Origins of the French Revolution Essay

4249 Words Apr 19th, 2011 17 Pages
ORIGINS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The causes of the French Revolution of 1787-1789 (Solé 3) is a subject worthy of investigation because the revolt is an event of crucial importance in Western History. It marked the end of feudalism and the beginning of democracy in France, and can be seen as a turning point for liberty in Europe. To quote the German author Goethe, ‘From this place, and from this day, commences a new era in the world’s history’ (Wright 2). In 1774 when Louis XVI ascended the French throne, he had the potential, if he exerted strength, to rule absolutely over France (Hampson 24), a powerful European nation. Less than twenty years later his monarchy had been replaced by a revolutionary government (Rudé 34), and …show more content…
However, this ‘bourgeoisie’ was not by nature capitalist, nor was it necessarily against the feudal system. The destruction of feudalism was primarily caused by a peasantry resentful of noble dues and seigneurial privileges. Furthermore, the rebellion could never have begun without the 1786-1789 revolt of the nobility, nor could it have succeeded without the fear bred by the nationwide popular revolution of 1788-1789. Part 1- The Aristocratic Revolution The first phase of the French Revolution, the revolte nobilitaire, or the aristocratic revolution, which occured between August 1786 and August 1788, was incredibly important. It caused the calling of the Estates General (Wright 19), the forum in which the bourgeoisie united and began their pivotal Parisian Revolution. The two main factors causing this aristocratic revolution were France’s financial crisis of the late eighteenth century, and aristocratic loathing for the monarchy. In the late eighteenth century, France was experiencing serious financial difficulties. On August 20th, 1786, Charles Calonne, finance minister of France (Doyle 45) informed King Louis XVI that, due to France’s participation in innumerable wars- most notably the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783 (Neely 41), the cost of servicing debt had risen to 50% of annual expenditure (Lefebvre 22). To

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