Causes and effect.docx - Causes of the French Revolution 1...

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Causes of the French Revolution1.The despotic power of the KingRoyal power was absolutely supreme and the country was deemed to be the royal domain. The power of the nobles had been finally crushed by the suppression of the Fronde in 1652. The States-General, a Parliament containing representatives of all classes except the peasantry, had not met since 1614. The government was a centralized despotism in which everything was done by the authority of the King's Council, The King was the state.This power had been exercised for the aggrandizement of the King and not for the welfare of the people, Under this system, redress of grievances was impossible.2.The Privileged ClassesThe nobles retained many of their feudal rights, which pressed heavily on the poor. Nobles were exempt from taxation and monopolised the chief appointments in Church and State.The higher clergy owned one-fifth of the country and paid no taxes. The Church controlled the press.Many of the upper middle-class held Government appointments and obtained exemption from both taxes and military service. The survival of trade guilds in the citiesfavoured the masters at the expense of the artisans.3.The Grievances of the Lowest ClassesThe weight of taxation, evaded by their social superiors, fell heavily on them, especiallythe peasantry, who found the corvée, the taille, the gabelle, the old feudal dues and the heavy customs duties intolerable burdens. Out of every 100 francs he earned, the peasant kept only 18 francs or himself.4.The Teaching of Voltaire and RousseauThe teaching and criticisms of Voltaire showed the faults of Church and State under the Ancien Régime.Rousseau, in his Social Contract, asserted that "Man was born free, and is everywhere in chains", and urged that the sovereign people to whom supremacy belonged by natural right, should resume its authority. The Social Contractsupplied the text and lit the fire of revolution.5.Financial Embarrassment was the immediate causeLouis XIV spent £30 millions building the palace at VersaillesLouis IV squandered £3 millions on one of his favouritesthe assistance given to Americaadded to the deficit under Louis XVI, who called the States-General as a last resort, hoping they would find some means to avert national bankruptcy.
In 1787, Louis XVI had appealed to the nobility for financial aid; their refusal isolated the King, bred class hostility, and precipitated the revolt of the bourgeoisie in 1789.

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