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How important were the financial problems of the French Crown in bringing about the French Revolution in 1789?

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked 21st October 2015 How important were financial problems of the Crown in bringing about the French Revolution in 1789? [20] The financial problems of the Crown were hugely important in bringing about the French Revolution. However the constitution of France itself at the time was also a major factor of its downfall. The financial problems included the weakness of the tax system, the poor harvests during the 1780s and the war debt accumulated from the wars France fought during the 18th Century. The constitutional problems (the feudal system, lack of will to reform from the nobility, etc.) could be considered the roots of France?s problems. However they often overlap in cause and effect with the financial issues. France?s tax system in the 1700s was considered unfair by the growing bourgeoisie class and the poorest members of society: the peasantry and urban peasants. The tax system was centred on the comfort of the nobility, rather than the revenue of the Crown: the 1st and 2nd Estates were exempt from most fiscal duties. ...read more.

Middle

This resulted in a seriously low income for rural peasants and general employment rates in urban areas sank. Although this directly impacted only the 3rd Estate, France?s general economy was in crisis. Food prices rose by around 60% from 1788 to 1789, forcing the average labourer (both rural and urban) to increase their expenditure on bread from 50%, to 88% of their income. This left little room for taxes and the other usual dues that peasants were forced to pay, causing a rapid depression and, more importantly, minimalizing the Crown?s tax revenue. In addition to this, the ?Eden Treaty?, signed in 1786, effectively ended the economic war between France and Britain by removing tariffs on imports. However this negatively impacted many French businesses, such as the textiles industry for example, which suffered a decrease in production (and therefore employment) rates of 50%. While this was only one fraction of France?s many industries, the effects represented the overall importance of the economic problems. Due to the poor harvest there was a small-scale famine in France, which had been developing since 1779, when the weather started to become harsher. ...read more.

Conclusion

The 1st and 2nd Estates had refused any reforms proposed by the Controller Generals such as Turgot and Calonne, restraining France's financial system and leaving its income gravely low. Therefore the nobility's prevention of constitutional changes was hugely impactful on the Crown's attempts to save the financial system which may have prevented the revolution. However, at the meeting of the Estate's General the "cahiers" from nearly all the deputies of every estate called for a change to the constitution. This was not addressed by the Crown however, meaning that their lack of order was, in fact, part of the reason for the development of the revolution. As a closing opinion, the most important cause of the French Revolution was the lack of will from the 1st and 2nd Estates to alter the constitution (specifically the taxation system. This is because nobility refused the pay taxes, while they held most of France's money, causing the Crown's income to be greatly lessened. If the nobility had paid equal taxes, there most likely would not have been a financial crisis for the Crown and for that reason their (the nobility's) reluctance to do so was the more important than the financial problems themselves. ...read more.

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