Which factor of the "ancien rgime" caused more discontent: political/social issues; or economic issues?

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15th September 2015

Which factor of the “ancien régime” caused more discontent: political/social issues; or economic issues?

Political/Social Issues:

The French Royal family (the Bourbons) were the source of many of the discontent amongst the French people. For example, France was ruled by an absolutist monarchy, which required a strong willed monarch. However Louis XVI was very indecisive, and his first Controller-General, Turgot, was unpopular reformer within the government. This caused discontent because without a strong leader, France was unlikely to see any changes to its other causes of dissatisfaction.

Louis’ wife, Marie Aintoinette, lived beyond her (and France’s) means, once spending 400,000 livres on a pair of bracelets. She was clearly out of touch with many people, who deemed her and her supporters traitors – believing them to be in fact supporting her homeland, Austria. Her consistent spending and France’s increasing budget was a significant factor of discontent during the “ancien régime”.

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Within the Church, many bishops held more than one diocese/bishopric. This meant that they earned large amounts of money from each diocese and was known as pluralism. Alongside absenteeism (obtaining income from a diocese, never visited by a bishop), pluralism made the Church appear to be more interested in monetary gain, than in the spiritual wellbeing of the French people, who were clearly very unhappy with such their bishops.

The gap between the 2nd and 3rd Estates probably caused the most discontent in French society. The nobles held nearly all the main stately positions such as ministers, “intendants” and high ranking military ...

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