressed, so he appointed a new controller general of finance, Charles de Calonne, in 1783. Calonne suggested that, among other things, France begin taxing the previously exempt nobility. The nobility refused, even after Calonne pleaded with them during the Assembly of Notables in 1787. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent.

The Estates-General

In a final act of desperation, Louis XVI decided in 1789 to convene the Estates-General, an ancient assembly consisting of three different estates that each represented a portion of the French population. If the Estates-General could agree on a tax solution, it would be implemented. However, since two of the three estatesвЂ"the clergy and the nobilityвЂ"were tax-exempt, the attainment of any such solution was unlikely.

Moreover, the outdated rules of order for the Estates-General gave each estate a single vote, despite the fact that the Third EstateвЂ"consisting of the general French publicвЂ"was many times larger than either of the first two. Feuds quickly broke out over this disparity and would prove to be irreconcilable. Realizing that its numbers gave it an automatic advantage, the Third Estate declared itself the sovereign National Assembly. Within days of the announcement, many members of the other two estates had switched allegiances over to this revolutionary new assembly.

The Bastille and the Great Fear

Shortly after the National Assembly formed, its members took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing that they would not relent in their efforts until a new constitution had been agreed upon. The National Assembly’s revolutionary spirit galvanized France, manifesting in a number of different ways. In Paris, citizens stormed the city’s largest prison, the Bastille, in pursuit of arms. In the countryside, peasants and farmers revolted against their feudal contracts by attacking the manors and estates of their landlords. Dubbed the “Great Fear,” these rural attacks continued until the early August issuing of the August Decrees, which freed those peasants from their oppressive contracts. Shortly thereafter, the assembly released the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which established a proper judicial code and the autonomy of the French people.

Rifts in the Assembly

Though the National Assembly did succeed in drafting a constitution, the relative peace of the moment was short-lived. A rift slowly grew between the radical and moderate assembly members, while the common laborers and workers began to feel overlooked. When Louis XVI was caught in a foiled escape plot, the assembly became especially divided. The moderate Girondins took a stance in favor of retaining the constitutional monarchy, while the radical Jacobins wanted the king completely out of the picture.

Outside of France, some neighboring countries feared that France’s revolutionary spirit would spread beyond French land. In response, they issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which insisted that the French return Louis XVI to the throne. French leaders interpreted the declaration as hostile, so the Girondin-led assembly declared war on

...

...

Download as:   txt (6.2 Kb)   pdf (91.1 Kb)   docx (11.1 Kb)  
Continue for 3 more pages »
Only available on Essays24.com
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). French Revolution. Essays24.com. Retrieved 03, 2011, from https://www.essays24.com/essay/French-Revolution/38971.html

"French Revolution" Essays24.com. 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <https://www.essays24.com/essay/French-Revolution/38971.html>.

"French Revolution." Essays24.com. Essays24.com, 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <https://www.essays24.com/essay/French-Revolution/38971.html>.

"French Revolution." Essays24.com. 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011. https://www.essays24.com/essay/French-Revolution/38971.html.