The French Revolution The French revolution was more than just a revolution to change the government of France in fact it changed the whole of France socially, economically as well as politically, to quote A. J. P. Taylor," The French were confident that they were preparing a new age and that history would begin again from 19 September 1792, when the revolutionary Convention met".In this light it is obviously foolish to look for one neat explaination of the French revolution. There are long-term causes such as the divisions within French society,and the lack of representation for the people within government. There are also short-term causes such as the bankruptcy of the country caused by war coupled with the increases in food prices caused by bad harvests, the need for the absolutist government to call the parlements in order to reform taxation and the sucess of the American revolution which saw a just and rational system of government set up in the colonies which broke away from Great Britian.There are though other factors which need consideration if a true explaination for the causes of the French revolution is to be found. The very structure of the French regime is of vital importance to this question. An absolutist state such as France was then is, by it's very nature, bound to exclude the mass of the people from taking an active role in government and it will dominate and control their lives. The abolutist state, although strong with a standing army loyal to the King, is very weak when that same standing army turns its back on the state and joins with the revolutionaries.The final factor which needs consideration when looking at the French revolution is the Enlightenment. France was, to a great degree, the home of the Enlightenment writers, such as Rousseau, who lived and wrote there and formed the ideas that would be the undoing of the absolutist monarchy and the basis of the new French republic.The long term causes of the French revolution are based around, it can be argued, the division amongst French society at that time. French society was based, not around classes, but around the system of orders. There were three orders, the nobility, the clergy and the third order. The third order was the most diverse, being made up of all the people which did not fit into the other categories. This lead to divisions and resentment between the social orders.The French nobility were indeed privileged at the time of the revolution.They were exempt from and avoided much taxation. This caused the third order, especially the peasants and village inhabitants, which bore the burden of taxation to feel much resentment. The nobility also gained much revenue from fuedal dues which the rural population had to pay which in the past had had a certain signifcance but now were just a drain on finances. There was also a great deal of money to be made by the large landowners in commercial farming. They could sell large surpluses of grain to make money, this was especially lucrative when there had been bad harvests and as a result grain prices increased greatly. This not only meant that the landowners could sell at increased prices to the peasants whose own harvests had failed, but also at increased prices to the urban areas so that the price of bread, the staple diet, would go up. As a result of
Join now!
the rural poverty there would be less money to be spent on goods manufactured in the urban areas.There was also a division within the nobility itself between the richer and poorer lords. Running a large estate cost a great deal and many lords could not afford to run their estates properly, especially when there were bad harvests. This is in contrast to the wealthy lords who enjoyed status with the king at Versailles. A divided nobility can be seen, this would mean that there would not necessarily be solidarity among the nobles in the face of reform.The church also enjoyed ...

This is a preview of the whole essay